Set the table with colorful dinnerware and coast-inspired cuisine
For Easter brunch this year, I decided to brighten up the colors of our table by featuring our favorite Fiestaware, arranged on a flowery tablecloth. There’s something fun about bringing mix-matched items together without a lot of fuss. With fresh flowers, hand-painted Easter eggs and Lindt chocolate bunnies in little take-home favor-baskets for the guests, the table is set.
This brings us to the amazing story of Fiestaware, the classic American dishes that seem to brighten up our coastal entertaining for almost every occasion.
When we built our Galveston weekend beach cottage 20 years ago, our dear late mother, Lorene, loved selecting each item of our Fiestaware collection, piece by piece.
After recent research, I discovered Fiestaware is the most popular American dinnerware ever and the only remaining pottery produced in the United States. These dishes were introduced to the American public in 1936 by Englishman Frederick Hurten Rhead, and were produced by the Homer Laughlin China Company of Newell, West Virginia. This pottery lost favor in 1973, but was reintroduced in 1986 by this same company and is going stronger than ever. The new Fiestaware is free of lead, oven-proof and microwave-safe compared to the vintage pieces.
Martha Stewart, a famous collector of Fiestaware, loved her grandmother’s colorful collection, she has said. As Stewart tells the story, she always chose the turquoise plate when dining in her grandmother’s kitchen. These days, Fiestaware can be purchased from a host of retailers at very reasonable price points. The new Fiestaware is available at “Yesterday’s Best,” 114 20th St. After a trip to this wonderful little shop, I couldn’t pass up purchasing the happy color turquoise oven-proof baking dishes for our collection.
Serve these coastal-inspired crab bites with sips of your favorite seaside margarita to get the party started. Adapted from a recipe by Betty Crocker Kitchens.
MINI CRAB BISCUIT QUICHES
1¼ cups baking mix
¼ cup butter, softened almost to melting
2 tablespoons boiling water
1⁄3 cup fresh crabmeat or premium lump crabmeat
½ cup half and half
1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onion tops
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray 24 mini muffin cups generously with cooking spray.
In small bowl, stir baking mix and butter until blended. Add boiling water and stir vigorously until soft dough forms. Press rounded teaspoonful of dough in bottom and up side of each muffin cup to make a thin crust. Divide crabmeat among muffin cups.
In another bowl, beat half and half and egg with fork until blended. Stir in onion tops, salt and cayenne pepper. Spoon 1 teaspoon egg mixture into each muffin cup. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over tops. Bake 15-20 minutes or until edges are golden brown and centers are set. Let cool 10 minutes.
Slide a knife around each quiche and carefully remove from pan. These hardy appetizers can be made a day ahead stored lightly covered on a cookie sheet and refrigerated. Reheat in 375 F oven about 5 minutes or until hot.
Fruity glazed ham steak is a great choice for those who want to avoid cooking the whole big ham.
TROPICAL HOLIDAY HAM STEAKS
1½ pounds fully cooked ham steak
1 tablespoon butter
1 20-ounce can sliced pineapple in heavy syrup
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup pineapple juice
¼ cup white rum
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1⁄8 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄8 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 350 F. Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Pat ham dry with paper towels. In large skillet on stove top, lightly brown ham steak, each side, in 1 tablespoon butter.
In another pan, prepare glaze with remaining 1 tablespoon butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, Dijon mustard, pineapple juice and white rum. Stir together and cook slowly until thick.
Slice oranges and arrange slices on bottom of 13-inch-by-9-inch baking pan. Place ham steak over the oranges. Spread glaze over the ham. Arrange pineapple and cherries on top of the ham. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or more until heated through.
Cheesy Jalapeño Grits Casserole
1 cup quick cooking grits
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
2½ cups finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1-2 tablespoons chopped jalapeños from jar of sliced jalapeños
3 large eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
Combine water and salt in large saucepan and bring to a boil. Gradually stir in grits. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat. Stir in butter, 2 cups of the cheese and garlic powder. Stir until cheese is melted. Add Worcestershire, eggs and chopped jalapeños, mixing slowly and gradually so that the eggs incorporate into the hot grits. Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheese and dust lightly with paprika.
Bake 45 minutes or until set. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.
ASPARAGUS ROLL SANDWICHES
1 stick real butter, melted
1 bottle Italian dressing
1 15-ounce can extra long asparagus spears, drained
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced onion
¼ teaspoon salt
1 (1-pound, 8-ounce) giant loaf white sandwich bread, very fresh and soft
Dash of paprika
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Place cream cheese and seasonings in blender or food processor and mix until creamy. Marinate asparagus in dressing an hour or more and drain.
Melt butter. Trim crusts from bread and brush each side with melted butter. Spread one side of bread with cream cheese mixture. Place 2 asparagus spears diagonally on top of cream cheese. Bring corners together, diagonally and cross edges, securing with a toothpick.
Dust lightly with paprika. Place on shallow baking sheet. Bake 8 or 10 minutes until lightly browned and toasty.
This yummy muffin is an old-fashioned favorite from famous cookbook author Helen Corbitt. This recipe makes 24 mini muffins and six regular for guests to choose their preferences.
ORANGE MINI MUFFINS WITH BROWN SUGAR GLAZE
Yields: 36 minis
2 sticks salted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 cups flour
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 whole oranges, zested and juiced
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
Preheat oven to 375 F. With electric mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, beat well and mix in flour.
Stir baking soda into buttermilk. Add this to batter along with zest from the oranges. (Save juice for the glaze.) Beat just until mixed.
Spray three 12-cup mini muffin tins with nonstick spray with flour. Fill muffin cups 2⁄3 full with the batter. Bake 12-17 minutes for mini muffins (or 20-25 minutes for regular size muffins.)
For glaze, mix together brown sugar and orange juice (about ½ cup of juice) Using a small spoon, drizzle glaze over warm muffins. Let cool a few minutes. Remove muffins carefully from pan while still warm.
For the latest in holiday décor, coastal fans are loving hurricane lanterns in all colors, shapes and sizes. Martha Justice’s simple turquoise lantern was transformed into an Easter showpiece with fresh flowers of the season, created by Christina Diaz, floral manager at Randalls on 61st Street in Galveston.
Martha Justice is the author of “Easy Breezy Coastal Cooking,” inspired by Galveston’s coastal lifestyle. The cookbook is available for order online at www.grandcookbook.com or through Justice via email at email@example.com.