You would think with how much I talk, think and write about food that I would enjoy coming up with special occasion menus. But that's actually one of the toughest parts of my job. The quantity, ease of service and temperature factors can sometimes throw me for a loop.
With Easter right around the corner, I spent the better part of a recent morning working on an Easter brunch menu.
There's far more than hot cross buns being whipped up in kitchens around the world to celebrate Easter. Europeans view it as a time to eat the first spring lamb, while Russians bake a famous bread known as kulich and also make paskha – a sweetened, molded cheese dessert. Baking breads and sweets is also part of Easter ritual observed in Scadinavia, Germany, Greece and countless other countries.
In parts of the United States a succulent roast leg of lamb with a bowl of shimmering mint jelly are linked to the spring holiday. In the South – and usually a must-have at my table – the pièce de résistance is a baked and glazed ham.
But back to my Easter brunch.
With sliced ham and a blackberry mustard in mind, my goal was to fashion a few light yet still rich and satisfying side dishes. I also wanted to be able to prepare this feast mostly in advance.
I looked no further than my computer screen to my online playground Pinterest for a little inspiration. My definition of Pinterest? Bulletin board. Creative outlet. Time drain. I log in once a day. I have 17 boards, 798 pins. As far as I'm concerned, it's fantasy football for girls.
After only five minutes some little quiches caught my eye. The recipe combined a creamy, sour cream custard base with spinach and mozzarella cheese, all baked into regular-size muffin pans lined with refrigerated crescent roll.
Come on, be honest. Is there anything better than a homemade quiche? I could eat it with a pile of baby greens for dinner every night of the week. Or lunch, brunch or appetizer with a glass – or maybe two – of chilled chardonnay. Elegant, they're also a perfect make-in-advance side I can reheat quickly in a hot oven.
Just about anything tasty goes great inside. Set your own amounts and make sure everything is bite-size or smaller and precooked: sauteed mushrooms, leeks and spinach; browned Italian sausage, roasted red pepper and Parmesan; blanched broccoli and grated cheddar. Just use your imagination.
I can't wait to serve them. And while the meal itself will be important my Easter focus will be on those enjoying it.
Happy Easter, all.
Lynn Kessel is a freelance food columnist. For more of her recipes, visit southshore.tbo.com and enter the search words Lynn Kessel.
Muffin-sized Breakfast Quiche
2 cans refrigerated crescent roll dough
1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 cup sour cream
1 (9-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sauté chopped bacon and onions in a skillet until the onions are translucent and the bacon is cooked through. Allow to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, stir in sour cream, spinach, salt, pepper, nutmeg, onion mixture and cooled bacon. Fold in mozzarella cheese.
Spray 16 muffin cups with cooking spray or grease with butter, press one triangle of crescent roll dough into each cup, sealing any holes, to form the crusts. Fill each crust to the top with egg mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until the crust is browned and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve warm.
Yields 16 muffin-sized quiches.
Source: Adapted from www.unsophisticook.com.