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Pleasing a Crowd for Easter Brunch

A meal that veggie and meat lovers can enjoy.

You can't please all the people all of the time — but you can try. And given the prevalence of food allergies, it's a good idea to have some variety when planning a gathering.

Instead of the typical meat, side and vegetable, here are some ideas for an Easter meal that not only will please vegetarians and meat lovers, but parts of which can be made the day before.

Brunch is a good choice for Easter because it can be served late morning to early afternoon. It also still will be light out for egg hunts and you can be done and have time to enjoy a relaxing evening.

The simplicity of this Egg Vegetable Casserole went perfectly with the other flavors on the table. Typically, egg casseroles are made ahead and often use a mixture of bread and eggs. A whopping 18 eggs makes bread unnecessary in this delicious and visually appealing entree.

I used the recommended mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, however, feta cheese (and a few olives) would also be a tasty fit. Dicing the vegetables allows for even cooking, as well as easy portioning at the table. Sauteing the veggies the day before and storing them in the fridge saves some time.

This apple recipe can easily be multiplied for more guests. I doubled it for our family of six. What I liked about this recipe is that there is no butter because the touch of lemon juice combined with the natural juices of the apples combine with sugar to make a sticky glaze.

These apples can be served with a spiral-sliced ham, but because we didn't have a houseful of guests, I used Canadian bacon as the recipe suggested. The tender sweetness of the apples contrast perfectly with the salty meat.

The real surprise of this meal was the cherry almond scones (follow the tips at the bottom of this basic scone recipe for other flavors). Scones are one my long-time favorite treats. I've been known to make these more than once a week when an acute craving hits.

And I've always used the same recipe a friend gave me years ago with great results. However, this recipe popped up when searching for a recipe using cherries, and something about the ingredients caught my eye. This formula uses sour cream in place of my usual half and half or buttermilk.

I was skeptical but gave it a whirl. And from the sighs of delight coming from around the table, I knew I had made a good choice.

These scones, which can be made the day before and heated up briefly in foil, look like any other I've baked, but even while kneading the dough I could feel the difference.

The texture was velvety and softer than my former recipe (which will now be gathering dust), and when I bit into a warm slice, the improvement was unmistakable.

To me, a scone should be heavier and more dense than a muffin, not as crumbly as a biscuit and definitely not as sweet as cake. It's a difficult mark that is missed by almost every bakery I've encountered.

But these were perfect, especially when I bit into a tart chewy almond-scented cherry. Instead of mixing the almond extract into the dough, I drizzled the extract over the cherries in a small bowl and let them sit while I made the dough. The extract helped soften the cherries and gave them a delectable almond flavor.

To round out the meal and add some beautiful spring color, I steamed some skinny asparagus. But you could just as easily saute some green beans, julienned zucchini or some baby spinach if you prefer.

Hopefully these ideas will help you plan your celebration of Easter, while inspiring other ideas.

Play with the flavors, such as candied ginger in the scones or sauteed pears instead of apples. And by all means, if your guests are all carnivores, throw some panchetta or crumbled sausage into the casserole.

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