Friday, March 25, 2016

Easter 2016 - Prep Schedule

I always find big dinner parties and holiday meals so much easier to manage with a schedule. It's one of the reasons I often start my menu planning at - they have a great menu builder in their inspiration section that fills a shopping list and populates a schedule for you. The only drawback is that it doesn't take into account that most home cooks don't have two ovens, so you have to check it really carefully and cross your fingers that your two heart set on recipes don't conflict.

Here's my menu for Easter 2016 - if you like the looks of it, you'll love this schedule and shopping list. ;)

Prep Schedule


If curing your own ham (which you need to if you get a natural ham), start brining it 72 hours before you want to cook it. Since we are sous viding, Brian started this on Tuesday. This is the step you need curing salt for below. If you get a ham a more conventional route (like, a grocery store) you will jump ahead a little and skip the curing salt and liquid smoke on the shopping list. ;)

Set up the ham to sous vide for 48 hours. (Start by noon or 1pm if serving around 2-3pm).
Make the shopping list
Go shopping
Drink a glass of wine and toast to the culinary adventure to come 
Maybe dust something


Bake and frost the carrot cake. 
Steam and peel the eggs for the deviled eggs.
Make the potato gratin, up to the step where you add the onions. Cover and refrigerate. Caramelize the onions, cover and refrigerate. 
Make the cheese sablés, but when it says to make a flat disk and refrigerate, instead roll it into logs, wrap in plastic wrap or parchment, and refrigerate overnight. 
Make sweet tea, if room in the fridge. ;) 

Sunday Morning

Take the gratin out of the fridge to come up towards room temp so you don't shock the dish when you put it in the oven. 
Make sweet tea if no room yesterday - put it where the gratin was. ;)

Sunday - 2 1/2 hours before (11:30am here)

Make the deviled eggs - refrigerate until ready to serve (2pm for appetizers here). 
Prep veggie tray.
Heat the oven to 400°F. 
Cut cheese sablés into 1/4 inch slices, brush with glaze, and bake.

1 and 1/2 hours before

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. 
Top the potato gratin with caramelized onions and bake for 30-40 minutes, until heated throughout. 
Remove ham from sous vide. Make a glaze from the drippings. 
Make the dressing for the peas and carrots.

1 hour before

Put out the appetizers. ;) 
Make popovers. When gratin removed from oven, increase heat to 425°F. Bake popovers for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F, bake for 15 minutes more. 
Once removed from the oven, increase oven temp back up to 450°F.
Steam the baby carrots and sugar snap peas, toss with dressing. 
Make the carrot salad, let sit at room temperature. 

20 minutes before

Put glaze on ham and cook in 450°F oven for 10-20 minutes. 

Just before dinner

Top the carrot salad with the chives.
Slice the ham.

Shopping List

carrots (4 pounds total)
sugar snap peas (8 oz)
1-2 lemons
1 orange
2 1/2 pounds medium size baking potatoes
2 large onions

eggs (need 18 if doubling popovers and making 8 deviled eggs/16 halves)
1 pound cream cheese
2 cups half and half
3 1/2 oz sharp cheddar
1/2 cup finely grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
4 oz swiss cheese
butter (you'll need about 3 cups, all totaled)

country ham
smoked salmon

Dry goods:
chopped walnuts (2 1/2 cups)
vanilla extract
all purpose flour (6 cups)
light brown sugar (2 cups)
1 pound confectioners sugar
raisins (1/2 cup)
dried currants (1/2 cup - sub dried cranberries if you can't find currants)
cream style horseradish (1/2 cup)
untoasted walnut oil (though toasted is fine too)
pink curing salt (we ordered from amazon)
liquid smoke flavor (again, amazon for us)

Probably have at home:
dijon mustard
kosher or sea salt
onion powder
oil (canola, corn, etc - 1 cup)
baking soda
baking powder
ground nutmeg
ground ginger
apple cider vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar

It looks like a lot of steps, but it includes all of the temperature changes. Having it all written out takes a lot of guessing and panic out of the day. I do this step blog post or no for big meals. :) Maybe someday I'll be so pro I don't need it, but today is not that day! 

What about you? What is your must do holiday prep step? 


  1. Impressive!! You sure didn't learn that from me! I'm lucky if I have a menu!

    1. LOL! It's a habit I started after I first realized how many things need different oven temperatures, and how fussy some of them are about when you are allowed to open the oven. I certainly hadn't found this groove that first Thanksgiving I hosted you, when I cooked the turkey upside down! I think the turkey was the only oven item for that meal.



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