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Mary’s Memo #2210

WHAT’S COOKING FOR EASTER DINNER?
Although a brunch is still my favorite way to entertain, nowadays most holiday meals are festive potlucks with the hostess providing the meat while guests bring salads, sides and desserts. This kind of dinner party doesn’t put a burden on anyone.
     Ham is probably the meat-of-choice for Easter although lamb is also a favorite but not in this part of the country. If you’ve been asked to make a potato dish I’m suggesting Marinated Mashed Potato Salad (only potatoes are not mashed) from “The 25th Anniversary Fresh Market & Friends Cookbook.” I can’t resist anything flavored with dill and this being Easter time, you also have hard cooked eggs available.

     MARINATED MASHED POTATO SALAD
3 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cubed1-1/2 cups mayonnaise(my preference is Hellmann’s Light)3/4 cup chopped celery1/4 cup chopped sweet onion1/4 cup sweet pickle relish2 tablespoons Dijon mustard1 teaspoon dill weed2 hard cooked eggs, choppedPinch of sugarKosher salt and pepper to tasteAdd potatoes to a large stockpot of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to medium-high heat for 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and place in large mixing bowl. Combine potatoes and mayonnaise. Stir in other ingredients until well mixed. Chill at least 3 hours before serving.
Source: “The 25th Anniversary Fresh Market & Friends Cookbook”

MORE SALADS AND SIDES
     Fresh Mushroom and Parsley Salad is a Food Network personality Giada De Laurentis recipe but it wasn’t lemony enough to suit my taste so after making it once I doubled the amount of fresh lemon juice.

FRESH MUSHROOM AND PARSLEY SALAD

1 lb. button mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced1/3 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley1/4 cup olive oil (I prefer the light kind)1/2 cup fresh lemon juice(2 large lemons should be enough)Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to tasteShaved Parmesan cheese for garnish (2 ounces)In medium salad bowl, mix together the mushrooms and parsley. In small bowl whisk together oil and lemon juice until well blended. Season with salt and pepper. Add oil mixture to salad mixture and toss until well coated. Using a vegetable peeler shave Parmesan
cheese on top and serve. Recipe makes 8 servings.Note: Chief and Rays’ button mushrooms are  Pennsylvania Dutch brand and grown in Pennsylvania. The label says to wash them but to do that would make them water-soaked. Instead, wipe them clean with moist paper towels, replacing towels as needed. I change them a couple times per 8-ounce package. Source: Adapted from Giada De Laurentis recipe.

     Next, pineapple and ham go together like ice cream and cake! Cut your own pineapple according to label directions on all fresh pineapple sold at Chief and Rays. It is cheaper than buying it already cut up and you’ll get more mileage from the whole fruit.

FRESH PINEAPPLE CASSEROLE

7 slices of Texas toast bread1 cup packed light brown sugar1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted2 cups fresh pineapple chunks3 large eggs3/4 cup milk (whatever kind you drink)Cube the Texas toast bread and toss with brown sugar and melted butter. Add pineapple. Beat eggs and milk together. Combine with bread and pineapple. Spoon into oblong 2-quart glass baking dish. Bake in preheated 325ºF oven for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve immediately.
Recipe makes 8 servings. Can be made ahead and refrigerated until time to bake.

TRIO OF FACTORS PUSHING FOOD PRICES UP
     Grain shortages, Middle East turmoil and extreme weather in critical crop-production regions have combined to push retail food prices higher this year, according to Purdue University agriculture economist Corinne Alexander. Prices could climb further if commodities markets continue their upward march. American consumers can expect to spend about 4 percent more for food this year than in 2010. “We’re returning to a period of food price inflation after coming off a period where we saw food price deflation,” Alexander said. “We don’t expect this to be a long term, permanent higher food price period. We’ll see these higher food prices until we rebuild global stocks of the primary crops.”

     Not all news is bad for consumers. Milk production remains high, despite poor prices of dairy producers are receiving. And the total amount the average U.S. family spends on food continues to be about 10 percent of their take-home income, compared to 40 to 50 percent in developing countries such as  Bangladesh.
Source: Purdue News Service

HAPPY EASTER TO ALL! Download PDF of Memo #2210

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