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  • Tommy Centola

Get ready for Easter meal

Now that Spring is here, time to get ready for its first holiday, Easter. It’s the perfect day to gather family and friends for a great meal. I fondly remember Easter meals when I was growing up. I looked forward to them because they were always followed by an Easter egg hunt. While I’m past the age for searching for candy, I’ll never grow tired of sitting down for an Easter meal.

What are some of the items I remember from those meals? While Thanksgiving has the turkey, Easter to me always meant a ham with all the fixings. Today I want to share with you three dishes that would be at home on the table: Root Beer Glazed Ham, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Blueberry Ice Cream. Let’s head to the kitchen!

Root Beer Glazed Ham

Glaze

24 ounces Root Beer

1 1/2 tablespoons pepper jelly

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 tablespoons Tabasco Caribbean style Steak Sauce or Pickapeppa Sauce

6 cloves

1 stick cinnamon

Peel and juice of 1/2 orange

Peel of 1/2 lemon

1 smoked ham, about 8-10 pounds

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

It is best to make the glaze the night before.

Combine all the glaze ingredients in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower to a simmer, and cook for about a half-hour or until the liquid is reduced to about half. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350℉.

Place the ham on a rack in a disposable pan. Score the ham in a criss-cross pattern. Spoon enough of the glaze over the ham to completely wet the surface. Combine the brown sugar and mustard and pat it00 all over the ham. Pour a half a cup of water into the pan. Spoon some of the glaze over the top of the ham at 15-minute intervals until it is all used up. Add more water to the pan when it dries up. Continue baking until the ham reaches an internal temperature of 160℉ on a meat thermometer. Remove from oven and allow to rest for a half-hour before carving.

These days, it’s easy to just reach for instant potatoes than making them from01 scratch. The extra effort is worth it. I use a ricer to ensure my potatoes are lump free.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and diced

4 tablespoons salt

1 cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons butter

6 cloves roasted garlic, mashed

Salt and white pepper to taste

Boil potatoes with salt until tender and drain well. In same pot heat heavy cream, butter and mashed garlic. Remove from heat and add potatoes. Mash until creamy. Stir in salt and white pepper.

In my opinion, nothing is better than home-made ice cream. When I was young, I used to take turns with my mom beating the ice cream to ensure the texture was right. Here’s one that will make a perfect ending to your Easter dinner.

Blueberry Ice Cream

2 pints fresh blueberries, rinsed well and picked over

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

Zest from 1 lemon, removed in long strips

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch salt

In a medium saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, water, and zest. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the berries start to fall apart and the syrup thickens, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and discard the lemon zest. Carefully transfer in batches to a food processor or blender and purée on high-speed. Pass through a fine strainer into a large bowl, pressing against the solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Whisk in the remaining ingredients, cover, and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours.

Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a plastic container and freeze until firm and ready to serve.

The good things about these recipes is that you don’t need a holiday to make them. Gather your family and friends for a great meal. As they say in New Orleans, Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler! Let the Good Times Roll!

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