Exceptional Tips for Making Easter Dinner
Make Easy Garnishes for Pretty Dishes
Holiday Dinner the Stress-less Way
Everyone has holiday traditions that they enjoy every year, and these days people are making brand new traditions for their families. New dining experiences and old ones are mixing at the table. It’s not unusual to see lamb served at Thanksgiving or sweet potatoes at Easter dinner.
Even if the usual entrees are still served, switching up the side dishes can bring new favorites to the table. Side dishes need to compliment the entrée and each other, so careful choosing is necessary; nobody wants a clash of flavors at the meal, completely over-shadowing the satisfaction of the diners.
Choose Side Dishes Wisely for Your Holiday Meal
Here are some good suggestions for the next gathering:
- Make several side dishes; start with three, adding one side dish for every 4 people attending the meal is a good formula.
- Prepare both hot and cold side dishes for good variety.
- Variety is the spice of life; eating is partially done with the eyes. Make sure there’s good colors in the meal and shake it up with varying textures and shapes, too.
- Try to have a balance of flavors, too. Make some dishes with strong flavors, like asparagus, and some with milder flavors, like potatoes.
- Dishes that can bake alongside the main entrée in the oven help to save space on top of the stove.
- Adding side dishes that can be done a day or two ahead of time is a great time and hassle saver.
- Be sure to include salads and fruit dishes. They usually will compliment the entrée and the other side dishes.
Fast Side Dish Recipe:
Cook any vegetable that’s liked; corn, green beans, peas, cauliflower or even a mixture of them all. Then, mix these ingredients in a bowl to add:
- Dash of salt (optional)
- ½ tsp. dried parsley
- 1 ½ tsp. melted butter
- ¼ cut dry bread crumbs
Pour the mixture on top of the cooked vegetables. People will be so impressed and they’ll want to know how you did it.
Garnishes - Make that Holiday Dinner Stand Out
When at a restaurant, every plate comes with a garnish because it not only makes the dish look pretty, but it lends greater appeal to our senses when we’re hungry. Garnishes are very easy to make, and they should be made from ingredients that are not in the dish itself. Even a bowl of cereal will look more appetizing if there’s a garnish on it.
Here are some good soup garnishes:
- Sour cream
- Grated or shredded cheese
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Fresh-clipped chives
- Chopped green onions
- Fresh or thawed corn (frozen is the best to use)
- Peapods sliced julienne style
- Fresh, crisp diced onions
Here are some nice garnishes for plates or platters:
- A slice of lemon, orange, lime or grapefruit; slice off a piece of the citrus fruit and lay it down. Slice it from the center out to the side, so the circle has a cut and spread the two sliced edges apart. Lay it on the plate, it looks twisted.
- Buy some large fresh radishes and wash them. Cut off the root end and place the radish on the cut end to stand on it’s own. Now take a paring knife and cut down one side of the radish, but not all the way through. Do this to four sides, leaving a white square in the center. Carefully make the same cuts to the white square in the center, making sure not to cut all the way through. When finished with all the radishes, put them into a bowl of ice water and set it in the refrigerator for at least two hours, and the radishes will “bloom,” looking like a red and white flower.
- Fresh green sprigs always look nice and so do mint leaves, pineapple rings, a small purple cabbage leaf with grapes in it, melon chunks or even green or black olives. Any fruit/vegetable combination with good color/shape variance.
Make and Serve Herbed Butter at the Holiday Dinner Table
Either butter or margarine will work for this condiment. Allow it to sit out and soften a bit before use, and then mush it all up with a fork until it’s creamy and easy to mix. Add one or more of these ingredients:
- 1 Tbsp. Chopped red chilies (dried or fresh, remove seeds)
- 1 Tbsp. Chopped fresh parsley (dried will work, just give it additional time)
- 1 Tbsp. Garlic powder (or roasted garlic)
Mix into the butter well.
Spread butter on a baking sheet about ¼ inch thick. Put in the freezer until hard, and then use small cookie cutters to cut shapes of butter pats. It can also be cut into triangles, diamonds, etc.
The fat in the butter will draw out the flavors of the herbs nicely, leaving the diners with tasty, fancy butter pats that look so fancy, but are easy to make. Serve them on individual butter plates, or stacked pyramid-style on a doily-covered (or lettuce-lined) plate. Many flavors of butter can be made this way, try other herbs or seasonings, like these:
- Basil, cumin, hot peppers, oregano, or cracked black pepper.
- Small amounts of fruit or jam
- One or two blackberries (it doesn’t take much)
- Sugar or brown sugar
- Tabasco sauce
- Maple syrup
- Worcestershire sauce
Chances are good that nobody will notice any undone details except the chef. Try not to stress over the meal too much, enjoy the food and the company.
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