April 1, 2011

The Easter Dinner Celebration!

Set a celebratory mood with table linens in delicate springtime hues. To add visual and textural contrast, layer patterns over solid colors. Start with a crisp white tablecloth, then add a second cloth decorated with a colorful print. Florals and other botanical designs are perfect for the season, as are jaunty stripes. You can also create fresh looks by layering quilted runners and place mats over a tablecloth or arranging them on a bare wooden table.

A Maine House Mosaic

Enliven the setting by combining pastel dinnerware and serving pieces with classic white dishes. Tiered cake stands provide impressive presentation for desserts while making it easy for guests to help themselves. These versatile pieces are also ideal for serving teatime finger foods, such as scones, cookies and petite sandwiches. For morning meals, use the stands to hold mini quiches, frittatas and pastries. Clear glass pitchers and casual stemware offer handsome service for beverages—be it lemonade, iced tea or sparkling mimosas. Use additional glasses to hold flatware on a buffet table.

Candles and fresh flowers transform even the simplest occasion into a special one. Create an inviting atmosphere with flickering pillar candles set in tall glass vessels known as "hurricanes," which will prevent flames from extinguishing in a breeze. Set out vases filled with your favorite flowers and let the celebration begin.

Estelle's Spicy Blood Marys
1 can (46 fl. oz.) good-quality tomato juice
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs. prepared horseradish
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. hot-pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
1 1/2 tsp. celery salt
Ice cubes as needed
3/4 to 1 cup vodka
6 to 8 celery stalks, leaves attached
6 to 8 lemon slices

In a large pitcher, stir together the tomato and orange juices, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, lemon juice, hot-pepper sauce and celery salt. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.
To serve, fill large glasses with ice cubes. Pour 1 shot (1 to 1 1/2 fl. oz.) vodka over the ice in each glass. Add 3/4 to 1 cup of the tomato juice mixture. Use a celery stalk to stir each beverage, leaving it in the glass as a garnish. Garnish the rim of each glass with a lemon slice.

Ginger Peach Glazed Ham
1 precooked smoked ham, about 15 lb.
2 cups dry white wine
5 cinnamon sticks, each about 6 inches long

For the glaze:
1 jar (15 oz.) peach preserves
1 Tbs. minced pickled ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground dry ginger
1 tsp. dry mustard
4 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
1 head chicory (curly endive), separated into leaves

Preheat an oven to 325°F.
Break the cinnamon sticks into 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces. Using a sharp knife, cut 8 or 9 horizontal slits, each 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep and running at an angle in the upper, more fatty side of the ham. Slip the cinnamon-stick pieces into the slits, poking them into the meat.
Set the ham, cinnamon side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan. Pour the wine into the bottom of the pan and tent the ham with aluminum foil, sealing the edges securely. Bake for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the peach preserves, pickled ginger, dry ginger and mustard. Stir well and heat until the preserves melt, forming a glaze.
After 2 hours, remove the ham from the oven and poke any loose cinnamon sticks back into the meat. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F. Stir about 2 Tbs. of the pan juices into the glaze to thin slightly. Then spoon about three-fourths of the glaze over the top of the ham. Sprinkle 2 Tbs. of the brown sugar on top of the peach glaze, then pat it with the back of a spoon so that it clings to the meat.
Return the ham to the oven and continue baking for 1 hour more, then baste with the pan juices and spoon the remaining glaze over the top. Pat with the remaining 2 Tbs. brown sugar. Continue to bake until the glaze is browned and bubbly and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the ham registers 140°F, about 30 minutes more. Remove from the oven, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 25 minutes before carving.Transfer the ham to a large platter and garnish with the chicory. Beginning at the large end of the ham, carve across the grain into thin slices and arrange them around the platter. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Roasted Baby Potatoes
1 lb. small to medium new potatoes, scrubbed
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh rosemary or
1 1⁄2 tsp. dried
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat an oven to 450°F. Oil a baking sheet or roasting pan. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the olive oil, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast, stirring and turning occasionally, until the potatoes are fork-tender, 45 to 55 minutes; the timing will depend on the size of the potatoes. Transfer the potatoes to a warmed serving dish and serve immediately!

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