Easter Brunch with Shannon

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Shannon O'DonnellWith Easter approaching, we’ve been busy in our household getting ready for our annual Easter brunch. I always make the same ‘spring-themed’ dishes–I love having traditions like that to look forward to year ever year. And now that we have a little toddler running around, we’ll be adding a little ‘egg-hunt’ for our son and a few of his (very) little friends. Since they’re all around the 1-year-old mark, I don’t think it will be too competitive! But it should be a riot.

Now back to the food. Here’s what’s on the menu:

* Roasted Carrot Soup: Great for Peter Rabbit and your family alike. It’s super-healthy and really tasty. Recipe to follow.

* Baked Egg Nests: using layers of phyllo dough and butter (a real pain, but the result is worth it… nothing turns out quite as ‘nest-like’), I mold little ‘nests’ into a muffin tin. I fill the bottoms with slivers of spinach and prosciutto, crack an egg over each, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. When out of the oven, they are adorable, and delicious too! I serve them with ‘hollandaise sauce,’ but since I’ve often curdled my real-deal hollandaise into scrambled eggs, I cheat and make my sauce with some mayo, sour cream, dijon mustard, salt & pepper, lime juice, and a pinch of cayenne. It’s delicious and since you can make it ahead of time, it won’t curdle on you when you’re multi-tasking and trying to talk to your guests!

* Easter Egg Potatoes: Kind of like twice-baked potatoes, but standing upright. Take big (already baked) baking potatoes and cut them in half. Then take a small slice out of the round bottom part of each so they’ll stand upright. Scoop out the middle and make your potato salad of choice, then fill back into the hollowed half-potatoes, making them look like ‘eggs.’ Super cute!

* Bunny Breads: I used to make my own bread dough–ugh! Now that I’m a busy working Mom, I just buy that famous-brand breadstick dough. Take a long slice (they’re about 10″ out of the can!) of that dough, loop it into a figure eight, but with the two ends extending above the top loop of your eight so as to be the ‘ears’ (pinch them narrower at the end there so they look like bunny ears). Take an extra little ball of dough and press onto the bottom loop or your eight to be the ‘tail.’ Bake according to the package and serve with raspberry butter. Adorable!

* Rum cake: Very pretty on a glass pedestal stand in the middle of the brunch, and an alternative to all of the chocolate you’re sure to have around.

* Rounding it off: A seasonal fruit plate and Mimosas to drink. To make them really pretty, add a splash of grenadine or pomegranate juice… it will settle to the bottom beneath the orange juice and create a ‘sunset’ effect in your glass.

Now here’s that recipe for Roasted Carrot Soup:

5 pound bag of baby carrots
2T of olive oil
Some salt & pepper
2-3 Tbs. unsalted butter
4 shallots, chopped up
6-8 cups chicken (or vegetable or vegetarian version) stock
1 tsp. minced ginger (I buy that jar of ready-minced ginger)
Some ‘pumpkin-pie’ spices to taste: you can use some cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or allspice… probably about 1T total.
Sour cream and fresh parsley or chives for garnish

1) Pour the carrots into a big roasting pan. Douse with 2 or 3 tablespoons (a few rounds around the pan) of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste. Roast to 400 degrees for at least an hour, maybe 75 minutes. You want the carrots nice and soft.

2) Melt your butter in a BIG soup pan (this recipe makes a ton of soup!). Saute the chopped shallots for a few minutes, until they’re soft. Add your roasted carrots, 6 cups of your stock, the ginger, and your spices. Let simmer all together on medium-low for about 20-25 minutes. Then, you have to blend it. An immersion blender works great, but if you don’t have one, you can puree the soup in a regular (drink) blender, a few cups at a time.

3) Serve with a dollop of sour cream and fresh parsley or chives on top. Yum!

Have a fabulous Easter weekend!

Shannon O’Donnell
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist

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