I hope you all had a warm, healthy, and wonderful Easter holiday. I managed two out of three - it's still on the chilly side in my neck of the woods, although I did manage to have a window open for at least a few minutes to let in some fresh air.
I thought I was going to be on my own for Easter this year, but as it turned out, my brother-in-law had to be in town on business, so I decided to make my sister's semi-new traditional Easter dinner, which is one of his favorites - Brachiole. I know, I know - some of you Italians are wanting to beat me over the head with your rolling pin for saying that, so you can call it a rolled Stuffed Flank Steak. To many, the term Braciole is reserved for a smaller bite but hey, if Giada can call a rolled Stuffed Flank Steak Braciole, so can I! ;)
This was truly a day of firsts for me; not only had I never made the Braciole before, but if you can believe this one ... I had never boiled an egg before! I've certainly colored my share of eggs over the years, but I'm not a big egg eater (unless it's a scramble or omelette with lots of veggies and cheese), so it wasn't until this year that I even fried my first egg, never mind boil one. I also opted to play around with a few "natural" dye options, so that was yet another first. Oh, and tying a roast - that was a first too. A while back, I found some food-grade silicon bands that are just like elastics you wrap around the roast, but when I tried it, they left such thick blank bands around the roast, it looked really strange. Even using those rings as a guide for slicing, it just turned me off for some reason.
Because it was just the two of us, I kept it pretty simple. For apps, I threw together a small cheese platter and a cheese dip with crackers and bagel chips, then I translated my recent Antipasto Salsa with Pita Chips/Scoops into an even finer diced version stuffed into small tomatoes. I drizzled a splash of Balsamic vinegar over the top, but you could also do that with some, then add a dollop of Tzatziki as a topper for others, with a sprig of fresh dill.
For the main dish, I had the Braciole - one with a mushroom filling and another with a spinach/artichoke filling; some baby carrots I had cooked along with the Braciole; steamed baby green beans dressed simply with a bit of butter, lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice; and mashed potatoes.
At the end of dinner comes the traditional egg challenge - you hold your egg and someone else holds theirs and you smack the ends together. Whoever ends up with the last egg uncracked is said to have good luck for the year. That almost always turns out to be one particular nephew, but he wasn't here this year, so that left the door open. I'm happy to say that not only did I win this year, but my brother-in-law tried five different eggs against my one! Hopefully I'll have the promised good luck for the year. ;)
Because it was just the two of us, and I didn't want to waste a whole dozen eggs, I decided to be funny and fill the rest of the slots in the the egg platter with Cadbury eggs.
I mentioned I had tried some new coloring techniques. The light yellow and greenish-blue speckled eggs at the top of the photo were colored using the rice technique. You squirt color into a plastic container holding some dry rice and then shake to transfer the color from the rice onto the egg. If you don't mind wasting some rice, this is definitely quicker and easier than the traditional method. The two bright yellow eggs were colored with saffron, where the blue Earth looking egg was colored with blueberries. That leaves the one that I think is the ugliest, that turned out to be my brother-in-law's favorite - the middle left. If you can believe it, that (to me) dirty looking egg was actually colored in a combination of raspberry and beet juice.
I had also read about people coloring eggs with Espresso, so I was getting ready to try that when it occurred to me that it was crazy to specifically buy white eggs (I always buy brown) to color them for Easter only to turn them into the color of the eggs I usually buy! If I color eggs next year, I'll definitely have to try the traditional onion-skin method.
I suppose if you have berry bushes growing out in your yard, it would be something cool to experiment with. I used some partial bags of frozen berries I had in the freezer. To me, it's really just more expensive - especially the saffron.
Now that the annual egg challenge was out of the way, it was time for dessert. Again, since it was just two of us this year, I didn't want to go overboard. I know that one of his favorite desserts is the Pavlovas I made a few years back for the first time, so I went with that. The funny thing is that I swear, I completely forgot that I had the meringues in the oven for almost an hour beyond when I should have turned it off, but they were still perfect! Good thing they bake at a low temp I guess lol. Pink almond-flavored meringues filled with fresh whipped cream and topped with berries.
I'm STILL stuffed! How about you? What did you do for Easter this year? Add anything new to your menu??