April 6th 2012

Simple but fancy Easter dinner menu (+ recipes)

Whether you’re having a small family gathering or branching out to neighbours and friends, this simple but fancy Easter dinner menu is a step above the basics.

Featuring Cornish hens, asparagus, dill butter, and more, it is easy to prepare, elegant, and delicious, to boot. Serve alongside with a mixed greens salad to round it out.

Here’s what to make:

Roasted Stuffed Cornish Hens

For the stuffing:
2 tablespoons butter
3 leeks (just the whites), sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon grated leon zest
Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste

For the hens:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
4 (1 1/2 pound) Cornish hens
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Few grinds freshly ground pepper

To make the stuffing, put the butter in a large saucepan. Melt over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, celery, carrot, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes.

Add the rice, stirring to coat. Add the chicken broth, tarragon, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover. Simmer until the rice is tender and no liquid remains, about 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

To prepare the hens, remove the neck and giblets from the cavities. Fill each one with about 1/2 cup of the stuffing. Mix together the butter and zest. Brush each hen with the mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the remaining stuffing in an 8×8-inch baking dish. Cover with foil. Place the hens, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan.

Bake for 45 minutes, basting occasionally. Add the stuffing to the oven. Bake until the stuffing is hot and the thermomenter inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 185F/85C, about 30 minutes (uncover the stuffing at about the 15 minute mark).

Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Roasted Carrots and Asparagus with Dill Butter

3 bunches of carrots, peeled and trimmed
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3 shallots, diced
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the carrots in half length-wise, then cut again once more. If they are very long, slice in half. In a large bowl, toss together the carrots, half of the oil, and some salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes. Meanwihle, put the asparagus in the bowl and add the remaining oil and some salt and pepper. Toss to mix. Remove the carrots from the oven. Give them a toss. Add the asparagus. Bake until carrots and asparagus are tender, about 12 to 15 minutes longer.

While these are roasting, put the butter in a small skillet on medium heat. Cook the shallots, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the dill. Toss with the carrots and asparagus.

Steamed Fingerlings with Mint

1 1/4 pounds fingerling potatoes
2 tablespoons shredded fresh mint
2 tablespoons butter
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Put the potatoes in a steamer basket. Cover and steam until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the mint and butter. Toss to coat, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Chocolate Souffle

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
4 eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons strong coffee
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped

Take a 24 inch long piece of aluminum foil. Fold it in half lengthwise. Generously butter a 3 inch strip on one edge, lengthwise. Wrap the foil around a 7 inch souffle dish, with the buttered strong facing in and above the rip. Secure with kitchen twine.

Coarsely chop the chocolate. Melt in a  double boiler with the butter, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in a separate bowl. Beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1/3 cup of the sugar, just about 2 tablespoons at a time, until stiff peaks have formed. Set aside.

Put the egg yolks in another bowl. Beat them with the remaining sugar for about 5 minutes until thickened and the mixture is in ribbons. Add  the chocolate and coffee. Beat until well blended.

Fold about a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Gently fold in the rest. Scrape into the prepared dish.

Put the dish on the baking sheet. Bake for about 35 minutes until puffed and almost firm to the touch. Remove the pan and cut the string. Remove the foil. Dush with cocoa powder. Serve immediately with whipped cream.

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Andrew's Biography

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Andrew loves art and design, and pursues his studies in his final year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He loves seeking out new artists and giving them their dues, and in his spare time, focuses on his own abstract sculpture.