Even though it was just us two for Easter, I decided I wanted to go all out. Despite the fact that I did everything in one day (including yeast bread) with a single oven and only one oven rack, it all turned out pretty deliciously. I didn’t get everything to the table piping hot, but it was tasty.
Here are the recipes:
Maple-Glazed Ham with Roasted Carrots, Parsnips, Shallots, and Orange
I got the idea for this the other day when I saw a recipe that roasted thin slices of orange with root veggies and the roasting apparently rendered the oranges edible. We didn’t eat ours because the orange was so juicy I couldn’t slice it thin enough, but it did add a nice flavor to the veggies. Feel free to up the veggies significantly if you’re feeding a crowd
1 eight lb. bone-in ham
1/4 cup real maple syrup
carrots, scraped and cut into sticks
parsnips, scraped and cut into sticks slightly thinner than the carrots
at least 1 orange, sliced and seeded
salt & pepper
Scatter the carrots and parsnips in the bottom of a roasting pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil and stir to coat. Squeeze the juice from the seeded slices of orange over the vegetables, then toss in the slices whole. sprinkle with salt and pepper, then stir to coat again.
Place the rack in the roasting pan. Put the ham on the rack and pour the maple syrup over, using your hand or a basting brush to coat the outside of the ham.
Roast in a 325-375 F oven until the ham is heated through and the vegetables are tender, about 2 hours.
Scallion Mashed Potatoes
This is my take on my Aunt Karen’s delicious twice-baked mashed potatoes.
4 medium white potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 scallions/green onions, washed and chopped
2 oz. (1/4 of an 8 oz. package) neufchatel cream cheese
milk or cream
salt to taste
Place the potatoes in a saucepan big enough to hold them comfortably and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil (lid on) and cook until potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, place the scallions and cream cheese in a glass baking dish. Once the potatoes are done, drain and dump hot potatoes into the baking dish on top of the scallions and cream cheese. Mash the potatoes in the dish, leaving no lumps. Stir in milk or cream until potatoes are smooth and cream cheese and scallions evenly incorporated. Salt to taste and stir again. Then smooth in the baking dish and place in oven with ham to heat through. Serve hot.
And there you have it. Add some asparagus steamed or boiled until just tender and some homemade yeast rolls (sorry, you can’t have the recipe) and there you have it.
I will tell you the secret of shaping the yeast rolls, which can be done with any elastic dough, especially a tender one that includes eggs and butter, like this recipe does.
I blame Pinterest. Someone posted these cute little rolls that looked just like bunnies, so I had to try it. All you do is shape your rolls into ovals (preferably with one end slightly larger than the other – like eggs!) and use kitchen shears to snip some ears into one end. You will have to snip from pretty far back to get ears of any significance. And even then they will go all over the place without warning, as you can see from my first batch. Use currants or eyes if you like.
You can also make quasi-bird shapes. I saw this sort of thing originally on a local PBS documentary in my home state of ND about Germans from Russia immigrant communities (it’s called “Schmeckfest: Food Traditions of the Germans from Russia”) which showed an elderly woman deftly shaping dough into cute little birds. She said that when she was a child her family couldn’t afford sweets at easter, but her mother would shape bread dough into little birds with raisins for eyes, and they thought that was something very special.
So here’s how you do it (and it always comes out with varying degrees of success). Take a hunk of dough about the size of your palm. Roll it out into a rope about 6 inches long. It’s easier to make a bird head if one end (the right side) is wider than the other.
Then loop the right end over the left and pull the fat end through the middle, making a knot. The other end should be longer and sticking out of the bottom. Shape the fat end into a sort of bird-like head (add raisins or currants for eyes if you like) and use kitchen shears to snip the other tail end into a swallow’s tail.
Brush both sets of buns with an egg wash if you want them to be shiny.
And if no one can tell what they are supposed to be, who cares? Because they will still taste good. The bunny buns are good for sandwiches because they are nice and fat. The bird buns are better for eating out of hand with butter because the knotting makes them twisted inside. They are fun to pull apart, especially when hot as the dough keeps its shape inside, so it’s like unraveling the knot.
And that was dinner. It was delicious.