Holy Saturday Awaiting Easter

Tomorrow we will celebrate Easter. Today is our darkest hour as we wait. Wait in joyful hope.

Did you know that there are rules governing how the Easter Vigil is observe? Yep, rules or traditions, most of which are no longer observed as they once were. Once upon a time, the faithful gathered at dusk on Holy Saturday to listen to reading and join one another in prayer. This continued until dawn on Easter Sunday. The rising sun was seen as a symbol of the Risen Lord. Dawn broke through the darkness, and the faithful were filled with joy. Sunrise services began.

Today some churches still gather their flock after dark for readings and prayers. However; there is usually a break between the nighttime vigil and sunrise service. People don’t spend the entire night in a church anymore. Just as once upon a time nearly every church offered a Sunrise Service. Today only a few still do. Most begin services at a more reasonable hour.

There are those that prefer to observe Holy Saturday at home. Some time shortly after sundown’s darkness swallows the world, a prayer candle is lit. The family gathers to read scripture and offer up Responsorial Prayers. It’s really very beautiful and reminds me of Advent traditions.

For others, the day before Easter holds no deep religious meaning. Once the children are tucked in their beds, Mom and Dad spend the better part of the evening playing Easter Bunny. They break out the Easter Baskets and begin the task of filling plastic eggs, tying ribbons and tucking chocolates into artificial shredded grass.

Growing up, we did not have an Easter Vigil ritual. Nor did we attend a Sunrise Service. However; there were baskets filled with candies, new hats, dresses and white shoes for the girls, a new suit, bowtie and black shoes for Brother Dear. While it was exciting to wake up with a basket at the foot of our beds and new clothes hanging on the back of the door, the basket had to wait.

Church came first. Candy second. And by mid-day the house will bursting with Uncles, Aunts, cousins and close family friends. There were Easter Egg Hunts and games and a meal that rivaled the best of restaurants. Always a ham that Dad put in the oven at first light.

These days, I spend Holy Saturday planning ahead for our Easter gathering. The more I can accomplish in the kitchen on Saturday, the less stressful I will feel on Easter Morning.

Appetizers
Asparagus Prosciutto Puffed Pastry Bundles
Herbed Cucumber Bites
Mini Spinach Frittatas

Desserts
Easter Caramel Flan
Easter Basket Cupcakes
Lemon Chiffon Strawberry Short Cake


Appetizers

Asparagus Prosciutto Puffed Pastry Bundles
2 sheets frozen Puff Pastry thawed
1 bunch thin Asparagus
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Kosher Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
8 oz Gruyere Cheese
1 large Egg, beaten
12 slices Prosciutto

Thaw Puff Pastry sheets according to package direction.

Heat oven to 425-degrees. Line a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper, set aside

On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to a large rectangle about double the original size, approximately 20-inches by 30-inches. Square off edges and cut into 6 squares using a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Set aside.

Trim ends from the asparagus. Toss asparagus in olive oil; season to taste with with salt and pepper. Set asparagus spears aside. Grate cheese, set aside. In a small bowl, whisk egg and set aside.

To make the bundles: Fold one slice of prosciutto in half to fit nicely on pastry square. Place the prosciutto in the center of the pastry square. Place 3 or 4 asparagus spears (depending on size) with the tip pointed at the upper left corner of the pastry, the ends pointed to the lower right corner. Top asparagus with about a tablespoon or so of the shredded cheese.

Lift two opposing corners of the puff pastry squares to wrap around the asparagus bundle, folding one end over and then tucked under the bundle, the other over the first wrap to create a nice envelope. Gently press puff pastry to seal. Brush pastry with egg wash. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper if desired. Repeat until all the bundles have been created.

Place in the heated oven to bake until puff pastry is golden and puffed, about 12 minutes or so. Best when served immediately.

Herbed Cucumber Bites
8 oz Cream Cheese
1 English Cucumber
1/4 cup fresh Dill
2 tablespoons Dill Pickle Juice
3/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon Roasted Garlic Powder
1 Green Onion
Parsley for garnish

Let cream cheese soften at room temperature.

Trim roots from green onion. Finely chop entire onion, set aside. Peel cucumber, slice into rounds about 1/4-inch or so thick. Not too thick but enough to form a sturdy base for the cream cheese. Finely mince dill, set aside.

