Easter observance during my baby days and beyond, culminated in a feast, a family tradition maintained throughout the land. Surprises were not common. My mother was the quintessential self-taught Southern cook who used no cookbook and ran her kitchen with military precision. The dinner table would rival a spread in a fancy restaurant. Colorful choices of meats, fowl, vegetables and fruit salads were served with sweet iced tea. Desserts usually included one of her pies and a cake. We ate while sharing stories, many funny, taking time to serve ourselves and be certain that everything was tasted. Should anyone dare skip an item, Mom, almost on cue, would inquire: “You really must try my squash casserole.”
I’ve included my Mother’s favorite dessert recipe. Her version of Lemon Meringue Pie is superior. It’s loaded with nostalgia and each bite takes me back to those halcyon days when Sunday dinner, especially Easter, became a stage for a great cook, a gentle lady who taught me how to appreciate good food served with love.
1 pound (500 g) asparagus spears, woody ends removed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (or 4 cloves garlic, minced)
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Lightly grease a baking sheet with nonstick cooking oil spray. Arrange asparagus on baking sheet. Set aside.
In a small bowl mix together olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle the oil mixture over the asparagus and toss to evenly coat.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until vibrant and just beginning to get tender.
Remove from oven and top with the mozzarella cheese. Return to oven and broil (or grill) until the cheese melts and becomes golden (about 4-5 minutes).
Baked Bourbon Meatloaf
1 tablespoon butter
1 heaping cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 heaping cup chopped white mushrooms
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/4 pounds ground beef chuck
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup Coca-Cola
3 tablespoons Kentucky Bourbon
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons Tupelo honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and celery and cook for 3 minutes.
Add mushrooms, bacon, and garlic and cook 4 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and let cool.
Add the ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, egg yolk, ketchup, coke, bourbon, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to bacon mixture. Mix until blended, shape into a loaf and place in a 9×5-inch pan.
Stir glaze ingredients together in a small bowl. Spread over top of meatloaf.
Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Tip pan to drain excess grease off. Let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.
Miss Carrie’s Lemon Meringue Pie
My Mother’s Recipe
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice with pulp (if desired, grate one lemon rind)
3 eggs, separated
1 can Borden’s Borden’s Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon extract
For the crust:
2/3 stick of butter
1 cellophane pack of Graham crackers (or use a bought prepared Graham cracker crust)
To make your own crust, melt butter in the pie pan; finely crush crackers, pour into pie pan with butter and form crust.
Separate egg whites and yolks. Beat egg yolks with a fork until light and fluffy. Combine beaten yolks and milk, reserve one teaspoon of lemon juice, then slowly stir in rest of lemon juice, lemon extract, and grated rind until well mixed.
Add a pinch of salt to egg whites, then beat egg whites with electric mixer, adding the reserved teaspoon of lemon juice, and when almost to peaks, add sugar slowly and finish beating.
Add filling to crust, top with meringue.
Cook in preheated 350 degree oven until meringue is golden brown.
Sir Verde’s Wine Suggestion: Look to France. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a gift to the world from Avignon. With its fascinating history, this delicious red wine will add some majesty to the Easter feast.
Be happy. Bonne dégustation. Love one another.