Well Dined



Happy Easter, everybody!  I am actually doing a holiday post in a timely manner, who woulda thunk it?  Last Easter I focused on eggs, this time I wanted to go on the theme of ham and peas.


Ham and peas, it is!  Unlike at Christmas, when I accidentally made a pork roast instead of a ham, I got it right this time and did a Dr Pepper glazed ham.  Yes, I said a Dr Pepper glazed ham - awesome.


Take a fully cooked smoked ham (I went with an 8 lb, spiral sliced, partial bone) and place it cut side down on the rack of a roasting pan (or on a cookie rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet).  Pour 2 cups of Dr Pepper (not diet) and 2 cups of water into the bottom of the pan.  Cover with foil and cook for 15 minutes per pound at 325 degrees - 2 hours, in my case.


About half an hour before the cooking time is up, start to make your glaze.  Boil some pitted prunes in Dr Pepper until they are plump.  Set the prunes aside and whisk in mustard, brown sugar, and cider vinegar.  Remove the ham from the oven and raise the oven temp to 425 degrees.  Remove the foil, and drizzle the glaze over the ham, then return it to the oven for about half an hour to cook the glaze.


It will be so gorgeous when it comes out!  Let it rest, loosely covered on a cutting board (this photo is before I turned it on its side for slicing).  Meanwhile, pour all the pan drippings into the saucepan you cooked the glaze in.  Bring to a boil, skimming off the fat, and add in the prunes and a cornstarch slurry to thicken.  Serve the prune sauce with the ham.


For my peas, I wanted to make something that Jasper would eat.  So I did 3 kinds of peas (English, Sugar Snap, and Snow) in a creamy sauce with bacon on top.  Nothing gets a man to eat veggies like bacon.  Serve some rolls on the side and Easter dinner is done!


But we can't forget about dessert!  Behold the not too sweet and perfect for Spring, Tres Leches Cake with Strawberries.  Unlike other Tres Leches, this one isn't a sugar overload and has an awesome kick of cinnamon.


Start by making a spongy cake, and poking it all over with a fork after it has cooled.


Then slowly pour a mixture of cream steeped with cinnamon and cloves, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk over the cake, letting it soak in.  It will go pretty quickly - there was a layer of milk all over the top of this that was gone by the time I grabbed my camera.  Chill for at least 4 hours, then top with whipped cream and macerated strawberries and enjoy!

Dr Pepper Glazed Ham with Prunes
adapted from Food and Wine

One 8-10 lb, bone-in smoked ham, either pre-sliced or with skin removed and fat trimmed to 1/4 inch and scored
3 cups Dr Pepper (not diet)
2 cups water
1/2 cup pitted prunes
1/3 cup yellow mustard
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp of water

Preheat the oven to 325° and position a rack in the bottom third of the oven.  Set the smoked ham on the rack of a large roasting pan, cut side down.  Pour 2 cups of the Dr Pepper and the 2 cups of water into the pan and cover with foil.  Roast the ham for about 2 - 2 1/2 hours (15 minutes per pound), until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the ham registers 120°.  Increase the oven temperature to 425°.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, simmer the prunes in the remaining 1 cup of Dr Pepper until they are plump and the liquid is slightly reduced, about 10 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the prunes to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Whisk the mustard, brown sugar and vinegar into the liquid in the saucepan and boil until very thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes.

Remove the foil, drizzle the syrupy glaze over the ham, and roast until glossy, 20 minutes.  Carefully transfer the ham to a cutting board.

Pour the pan juices into the saucepan and spoon off the fat.  Boil the sauce until reduced to 2 cups, 10 minutes.  Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and the prunes and bring to a boil.  Simmer the sauce until thickened, 2 minutes.  Slice the ham and serve with the Dr Pepper sauce.

Creamy Spring Peas with Bacon
adapted from Food Network
serves 6-8

2 cups shelled fresh English peas or thawed frozen peas (about 10 oz)
1 lb sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/2 lb snow peas, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 oz bacon or pancetta, chopped
1/2 a medium onion, diced
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Fill a large bowl with ice water.  If using fresh English peas, add to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 1 minute.  Add the snap peas and cook until bright green, about 2 minutes, then add the snow peas and cook 30 seconds.  Drain the peas and plunge into the ice water to cool.

Cook the bacon in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon.  Pour off and reserve the bacon grease; there should still be a thin coating in the pan.  Add the onion and cook until translucent.  Return the grease to the pan along with the flour and cook, whisking, until toasted, about 1 minute.  Whisk in the chicken broth and cream and cook until reduced by one-third, about 6 minutes.

Drain the peas, shaking off the excess water, then add to the skillet (if using frozen peas, add them here).  Cook, stirring, until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the bacon.

Tres Leches Cake with Strawberries
adapted from Food and Wine

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract, divided
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
One 12 oz can evaporated milk
1 medium cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
One 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pint strawberries, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sugar (I used vanilla infused sugar)
Sweetened whipped cream and thinly sliced mint leaves, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350.  Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the eggs with the sugar and 1 tsp of the vanilla at medium-high speed until very light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.  Add half of the flour mixture and mix at low speed until just incorporated.  Gradually add the whole milk, then mix in the remaining flour mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the center of the cake springs back to the touch.  Transfer the baking dish to a rack and let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, whisk the cream with the evaporated milk, cinnamon stick and cloves and bring to a boil over moderately high heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 10 minutes.

In a heatproof bowl, combine the condensed milk with the remaining 1 tsp of vanilla and the ground cinnamon.  Strain the steeped cream mixture into the condensed milk and stir to combine.  Let cool for 20 minutes.

Using a fork, poke holes all over the cooled cake.  Gradually pour the milk mixture over the entire cake.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

In a bowl, gently toss the strawberries with the sugar.  Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.  Cut the cake and serve with the strawberries, whipped cream, and mint.

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