Here's a holiday entertaining question from Tricia:
My boyfriend and I are hosting an Easter dinner party at his place (with its modestly equipped kitchen) for about 20 people (open house style). In addition to copious amounts of Easter candy, I'm leaning towards a fully cooked, sliced ham.
What would you recommend as side dishes (keeping in mind a very basically equipped kitchen and that I'd like to get through this event with as little stress as possible - in the hopes of future dinner parties together!)?
Tricia, Easter is one of our favorite holidays, and the food plays no small part in that! Here are a few classic suggestions for Easter lunch. Many of these can be made ahead, and some even have symbolic Easter significance - especially in Eastern European cultures - so if that helps, so much the better.
We hosted a very similar gathering last year, for about the same amount of people. Here are some of the dishes we made then, and all of these go very well with ham. The potato salad has been especially big hit every time we've made it, and it's easily made ahead.
• Mixed New Potato Salad with Sweet Basil and Shallots
• Grated Beet Salad - Beets are a classic spring Easter food; they make up part of the traditional Easter basket that Orthodox Christians take to the church for a blessing.
• Quail Eggs - Gently boil tiny quail eggs and let your guests peel them before lunch, salting with sesame salt.
• Houska (Czech Easter Bread) - This giant braided loaf is a showstopper of a centerpiece! It's so delicious too. You can make it the night before - its sweetness is wonderful with ham's savor.
Also, these fried lemony rolls are a classic Slavic accompaniment to Easter ham; they make an appearance at most family Easter gatherings! Try a krofi sliced with ham and horseradish - heaven.
For dessert, try this unusual yet stunning Ukrainian dessert. It's a molded sweet cheese, pressed for several days in the fridge until it's firm and creamy. It is rather like soft, refrigerated ice cream. We put big jarred Amarena cherries in ours, along with a shot of Kirsch. This has to be done ahead, so it's out of your way on the day itself. Just unmold to oohs and ahhs!
And finally, you cannot forget the horseradish. Buy a fresh root and grate. Serve it fresh and grated, or mixed with sour cream.
More suggestions for Tricia?
Also, for some tips on serving from a buffet, see these posts:
• Entertaining Tip: Add Height to Buffet Tables with IKEA
• How To Arrange a Buffet Table
• How To Make a No-Sew Table Runner Using Ribbon
• Food Safety 101: How Long Can I Leave Cooked Food Unrefrigerated?
• Tip: Estimating Wine Per Guest
(Top Photo: Scott Phillips for Taunton Fine Press All additional photos by Faith Hopler)