After writing about how I have become a non- cooking woman, I decided that I had to cook something for Easter in order to avoid becoming something far worse- a bad cook. So with some fear and trepidation (the pressure was on after going public!), I dusted off my pots and pans and set the table for Easter Brunch.
I set the table on Saturday when I was trapped at home without a car all day because Emmy took mine to meet some friends in Charleston and Stu needed his for an important appointment. As I have been loving blue and white mixed with sunny yellow lately, I decided to use that as my color scheme for the table. It feels so happy and cheerful- see my post about the condo we just staged in these colors (The Story of the Ugly Duckling Condo). I knew that I had some blue and white dishes somewhere but hadn't unpacked them since I moved south. This led me to the attic where I proceeded to find boxes of books that I had to go through, a box of baby books which had to be read, some old clothes to try on and finally a box of blue and white dishes. This took several hours all told. Next, I had to polish the silver. This made me think about the ladies who polish their silver on a regular basis. Their silver frames, bowls and flatware are always sparking unlike mine which are usually slightly blackened. I tell myself that it looks antiqued that way. Once the silver was properly tarnish free, I turned to the flowers. I had bought some lovely yellow tulips at The Fresh Market the other day and arranged them in some small glass vases. The table looked too plain and I really needed some more blue and white ceramics on the table of which I have plenty. However, it was all at my warehouse and without a car, inaccessible. So, I decided to add more color with flowers from my garden. Hence the entrance of pink to my blue white and yellow story.
I'm not usually a fan of azealas but this color is so beautiful and it happened to be just outside my front porch so snip snip and voila!
The table is set for brunch on the table my father made for me a long time ago. I love this table because he made it and because it is narrow and long. The narrow width makes conversing easy and it feels cozy, even though it is 100 inches long. With 3 12 inch boards for the top, it is made the way it would have been done hundreds of years ago- with square pegs. My dad and I finished it together using the French polish method which is time consuming and involves applying many layers of thin shellac. Somehow I got it into my head that a French polish was the ONLY way that this table should be finished so my dad and I spent many evenings applying coat after coat of shellac and trying to keep ourselves from passing out from the fumes!
A French polish finish is high gloss and brings out the beauty of the wood in a way that no other finish does. The downside, however, is that it's soft and is easily damaged by water and heat. I need to refinish this table soon- Dad, I have a new project for us!!!
As for what I made to eat, I took the easy way out and made an egg casserole. I got the recipe from my dear college friend, Anne, and it is always a hit. You make it the night before and pop it into the oven an hour or so before you want to serve it. It's great for Christmas morning brunch also.
12 slices white bread, crusts removed
2-3 T butter, softened
1/2 c. butter
1/2 lb. mushrooms trimmed and sliced
2 c. thinly sliced onions
1 1/2 lb. mild Italian sausage
3/4-1 lb. grated cheddar cheese
5 extra large eggs
2 1/2 c. whole milk
3 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. nutmeg
2T. chopped parsley
Butter the bread, set aside. In a large skillet melt 1/2 c. butter and brown the mushrooms and onions. Season with salt and pepper. In a separate skillet, cook the sausage until brown and crumbly.
Grease a rectangular casserole and layer1/2 of the bread slices
1/2 of the mushroom/onion mixture
1/2 of the sausage
1/2 of the cheese
Mix the eggs, milk. mustard and nutmeg and pour over all. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Uncover,sprinkle with parsley and bake at 350 for 1 hour
After attending the first Easter service ever in the new Chapel at The Abbey, we came home, popped it into the oven, served it with fruit platters, baked goods, a spinach and mandarin orange salad, Bellinis and my favorite Kona light roast coffee. A light rain was falling steadily outside the window, but we were content to sit around the table for hours, eating and sharing stories and thanking God for his great love and grace.