EASTER, HOLIDAY

Springtime Sunday Brunch Tarts

This is the first Easter Sunday that I didn’t have my family gathered around my table due to the “social distancing” world we are currently living in, but that didn’t stop me from preparing a meal and doing a little curbside delivery to my brother and a couple of my neighbors. I purchased a small two pound ham, made a pot of smothered corn from fresh cobs, and decided to do a little refrigerator and freezer dive to make something with items I already had on hand.

Crab 🦀 Pie

I remembered I had a pound of lump blue crabmeat in the freezer and found some mini pie shells I had purchased and forgotten to use. I started a small roux (from equal parts flour and olive oil) in a non-stick skillet and allowed it to become a mahogany brown before adding chopped onion, celery, red peppers and garlic. After those ingredients cooked, I added about 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp. of black pepper and small sprinkling of red pepper flakes – stirring to combine before adding about 1 cup of boxed seafood stock. The consistency should be saucy, but not watery before folding in 1/2 lb. of crabmeat and 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese until evenly incorporated. The end result should be similar to the consistency of mashed potatoes. Place the tin lined pie shells (or a full size pie crust prepared in a pie plate) onto a Silpat lined sheet pan (this will prevent the mini or single pie plate from sliding around). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill each shell with the crabmeat mixture, level each off and then bake for 30 to 40 minutes when the pie crust edges (including the bottom of the crust -take a peek) are also golden. SO that was quick and easy and delicious!

Spring Veggie🥕🌶 Tart

As I returned to my refrigerator to survey it’s contents, a container of pencil thin asparagus that I originally planned to oven roast caught my attention. I remembered seeing different versions of tarts made with asparagus on Pinterest and searched the freezer for some puffed pastry. Spring also calls from carrots, and the many versions of ways to cook carrots that I’ve seen on various cooking shows passed through my mind. So I decided to put both ideas together. Here’s what you’ll need.

  • 9″ x 13″ sheet pan (half sheet)
  • parchment paper
  • 1 Sheet puffed pastry (place in refrigerator overnight)
  • flour for dusting counter
  • 4 to 5 slender carrots (peeled, ends cut off and sliced down the middle).
  • 2 tbsp each olive oil and butter (in to a skillet)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp chili oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 8-12 pencil thin fresh asparagus
  • 5 oz. container of shaved parmesan cheese (or shave a block with a vegetable peeler) – or shredded Italian blend cheese or other melty cheese like or Gruyère or white cheddar
  • fresh chives, fresh thyme
  • two eggs
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

The photos above show the steps for preparing the carrot side of the tart. Select the thinner shaped carrots, peel, cut ends off and slice lengthwise. Add olive oil and butter to a non-stick skillet and when melted add carrots (sliced side down). Place another skillet on top of the carrots to prevent curling. They need to be straight for the tart. Cook for about 5 minutes until slightly blistered or browned on medium heat. (Carefully remove the top skillet using a dish cloth (it will be hot with steamy condensation on the bottom) then turn each carrot over. Add honey, chili oil, salt and pepper. Cover (I don’t have a lid that fits the skillet that I used, so I improvised using a piece of foil and splatter screen to hold it down) and cook until centers of carrots are fork tender- about 5-7 minutes. Drain the liquids from the carrots on a rack and set aside.

Sprinkle flour on surface of counter and roll out puffed pastry sheet 2 inches wider and longer than sheet pan about 11″ x 15″.

On to the puffed pastry. Line the half sheet pan with parchment paper. Dust the countertop with flour and roll out the puffed pastry one inch wider than all sides of the pan sheet half sheet pan (about 11″ x 15″) so that when placed inside the sheet pan the pastry goes up the sides (needed to hold egg mixture in). Dock (pierce) the surface of the pastry with a fork. This stops the pastry from puffing in the center. Place the tray of pastry in the freezer for 5 minutes to re-chill and pre-heat the oven to 400-425 degrees (depends on your oven. )

Meanwhile, measure 3/4 cup heavy cream, add two eggs, chopped chives and thyme.

