Garden Diary

Monday, April 09, 2007

We hosted Easter dinner yesterday afternoon. Laurie invited her whole family, so we made a party of 14. So the planning began about two weeks early for this feast.

On the Sunday before Easter I made a meatless lasagna, which went into the freezer. This would be the main entree for our two vegetarian relatives. Thursday night my son flew in from Washington from school for the weekend, so on Friday we moved furniture around to create a dining space in our living room, setting up three tables and moving the living room furniture into the much smaller dining room.

Saturday began a barrage of cooking. Laurie made crescent rolls and I baked a loaf of Irish Soda bread. I also made the dough for a double-batch of hot cross buns, which are a tradition with us on Easter morning.

Hot Cross Buns

1 Tbsp yeast
1/3 cup water
1/3 Cup scalded milk
1/2 Cup melted butter
1/3 Cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3-1/2 to 4 Cups flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
2/3 Cup raisins or currants
1/2 Cup confectioner's sugar

Add a pinch of sugar to the warm water and add the yeast to proof.

Add scaled milk, melted butter, sugar, salt and beat together. When cooled, add eggs and beat. Add yeast and water, beat, then add cinnamon, currants and flour, beating well after each cup.

Knead thoroughly on a floured surface (about 6-7 minutes) and let rise in a warm, buttered bowl.

Punch down, and form small round balls of dough (about 20) and place in a buttered 9 x 13 pan. Let rise until doubled in size and then bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.

When cooled make a glaze with confectioner's sugar and water (or milk) and use it to make a cross on the top of each bun.

I put the buns in the refrigerator as soon as they were rolled out, and then on Easter morning took them out before saying Mattins. After about 90 minutes they were ready to bake, and by the time everyone else was up, they were ready to be frosted with glaze.

Another, newer, tradition, is our special "Easter" Eggs. Unlike most Easter eggs, though, we don't color the shells. We color the eggs.

I hard boiled 10 eggs, and once cooled, took off the shells. Then, cutting each egg in half, I scooped out and saved the yolk, and put the halves into colored water.

To make the colored water, have four deep bowls, and add about 3 cups of warm water, with a tablespoon of cider vinegar. Then add a few drops of food coloring to the water.

Leave the egg halves in the water for at least ten minutes, then put on plates lined with paper towels to dry. Once dry, arrange on a plate and fill with the yolk filling:

10 egg yolks (hard-boiled)
1/3 cup mayonaise
1/4 cup mustard
1 Tbs horseradish

Mash together, and fill the egg cavity. This can also be made the day ahead; just cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

For dinner we had roast lamb and a baked ham, with lots of vegetables and the breads and potatoes. Recipes for those later this week.

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