They say there’s only two certainties in life: death and taxes. But in our family, we’ve got a third: ham for Easter. Add mashed potatoes, roasted carrots and dinner rolls and you’ve got a meal you can set your watch by. And hey, it gets eaten, but it’s a little bit boring, no? So when Ricardo Cuisine invited me to try some of their Easter recipes, I was game. And I have to tell you, cooking and baking and photographing them over the past week has made me feel happier and more fulfilled than I’ve felt in months. Whether you enjoy cooking or not, time in the kitchen preparing these recipes is time well spent. Sure they’ll fill your tummies, but more importantly they’ll feed your soul.
I love the vibrant colour and the simplicity of the green beans almondine. Fresh steamed beans tossed in butter and lemon juice and garnished with toasted sliced almonds and salt make a side that could easily be a main for a veggie lover like me.
The roasted fennel and fingerling potatoes (or baby potatoes in this case, since I couldn’t find the finger fellas) was a little more time-consuming but also super easy to prepare, and your kitchen fills with the most heavenly aroma of the fennel sautéeing on the stovetop before you throw it in the oven.
This year wouldn’t be the first time we bought a ham large enough to need its own seat at the table. And as much as we love it, we always end up with a shed-load left over. A brilliant way to use it up: Ricardo’s ham pot pie. Tossed with potatoes, broccoli and sautéed leeks and blanketed under ready-made puff pastry, it’s comfort food for those chilly Easter weekends when Spring hasn’t quite sprung. (It’s looking like we’ll still have snow.)
Mine didn’t look this pretty the first time I made it. I cut the pastry into squares and laid them on top of the filling as directed, only because my casserole dish wasn’t the same size as Ricardo’s, I had a few extra pieces that didn’t fit so I set them aside. (They didn’t get wasted, however: I baked them with egg wash and sugar and my son gobbled them up with a bit of jam.) As a result, I ended up with a kind of pastry archipelago, and the shrunken squares of dough didn’t look nearly as appetizing bobbing on top of the filling. But the second time I got wise: I cut the sheet of pastry to fit the size of my dish, scored it into individual pieces and laid them on top of the filling until the entire surface was covered. This method worked much better, and the finished product looked much more like Ricardo’s.
Since it’s sugaring-off season in Ricardo’s native Quebec, you’ll also find a number of recipes in the Easter section that use maple syrup. But really, who wouldn’t want to eat these maple-glazed drumsticks year-round? My daughter asked for seconds (YES!) so we’ll be making them again soon, only I have to confess a modification to the recipe: I added a 1/2 cup of ketchup. I spooned the marinade over the drumsticks a couple of times while they were baking but it just slid off, so I stirred in the ketchup to thicken it up and make it stick. It probably diluted the spicy flavour of the chili sauce to make them more kid-friendly too (‘tho my four-year-old nephew loves his hot sauce, so maybe I should say kid-friendly for my kids). And look how good they look! Oh my gosh, you have to try them.
Of course Easter wouldn’t be Easter without chocolate, so we also tried a couple of desserts. The batter for the marbled chocolate bundt cake was so tasty I’m surprised so much of it made it into the pan. My daughter (she’s nearly 8) helped with every step and probably could have made it on her own if I’d let her, only she’s a little absent-minded and tends to do things like turn on the mixer without putting the head into the bowl.
The way the ganache drips down the cake? Sheer poetry, friends. It’s the perfectly decadent end to your Easter feast. Unless you’ve got room for something else, in which case might I suggest the chocolate hen’s nest pie? (Only I couldn’t find a hen, so these bunnies will have to do.)
The oreo cookie crust takes some patience pressing it into the sides of the fluted pan, but it looks so pretty that it’s well worth taking the extra couple of minutes to get it all the way up and around. The filling is a creamy chocolate custard lightened up with whip cream and spread generously over the crust, then popped into the fridge for a couple of hours to set. Topped with chocolate shavings, chocolate eggs and the chocolate bunnies, it’s one of those rich desserts that satisfies with just a sliver. Of course if you want to cut yourself a couple of slivers I won’t tell. It’s Easter, after all!
What’s on your Easter menu, friends? Have I convinced you to try any of the Easter recipes from Ricardo Cuisine?