Ham it Up

Ham or Lamb?!! Decisions, decisions…

This year I decided to host Easter rather than drive up to NH. I invited many, but this year just my Dad and Step-Mom would be joining us. Small intimate dinner, no problem right?! The week before I made my way to the grocery store. Spiral Hams were on sale and I was determined to get 1st pick. I almost skipped over to the case so damn proud that I was so well prepared! Wait a minute……I slowed down right before the Hams. A huge sign beckoned…..Lamb! On sale! I rarely have Lamb but really enjoy it when I do. I was staring at the legs envisioning slathering one with olive oil and Rosemary and studding it with garlic cloves. Oh the heavenly aroma that would emit from my oven! I looked to my left at the big Spiral Hams picturing a crispy finger licking skin after being brushed with an apricot glaze. I looked around hoping for an answer; “What to serve?!” “Anyone? Please help! Tell me what to do!” Frustrated and confused I left the store empty handed. 

Zoë of course voted for ham. Pretty sure she would eat it every day if I let her. I looked to my cookbook shelf for inspiration and pulled out a few oldie but goodies. 

Everyday Food magazines. Gawd I loved this publication. I was so sad when they stopped publishing. All of the recipes are really simple, easy to follow with ingredients that are easy to find. My ex-Husband loved these magazines as well. No kidding we had a hard time splitting up our collection in the Divorce. I managed to take a few spring editions. After poring through all three, I decided on ham and on Friday picked up a spiral. After reading and re-reading my list I set to cleaning the apartment. It was due to be 80 degrees on Easter with the sun out all day! 

Saturday morning I was feeling like I was caught up on my chores, I headed up to North Attleboro to have coffee with my close friend Jennifer. We haven’t seen each other for so long we were due for a catch up. She asked me to find a place for coffee near her ( she lives in Norton,MA). I am researcher extraordinaire and found the perfect spot. Brigg’s Nursery. Close to rt95 in North Attleboro, Brigg’s is the kind of place that makes me want a huge garden! They have everything you could imagine from plants, to shrubs, to pots, and they even have a Cafe! 

I ordered an iced coffee ( New Harvest Coffee Roasters!) and a Spinach and Feta puff pastry which they so kindly warmed up for me. 

We soaked in the sun and the view. Chatted up a storm, got caught up and pledged to come back to this very spot next month. 

Dad and Terry are on their way. Gotta fly! Met them at my place; we visited a bit, went for a walk and then got started on dinner. I settled on an easy dish. I sautéed some minced garlic and onion, added 3/4lb of grass-fed beef and a jar of 365 ( Whole Food’s store brand) organic Roasted Garlic Marinara sauce. We served it over a Toscani shaped pasta from Seggiano

Simple, easy, scrumptious.

I was not as prepared as I thought! While preparing the pasta, I realized I forgot to pick up some coffee! Oh dear, that will not do. We need our coffee Easter morning. Off I went, back to the grocery store. I was a woman on a mission. I zeroed in on the small batch locally roasted coffee on sale: Fazenda Coffee. It was an Ethiopian blend. A perfect choice. 

When I arrived home, Dad and Zoë were creating Easter egg masterpieces. 

This year’s kit featured crayons you shred and “melt” onto the warm, freshly boiled eggs. A bit tricky and time consuming but Dad and Zoë stuck with it. They created some “eggscelent” masterpieces! 

 Morning soon arrived. Zo eventually found all of her eggs ( you’re never too old for a good ‘ol Easter egg hunt), and her basket. While she nibbled on a chocolate bunny ear, we drank our coffee. For me, Easter morning is not complete without Kielbasa. I have Polish heritage and my Grandmother always had Kielbasa, a loaf of Babka and the eggs I colored. It was only right for me to do the same. I could not, however, get my hands on some local Babka, but I did pick up some delicious local Central Fall’s Kielbasa

Mr. T came over and brought Mimosa fixings. An excellent pairing. 

Considering it was the first meeting between Mr. T and my Dad & Step-Mom, I did not want to leave him high and dry, however I had a tart that needed my attention. This is the perfect spring-time tart and one I’ve been making on Easter for years now.  Pulled from the pages of my well worn Good Food Magazines, Martha comes thru every time. 

 Asparagus Gruyere Tart

(Click on name for full recipe) 

A simple 3-ingredient Tart using store-bought puff-pastry dough. Roll out a defrosted dough. Score the edges and poke the center with a fork. This way it won’t puff up too much while baking. 

After you bake the puff pastry, top with the grated Gruyere ( Fontina or Emmentaler are good substitutions) and Asparagus spears ( look for medium sized spears….all I could find were thin!). Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Bake until the spears are tender. 

Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers are terrific just heated up a bit in your oven to maintain a crispness. 

We tried not to gobble the Tart all up as we had ham coming up. 

Before baking, I brushed my Spiral ham with an apricot mustard glaze. 

It was simple. One cup of Apricot jam with some mustard powder. Heat on stove and whisk till smooth and warm. 

 I used this Guide to help bake my ham. 

I know it looks so scrumptious and it was; but ideally I should have baked it at a higher temperature for at least an hour. The skin would’ve gotten even more crackling and crispy. The temp was lower because I had the Tart baking in the oven and then some carrots. 

I drizzled some maple syrup on the carrots about 10 minutes before I took them out of the oven. My starch was basic. Smashed yellow potatoes. Dinner was pretty simple and super delicious. 

After dinner we took a stroll around the neighborhood. Once we came back I put the kettle on for tea. Zoë’s Dad and his partner came by to visit and we all indulged in some sweet treats from Crosby Bakery. A wonderful bakery in Nashua, NH. 

By 6pm, I had the house to myself. Everyone  had gone home, the dishes were done, the ham bone was ready to be wrapped up for future use and I was beat! 

Exhausted but proud that I had pulled off a tasty and fun Holiday weekend. Time to nap and dream of a field of Spring flowers. 

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