Sprinkle the pastry with a handful of cheese; line the asparagus on one side and the carrots on the other; pour the milk and egg mixture evenly over the vegetables and then sprinkle another handful of cheese over the top. Bake from 30 to 40 minutes (depends on oven) until edges and bottom crust is golden brown for a crispy – not soggy crust.

When the tart first comes out of the oven it will puffed up, but it will sink as it cools. The tart is delicious warm, but also works at room temperature. Whether for brunch, lunch with a salad or a side dish, both of these tarts are simply delicious and easy to please.

EASTER, HOLIDAY

Design a welcoming Easter Table….

Any holiday can be daunting when it comes to decorating. While it is easy to go overboard, I’ve always felt less is more. When purchasing holiday related items, I try to make sure they will blend in with the style and colors of my every day decor each year. I also do my best to incorporate and repurpose items I already have in a new way. This method allows for changing color themes and a fresh look from year to year. Below I’ve explored different color themes, while using many of the same base items.

For the love of pink...

Over the years I’ve had a love affair with “dishes”. While I don’t have complete sets of eight or twelve, I did think ahead enough to require items were trimmed in gold allowing it to easily blend in with my china that has a simple lace and gold rim pattern. Pink floral patterns and depression glass also blend in well with my teacup collection composed of all pink and red roses with gold trim. Below are some examples of a “Pink” themed table setting.

PINK TABLE SETTING
  • Above soup cup filled with while linen napkin folded into a bunny.
  • Below: Elite Limoges tea cup and vintage etched crystal stemware.
  • The center of the table is lined with an all-purpose moss mat purchased at a craft store.

While the ceramic bunnies are simple ceramic pieces purchased for less than $10 at Homegoods, the gold edged flowers with just a touch of pink and green add a “vintage look” to each piece. The single “Mother” bunny’s ears are filled with gold, but the babies were not. I used a small bottle of model metallic gold paint to add the gold to the ears of the two smaller bunnies. A white base color can fit into any color theme.

With just a couple of changes here is a “tiffany-blue” theme.

  • Below top: Cross folded napkin, round placemat, Lenox bone gold trimmed china, cupcake pick cross & silk tulips
  • Blue and yellow: Yellow daffodils, added gold charger, blue & green stemware
  • See saw bunnies centerpiece, blue pearl eggs in covered coupe glass, simple paper plate bunny design in the center, vintage gold rimmed glassware.

Garden and carrots theme… pops of orange!

These carrot see-saw bunnies were
the inspiration for this theme. Cabbage napkin rings fresh cherry tomatoes on the vine
and radishes added to complete the garden.
  • Below top left: Orange woven placemat, burlap charger plate, Lenox gold trim bone china and paper plate in center with orange and pink trimmed linen napkin.
  • Below top right: Center plate changed to a ceramic green trimmed bunny plate and carrot print napkin. https://www.pier1.com/carrots-napkin/3811267.html?st=carrot%20napkins
  • Bottom left: Salad plate Grace’s Teaware gold polka dot, carrot print napkin tied with carrot print ribbon and faux carrot.
  • Bottom right: Napkin tied with braided grosgrain ribbon (2 orange and 1 green) and sprig of parsley.

For the love of green…

Green cameo depression glass juice glass and salad plate.
Elizabethan Staffordshire Bone China tea cup.
Egg cup with pearl green egg and buddies in the background.
The simplest of all versions still shines.

Lavender and violet are my favorite, and yet I searched my stock of things and even looked around at local stores and I could not find anything that I could use to create a table setting in this color. So I’m challenging myself to find something in the future.

All of these examples are not complicated, but show how the same items can be reused from year to year and look fresh and new. May these examples help you look at your own dish ware and table in a new way to create a festive Easter table setting. May you and yours have a Blessed and Happy Easter!