Trial Run: Easter Dishes
I’m hosting 30 people on Easter. Gulp!
I have a very big family. My mom typically hosts, but this year my stepdad isn’t feeling the best, so I volunteered to have everybody over to our place. That would be fine if I were a good cook. But I’m not really known for my prowess in the kitchen! Needless to say, I’m a little nervous about pulling it off.
The only way I am going to be able to cook for 30 is with a lot of advanced planning (and practice runs). As I sat down last weekend to organize a menu, I kept getting stuck. I have the main dishes pretty much set: lamb and ham. But I was totally flummoxed by the sides. There are just too many options – whenever I’d look through my cookbooks, my eyes would start to glaze over and I’d sort of zone out. Not an auspicious start for sure.
I shared my panic attack with Rachel, the fabulous woman behind the delicious blog A Southern Fairytale.
Just because I’m not a confident cook doesn’t mean I am not interested in the topic! I’ve been devouring her posts about food and family since I first heard about it at the Blissdom conference. My only regret is that I didn’t know about it sooner. Check out this video on how to make green eggs & ham – my Dr. Seuss obsessed son just about died and went to heaven when I showed him that we could really make that.
Anyhoo when she heard about my dilemma, she exclaimed “OY!” and then promptly shot me two recipes to try as side dishes. I figured that this week I’d give them the ‘ol college try. On Saturday afternoon, as the winds howled outside and the rain pelted the house, I gave the first recipe a try: Marinated chilled potato and green bean salad.
I thought I’d pair it with a leek tart, which could also be a nice filler on Easter for the vegetarians in the mix. My only problem is that I cannot for the life of me seem to get this homemade flaky crust thing down. (I am hoping that practice will make perfect – and if anybody has any good tips for novices, please share them). I have no problem getting it down to a flat little disk that you put in the fridge for a few hours – it’s the rolling it out that kills it every time.
Sorry, I digress. Back to the salad!
The green bean and potato salad was a CINCH to make. Steam some beans, boil some potatoes, and make a Dijon vinaigrette. Even I can do that! (One question for cooks out there – how much prepping of potatoes should one do? I think I get a little over-zealous cutting out every little ding that looks as though it could be an eye, which I was told as a kid are poisonous). I put the elements in the fridge and then went on to massacre yet another flaky crust. Not pretty, but I knew it would probably taste ok. So I threw it in the oven and 30 min later, we were in business. Not two minutes after I took the tart out of the oven, the power went out.
I poured about 1/2 of the vinaigrette on the bean and potato salad and tossed it in the dark. Then we lit a slew of candles, set the dining room table and had a fancay-schmancay dinner. The tart was edible, but nothing to write home about (more practice required on that one before I serve it publicly). Thank GOD I paired it with the green bean salad. It was a hit! The potatoes soaked up just the right amount of the tangy vinaigrette. And the crunchy feel of the beans played off the soft potatoes nicely too. I will definitely be making that one for Easter (and lots of other dinners too).
Bonus: my mom and stepdad had stopped by earlier in the day to give us a hand with the kids as we did a major cleanup (we’re moving soon). So they were on hand to try the salad too and gave it the thumbs up.
Thank you Heather!