02 April 2014

The Virtual Supper Club Welcomes Spring !!! Let's Make a Big Ham Dinner with ALL the Fixings !!!

... Get that ham roasting, 'cause we've got the sides! ...

After the winter we've had, the thought of a big Easter ham dinner seems such a fantastic way to celebrate! So, this month, the Virtual Supper Club is pulling out all the stops and giving you a taste of Spring! There's everything from deviled eggs to chilled pickled peppers, from Spring pea soup and crab flan to Bourbon cranberry glazed ham, from smashed potatoes with goat cheese and chives to asparagus salad to the most wonderfully rich ricotta semifreddo ! Can you stand it ?!? So explore the recipes this month to pick and choose your faves for your Spring celebratory meal!

I looked at vegetable side dishes for this month's menu and I just couldn't decide what to make, so I figured I'd make all three of the small sides that caught my eye. One is a cool pickle that I envision being set in dishes at either end of the table so that folks can freshen their palates with a touch of sweet and sour crispness. These pickled peppers are meant to be served over top a seared fillet of fish, but they are really very like a simplified Sephardi pickle - a favorite Jewish salad accompaniment.

Pickled Peppers and Onions

Makes: 2 c. pickles


1 generous cup yellow bell pepper rings, halved
1 generous cup red onion, thinly sliced half moons
1 generous tablespoon jalapeno pepper, minced (seed in if you want heat)
1 c. fresh grapefruit juice
1 tbsp. brown sugar
¼ to ½ tsp. turmeric
1 bay leaf
Pinch of Kosher salt (or non-iodized salt)

  1. Place the first seven ingredients in a medium, stainless steel pan (or non-reactive).
  2. Bring the mix to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the kosher salt.
  4. Place in a jar and screw on a lid nice and tight.
  5. Let cool on the counter top for 15 minutes or so and then refrigerate and chill well.
  6. Serve as a relish over grilled fish or as a palate cleanser between courses or as a component of an antipasto platter.

Next up, a vegetable side/warm salad can be found in this mound of asparagus salad. This dish could easily be a complete meal if you increased the portions. It has everything one needs - green vegetable, beans and feta for protein and fiber, radish for crunch and a tangy dressing to tie all the flavours together. The hint of mint in the dressing is a real plus!

Asparagus Salad with Beans and Feta

Makes: 4 servings


3 c. asparagus pieces, cut diagonally (1-inch dice)
1 c. canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
½ c. thinly sliced radishes
2 tbsp. thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 generous tsp. chopped fresh mint
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. black pepper

Making the Salad:

  1. Drop the asparagus pieces in boiling water for 2 minutes until tender crisp.
  2. Drain and immediately drop the drained pieces in an ice water bath to chill.
  3. Drain well and add to the beans, radishes, crumbled feta and scallions.
  4. Set aside while you make the dressing – whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, mint, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  5. Just before serving, drizzle the dressing and gently toss the salad, using your hands so as not to break the feta too much.

Finally, a ham dinner calls for potatoes of some sort on the side and these smashed potatoes get a really nice treatment with a mild goat cheese and fresh chives folded through them ... I've opted to mound them in small casseroles and brown the tops with just a bit more cheese because I'm always a sucker for a bubbly cheese and crispy crust.

Smashed Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Chives

Yield: 12 servings ( ⅔ cup size)


3 lb. peeled baking potatoes, cut into small chunks
2 tbsp. butter
¾ c. (6 oz.) mild goat cheese
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 c. 2%  reduced fat milk
3 tbsp. chopped chives, fresh or dried

grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Making the Dish:

  1. Place prepped potatoes in a deep saucepan and cover with cold water. Add some salt and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook the potatoes until tender.
  2. Drain the potatoes and add the rest of the ingredients. Use a potato masher to smash the potatoes, cheese, butter and milk together until your preferred consistency is reached.
  3. Correct salt and pepper measure and fold in the chopped chives.
  4. Divide the portions in ramekins, sprinkle on black pepper and paprika, sprinkle a bit of Parmesan cheese over top and place in a hot oven ( 400° F) for about 15 minutes, then broil to a golden brown and crisp crust, watching carefully.
  5. Serve piping hot.

So there you have it - my part of the monthly menu ! Let's see what everyone else has prepared! 
Hit these links to see the excellent work we've all put in ... and Happy Easter! 

Easter Dinner Menu

Appetizer - Shelby - Shrimp and Bacon Deviled Eggs
Vegetable Side - Susan's Pickled Peppers , Smashed Potatoes, and Asparagus Salad


  1. You're making it very hard to decide Susan. Just glorious side dishes you have brought to the table.

  2. Oooh. It's like a buffet of side dishes!! Gorgeous.

  3. MMMMM - they all look like great additions to our menu!


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