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Entertaining Ideas For Easter

Entertaining for the holidays can often be overwhelming, and Easter is no exception. But master party planner Colin Cowie makes it easy with some fresh ideas for an Easter Sunday celebration.

Cowie, with The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm, showed some ideas for menu and decor.

Cowie says this year it's all about a simple and clean look with a dash of color. Take a simple white tablecloth with white plates and add accents of apple green, whether it's a glass, a plate or a napkin treatment.

For place cards, use actual apples. You can create amazing yet easy centerpieces with square glass containers filled with combinations of green apples and curly willow, as well as squares of wheat grass tied with grosgrain ribbon and filled with daffodils.

Recipes:

Salmon in the Egg
Serves 12

The salmon in the egg is an unusual take on a "stuffed egg" dish. The cooked egg will look completely whole until your guests open it up and see the scrambled egg topped with smoked salmon.

Ingredients:
12 jumbo eggs
36 pieces Melba toast (see recipe)
1/4 cup cream
2 tablespoons minced shallots
12 ounces of smoked salmon (preferably Scottish), diced

Remove the tops of the eggs by holding the egg, point side up, in the palm of your hand. Place an inverted empty spice bottle on top of the pointed side of the egg and secure with thumb and forefinger of the same hand. With the other hand, using a heavy wooden spoon, hit the bottom of the bottle. The shock will create a crack around the top of the egg. Use a sharp knife to pry open. Pour egg into a metal bowl. Set aside.

Rinse the egg shells and their tops under warm running water. Turn them upside down on paper towels to dry, then set the bottom shells in egg cups. Set the egg cups on small serving plates. Arrange three toast points around the base of each egg cup.

Whisk the reserved eggs in the bowl, then strain through a fine sieve. Season the eggs with white pepper to taste.

Just before serving, cook eggs in a metal pot over low-medium heat. Whisk continuously. When the eggs start to thicken, whisk in the cream and the shallots. Cook, whisking constantly, 30 seconds longer. Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a glass bowl.

Spoon some of the egg mixture in each egg shell bottom, filling about two-thirds full. Spoon the salmon on top until full then cover each egg with top portion of its shell.

Note: This dish can be prepared 20 minutes in advance.



Melba Toast

Toast the white bread until lightly browned.

Remove the crusts and with a serrated knife, cut through each slice horizontally. Then cut each slice into triangles.

Place the triangles on a cookie sheet, white side up, and broil until lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and set on a tray with the salmon and a small spoon.

Note: Watch the broiler closely, or the toast will burn within seconds. Toast can be made up to three days in advance and stored in an airtight container



Bow Tie Pasta with Pesto Entrée
Prepare an easy pasta dish in advance with colorful springtime vegetables such as yellow and red cherry tomatoes, and top with fresh parmesan cheese and basil.

Farfalle (Bow Tie Pasta) serves 8

Ingredients:
1 pound farfalle pasta
1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
fresh parmesan cheese
fresh basil

Prepare pasta as directed on package. Once pasta is ready place in bowl and add pesto sauce and toss together. In a skillet heat half a tablespoon of olive oil. Add cherry tomatoes. Saute until lightly golden -- about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir into pasta. Sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh basil.

Pesto Sauce

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons pine nuts or chopped walnuts, toasted lightly and cooled
1 large garlic clove, chopped
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 olive oil

In a blender or small food processor blend together all ingredients with salt and pepper to taste until smooth. Pesto keeps, covered and chilled, up to 1 week. Makes about 3/4 cup.



Chocolate Mousse
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 1/2 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
4 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar
1 6-ounce container of fresh raspberries (for garnish)
1 bunch of fresh mint (for garnish)

Place the chocolate and the butter in a bain-maire or double boiler over medium heat and, stirring occasionally, melt until smooth. Remove from heat, allow to cool and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Place the egg yolks and half of the sugar in a separate mixing bowl and whisk together until creamy. Set aside.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until they form soft peaks, gradually adding the remaining sugar while mixing.

Fold the egg-yolk mixture into the chocolate and blend well. Using a spatula, gently fold in the egg-white mixture until well incorporated. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, until ready to serve.

Serve in individual glasses and garnish with mint and raspberries



Wine Spritzer

Ingredients:
3 cups of dry white wine
1 cup of ginger ale
1 cup of apple juice
mint
lemon, sliced
apple, sliced
popsicle molds

In a glass pitcher, add 3 cups of dry white whine, with 1 cup of ginger ale and 1 cup of apple juice. Take the popsicle molds filled with mint, lemon and apple slices and water and freeze. Float molds in the top of the pitcher.

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