This is just going to be a short summary of our Easter day, one of the busiest and most exhausting this chef has had in a while. We started off the day with our version of an egg-less full English breakfast: sausages, beans, crumpets, cheese, fried onions and apple slices. Then while the Critic played with his Precious (the Apple Powerbook) Marianne and I decorated Easter eggs. I had forgotten how the little dye tablets froth in the vinegar. Marianne was delighted.
I did in fact buy some kosher eggs, but unfortunately, stupidly, broke half of them on the way home in the bus. On the advice of my Romanian colleague (apparently they dye eggs in Romania too) we bought some brown eggs and experimented with the effects of dye on the two. We found that brown eggs work much better with the warmer colours like orange and red. (No surprise there!) The Paas egg decorating kits haven't changed much since I was Marianne's age, except for the nifty egg wrappers they included. You slip the egg into a decorated plastic ring and slide it into boiling water. The plastic clings to the side of the egg and then you can dye the egg afterwards.
Once the eggs were done, the cleaning and cooking began. On our menu were some very tasty recipes which, for the most part, I did not alter at all from the source:
Smoked Salmon Rillettes with Tortilla Wafers (from Epicurious). This was delicious but surprisingly unpopular, except with my Irish friend Owen.
Quail's Eggs with Sesame Salt (also from Epicurious). Not really a complicated recipe (boil eggs and whiz toasted sesame seeds with salt in the food processor), but this was really delicious. Following Clotilde's blog on goose eggs, I was inspired to branch out in the egg department myself and am really happy I did. Quail's eggs give you the exact proper proportion of white to yolk in a bite-sized morsel. A great improvement on hen eggs in my opinion!
Goat cheese spread. This wasn't so much a recipe as an inspired use of some marinated cheese that had gotten a bit too strong for comfort. (Coming from me, this is saying a lot - they had been marinating with fresh garlic and spices for about a month now.) I mixed four goat's cheeses with about 6 oz. of "carré frais" (which is a bit like cream cheese). Absolutely delicious on Ritz crackers. The cheeses had been marinating in olive oil with two garlic cloves, a few sprigs of fresh thyme, a bay leaf, some peppercorns and a few dried hot peppers.
Baked Ham. This took some explaining when I ordered it from the butcher and then I had to call home to ask my mother about the hard pink exterior (cut it off? yes. drat, more work). I trimmed the hard outer layer (skin?), scored it in diamond shapes, inserted cloves and basted it with a glaze of 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup orange juice, a dollop of Marsala and a big spoonful of lavendar honey. Baked for about an hour and a half, basting frequently. I stuck a few pineapple rings on it about half an hour before it finished, using toothpicks to hold them in place. Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment I forgot to photograph it before carving. It was very pretty, though.
Mashed Potatoes, Carrots, Peas
And I forgot the roasted onions, which are still in the oven as I type.
For dessert, I tried my hand at winging a white chocolate mousse with partial success. What I did (and I don't recommend trying it at home!) was beat two egg whites until they were stiff, whipped some cream until I gave up on it EVER getting soft peaks, melted four bars of white chocoloate with a little water and folded them all together. I refrigerated for 24 hours and the result was something that was a bit mousse-like on top, but very much custard/pudding-like on the bottom. It tasted good and it looked good, but the consistency was a bit strange. To serve, I put a few sliced fresh strawberries in the bottom of each glass, covered them with the "mousse", and topped with a drizzle of strawberry liqueur that Steve brought me back from New Zealand last autumn. Unfortunately, I neglected to take a photo as they looked pretty in the martini glasses and parfait glasses I used!
(Any tips on successfully melting white chocolate would be appreciated. It melted but stayed incredibly thick until I added a tiny amount of water and then it suddenly got way too thin. Panic!)
Here is a photo of most of us just before sitting down!
Afterwards, we played Pictionary, Charades and Escalado. If you want a quiet evening, do not invite six British, Irish and Australian friends over for an evening of betting on horse races. It got somewhat loud and if any of my neighbours are reading this, I APOLOGIZE.
As they say, a Good Time Was Had By All. And the chocolates from Chocolat Jadis et Gourmandewere delicious.
Chocolat Jadis et Gourmande
49Bis av Franklin D Roosevelt 75008 Paris
01 42 25 06 04