Monday, March 14, 2016

Easter Dinner Preparations

I am hosting Easter dinner for my family this year! A small dinner party, there will actually only be five of us including my parents, my maternal grandparents and myself. I normally host one or two guests as often as possible and have had a dinner party for four once. (Read about the preparation and the result.) I'm comfortable as a hostess with one or two guests. Five people total does make me a bit nervous, but in my planning so far, I know it will be successful. My hosting a holiday meal for the family is a first for me. I figured when I'm married and have a bit of a larger home and a better-equipped kitchen, then I would be in the mix for hosting every once in awhile. But not now! Low on inventory, I only have service for four everything, sometimes I only have two of a kind! I don't even have a table big enough nor five matching chairs. Perfectionist that I am, I want everything to be very nice. Since one of my New Year's Resolutions was to entertain more frequently, I wanted to announce that I was the hostess and explain my preparations so far in this post. I promise to publish a follow up post with pictures of the event including the table settings and the food.

Let's start with the menu. I will not be serving a traditional lamb or ham as I have never made them before. Even though I still have a turkey in the freezer and have roasted a bird twice, I decided against that as well. Instead, I will dish up an Italian feast. The main course will be meat lasagna, which has turned out fabulously twice. So delicious! I first followed this recipe from theKitchn on New Year's Eve, so I will blog about it as my final new recipe of that over-a-year-long cooking commitment sometime in the near future. (I need to take pictures.) I happened to make it a second time for a family in need. Both of those times, I served it as soon as I made it. For the holiday, I will be making it ahead of time for the first time. So, I will be assembling it the previous evening, storing in the fridge overnight and sliding it into the oven on Easter Sunday. Since my kitchen is open to my dining room, a make-ahead meal will allow my kitchen to be clean the next morning.

Easter Sunday Dinner Menu

Antipasti
Cheeses: (soft) Brie, (semi-hard) Sharp Cheddar, (hard) Parmigiano Reggiano
Charcuterie: Prosciutto, Soppressata
Rosemary Sprigs Garnish
Marinated Olives
Bread, Sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for dipping
A European Butter
Mom's Meatballs

Beverages
Tea, both Sweetened and Unsweetened
Ice
Lemon Slices
Wine

First Course
Salad: Bags of Lettuces, Red Pepper, Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumber, Sharp Cheddar, Bacon, Italian-Seasoned Croutons
Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette 
Various Bottled Salad Dressings

Main Course
Lasagna Bolognese
Bread

Dessert
Coconut Cake
Chocolate Fudge
Mini Lindt Milk Chocolate Bunnies
Maybe Fruit and/or Another Dessert a Guest Brings

Growing up, a cheese platter meant sharp cheddar, maybe pepper jack cheese, sweet gherkins, hamburger dill pickle slices, bread and butter pickles, and Triscuits. I will be introducing my famous antipasti to my family. I plan to simply purchase all of this and then arrange it beautifully. I will place the (room temperature) cheeses, meats, and rosemary garnishes on my large round cutting board. I will draw some inspiration from my Antipasti board on Pinterest. I think that I will put my marinated olives in a white latte bowl from Anthropologie and then squeeze it onto the board as well. I plan to store slices of good bread in a wire container lined with a couple paper towels. I will borrow a glass butter dish for some kind of European (likely Danish or French) butter, which is creamier than out domestic variety. I will pour good olive oil into a couple of little round white scallopped dishes. I'm sure my mom will bring meatballs in a clear piece of depression glassware. (She's an antique dealer and I share her love for such pieces.) 

My job is usually to serve drinks at my parents' place and it will be no different at mine. I love pitchers, so I have three clear glass ones, a clear plastic one with a white lid, and a large white one for tea. I grew up drinking tea at family dinners. Even now, I make a large pot of tea and keep two pitchers of it in my fridge about twice a week, nearly every week. Mine is decaffeinated. I will make sure I designate a specific pitcher for unsweetened tea, just as my mom always did growing up. I have six medium-sized French cafe water glasses that I could use for the tea. My parents will also have to bring bags of ice as I only a single ice tray. I do have a ice bucket though. I could use a cup to scoop. I could use a little salad plate from my everyday dinnerware for the lemon slices. Of course, I have matching red and white glasses for the bottles of wine that both I and my grandfather will supply. I am not going to decant any wine, just uncork the bottles.

