Spring Dinner Party Planning
Easter is at that odd time of the year when all you want to do is eat fresh produce, but there isn't that much available (in New England, at least).
My mom hosted Easter, but I thought I'd do the menu planning since I kind of love that kind of stuff. The below is slightly intense, but I have to say, we pulled dinner off without a hitch, AND EARLY. Which never happens. So, my type-A plan worked! (Insert evil laughter here).
This menu isn't Easter-specific, so I thought I'd turn it into a blog post and call it a spring dinner party.
I decided to try a few new recipes with some spring and winter veggies to bridge the gap. My dad is pretty standard--he likes traditional American food and he likes it prepared the same way every time, so I tried to use some normal type dishes with a twist. And guess what, it worked perfectly!
Steamed green beans with brown butter and toasted sliced almonds
Bread from a local bakery
- An angel food cake pans with the removable tube in the middle. You just need the tube part.
- A cake pan that the above fits into
- A pie pan or baking dish that the cauliflower fits into
- A baking dish or pan for the potatoes that fits into the toaster oven (we made use of the toaster over to cook several things at once)
- A big bowl for ice water (and ice!)
- A sauce pan to boil the pea / asparagus in
- A sauce pan for the beer sauce
- A large pot to boil the cauliflower in
Either serve food from their baking pans in the kitchen, or have a:
- Serving plate for the cauliflower
- Serving plate for the salad
- Serving plate for the green beans
- Serving plate for the potatoes
Everything here is done by section of the grocery store, I included everything. Remove what you already have at home! Easy-peasy.
A couple shallots
1 lb asparagus
Pea shoots (these usually come in a bag or clam shell)
A Meyer lemon, or regular lemon if you can’t find Meyer
Another regular lemon
1 head of cauliflower
1 potato for each dinner party person or a couple smaller potatoes for each (for the hasselback potatoes: yukon gold, russet, or red bliss), I'd do a few smaller next time.
3-4 lb chicken
½ C Whole milk
2 C sharp cheddar, grated
1 C peas (I prefer petite peas and buy them frozen, but use whatever you like!)
EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
Sugar (Just a few tbs)
Flour (just 2 tbs)
Spicy brown mustard
Red pepper flakes
A beer (pilsner or amber)
Wine for the party (or ask someone else to bring this)
Ahead of time:
- Make the herb butter
- Make something sweet or purchase it
- Set table (or night before)
- Set out serving and cooking dishes and clean them (or night before)
- Prep chicken and dry it in the fridge (need room in the fridge to do this), the shallots can make your fridge a little stinky. Sorry!
- Shred the cheese
- Clean and prep the green beans and the asparagus
- Clean potatoes
- Peel garlic cloves for potatoes
- Measure out the dry ingredients boiling the cauli if you're ambitious
- Clean the cauliflower and boil it in the broth (once I removed the cauli, I added the scraps of veggies from the rest of the veggies to this broth and simmered to make a super rich / delicious veggie broth), put it in the pan to roast it so it’s ready to go
- Mix the salad “dressing” ingredients in the salad serving bowl—ready for toss and assembly--taste it to make sure it isn't too tart or too sweet--the peas and pea shoots are sweet!
- Toast almonds and brown butter for the green beans
- Make the cheddar beer sauce, keep it in the sauce pan. (I made this in the same pan I used to brown the butter)
Pre second bake
2 hours prior:
- Set oven temp to 400
- Prep the hasselback potatoes
- Remove chicken from fridge and roast the chicken (an hour and a half before we want to eat it) (400 for ~55 minutes, let rest while the rest of dinner is being assembled)
- Set toaster oven temp to 425
- Put the hasselback potatoes into the pre-heated toasted oven and bake about 30-45 mins into the chicken roast time period (toaster oven 425, 30 mins, take them out, then another 30-40 mins)
- Rest chicken, change oven temp to 450
- Roast the cauliflower (while the chicken rests, in the hot oven turned up to 450 for 30 mins, then broil for 3-4 minutes)
- Boil water for salad
- Heat up the cheddar sauce
- Have a helper pour the wine and put the bread on the table
- Blanche the peas and asparagus, cool them in the ice water, pop into the serving dish, add the shoots and toss the salad, serve on salad plates or in serving bowl
- Have someone carve the chicken
- Assemble the cauliflower dish (Or just cut it into wedges and serve it, topped with the sauce)
- Steam the green beans for 3-4 minutes and assemble the dish
- Either put dishes out or serve the dishes in the kitchen
the chicken was delicious! This was a larger chicken--we wanted leftovers!
Hasselbacks post second roast--yum!
Oops, I should have watched the broiler a little more closely...but this was still the best recipe of the bunch!
My mom and dad love ham, so they also did a ham which made its way into my one full plate shot instead of the chicken... oh well! Imagine that's chicken with herb butter melting deliciously over it