When ready, place softened cream cheese in a medium bowl. Add minced dill, pickle juice, onion powder, garlic powder and green onions. Beat until smooth. Transfer cream cheese mixture to a pastry bag fitted with either a round tip or star tip depending upon desired look.

Arrange cucumber slices on a serving platter. Pipe the cream cheese mixture onto each cucumber round. Garnish each bite with a sprig of parsley.

These bites can be served immediately or covered and held in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Mini Spinach Frittatas
4 large Egg Whites
4 large Eggs
1/2 cup Milk
4 cups fresh Spinach
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Fresh Black Pepper to taste

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.

Separate 4 eggs, reserving yolks for another use if desired such as a Hollandaise Sauce. Place white into a bowl. Add 4 more whole eggs, beat lightly with milk and set aside.

Rinse spinach leaves, chop leaves and add to the egg mixture. Sprinkle mixture with Parmesan Cheese, paprika, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.

Pour egg mixture into the prepared muffin tins, filling about 2/3 of the way..

Place Frittatas in the heated oven to bake for 16 minutes or so, until golden brown.

Work a knife around the edge to loosen and gently lift Frittatas from tins. Arrange as desired on a serving platter. Can remain at room temperature for about 2 hours.


Dessert Table

Easter Caramel Flan
Caramel Sauce
1 cup Sugar
3 tablespoons Water

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place a flan pan or thin-sided tin pan such as a tin-canned ham container inside a large glass casserole dish. Set aside until ready to use.

Melt 1 cup of sugar with water  over medium-high heat while stirring constantly to prevent sugar from burning. Continue to cook until all the sugar has melted and is a nice golden-amber color. Pour caramel sauce into the bottom of the baking tin. Allow sugar to cool while the custard cream is made.

Custard Flan
20 Egg Yolks
1 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla
2 large cans Evaporated Milk
1 cup Half and Half

Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Keep at a simmer until ready to use.

Separate egg yolks from whites. Reserve 3 whites for the meringue topping. Remaining whites can be reserved for another purpose such as an egg-white omelet.

In a medium-size bowl, beat egg yolks slightly with a fork. Add vanilla and sugar. Mix with a fork and set aside.

In a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium-high heat scald evaporated milk and half and half together. Reduce heat to low. Ladle a cup or so of the milk mixture slowly into the eggs to temper. Then slowly pour in egg mixture into the milk mixture while stirring constantly. Once mixed; remove from heat and set aside. Note: Milk-Egg mixture should only remain on heat for about 90 seconds. DO NOT allow eggs to cook.

Using a strainer, CAREFULLY ladle the custard mixture through the strainer over the caramel sauce. Do not allow sauce to bubble up into the custard.

Once all the custard cream has been added to the tin, cover tightly with foil. Pour water into the baking dish around the tin to create a bath. Carefully place flan in the oven to bake for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and continue baking in the bath for another 30 minutes or until firmly set and done in the middle.

Let custard cool in the pan for 1 hour. Invert flan onto oven-proof rimmed serving platter. Pour any remaining caramel from pan onto custard.

Meringue Finish
3 Egg Whites
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Add sugar and Cream of Tartar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.

Top custard with meringue.  Place under the broiler to lightly brown. If desired, meringue can be decorated with pastel sugars for an Easter feel.

Once browned, allow to cool slightly, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Easter Basket Cupcakes:
Materials:
24 Pipe Cleansers
Assorted Egg Shaped Candies
2 cupcake Tins
24 cupcake Liners
Green Food Coloring Gel

Easter Basket Cupcakes
1 box French Vanilla Cake Mix
3 Eggs
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Water

Heat oven to 325-degrees. Line 2 cupcake tins with liners.

Place eggs and oil in mixing bowl. Mix until frothy and well blended. Add water, mix until blended. Add cake mix, blend for 30 seconds on low, 2 minutes longer on medium-high.

Divide batter into tins, filling about 2/3 full using a small ladle or cookie scoop. Place tins in the heated oven to bake for about 15 minutes. Cupcakes are done when tester inserted into the middle cupcake comes out clean and the cakes are springy to the touch.

Let cupcakes cool in tins for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely. While cupcakes cool, make frosting.

Buttercream Frosting
1/4 cup Butter-Flavored Vegetable Shortening
3/4 cup Butter, softened
1 teaspoon Vanilla
4 cups Powdered Sugar, sifted
3 to 4 tablespoons Light Corn Syrup

Cream butter and shortening together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat in vanilla, set aside.

