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French-Style Easter Menu: Celebrate Spring with this Elegant Easter Lunch for Six

Easter offers the perfect excuse to invite a hungry and winter-weary group over for a bit of overdue indulgence. Add a continental touch to your Easter gathering with these tasty French recipes and your guests will indeed anoint you ‘The Savior of Good Eating.’

Menu

  • French-style radishes
  • Artichoke and Chicken Liver Salad
  • Spring Lamb Navarin
  • French Cheese Plate
  • Chocolate Lemon Tart

French-Style Radishes Serves 6

For a little something to tide everyone over before the main event, there’s nothing more French than a plate of trimmed Spring radishes served with fresh butter and sea salt.

  • 1 large bunch French Breakfast radishes, washed & trimmed (leave a little of the stems attached)
  • 6 pats softened butter
  • sea salt (serve in a dish to allow guests to take a pinch and sprinkle over radishes)

Artichoke and Chicken Liver Salad Serves 6

This delicate appetizer sings with all things Spring.

  • 12 artichoke hearts (for ease you can use canned, or prepare your own by following these instructions)
  • 6 chicken livers, lobes separated and bile removed (your butcher can do this for you)
  • 20 oz (600g) lamb’s lettuce (also known as mâche)
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) butter
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) plus 1 tsp (5ml) red wine vinegar for deglazing
  • 3 tbsp (45ml) olive oil
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) chopped fresh chives
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Season livers with salt and pepper. In a frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter and quickly brown the livers. Turn off heat, remove the livers from the pan and set aside, reserving the cooking juices in the pan.
  2. Combine 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, a pinch of salt, pepper and the olive oil. Mix well. Place lettuce in a bowl and dress with half of the vinaigrette. Toss and arrange lettuce on a serving platter.
  3. Slice artichoke hearts, toss gently with remaining vinaigrette, and arrange over lettuce.
  4. Slice the livers and arrange them over the artichokes and lettuce.
  5. Reheat the juices in the pan and deglaze with 1 tsp of red wine vinegar. Bring to a boil then quickly remove from heat and pour over livers.
  6. Sprinkle salad with pepper and the chopped chives. Serve immediately while still warm.

Lamb Navarin Serves 6

This traditional French dish originated as a way to make use of all the wonderful new vegetables available at this time of year. This stew is great when you’re looking to serve something a little special, yet relaxed and convivial.

  • 2 1/2 lbs (1 kg) lamb shoulder, fat and tendons removed (your butcher can do this for you)
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) butter
  • 1 white onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) flour
  • 2 cups (500ml) beef stock
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 18-20 new carrots
  • 8-10 large grelot onions (you can substitute large pearl onions for the grelots)
  • 1/2 lb (250g) purple baby turnips
  • 1/2 lb (250g) new potatoes
  • 4 oz (125g) fresh or frozen peas
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Cut the meat into bite size pieces. In a large oven-proof dish melt the butter over high heat and brown the meat in batches. Remove the meat to a plate and reserve.
  2. In the same dish, sauté the diced white onion over medium heat, being careful not to let it brown. Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
  3. Put the meat back into the dish along with the juices that have accumulated on the plate. Sprinkle with the flour. Turn the heat up and stir, making sure all the meat gets nicely covered in flour, until the juices begin to bubble. Add the stock little by little with a ladle, allowing the liquid to reach bubbling point between each ladle-full. Add the bouquet garni, bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for about an hour and fifteen minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, peel and trim the carrots, leaving about an inch (2.5cm) of their tops. Do the same for the grelot onions and the turnips. Cut the potatoes into bite size pieces or leave whole if they are small. 5thaw the peas if you’re using frozen.
  5. Add the vegetables to the dish, turn the heat up, and bring everything to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer, covered, for fifteen minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through and tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the dish in a warm oven until ready to serve.

French Cheese Plate

No French meal would be complete without a cheese plate, served with sliced baguette.

Chocolate Lemon Tart Serves 6

Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without chocolate. This delectable chocolate tart hits the right note while the lemon echoes sunny Springtime.

for the filling

  • 11/4 (250g) caster sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 lemons
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) whipping cream
  • chocolate shavings for decoration

for the crust

  • 1 1/2 (180g) flour
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp (25g) icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5g) salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g) butter
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) water

Directions:

  1. Grease a 10 inch (25cm) tart tin. Sift together the flour, icing sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl.
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat with the water. Add to the flour mixture and mix until a smooth dough forms. Press the dough into the tart tin. Place in the refrigerator to chill.
  3. Meanwhile, place a cookie sheet in the oven and preheat at 375°F (190°C). Whisk the eggs and sugar together until the sugar dissolves. Add the juice and grated rind of the lemons and stir. Add the cream and stir until just mixed.
  4. Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator and pour the filling in. Place the tart in on the hot baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the filling is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, decorate with chocolate shavings.

Serve a Bordeaux to balance out this rich, celebratory feast.

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