Particularly in the South, Easter is a holiday that rivals Thanksgiving and Christmas from a culinary standpoint.
Here are some Easter dinner ideas from noted Alabama cooks and foodies:
Glazed Ham, from Tanya Baker
For years, Tanya Baker has spearheaded — and done the cooking for — a Thanksgiving and Christmas meal, offered free to the community at Carver Community Center in Gadsden, serving hundreds for each meal.
Its an understatement to say she knows her way around a kitchen, and she knows what she likes for an Easter Sunday meal. It starts with a well-prepared ham. For her, it’s simple: a brown sugar and Coca-Cola glaze, and pineapple. While a lot of people add cherries, she does not, and she wraps it all tightly in foil.
“I want it to have the ‘done’ look,” Baker said, “that browned look.”
Ingredients are easy:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Place ham on aluminum foil large enough to surround the ham before it goes into the oven.
Take about a half-cup of brown sugar and mix it with just enough Coca-Cola to make a glaze to coat the ham well, top to bottom, side to side. It won’t take much soda, Baker said, to make a glaze that will stick to the ham. “You don’t want it sloppy,” she said.
Coat it well and then add slices of pineapple to the top and sides of the ham, and wrap it really tight in the foil.
Baker said she prefers to get an uncooked, pre-sliced ham, and it will need to cook for an hour at 350 degrees.
If you buy a pre-cooked ham, it will take 20 to 25 minutes in the oven.
If the ham is not pre-sliced, Baker recommends poking a few holes in it to get let that Coke and brown sugar glaze seep in.
“That’s if you like it sweet, like I do,” she said.
Sides, from Laura ‘Fleur de Lolly’ Tolbert
Laura Tolbert of Gadsden, also known as Fleur de Lolly, has been sharing recipes, table décor ideas and advice for fellow foodies and novices on her blog, fleurdelolly.blogspot.com for more than eight years.
She won the Duke Mayonnaise 100th Anniversary nationwide recipe contest for her Alabama White BBQ Sauce. She also is a Kansas City BBQ Society Certified Barbeque Judge.
Her Easter table may look better than yours, but you can give some of her favorite sides a try.
Sour Cream and Chive Potatoes
4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs, well beaten
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons chopped chives
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese
Put the potato slices in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until just tender when pierced with a knife. Drain well. Arrange the potatoes in a buttered, shallow 1 ½-quart baking dish.
Combine the sour cream with the beaten eggs, heavy cream, chives, salt and pepper and cheese. Slowly pour the mixture over the potatoes in the baking dish. Gently stir to make sure all the potatoes are coated. Sprinkle with a little more of the shredded cheese and additional chopped chives, if desired.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.
Springtime Green Pea Salad
1 (20 or 24 oz.) package frozen green peas (thawed)
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped ham
1/2 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Mix together all ingredients (except for bacon) until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve and top with crumbled bacon just before serving.
Green Beans, from Prudence Hilburn
Here are some recipes for a classic Southern side from a classic Southern cook. The late Prudence Hilburn from Piedmont won more than 30 national cooking awards and wrote several cookbooks, including “Simply Southern and More.”
Hilburn died in 2018. Here are some of her green been recipes, previously published in The Gadsden Times.
Dressed-up Green Bean Bundles
Canned whole green beans, well drained
Bacon, 1/3 to 1/2 strip for each bundle
Catalina or French dressing
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Make small bundles of 5 to 6 whole green beans. Wrap bacon strip around each bundle and place in baking pan. Pour Catalina or French dressing over bundles. Bake until bacon is cooked. Remove from pan and serve immediately.
NOTE: If you want a crisp texture, use fresh green beans instead of canned beans.
Quick and Easy Green Beans
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) cut green beans
1 cup sliced smoked sausage (about 1/4-inch-thick slices)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained (optional)
Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 10 minutes.
Old-Fashioned Southern Green Beans
Combine green beans, water and salt pork in large iron pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until beans are tender and most of water has cooked out. Add oil and mix. Taste and add black pepper, if needed.
Hummingbird Cake, from Beautiful Rainbow Café
Beautiful Rainbow Café is a beautiful story. The café, located in the Gadsden Public Library, is operated by instructors and Gadsden City High School’s special needs students.
The students learn skills that many have used to get jobs in local restaurants, while they work on reading, math and science skills in the kitchen, in this award-winning educational program.
The café’s vegetarian recipes use ingredients from local business and farm partners. Here’s the recipe for Beautiful Rainbow Hummingbird Cake.
2 cups brown sugar
1 ⅓ cups blood orange infused olive oil from King’s Olive Oil Company
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups and 1 tablespoon flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 ripe bananas
8 oz. crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup chopped pecans
Put 2 cups of brown sugar in the mixer.
Add 1 ⅓ cups of blood orange infused olive oil from King’s Olive Oil Company.
Add 3 eggs and mix with a paddle attachment.
Mix until combined. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
In another bowl, mix dry ingredients: 2 cups of flour and 1 tablespoon of flour, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt.
Using the back-of-the-hand method, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix.
In another bowl, mix together 2 ripe bananas and one 8-ounce can of crushed pineapple with juice and 1 cup of chopped pecans. Stir this into your batter.
Spray cake pans with nonstick spray and cover the bottoms with parchment paper. Pour the batter into the pans and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and cook for another 15 minutes or until the cake is done.
Using a whisk attachment for the mixer, mix together 2 sticks of softened butter, ¾ cup of softened cream cheese, 2 cups of powdered sugar and ½ cup of caramel from Dayspring Dairy. Mix until smooth
Contact Gadsden Times reporter Donna Thornton at 256-393-3284 or [email protected]
This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: Planning an Easter dinner? Try these recipes from Southern cooks