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Italian Easter or Spring Brunch
Amaretti Glazed Ham Crostini with Ricotta and Strawberries Asparagi Mimosa Ravioli with Lemon Cream Sauce Ricotta Cookies

RECIPES
Orange Smoothies
Crostini with Ricotta Cheese and Strawberries
Amaretto Glazed Ham
Asparagi Mimosa
Ravioli with Lemon Cream Sauce
Ricotta Cookies
A brunch can be a lot of fun because you can do almost anything you want with the menu.  You can serve all of your favorite breakfast and lunch dishes at the same time.  It combines wonderful savory foods with sweets, light fruit salads, and tasty brunch cocktails.  For additional dishes to add to your brunch menu, try one of our egg recipes, fruit desserts, panettone French toast,  recipes from our holiday and special occasion breakfasts, or hors d'oeuvres
Include an Italian Easter specialty, such as Pizza Chena, Bolognese Rice Cake, Wheat Berry Cake, or Lamb Cake.  It's also a nice touch to serve a special drink with brunch.  It you wish to add a cocktail, peach bellinis are a light, fruity drink.  And don't leave the kids out of the fun; make virgin mimosas by combining orange juice with lemon-lime soda.
Orange Smoothies
(Serves 2-3)

This is a very refreshing drink for spring or summer.  Feel free to use your
favorite kind of milk or other sweetener that you like.  You can also add
scoop of vanilla ice cream or plain yogurt.

Ingredients:

1 (10 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate *
2 cups ice
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.

*Note:
If you would like to make this recipe with fresh oranges, use about 4 oranges.
Put the peeled orange wedges in the freezer for 30 minutes so that they are
just beginning to freeze. This will allow the oranges to blend a little better.
 
Crostini with Ricotta Cheese
(Serves 4-6)

You can top these crostini with almost any of your favorite fruits.  They are
basically savory in flavor.  Add a drizzle of honey if you want them sweeter.

Ingredients:

1 baguette, cut on the bias into 1/2-inch slices
Olive oil
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly brush both sides of bread slices with
olive oil.  Arrange the slices on a baking sheet.  Bake until golden, about 15
minutes, flipping halfway through  Let cool slightly.

In a bowl, stir together the ricotta, zest, salt and pepper.  Spread about 2
tablespoons of the mixture on each slice of bread.

Strawberries:
Slice strawberries, place in a bowl, and drizzle with Campari or an orange
liqueur.  Allow the berries to sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.
Arrange the slices on the ricotta spread and top with chopped pistachios.
Amaretto Glazed Ham

The amount of glaze in this recipe is enough for a small ham.  If you are
baking a larger ham be sure to double the amount of glaze and increase the
baking time.  Slice the ham and arrange in a circular pattern around a large
bowl of mustard or cut into   smaller slices and serve with bread or dinner rolls
so your guests can make sandwiches.

Ingredients:

1 (5 pound) boneless smoked ham

Glaze:
8 ounces Amaretto
5 ounces peach nectar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon dry mustard

Directions:

To make the glaze:
Combine all the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. 
Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  With a sharp knife, score the surface of
the ham in a diamond pattern.  Place the ham on a rack in a roasting pan.
Pour the glaze over the ham; put the ham in the oven.  Bake the ham for 1
hour, basting every 15 minutes with the glaze in the roasting pan.  Serve with
mustard or your favorite condiment.
Asparagi Mimosa
(Serves 4)

During spring, the first asparagus of the year is available.  It you are using
pencil-thin asparagus, simply trim off the tough ends.  For larger asparagus
stalks, you may wish to peel the bottom half of each stalk.  This dish is nice
for a brunch, as a salad, or as a side dish to roasted meat.

Ingredients:

32 asparagus stalks
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 hard boiled eggs

Directions:

Trim the ends of the asparagus.  Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water for
5 minutes.  Cook for less time if your asparagus are thin.  The asparagus are
done if their heads bend slightly when lifted with tongs.  Drain the asparagus
and rinse with cold water or place in a bowl of ice water.    Place asparagus on
a towel and pat dry.

