Interesting sides for Easter

Published 12:48 am Saturday, March 31, 2018

Easter is this Sunday and that is hard to believe. Easter is spring to me and the weather is wonderful these days and the produce is beginning to come in the garden.

I found an Easter menu in the new ‘Fine Cooking’ magazine and thought I would try the two sides suggested to go with the ham and they were very good choices. The menu starts with a spring salad with strawberries, then a roasted uncured ham with a mustard crust, and ending with a strawberry-rhubarb blitz torte. The two sides were creamed potatoes with spring onions and a rainbow chard Parmesan crisp. Instead of the chard I used collards since that is what I had in the garden and it worked out fine. The menu just reminds me of the freshness of spring and makes me think about all the delicious meals to come.

Happy Easter and Happy Spring!


From April/May 2018, ‘Fine Cooking’ Magazine.

Creamed Potatoes and Spring Onions

Serves 6-8

Look for potatoes with a uniform 2-to-2 ½-inch diameter. Cooking them whole with the skins until just tender helps keep their shape when they are added to the sauce.

2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes

Kosher salt

12 spring onions or 24 scallions (about 13oz.), trimmed, greens thinly sliced

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

3 Tbs. all-purpose flour

¼ dry white wine (optional) I used it

¾ cup heavy cream

Freshly ground black pepper

Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan; add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Add 1 tsp. salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are just tender enough to pierce with a small sharp knife, about 25 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a plate and let cool completely (do not rinse).

Cut the green portions from the onion bulbs; reserve the greens. Put the onion bulbs in a medium saucepan with 3 cups of cold water and ½ tsp. salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and then reduce the heat and simmer until the onions are tender when pierced with a knife, 10 to 15 minutes for spring onions and 4 to 5 minutes for scallions.

Transfer the onions with tongs to a plate, and then boil the cooking liquid until reduced by half (about 1 ½ cups), about 2 minutes. Pour the onion broth into a liquid measuring cup and cover to keep warm. Reserve two whole onion tops for garnish, and then finely chop enough of the remaining greens to get a generous cup.

Return the pot to the stove and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onions greens and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, 1 minute. Add the wine, if using; and cook, stirring, until nearly evaporated about 20 seconds. Gradually whisk in 1 ½ cups of the reserved warm onion broth, and cook until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the cream. Continue whisking until the mixture simmers, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer, stirring constantly, until thick and creamy, about 2 minutes. Season with 1 tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. white pepper, and remove from the heat.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees. Peel the cooled potatoes and cut lengthwise into quarters. Add the potatoes and whole onions to the sauce and toss to coat. Transfer the mixture to a 2-quart baking dish, and bake until hot, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle the reserved onion greens on top and serve.

Note: The dish can be prepared but not baked up to 3 days before. Cover and refrigerate, then bring to room temperature before baking.

Rainbow Chard (or Collards) Parmesan Crisp

Serves 6-8

2 bunches rainbow chard or collards (about 1 ¾ lb.)

5 Tbs. unsalted butter

4 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise (about ¾ cup)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbs. all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups lower-salt vegetable or chicken broth, warmed

1 8-inch-long baguette piece, thinly sliced crosswise

½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano (about 2 oz.)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375 degrees. Strip the leaves off the chard stalks, and set the stalks aside.

Fill a large saucepan about two-thirds full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add half of the chard leaves and cook, stirring until wilted about 1 ½ minutes. Collards may take somewhat longer. Remove the leaves from the water with a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl, and repeat with the remaining leaves. Rinse the leaves under cold water; then, working in two batches, squeeze the leaves with your hands to remove excess water (do not wring in a towel). Coarsely chop the leaves. Rinse out the pan.

Thinly slice the chard stalks crosswise. In the same pan, melt ½ Tbs. of the butter over medium heat, add the stalks, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 6 minutes; spread in the bottom of a 1 ½ quart casserole.

Melt 1 ½ Tbs. of the butter in the saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper, and cook, stirring often, until tender but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until thickened slightly, about 1 minutes. Gradually whisk in the warm broth. When all of the broth has been added, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped chard leaves and cook, stirring, until heated through and the liquid is slightly reduced, 1 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the chard mixture evenly in the casserole.

In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 3 Tbs. butter. Put the bread slices in a medium bowl and drizzle half of the butter on top; toss well and repeat. Sprinkle the cheese on top and toss again. (You can prepare the casserole to this point two days ahead. Cover the casserole and bread topping separately and refrigerate. Let the chard stand at room temperature before baking.)

Arrange the cheesy bread on top of the chard in the casserole; sprinkle any cheese remaining in the bowl on top. Bake until the bread is nicely toasted and crisp, about 20 minutes. Tent loosely with foil and bake about 5 minutes more, or until the center of the chard mixture is piping hot.