I hosted Easter yesterday — sent out invitations and invited everyone I know to stop by — it was great fun, there were probably 30 or 40 people over the afternoon, luckily not all at once since my house isn’t that big. I did a big ham, cured and smoked by our local butcher, Matt. He does wonderful hams (we keep trying to convince him to eschew CAFO meat, and while he does do some local sourcing, he’s unconvinced people around here will pay for it. Considering half the kids in the county get free lunch, he might be right, but we keep trying nonetheless). Even though he uses commercial pork, he does a great ham, and unbelievable bacon — I consider it half-local — and I glazed that 16 pound big boy with a mixture of equal parts orange marmalade, mustard, rooster sauce and brown sugar (next time I might add some orange zest as well). It came out spicy and sweet and fabulous, and as always, people ate most of that ham.
I also made some delicious asparagus mushroom egg stratas using this recipe I found online — and made a big salad. Now because I have a horror of running out of food at a party — I had an entire uncooked egg strata left over, as well as 3 big bags of washed greens (a mix of red and green leaf lettuce, frissee, and watercress). I cooked off the last egg strata this morning, then portioned it up and froze it — that’s a lot of easy dinners for nights when work has been hectic. And I’m making soup from the leftover greens.
I love greens soup in the spring — and today’s mixture of spitting rain and sunshine screams spring like nothing else. I cut up a white onion and sauteed it in enough butter and olive oil to cover the bottom of my dutch oven. When the onion was translucent I added a dried chile pepper and 4 cloves of garlic minced. Then I started feeding in the greens, stuffing more and more in as they wilted. A good slug of leftover champagne (I know! sounds decadant — but it was leftover cava from the mimosas) and cook it until all the greens wilted down. Then I added a box of chicken stock (I have some homemade in the freezer, but I wasn’t thinking ahead), and a half pint of whipping cream leftover from this weekends fiesta. Cook it until it seems done but not dead, then get out the hand-held blender and puree. And there you have it, a big pot of liquid greenness — which feels like just the thing after a long winter of bean soups. As if we all need the tonic of greens after a long winter, even though we’re not exactly Greek peasants surviving on dried fish and salt pork all winter.
So, Spring is officially here. We’ve had a big fiesta complete with kids and dogs and everyone standing around my kitchen talking and drinking mimosas. There’s been a ham. The leftovers are dealt with, and I’m looking forward to a long summer of entertaining in the garden — that is, if summer ever comes!