Many years ago, Easter Sunday began by attending the Children’s 9 o’clock Mass at St. Bernard’s on Atwood Avenue. After entering and blessing myself with Holy water, I’d settle into the right pew to kneel, pray, sing, pay attention to the priest, listen to his sermon, then receive Communion with a final blessing before leaving through the side door to run through the backyard church lot and headed for home. After crossing the railroad tracks, climbing a hill to cross St. Paul Avenue, and running past five houses, the next one on Talmadge Street was mine where a 12- inch tall chocolate kewpie doll stood at attention on the dining room table next to my Easter basket filled with jelly beans and a few colored eggs waiting to satisfy my sweet tooth.
The chocolate Kewpie doll, unlike any others I’ve seen, remains locked in my childhood Easter memories. My father worked in Beef Sales at Oscar Mayer & Company, retiring in 1962, and I think it was given to him by a very satisfied customer back in the 1940s. The doll was nibbled on for countless days until it was gone forever.
Later in the day, family gathered to celebrate one of the most joyous religious holidays of the year. After everyone was seated in the dining room and prayers were said, the Easter feast prepared by Mother began with the traditional baked ham and other family favorites she served with love.
If you don’t have a traditional Easter menu to prepare on Easter Sunday, you might be interested in an Easter menu with a gourmet touch recently discovered in the “Good Enough To Eat” cookbook written in 1987 by Carrie Levin and Ann Nikinson.
Baked glazed ham
18-20 pound cured ham, bone in
1 ½ cups apricot jam
1 ½ cups Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
1 cup dark raisins
3 juice oranges sliced very thin, plus 1 orange halved
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a knife, remove all but ¼-inch fat from ham. Then make crisscross markings over the remaining fat. Place ham in an 18-by-24-inch roasting pan and spread with jam. In a small pan combine liqueur with raisins; simmer 10 minutes, then remove from heat and let raisins steep in liqueur 30 minutes. Stick orange slices to the ham with the cloves, piercing the oranges through their center. If some fall into the pan, don’t worry. Squeeze remaining orange halves over ham and add them to the roasting pan.
Bake ham 50 minutes, then pour liqueur and raisins over it. Bake 30 minutes longer, basting ham every 15 minutes.
Sweet potatoes dauphinoise
5 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin
1 cup butter, softened
¼ pound Parmesan cheese, grated
1 large onion, halved and sliced very thin
3 large garlic cloves, minced
4 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel and sliced potatoes very thin, taking care to make every slice uniform and to remove all the blemishes. Rub an 18-by-12-inch baking pan with ¼ of the butter. Sprinkle all over with ¼ of the Parmesan. Then place one third of sweet potatoes in rows, overlapping slightly. Layer on 1/3 of the onion slices, garlic, butter, cream, milk and Parmesan; combine cinnamon, nutmeg, kosher salt and pepper and sprinkle 1/3 of mixture onto layer. Repeat twice, with the last layer of potatoes (3rd layer) overlapping in rows like fish scales; top with remaining butter and Parmesan. Bake, covered with foil, for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 to 30 minutes longer, until a knife inserted in center comes out easily.
Strawberry and rhubarb relish
½ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup lemon juice
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pint ripe strawberries, washed, stems removed, halved if large
1 ¾ pounds rhubarb, cleaned and cut in 1-inch pieces
Place orange juice, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon in a small saucepan over low heat. Swirl, do not stir, until sugar is dissolved. Simmer 10 minutes. Add strawberries and rhubarb. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook 20-30 minutes, or until fruit is very soft. Correct seasoning. If fruit is too watery, remove it with slotted spoon, reduce liquid to a syrup and pour it over the fruit.
Yield: 3 cups
Here is the recipe described as being a Valentine cookie intended for the February 13 column that was mistakenly omitted from the column. Readers wondered what happened to it, so thought I’d feature it today as being a “pink with sweet flavor” Easter cookie.
JELL-O cookie gems
8-ounce package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 ¼ cups flour
3-ounce package of JELL0- Raspberry Flavor Gelatin
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Beat first four ingredients in a large bowl with mixer until blended. Mix flour, dry gelatin mix and baking soda; gradually add to cream cheese mixture, mixing well after each addition. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll dough into 60 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.