Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter 2011

I love holidays. mostly for the chance for theme menus. So, even if it is just the two of us, I make at least a little bit of a fuss. For tonight's dinner I mail-ordered a ham from our favorite bacon producer, Neuske's. I figured their ham had to be top-notch and it was. I added a little holiday topping by glazing the applewood smoked ham with a bourbon, molasses and brown sugar glaze from Bruce Aidells recipe. Most recipes I look at with at least some degree of suspicion. But, when it comes to meat, I am willing to follow Aidells almost blindly and this glaze did not disappoint. I boiled down a combo of apple juice (1/2 cup) and bourbon (1/4 cup) until reduced by half. Then I added that liquid to a paste of 1 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup molasses, 3 TB dried mustard, and 1 cup toasted and finely chopped pecans. I spread that paste on top of the already armed through ham and baed for 30 minutes at 425º. The sweet coating gave the smokey ham a boost that had James asking for seconds.
Spoonbread, basically a corn meal pudding is one of my favorite side-dishes, light lunches, or breakfast leftovers. I bring one cup each of milk, corn meal and water to a boil, stirring, and cook the meal for about two minutes until the mixture starts to pull away from the side of the pan and drop in one TB of butter, S&P. Next I mix in one cup of milk beaten with two eggs and stir everything together, off the heat. The batter is poured into a heavily buttered baking dish, dotted with another TB of butter and baked at 400º or about 30 minutes until it is puffed and still jiggles softly. Cornbread dressed up in its Sunday best.
For vegetable and salad in one I roasted some asparagus tossed with olive oil, S&P, and lemon zest for about ten minutes at 450º. I dressed a combination of greens -- arugula and frise -- with a lemon juice, olive oil, dijon mustard, and red wine vinegar vinaigrette and topped the salad with creamy, luxurious, perfectly ripe Delice de Bourgogne. The acid note in the triple cream, washed rind cheese (from the creme fraiche added in the cheese-making process) is the perfect foil for fresh spring vegetables and lemony vinaigrette.
Dessert is still waiting -- its is playoff season after all, a man can only wait so long. So, dear friends, you'll see that strawberry shortcake another day this week.
Happy Easter one and all.

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