There is something beautiful about taking the time to create a holiday just for yourself. The usual fanfare of garish color and candy doesn’t really seem important (and maybe not even doable) right now. What does seem important is time. Odd isn’t it? How “hiding” in this house with the same four people I’m intending to celebrate with can lead me to want more time not less? For this reason, I wanted to create an atmosphere that feels calm, understated. Slow. Almost everything on the table is a bit of a nod to the holiday. Tulips. An apple branch in blossom. Pink ramekins. Oval shapes. If the boys were still very young I’d probably be preparing for the opposite. A spring flashback to all those times grandma let us tape tinsel all over her walls. But they are not. And I’ve already done the cleaning. (Over and over.) Instead, I’d like to create space for conversation. Putting our feet up and maybe pulling out the cards. We’ll see
Simple, Understated, Easter Lunch for 4
Browned-Brown Onion Carbonara
I love using ribbony egg noodles for pasta carbonara. Al dente they give more of a bite and can be spun to perfection for serving. This carbonara is rich, creamy, and ever so slightly earthy. It goes swimmingly well with a bright citrusy side dish.
1/2 small brown onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 servings uncooked pasta, long noodles work best.
2 oz. or heaping 1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
4 oz. or 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 whole large eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved for serving
Cook pasta according to package instructions reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. While pasta is cooking, add a teaspoon or so olive oil to a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmery add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are browned. 3-5 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the Parmigiano, cream, eggs, salt, and pepper to a large heatproof bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the browned onions.
After the pasta has drained, add it to the egg mixture stirring quickly with a large wooden spoon to cook the sauce and coat the pasta. Splash on 1-2 tablespoons reserved cooking liquid as needed for consistency. Top with shaved Parmigiano and serve immediately.
Shaved Fennel Salad
Bright, citrusy, crunchy, fresh. This salad is a perfect complementary side dish to the rich sauce of pasta carbonara.
2 small fennel bulbs with plenty of fronds. very thinly sliced.
1 large purple carrot, very thinly sliced in rounds.
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced.
1/4 cup sliced, toasted almonds.*
juice from 1/2 lemon
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved into ribbons or crumbled
In a serving bowl, combine fennel, carrot, red onion, almonds, and lemon juice. Toss to combine. Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste. Top with shaved cheese just before serving.
*To toast your own almonds add a very small amount of butter or olive oil and almonds to a pan over medium-low heat. Cook almonds until they have browned lightly. About 2 minutes. Remove from heat immediately.
Individual Orange Blossom Custards
This dessert is our Easter nod to the marshmallow peep. It’s sweet, fruity, creamy, and best of all looks like spring. While there are plenty of reasons to pile high the meringue, you can skip it and have a perfectly lovely dessert.
Makes 4 4oz portions
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 Tbsps butter, melted
4 oz fresh-squeezed orange juice
4 egg yolks
10 oz sweet and condensed milk
1/4 tsp orange blossom water (or substitute almond extract)
Preheat oven to 350f
Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Evenly divide and tightly press the mixture into 4 4oz ramekins. In a bowl whisk condensed milk and egg yolks until combined. Add the orange juice and orange blossom water. Whisk until smooth. Pour mixture evenly into prepared ramekins and bake for 10-15 minutes until the center is just set. Let custards cool before topping with meringue.
2 egg whites
3.75 oz or 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
Using a stand mixer on high speed, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Reduce mixing speed to medium and add the sugar slowly, one tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar is added and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Add the vinegar. Whisk on high speed until the meringue has doubled in volume and is smooth and shiny. Using a large spoon, scoop some meringue onto each custard creating dips and swirls. Brown meringue tops with a kitchen torch and serve the same day.