Time to have company! My last two full menus were enjoyed by just my husband and our daughters. March however, brings my family not only Easter, but also my daughter’s 16th birthday and my nephew’s 9th birthday. March, then became the perfect month to celebrate with family and friends enjoying a grand full menu from The Best of Gourmet: Volume VI. Here is the menu:
Goat Cheese and Walnut Souffles with Watercress and Frisee Salad
Herbed Roast Leg of Lamb with Roasted Onions and Potatoes
Rosemary Mint Wine Jelly
Mixed Spring Vegetables
Minted Pea Puree
Raspberry White Chocolate Mousse Cake
Wine: Chateau Chasse-Spleen ’85
This menu has some wonderful opportunities to enhance the ambiance by adding some seasonal media. As guests arrived I played a spring themed Spotify playlist that included Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring, Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, and Jean Sibelius’s Spring Song. As the Easter Eggs were being hidden and the kids were waiting we put on Easter Parade with Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. Fred Astaire’s dance routine in the toy store is sure to entertain everyone even in 2016!
Remember that immersion blender that I said you needed in February’s posting? It will come in handy all through this menu! You will need it for the lamb gravy, the minted pea puree, and the raspberry white chocolate mousse cake. That little gadget is like having your own personal prep cook! It’s that handy!
I admit, I was so busy with planning that I really dropped the ball on the wine for this month. We had wine with our Easter dinner, but it wasn’t reflective of the menu suggestion. For those of you with more organizing power, the following is my research on the Chateau Chasse-Spleen. It looks like they still produce wine and it is available in California. This is a Bordeaux blend red wine, so if you don’t have easy access to obtaining the Chateau Chasse-Spleen, then I would suggest a Bordeaux blend from your local wine merchant.
As I have mentioned in my earlier blog posts, I am but one person in my kitchen, so timing and prep work are very important. Before I made these little souffles I did a little research to see if I could make them in advance and then freeze. I found a few tips on the internet that seemed to indicate that it was possible, so I made the decision to go ahead and whip these up a week in advance.
I made a double batch, so there was plenty to try when they came out of the oven. I think I may have overcooked mine just a little, because I thought they were a little dry. One of my daughters really liked them a lot, but I was unimpressed. They were good, but not very flavorful. I think I prefer different cheeses, like feta or Asiago or something more sharp and salty.
Overall, freezing in advance worked out great! I thawed them in the fridge the night before our party and popped them in the oven for about 6 minutes at 350 degrees. The end presentation on the salad made an elegant first course. Everyone seemed to enjoy the souffle salad.
When I mentioned to people that mint jelly was part of my Easter menu they would give me a funny look and they seemed to be skeptical. I have to admit, I was not really looking forward to this part of the menu. I mean mint jelly is passé. We were all wrong. This jelly is the stand out of this menu! It is beautiful, tastes refreshing, and is the perfect complement to the lamb. It was also easy to make. I did not put them in Mason jars nor did I do the proper procedure for canning. I simply made the jelly and placed it in the jars you see in the picture, then placed those in the fridge. You can make this jelly days in advance, longer of course if you do the proper canning.
I was asked by my sister to please add more on the mint jelly, because she said people need to know that this jelly was “transcendental,” and she continued, “it goes with so much more than the lamb.” Apparently, my sister felt that I did not express just how amazing the flavor is of this jelly. It is surprising just how good this jewel like jelly turned out. With your leftover jelly, if there is any, try it on fresh berry scones with Devonshire cream. Or you can do like my daughters and just eat spoonfuls of it like it is jello! I hope this paragraph impresses upon you how much this jelly was enjoyed!
The Main Course:
The gravy that accompanies the lamb is excellent! Roasts are usually very easy and this lamb was no exception. I started marinating it the night before. Once you take the lamb out of the oven and while it rests make the gravy and the Minted Pea Puree. You might also need to do the finishing touches to the Mixed Spring Vegetables (my Mom brought this dish and finished it at my house. It was nice to have a helper with me in the kitchen! Thanks Mom!).
Everyone really liked the lamb and all the sides. The minted pea puree was a fresh bright green and not super minty, very easy to make. It was a nice side, but it was also good there were other veggies on the plate too. It added variety. Each side dish on the plate complemented each other and nothing overpowered or detracted from the other flavors. Our lamb was incredibly tender and had a wonderful mild flavor. Put lots of gravy on your potatoes and dig in!
Now time to serve the meal and enjoy!
The Dessert: Raspberry White Chocolate Mousse Cake
I made this incredibly delicious dessert three days in advance. The picture above is from The Best of Gourmet: Volume VI, below you will see a picture of the one I made. It may not have been as pretty, but everyone ate my cake along with a chocolate mousse cake from a local bakery called Ettore’s European Bakery. Ettore’s is probably the best bakery in the Sacramento Area. The verdict was that the Raspberry White Chocolate Mousse Cake was on equal footing with the Ettore’s cake. WOW! That is some high praise! This cake is worth the effort and is truly special. Following are my suggestions for the cake.
Set aside a day to make this cake. This cake is made in many steps and you might want to make the White Chocolate Genoise many days or up to two weeks in advance and freeze. I always find it easier to slice a cake horizontally when it is partially frozen. Please note that the directions say to slice the genoise into thirds. I found this impossible. You can either slice it in half as I did, or you can make two cakes and slice as needed. Or, and I didn’t try this, you might want to do a double recipe and bake it in one 8 1/2 inch springform pan. That might give you the needed height for slicing into three horizontal slices.
I could not find frozen raspberries in a light syrup, so I just bought frozen raspberries and added some simple syrup. Just make sure you do not have more than 20 ounces because otherwise you will end up with too much extra raspberry mousse and it will also not be as firm as it needs to be for forming the dessert.
For brushing the cake layers I used Chambord which enhanced the raspberry flavor perfectly. Good luck with this cake, but even if it isn’t perfect the flavor is just amazing!! You can always call it a “trifle” and serve it in a bowl! Here is what my final product looked like:
Easter Dinner: A Design Collection
There are all sorts of wonderful items in this collection for designing your Easter holiday table and dining room. The Best of Gourmet: Volume VI, shows this menu served in a conservatory with bougainvillea and colorful bouquets of spring flowers. I could not find the exact china pattern that is pictured in Gourmet’s photo, but I love the one I picked out: Ceralene Raynaud Limoges’s Crocus. It seemed fitting for a spring dinner. You will also find some stunning English Ironstone platters and this little item is a perfect Easter Basket for the mint jelly:
I would love to know what you are cooking and if you ever do full menu cooking yourself. Leave me a comment so we can talk about food!