In a large bowl sift powdered sugar. Gradually add the sifted sugar, one cup at a time, to the creamed butter; beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl between additions and after the last of the sugar has been added.

When all sugar has been mixed in, the frosting will appear to be dry. Add corn syrup one tablespoon at a time and beat a medium speed until light and fluffy.

Color with green food coloring gel to desired color. Keep frosting covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

To Assemble: Bend pip cleaners into a U shape to fit just inside cupcake. Make sure cleaners are bent in such a way as to hold their shape. Set aside.

Spread a small amount of frosting as a base over each cupcake. Place remaining frosting into a pastry bag fitted with desired tip such as a leaf a star or small strait hole to “pipe” grass.

Place a few egg-shaped candies onto the center of each cupcake, press down lightly to secure in place. Insert U-shaped pipe cleaners to form handles for baskets. Arrange on a large serving platter and set aside until ready to serve.

Note: The cupcakes can be baked and frosted up to a day in advance. Store in an air-tight container. Place candied eggs and pipe cleaners on cupcakes just before serving to avoid damage.

Lemon Chiffon Strawberry Shortcake
Shortcake
4 Eggs, separated
1 Lemon, zested
1/4 cup Canola Oil
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Water
1 teaspoons Vanilla
1-1/4 cup Sifted Cake Flour
3/4 cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1-1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of an 6-inch Square or 8-inch Round cake pan. Line bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper. Once the paper is in place DO NOT grease paper further.

Separate egg yolks from egg whites in two separate mixing bowls, set aside. Zest lemon, set aside.

Combine egg yolks, canola oil, water, vanilla, and lemon zest in a large bowl, whisking until foamy and well-beaten.

In another bowl, sift together the cake flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Fold the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture until just combined. Set aside.

Using clean beaters, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar to stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites gently into the egg yolk mixture. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. Tap the pan sharply on counter 3 times to remove any large air bubbles.

Place shortcake in the oven to bake for about 20 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Turn cake onto a piece of parchment and allow to cool upside-down. Once cooled completely, shortcake can be assembled.

While the shortcake cools, make whipped cream and prepare the strawberries.

Whipped Cream
2 teaspoons Unflavored Gelatin
2 tablespoons cold Water
1-1/2 cups Heavy Cream
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla

In a small bowl, mix the gelatin and cold water; let sit for five minutes.

In a well-chilled mixing bowl, whip heavy cream with sugar until soft peaks form. Set aside.

Gently warm the gelatin in the microwave on high in 5-second intervals until the gelatin is just melted. With the whisk attachment running at medium speed, add the gelatin into the soft-whipped cream. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Strawberries
16 oz fresh Strawberries
Powdered Sugar, for dusting

Rinse berries. Pull two of the best looking berries of similar size from the bunch. Leave those berries whole, with leaves, until ready to use.

Cut the leaves from the remaining strawberries. Reserve 4 large strawberries trimmed berries and 1 medium berry for the top of the cake, set aside whole.

Sort the remaining berries by size. Cut enough berries of similar size in half to line the edge of the cake all the way around. Leave all the remaining trimmed berries whole.

To assemble: Remove parchment paper from the shortcake. Level the top of the cake using a large serrated knife. Split the cake into two even layers.

Place the top layer of the cake onto a cake board, cut side down. Pipe a line of whipped cream about 3/4 of an inch away from the outer edge edge. Arrange the berries around the line of whipped cream, cut side facing out. Aligning berries as much as possible with the rim of the cake. If necessary, trim the sides of the berries as they meet at the corners for a uniform presentation.

Fill the inside of the whipped cream rim with whole berries, standing up the berries and arranging them evenly. This is the foundation for the next cake layer.

Pipe a bulb of whipped cream between each of the half-strawberries on the rim, and then fill in all the spaces between the middle berries with more cream. Try to make the whipped cream level with the outside berry rim.

Place the second layer of cake on top, bottom side facing upward. Arrange the four large garnish berries in the center and pipe a large bulb of whipped cream in the center. Place the medium whole berry on top of the bulb. Pipe whipped cream around the sides in your desired pattern. Cut the final two berries, with leaves in half and finish garnishing the top of the cake. Just before serving, dust shortcake with powdered sugar.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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