Easter is right around the corner – the perfect excuse to overindulge on food and sweets, decorate your table, wear your Sunday best and sip on the most delicious cocktails!
Food Network Star, Giada De Laurentiis has some great entertaining tips for the holiday, along with Frangelico cocktail and meal pairings to get you started.
Giada de Laurentiis’ Spring/Easter Entertaining Tips:
- Lighting is key during an outdoor dining experience. Instead of stringing twinkle lights, I love to hang lanterns with candles (use Citronella candles to keep the bugs away!). If you don’t have trees, set them on the table and around the dining area to add to the decor!
- All good dinner parties start with a theme. One thing I love to do is personalize cocktail napkins by monogramming them or picking ones that enhance the theme. It’s a simple detail, but adds a nice personal touch!
- After sitting outside for an evening I usually get chilly, even it’s warm out. I like to put blankets over the back of the chairs or use them as cushions, that way if guests get cold as the evening passes they have something to keep them warm!
- Music is a huge part of any dinner party. Design a playlist around the event or theme of the night. For a more intimate experience, find out who your guests’ favorite bands or artists are and put some of their favs on a playlist!
- On a hot night, I always fill little glass spritzer bottles with ice water and a drop of essential oil (I love lemon or mint!) and leave them out for my guests. It’s the perfect way to revitalize on a spring or summer night!
Giada de Laurentiis’ Cocktail and Menu Recommendations:
Italian Easter Punch
2 quarts Frangelico
3 quarts pomegranate juice
2 quarts SKYY Infusions Coastal Cranberry
1 quart lime juice
½ quart orange juice
¼ quart honey solution
Method: Mix all ingredients together in a large serving bowl or pitcher. Ladle punch into ice-filled glass. Garnish with clove-stuffed orange slices or rosemary sprigs. Maxes approx. 2 gallons.
Hot Italian Sausage Stuffed Dates with Lemon-Basil Crema
2 tbs. sour cream
1 tbs. mascarpone cheese
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. Kosher sale
3 tbs. fresh basil leaves
12 Medjool dates
2 links hot Italian sausage (casings removed)
6 slices bacon (halved)
Preheat the oven to 400*F
In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mascarpone, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt to make crema. Fold in the chopped basil. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to let the flavors marry.
Make a small lengthwise slit down the center of each date. Remove the pits and open the dates slightly, leaving the bottom intact.
Place about 2 teaspoons of the sausage meat in the cavity of each date. With your fingers, push the sides of the dates up and around the sausage to enclose it a little. Wrap each date with a piece of bacon. Transfer the wrapped dates to a rimmed baking sheet.
Bake the dates for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn over each date. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (or a little longer), until the bacon is crisp. Serve warm with the lemon-basil crema.
Yield: 12 Dates Prep: 10 min Cook Time: 16-20 min
Lamb Chips with Rose Petal Spiced Butter
1 stick (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter (softened)
1 tbs. dried rose petals
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. rose water (optional)
¼ tsp. cardamom
¼ tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. Kosher salt (divided)
6 lamb rip chops
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
3 tbs. chopped parsley
Puree butter, rose petals, lemon zest and juice, water, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon and ½ teaspoon salt in a small food processor until smooth and fully incorporated. Place in a small bowl and reserve at room temperature to serve.
Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Season the lamb chops with the remaining ½ teaspoon sale and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Grill the chops for about 3 minutes per side for medium rare or until desired doneness. Remove from heat and immediately brush with half of the rose butter. Serve garnished with chopped parsley and additional rose butter on the side.
Serves: 2 Prep: 15 min Cook Time: 6 min
Chocolate Panna Cotta with Hazelnut Whipped Cream
2 cups cold whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 packet unflavored gelatin
4 eggs (lightly beaten)
12 oz. bag bittersweet chocolate chips
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds
1 cup whipping cream
1 tbs. confectioner’s sugar
1 tbs. Frangelico
Butter a 2-quart casserole dish. In a small saucepan, combine 1½ cups of the milk, the granulated sugar and vanilla. Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat. In another small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over remaining ½ cup of milk and let it dissolve. Combine the gelatin mixture with the hot milk and sugar. When the gelatin is dissolved, combine the eggs with the mixture, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the eggs. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large measuring cup.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double boiler. When the chocolate is melted, gradually combine the milk and egg mixture, stirring between each addition to create a smooth chocolate mixture. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with hazelnuts. Place the dish in a larger baking pan or roasting pan, and ass the hot water to the larger pan until the water come halfway up the sides of the casserole dish. Place both pans in the oven, and bake until the sides are firm and the center just jiggles slightly (about 1 hour). Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes.
Just before serving, whip the cream to soft peaks in a medium bowl using a whisk or electric hand mixer. Add the confectioner’s sugar and hazelnut liqueur, and whip to combine. Spoon the panna cotta into individual serving bowls and dollop the top with the hazelnut whipped cream.
Serves: 2 Prep: 30 min Cook Time: 1 hour 10 min