Easter holds incredibly distinctive memories for me. The night before was always filled with tears as my mother pressed my hair with an iron comb hot from the stove. Every year I was sure she was going to burn me. My mother guaranteed I wouldn’t get burned if I didn’t move. Every year I got burned. I wore fluffy dresses against my will with ruffly socks – my only solace was a pair of patent leather Mary Jane style shoes with a *heel.* You couldn’t tell me NOTHIN’. After church we would all go to my grandmother’s house. Her holiday table-scape could rival Martha Stewart any day.
The real star of Easter is always the food (though, I believe I’m supposed to say… it’s Jesus? Um…). Easter dinner, much like Thanksgiving, varies across cultures. Mine always included – in no particular order – ham, greens, dressing (you might know it as stuffing – personally, I do not know her), potato salad (mustard based – I am ancestrally contracted to not acknowledge any other kind), mac ‘n cheese, mostaccioli, and homemade rolls. I won’t mention desserts because we’ll be here too long. My grandmother made every single dish every year. Bless her soul.
If you are hosting an Easter dinner this year, let Joy virtually help you. Delegation is key, and it’s never a bad thing to keep things casual and fun – there’s really no rules! You got this!
• Muffuletta Deviled Eggs – I have not met a deviled egg I didn’t like. Somehow, I slip into a meditative state as I down them in one bite, one after another. These deviled eggs have been introduced to New Orleans in the best way. The iconic creamy egg center meets salty deli meat, briny capers, and a beautiful kick of spice. Oof. Let these love you.
• Potato Leek Quiche and Supreme Pizza Quiche – I love that quiche has stood the test of time. It’s versatile, you can add almost any ingredient to it and know it’s going to be tasty. It makes a whole pie that can be sliced up however thick or thin you need it to be. And! It reheats like a dream. Whether you’re going with an ultimate classic like potato leek, or a spin on a classic like this delightful supreme pizza version, there’s no wrong answer!
• One Pot Lamb Meatballs – It’s 2022, y’all. We can agree that working smarter, not harder, is the ultimate move. This one pot beauty gets you out of the mental, physical, and emotional stress of frenching a rack of lamb. This will please every single relative in-law, and please your sink with only one dish. That makes me want to shout a little bit, I can’t lie.
• My Favorite Egg Salad Recipes – I remember being little and having a dyed hard boiled egg in my lunch for several days after Easter. It felt like a punishment for asking to dye 2 dozen eggs. It might have actually been a punishment now that I dwell on it. Don’t do that to your kids. Make egg salad sandwiches, even if you’re the only one that likes them. The radishes in this recipe are the true hit with their crunch and slightly peppery bite.
• Potato Rolls – In my family, rolls are the object of war. Every year my older brother counts the rolls, and then deducts the count by how many people eat at dinner. At the end of the meal we fight to see who gets the most rolls to take home. It very much feels like Jets vs. Sharks in the kitchen as my giant, football playing nephew lurks around the table stealing rolls and my brother attempts to catch him. These potato rolls are pillows filled with happiness, so be careful if you have a brother and a defensive lineman nephew in your family – they’re the tastiest ammunition.
• Pan Seared Deviled Egg Salad – Yes, I am back with another deviled egg recipe, but because this is based on Jacques Pépin’s mother’s recipe. Deviled eggs are crisped in ghee, and a simple salad dressing is made from the leftover filling. It is elegant in its simplicity and honestly? Anything Jacques Pépin loves is gospel to me. He’s one of the many dads I have adopted. Happy cooking!
• Angel Food Cake Cupcakes with Coconut Cream and Strawberries – We’ve made it to desserts! My grandmother was partial to making a sheet cake with sweetened, shredded coconut on top. This recipe holds its own as you stiffen egg whites to make angel food cake topped with decadent coconut cream. I love the toasted coconut bits added at the very end, it’s the perfect textural finish.
• The Perfect Carrot Cake – Listen, I am a hoe for carrot cake. There is something about rich, spiced cake with barely sweet cream cheese frosting that makes everything in my world all right. This carrot cake is perfect to me – it has real shredded carrots, walnuts, raisins AND crushed pineapple. This is the way! I’m not even offended when someone tells me they hate carrot cake, you know why? There is more for me! No, but for real. Make this and bless yourself.
• Upside Down Bananas Foster Cake – This cake deserves all the spotlight and praise. How can you go wrong with caramel, bananas and pecans in a beautiful and light cake? You cannot go wrong. Serve it warm with ice cream and a rum sauce (because why not) or fresh, barely sweetened whipped cream. This cake will solidify your bad-ass baker status.
• Creamy No-Bake Carrot Cake – A whole miracle made by the magic of time. This no-bake treat takes graham crackers layered with a creamy sweetened condensed milk mix and shoved in the fridge. The graham crackers become almost cake like as they absorb the cream – very reminiscent of an icebox cake. It’s so easy it almost feels lazy, but it’s far from it. This quick dessert is a showstopper. I would make this in a large trifle bowl mostly so I could scoop large spoonfuls into my mouth at 3am, standing with the refrigerator door open as a light source. Not that I have ever done that before or anything.
I wish you the happiest Easter – happy baking friends!