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, shallots, and mustard.  Peel the eggs
and cut in half.   With a wooden spoon, force the eggs through a medium-
mesh strainer into a bowl.  Pour the vinaigrette over the asparagus and gently
toss.
Divide the asparagus among 4 plates.  Drizzle with more of the vinaigrette, if
desired.  Top with the egg mixture.
Ravioli with Lemon Cream Sauce
(Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side dish)

This sauce may also be used with a ribbon pasta, such as fettuccine.
Add shredded cooked salmon, chicken, or ham, if desired.
You can also add peas or asparagus, or garnish with toasted slivered almonds.

Ingredients:

8 ounces small cheese ravioli
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon finely minced onion
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 cup heavy cream
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped chives or parsley

Directions:

Cook ravioli in boiling, salted water until al dente.  Drain and reserve a little of
the cooking water.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the
onion and garlic; sauté 1 minute.  Add the cream, lemon zest, and salt and
pepper.  Cook the mixture for 3 to 4 minutes until it starts to reduce and
thicken.  Stir in the lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of butter.  Add the
drained ravioli to the sauce and stir gently.  Add some of the pasta cooking
water if the sauce is too thick.  Season with additional salt and pepper. 
Transfer ravioli to a serving platter; sprinkle chives over the top.
Ricotta Cookies

(Makes about 36 cookies)

These colorful cookies have a cake-like texture and a delicious cream cheese icing.  Although they look like they might be very sweet tasting, they really are not.  Use a 1-1/2 tablespoon scoop to drop the dough onto the cookie sheets and you  will get evenly-sized cookies.  Iced cookies can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Icing:
1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Assorted pastel food coloring *
Colored sprinkles or sanding sugar (optional)

Directions:

To make the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the egg, ricotta, and vanilla; beat until combined.  Add the flour, baking powder, baking, soda, and salt; beat until blended well.

Drop the dough in generous tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until the bottoms of the cookies are lightly golden.
Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool.

To make the icing:
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla; beat until creamy.  Decide on the number of colors that you will be tinting the icing.  Divide the icing into small bowls; one for each color.  Stir the food coloring into each portion of icing.  Spread a small amount of the icing over the top of each cookie.  Add colored sprinkles, if desired.  Serve immediately or refrigerate.

* Note:
You may choose to leave the icing white and simply add pastel sanding sugar.
The cookies look pretty that way, too.

 
 
 
 
 
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BREAKFAST FOR A CROWD
When serving breakfast or brunch to a
crowd, choose your menu wisely and skip
made-to-order dishes like omelets and
fried eggs; thry are tough to reheat without
overcooking.
Scrambled Eggs:
Make them in a double boiler: Melt 2
tablespoons of butter in a heatproof bowl
set over a saucepan of simmering water. 
Add 8 beaten eggs.  Stir until set, 10 to 15
minutes.  Turn off the heat, but keep the
bowl over the hot warm for up to 30
minutes.

Frittatas and Quiches:
Make these several hours ahead and serve
at room temperature; no need to reheat.

Poached Eggs:
Poach them in advance and transfer to a
bowl of cold water.  They will keep for about
24 hours in the refrigerator.  To serve, lower
them into simmering water and heat
through for just 1 minute.

Pancakes, Waffles, and Frech Toast:
Keep warm for up to 20 minutes in a 200
degree F. oven on a rack set on a baking
sheet.  Don't put them directly on the baking
sheet, the bottoms could get soggy.
HOLIDAY RECIPES  >  ITALIAN EASTER  >  ITALIAN EASTER OR SPRING BRUNCH
ENTERTAINING TIP
If you don't have a set of plain white dishes,
put this at the top of your must-have
entertaining essentials.  White dishes look
sensational on the table by themselves or
you can completely change their
appearance on the table by pairing them
with different accent plates, linens, and
accessories.  In the summer, create a
bright tabletop by combining your white
dishes with blue and white salad plates
and apple green table linens.  In the fall,
pair your white dishes with russet napkins
and an autumn centerpiece. In winter,
make them more elegant with silver and
gold accessories, or make them more
whimsical by adding holiday stemware and
napkins.  With white dishes and varied
accessories, your table will never look the
same for any occasion.
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Ricotta Cheese
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EASTER BOOKS
FOR CHILDREN
MINI BUFFETS
If you're short on space you can still
entertain big by setting up mini buffets
throughout your house.  Find 3 great
locations in your house to serve each
item on your menu.  Serve eggs on a
kitchen island, pancakes on a table in the
living room, and the ham on a rolling cart
tucked into a corner.  This will keep
guests moving from one place to the next
and mingling with others along the way.