Frame your Easter meal with an easy appetizer and dessert

2013-03-27T00:00:00Z Frame your Easter meal with an easy appetizer and dessertThe Associated Press The Associated Press
March 27, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Easter dinner isn't generally the sort of meal we try to rush. The whole point is to savor the experience, not sprint through it the way we do most weeknights.

But that doesn't mean we don't appreciate an easy, time-saving trick here and there. In this case, I've applied the same technique to both the appetizer and the dessert. It's an approach that frees me up to focus on the rest of the meal - the all-important glazed ham, the roasted vegetables and perhaps a cocktail.

The trick begins with purchased frozen phyllo pastry cups (also called "fillo shells"). You'll find them in the grocer's freezer section alongside the puff pastry (and often near the frozen fruit).

These tiny cups (each holds about 1 tablespoon or so of fillings, and they usually come 15 to a box) are fully cooked and thaw in minutes. All you need to do is fill them and eat them (though you may need to bake them depending on your filling).

For the appetizer, we don't even need a recipe. All I do is transform the classic Easter quiche into bite-size treats.

To do this, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, then arrange the phyllo cups on it. Fill each cup with a small amount (about 1 to 2 teaspoons) of fillings. Chopped cooked meats, chopped vegetables and shredded cheese are great choices.

In a 1-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk 1 egg, a splash of water, milk or cream, and a bit of salt and pepper. Carefully pour about 1 teaspoon of the egg mixture over the fillings in each cup. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the egg is puffed and the fillings are lightly browned. That's it. The quiche cups can be served warm or room temperature.

For the dessert, I went with a ridiculously easy and delicious no-cook option - creamy lemon-berry tartlets. These are so simple you even could delegate this part of the meal to the kids.

Assuming these tartlets won't be consumed immediately, you don't even need to let them thaw before filling them. Just proceed with the recipe (on cover , A22) and by the time they are eaten, they will be perfect. You'll usually find jarred lemon curd with the jams and jellies.

Creamy Lemon-Berry Tartlets

Makes: 15 tartlets

• 1/2 cup crème fraîche

• 2 tablespoons lemon curd

• Pinch cinnamon

• 15 frozen baked phyllo cups

• 1 cup fresh berries

• Powdered sugar, to sprinkle

In a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche, lemon curd and cinnamon until slightly thickened. Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons of the mixture into each phyllo cup. The filling should be lightly mounded in the cups, but not overflowing.

Top each cup with several berries, then arrange the cups on a serving platter. Spoon powdered sugar into a mesh strainer, then hold it over the filled cups and gently tap to dust with sugar.

Per serving: 50 calories; 35 calories from fat (70 percent of total calories); 4 g fat (2.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 1 g protein; 25 mg sodium.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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