Easter is a time meant to be spent creating memories with loved ones. Even when hosting duties fall on your plate, creating the perfect brunch spread doesn’t have to be a daunting task. If you take advantage of quality ingredients and recipes that feature simple preparation, your spread can impress even the pickiest of guests.
Look for diverse ingredients that can be incorporated into a variety of spring recipes: a versatile cheese such as Jarlsberg is easy to cook with, whether your menu features light or savory dishes, or a combination of the two.
These tips and recipes from Chef George Duran, host of TLC’s “Ultimate Cake Off” and Food Network’s “Ham on the Street,” can help you prepare a scrumptious meal that lets you keep your attention where it belongs - on the festivities of the day.
Keep ingredients like puff pastry sheets, cheeses and various spices and seasonings that work in a multitude of dishes on-hand all year long.
Look for a cheese that won’t overpower other spring flavors; choose a mild, nutty cheese like Jarlsberg, best known for its classic wedge but also available sliced.
Choose dishes that can be prepared in advance, such as quiches or muffins.
Work to incorporate a variety of flavors that complement each other, such as mixed vegetables and smooth, nutty cheese.
Puff Pastry Swirls
4 ready-rolled puff pastry sheets
11/4 cups grated Jarlsberg cheese
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
Heat oven to 375 F.
On lightly floured work surface using rolling pin, roll out pastry sheets into rectangles about 20-by-10 centimeters each. Mix cheese, rosemary and pepper. Spread mixture over puff pastry sheets.
Roll up each pastry rectangle from short end. Press edges firmly together to seal roll. Slice each roll into 3-centimeter thick slices. Place face-down on baking sheet and bake about 15-20 minutes.
Note: To allow pastry swirls to rise more, don’t roll out pastry with rolling pin. Notes: If possible, use stiff paper cups, so muffins stand up better. Cornbread can also be baked in large, round baking pan, about 20 centimeters in diameter; adjust baking time as needed until done.Asparagus Tart
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
2cups Jarlsberg cheese, shredded
1 pound asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Heat oven to 400 F. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out puff pastry into 16-by-10-inch rectangle; trim uneven edges. Place on baking sheet. Using knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch from edges. Using fork, pierce dough inside markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
Remove pastry shell from oven and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Trim bottoms of asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside pastry shell; arrange in single layer over cheese, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, sprinkle with thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Bake until spears are tender, about 20 minutes.
Festive Salmon Cake
2 cans (16 ounces each) red salmon or tuna, drained and flaked
1package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
21/2 cups shredded Jarlsberg cheese, divided
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 lightly beaten eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup minced onion
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 package (16 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables, cooked and drained or 2 cups fresh, chopped mixed vegetables, steamed
Heat oven to 350 F.
In large bowl, combine canned fish, spinach, 11/2 cups cheese, bread crumbs, eggs and lemon juice; blend well. In skillet, saute onion and parsley in olive oil until onion is translucent. Add to fish mixture. Spread mixture into well-oiled 8-inch springform pan and bake 30 minutes. Top with remaining cheese.
To serve, remove from pan. Place on serving platter or low pedestal and arrange mixed vegetables on top.
3/4 cup milk
1/4cup plain flour
11/4 cups cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons softened butter
1/2cup Jarlsberg cheese, plus additional
cured ham, thinly sliced (optional)
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 pack fresh, flat-leaf parsley
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup walnuts
Heat oven to 375 F. Whisk together milk and eggs.
In separate bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and butter. Add milk-egg mixture and stir. Spoon mixture into muffin cases.
Cut cheese into cubes and press down into mixture. Bake in center of oven about 15 minutes.
To make Nut Pesto: In blender or using hand blender, combine olive oil, parsley, garlic, walnuts, cashews, salt and pepper. Pulse or blend until coarsely chopped.
Serve corn muffins with additional cheese, Nut Pesto and thin slices of cured ham, if desired.
Notes: If possible, use stiff paper cups, so muffins stand up better. Cornbread can also be baked in large, round baking pan, about 20 centimeters in diameter; adjust baking time as needed until done.