I have a large plain clear glass bowl for the salad. I think I will prepare the salad with all those toppings already tossed in. I have a pair of silicone tongs for cooking to serve the salad. I will have an old tomato sauce jar full of my balsamic vinaigrette (which is only olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and freshly-ground black pepper). My mom will bring over a few bottles of other salad dressings.

My main course is the meat lasagna from scratch. Since my mom does not enjoy spicy food, I will use mild sausage rather than my usual spicy kind. The red and white dish will go from oven to table. I will probably need a couple of trivets or more potholders than I own between the long dish and the table. I have a knife and spatula to serve. 

For dessert, I will be making the coconut cake that I have written about previously, cutting corners using the boxed cake mix and canned buttercream frosting. Coconut cake is my favorite non-chocolate cake and I love it for Easter. I will serve it on my clear glass cake plate. I already borrowed a clear glass cake dome from my mom. I will ask my mom to bring over a serving spatula that I had given to her. As I want the dinner to be a success, I will make my famous chocolate fudge from scratch. My grandparents love this; this is especially a highlight for my grandmother. It's not my favorite because I don't love it and then when you look how to make it online, there are very specific steps including a candy thermometer, so my way of dumping all the ingredients into a saucepan over heat and then pouring into a piece of Pyrex makes me feel like a fraud! This has to be made at least a couple of days in advance and I try to keep those ingredients in stock, so it won't be a problem. I will cube the fudge on Sunday morning and will stack the pieces in a piece of glassware my mom brings over. I'm thinking I will wash the salad plates and use them as dessert plates. Having bought a multi-pack of five mini gold-foil wrapped Lindt milk chocolate bunnies, I will place one at the center of each salad plate before guests arrive. 

Easter Sunday Dinner Tables

I am daydreaming of the table settings. My dinnerware set for everyday (and the only one that I had owned) was service for four. I did some research and couldn't find either a fifth match or a plate close enough for my taste. So, I actually bought five dinner plates and five salad plates. I really wanted my table to look nice! I had been eyeing these particular open stock dishes from Pier 1 for awhile and was toying with the idea of picking up service for two so I could have a fancy set for me and a dinner date. But I had enough money in my checking account, so I ordered these matching Grace plates on sale plus free shipping. With their platinum trim, how elegant and classic are they?! I can hardly wait to see them! 


I also needed to order a fifth white and dark gray striped napkin from Crate & Barrel that I think will compliment the plates (that was luckily on sale and shipped free). If you have followed me for awhile, then you know that I love rich, saturated color. I don't do pastels. I could have borrowed my mother's lovely floral antique plates, but that's not my style either. I am actually borrowing my mom's light blue tablecloth and matching cloth napkins to have as extras. The blue tablecloth will top a yard sale-type table that my parents will bring. I will place it in the open area I have in between my dining and living rooms. Four matching dining chairs plus a wooden desk chair will surround it. I think I will cover my small dining room table that will hold all the food with a white table cloth I have. I still have hand-me-down flatware, only five matching butter knives! I think I will likely borrow all matching silverware from my mom. Much to my mother's dismay, I politely declined using her new light pink placemats with wildly-patterned Easter eggs in neat rows across them. She can use them next year. The table certainly will not be perfect and I am trying to let go of that. As for the centerpiece, my mom is bringing me tulips from the grocery store and I have a vase. I might buy more tulips myself too. Chocoholic that I am, I love this idea...

Maybe...

The family dinner at Easter usually doubles as my birthday dinner with family. So, this is the dinner where I have more of a say in the menu. It makes sense to me that this is the holiday I'm hosting. What confirmed my decision to host was the fact that it will be much smaller than usual. My brother just got engaged(!) and so we have shared feasts with her large family recently, but they are traveling to spend it with her's. And then my sister has to work. Since Easter is early this year, my mom has already invited me to a separate dinner during the week of my birthday though. Anyway, I predict that my dinner will be successful and gushed about by myself, my mother, and my grandmother for years to come! I am excited for this dinner party and hope that it's the first of many throughout my lifetime!



6 comments:

  1. Sounds fab, from the menu to the idea about pre-preparing the lasagne so "no fuss/no muss" in the kitchen!

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  2. This sounds amazing and I love the dinner plates so much!

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    1. Thank you! I can't wait to see them in person and then set a beautiful table that's my style.

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  3. Oh Michelle, I love your thought out plan for hosting your Easter dinner with your family. And the table setting and all. If you do take pictures I can't wait to see.

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement! I was a bit nervous before the event.

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