Early Easter Dinner

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It doesn't get any easier not being able to be with my entire family for certain holidays.  Easter is a particularly tough one. It tugs at my heart strings, especially having a little niece that is growing faster than any of us can keep up with. Thanks to facetime, she is now under  the impression that I live in my sisters phone and points to it when they mention me.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love being in Philly, but I'm holding out for a time portal or something to be able to beam us back and forth to see my family more frequently.  This was supposed to be the future, where is my jetpack!?  Anyways...  

Last year while I was living in Brooklyn we hosted Easter for some of our friends and had a really lovely time.  This year was just as nice, Robert's parents joined us with a couple of friends.  We went all out on the menu, "front loading" it as Robert calls it... with lots of little appetizers and a roasted chicken for dinner.  Robert made a good point when we were planning our menu, Easter is the holiday of meat that Jill won't eat.  I'm not partial to lamb, or ham, or veal.  I know, I sound picky but meat is a weird thing for me.  Luckily, our guests did not mind trading in traditional ham for Chilled Cumin + Coriander Pea Soup with Toasted Pistachios, Smoked Paprika Deviled Eggs, Pea Blinis with Creme Fraiche + Smoked Salmon, Artichoke + Gruyere Hand Pies, Radishes with Butter + Sea Salt, and Roasted Chicken.  

 

Chilled Cumin + Coriander Pea Soup
4 cups vegetable stock
6 cups fresh or frozen peas
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup non-fat greek yogurt
1 tablespoon creme fraiche, plus extra for serving
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
Salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped and toasted

In a heavy bottomed pot melt butter and sauté onion and shallot until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add 2 cups vegetable broth, cumin, coriander and peas.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes.  Add remaining broth and remove from heat.  Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.  Add greek yogurt and creme fraiche, blending again until well combined.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Strain soup through a chinois (a sieve will also work for this) about one cup full at a time.  Soup should be smooth and free of pea skins.  Refrigerate until ready to serve, topping with a spoonful of creme fraiche and toasted pistachios. 

Smoked Paprika Deviled Eggs
8 eggs, hard boiled
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/4 cup non-fat greek yogurt
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
1 clove garlic, minced
3 chives, diced, plus additional for serving
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Salt and ground black pepper

Cut eggs in half lengthwise, remove yolks and place in large bowl.  Mash yolks with salt and pepper, combine all other ingredients in bowl and mix until smooth.  Spoon the mixture into piping bag and fill eggs.  Top with remaining chives and serve.

Pea Blinis with Creme Fraiche + Smoked Salmon
adapted from Bon Appetit 

1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Creme fraiche for topping
8 oz smoked salmon

For fresh peas, cook in a small saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 3 minutes.  For frozen, run under warm water to defrost.  Using an immersion blender, blend the eggs, flour and cottage cheese until smooth.  Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in peas and scallions.  Prepare a large non-stick skillet over medium heat with cooking spray.  Working in small batches,  pour the batter about a teaspoon at a time.  Let cook until bubbles form on top, about 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook until blinis are browned on bottom and the centers are just cooked through.  Serve immediately with a small layer of creme fraiche and a slice of smoked salmon.  

Artichoke  and Gruyere Hand Pies
makes 20 small pies

2 16 oz jars of artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and ground black pepper
1 batch of pie crust, uncooked

Preheat oven to 350°.  In a large bowl, mix artichoke hearts with cheese, garlic and salt and pepper to taste.  Roll out pie crust to about 1/4" thick, using a small cup or pasty cutter about 3-4" long, cut out circles in the dough and fill with artichoke mixture.  Fold the dough over and crimp the sides together with a small fork.  Place the finished pies on a prepared baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes until the dough is golden brown and crispy.  Serve warm.