Happy Easter

Easter Dinner: Herbed Ham And Baked Rigatoni With Asparagus And Artichokes

There’s something so refreshing about Easter dinner. After the long winter, it’s good to see those bunny salt and pepper shakers again.

Here’s a complete inner for six that will jump start your spring season and even find a good use for all those hard-boiled eggs decorated the night before.

Menu

Deviled Eggs Appetizer

Brie with Almonds Appetizer

Strawberry Mandarin Orange Salad

Herbed Ham

Baked Rigatoni with Asparagus and Artichokes

Lemon Coconut Cake

Deviled Eggs

Use your imagination and creativity to decorate the tops of the finished eggs. Make a flower with tiny shrimp and scallion slivers.

  • 1 dozen hard boiled eggs, peeled
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper t taste

Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and place in a bowl. Mash the yolks until no lumps remain. Add mayonnaise, mustard and butter; mix until smooth. Stir in lemon juice, cayenne, salt and pepper. Spoon filling neatly into egg whites. Garnish as desired.

Makes 24 eggs

Brie with Almonds

  • 1 round of brie cheese
  • A handful of sliced almonds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons butter

In a small frying pan, melt the butter and toss in the almonds. Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring to distribute butter over all the almonds. Set aside. Place brie on a microwave-safe plate and heat in microwave for 30 seconds, until just slightly warm. Spoon the buttered almonds on top of the brie and serve with crackers or French bread slices.

Strawberry Mandarin Orange Salad

  • 1 head leafy green lettuce
  • ½ purple onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 carton strawberries, stems removed and halved
  • 2 small cans mandarin oranges

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon grated onion
  • 1 cup salad oil

Toss together in a large salad bowl the lettuce, onion slices, strawberries and mandarin oranges. Mix dressing ingredients together in a container and shake or blend well. Pour dressing over salad just before serving.

Herbed Ham

  • 1 ham, scored in checkerboard pattern
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • Pepper
  • Fresh chives, thyme and parsley
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 cups dry white wine

Insert garlic slices into score marks on the ham. Sprinkle ham with pepper. Place bunches of chives, thyme and parsley on bottom of a roasting pan. Slice oranges and place on top of herbs. Place ham on top. Pour 2 cups of dry white wine around meat. Cover roasting pan with foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 5 hours or until done. To serve, remove ham from pan and slice. Strain juices and serve with ham.

Baked Rigatoni with Asparagus and Artichokes

  • 3 large red peppers
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, cut lengthwise in quarters
  • 1½ pounds rigatoni
  • 1½ pounds asparagus, trimmed, cut into 2” pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4½ tablespoons butter
  • 6½ tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 4½ cups milk
  • 2¼ cups packed grated Fontina cheese (about 9 ounces)
  • 3 cups coarsely grated Parmesan cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 ounce arugula, coarsely chopped

Cut red peppers into 1” pieces and sauté. Add artichokes and continue heating for several more minutes. Set aside. Butter a 15x10x2-inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta and boil for 10 minutes. Add asparagus and cook until pasta is tender but still firm to bite, about 4 minutes longer. Drain well. Transfer to a large bowl. Add olive oil and toss pasta mixture to coat. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Add flour and stir 2 minutes. Gradually add milk, whisking until smooth. Cook until sauce thickens, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Add Fontina and 2 ¼ cups Parmesan cheese and whisk until cheese melts and sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Add cheese sauce, arugula and peppers to pasta and vegetables and stir to coat. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with ¾ cups Parmesan. Cover with foil. Bake, covered at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until heated through. Uncover and bake until top is glazed, about 10 minutes longer.

Lemon Coconut Cake

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 package lemon gelatin (3 ounces)
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon extract
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • ¼ cup sugar

Glaze:

  • 1 pound confectioner’s sugar
  • ¾ cup lemon juice

Frosting:

  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pound confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 cups finely chopped nuts
  • 1 ½ cup flaked coconut

Grease and flour a bundt pan. In large mixing bowl, sift together cake flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and gelatin. Beat in milk, oil and lemon extract. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time. In a small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Beat in ¼ cup sugar with whites. Gently fold in egg white mixture into batter. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until cake springs back lightly to the touch. Turn out onto wire rack. Cool only slightly, while preparing glaze.

To prepare glaze, combine confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice in saucepan and heat until it begins to bubble. Carefully spoon warm glaze over warm cake until all glaze is absorbed by cake. Let cool one hour.

To prepare frosting, cream butter and shortening with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add confectioner’s sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Add milk and beat until light and fluffy.

Frost cooled cake with icing. Press nuts around sides of cake and sprinkle top with coconut.

Tips:

  • If the deviled egg filling turns out an unappetizing greenish color, add a drop of yellow food coloring to brighten it up.
  • Fresh arugula for the pasta dish can be found in small containers with fresh herbs in the produce section of your grocery store. If you can’t find it, substitute flat-leaf parsley.
  • For a beautiful table, top each place setting with a bird’s nest (found at craft stores) filled with multi-colored Easter grass and a colored egg, along with a piece of chocolate for after dinner.
  • Add some pizzazz to the cake by tinting the coconut pink, green or even blue. Place the coconut in a plastic bag with a few drops of food coloring. Shake the bag until the color is evenly distributed.

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