Chef's Table: Dress Your Easter Table
Fresh entertaining ideas and recipes for your spring holiday
Ready to enliven your Easter table? We've got three fresh entertaining concepts designed around quick-prep seasonal dishes, time-saving table ideas, tips for choosing the right wine, and creative how-tos that are as easily said as they are done. And many design elements, along with some of the recipes, can be made ahead of time to avoid stress and let you savor your own soirée.
Brunch at the Beach
At the beach, fuss is as forbidden a concept as donning shoes for a stroll in the sand. With this in mind, our easy Easter brunch has a one-dish menu and creative time-savers like floral arrangements that can be made ahead.
- Breakfast Sausage & Wadmalaw Onion Casserole
- Fresh Orange Slices
- Sunrise Cocktails
Let our dynamite views do the entertaining for you—we settled into the back deck of a friend’s beach house on Sullivan’s Island to whip up this laid-back soirée but any accommodating deck or patio will do.
A washed turquoise fabric is sewn wide enough to serve as both table runner and placemat. Raised beds of button mums form colorful centerpieces; spritz daily with water, and they’ll brighten things up long after the holiday is over.
Mum’s the Word
Supper in the Garden
Slightly more elaborate, yet still a clever approach to the holiday, this tropical garden supper casts a vibrant nod to Mother Nature. Tropical foliage, wood, bamboo, stone, and even live goldfish conspire to effect a fresh, organic approach to Easter.
- Garlic-Studded Easter Lamb
- Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Fresh Herbs
- Spring Artichoke & Pea Salad
All that’s required for this slightly formal affair is a grassy expanse and a little shade from afternoon sun.
Red, Red Wine
MontGras Cabernet Sauvignon- Syrah ($16.50) from Chile
Bel Colle Barolo ($69) from Piemonte, a northwestern region of Italy
Tea in the Courtyard
Replace traditional Easter menus with an afternoon tea party, where a selection of fresh breads, fruit, and teas make for a sweet (yet remarkably simple) holiday gathering.
- Strawberry Citrus Muffins
- Minted Scones
- Sweet Ham Tea Sandwiches
A sun-washed courtyard offers a perfect place to lay a tea table; architectural remnants of centuries past are considered a charmed Easter bonus.
The décor of mismatched porcelain and other antique pieces found around the home lend a laid-back sophistication to the table. Eggs are painted to match our wares, and each guest is given a decorative basket packed with a take-home selection of muffins and scones.
Easy Does It
- One 3-quart 9" x 13" casserole dish
- 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4-5 large Wadmalaw sweet onions, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
- 12 oz. bulk breakfast sausage (you can also use Italian)
- 3 lbs. fresh ricotta
- 3/4 cup flour
- 7 large eggs (beaten)
- 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
- 1-2 Tbs. butter
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter the bottom and sides of the casserole dish and dust with the breadcrumbs. Set aside. In a large sauté pan over low heat, sauté onions in olive oil very slowly, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 20 to 30 minutes. Do this in two batches if needed. Remove the onions from the pan and add the sausage. Sauté the sausage until done. Drain, crumble, and set aside. Mix the ricotta, flour, eggs, cheese, and pepper. Add the cooked onions and sausage, and mix again. Fold in the spinach leaves. Fill the casserole dish with the mixture and bake for 60 to 90 minutes. (Cooking time will depend on the shape of your dish). If it begins to brown before it is cooked through, cover the top with foil and continue baking. Casserole is done when a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve immediately.
- Equal parts orange and pineapple juices
- 1.5 oz. vodka or rum, optional
- Swirl of grenadine
- Splash of soda water
- Blood orange and pineapple slices for garnish
Fill an eight-ounce glass half full with ice. Layer both juices, plus alcohol if using. Add grenadine, pouring just enough to make one “swirl” and top with soda water. Garnish with fruit slices. Stirring contents will give the drink a uniform peach color, or for a layered presentation, serve without mixing.
- 1 ½ lbs. fingerling potatoes
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 10-12 peeled cloves of fresh garlic
- Ground salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (try Genovese basil, lemon thyme, oregano, and mint; or fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage)
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Rinse potatoes in cold water and cut in half lengthwise. Place potatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, and 1/4 cup of the herbs in a roasting pan and toss well. Roast in a single layer about 20 to 25 minutes until crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. To crisp the potatoes, you can place them under the broiler for a minute or two, watching them carefully and turning once. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup herbs and additional salt if desired. Serve hot. Chef’s Note: One of the best things about spring is the emergence of our herb gardens. I like to start with plants rather than seeds, so I can begin to clip and use them immediately. This recipe takes advantage of whatever herbs are growing in your garden.
- Leg of lamb, boned and tied (each raw pound of meat will yield 3 cooked portions)
- 1 head of garlic, peeled into cloves
- 3-4 sprigs fresh mint
- 3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup white wine (more can be added if needed for pan juices)
- Ground salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Place the roast in a roasting pan and cut 10 to 12 deep slits all over the roast with a sharp paring knife. Stuff these slits with the cloves of garlic (if the cloves are very large, slice them lengthwise) and pieces of mint and rosemary. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, and wine together. Pour over the roast and rub over the surface. Use ground salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until meat starts to brown. Lower the temperature to 350ºF for the remainder of the cooking time. Roast should cook about 10 to 15 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature is 125ºF in the center. Let cooked meat rest 10 to 15 minutes. Thinly slice and serve with pan juices. Chef’s Note: Although I prefer boneless because of ease of carving, this can also be done with a bone-in leg of lamb.
- 6 fresh baby artichokes*
- 1/2 fresh lemon
- 3 cups fresh or frozen garden peas
- 1 large Wadmalaw sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
- Ground salt and pepper to taste
Working with only the smallest fresh artichokes, remove tough outer leaves; cut a thin slice off the bottom of the stem, and trim the top of the artichoke, removing the thorns. Cut each artichoke in half lengthwise. Rub all cut areas with lemon to keep artichokes from turning brown. Poach in simmering salted water with the 1/2 lemon, until tender (about 10 minutes). Strain and reserve. Discard lemon. Poach peas in simmering salted water until tender. Strain and reserve. Sauté onion in extra virgin olive oil very slowly, on a very low flame, for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until translucent. Stir four to five times during cooking, taking care not to brown them. Toss artichokes, peas, onions, and mint together and season with salt and pepper. Serve chilled or at room temperature. *If baby artichokes are not available, the next best thing is frozen artichoke hearts. Canned artichoke hearts can also be used, but the flavor and texture will be slightly different.
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbs. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- Grated rind of one lemon
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup melted salted butter
- 1/2 tsp. orange extract
- 15 large fresh strawberries, hulled, roughly chopped, and tossed in granulated sugar to coat
- 3-4 Tbs. of granulated sugar for dusting muffins
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Grease muffin tin with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Sift first three ingredients together. Add nutmeg and grated lemon rind. Set aside. Beat the next five ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture and mix lightly to moisten. Do not over-mix. Batter should not be smooth. Fold in the prepared strawberries. Spoon mixture into greased muffin tin, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for about 15 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Serve warm with butter.
- 1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 ¼ tsp. baking powder
- 1 Tbs. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup salted butter (cut in small pieces and freeze for 10 minutes before using)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- Granulated sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Place the first four ingredients in the bowl of a processor* and pulse a few times to mix. Add the frozen butter and run for one minute or so until butter is incorporated. Add the mint and pulse again to mix. Beat the eggs in a small bowl, setting aside about one tablespoon for glazing before adding the cream. With the processor running, pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients through the chute. As soon as the liquid is in, turn off the processor, pulsing once or twice to finish blending. Dough should not form a ball. Do not over-mix. (If you prefer to do this by hand, sift the dry ingredients together and cut in the butter. Mix in the mint. Add the prepared liquid (as above) and mix quickly, using just a few strokes. Avoid over-mixing.) Drop mixture onto a lightly floured surface, gather the dough, and pat into an eight-inch circle. Cut into eight wedges and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Brush each scone with the reserved egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve while still warm with butter and jam.
- 1 cup whipped cream cheese
- 1 Tbs. apricot preserves
- 12 oz. diced ham
- 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
- 1/4 cup diced celery
- Chopped fresh mint to taste
- Cracked pepper to taste
- Assorted sliced bread (whole wheat, pumpernickel, white, cinnamon raisin)
In a bowl, blend the preserves with the cream cheese. Add the remaining filling ingredients and mix well. Prepare the sandwiches using different types of bread. Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice off the crusts, and cut each sandwich into four pieces (squares or triangles). Serve. Chef’s Note: If you chill the sandwiches for an hour, they will look “cleaner” when you cut them. If you would like to make the sandwiches ahead of time, store them in a plastic storage box, placed close together, and layered with damp paper towels.