Before moving to Lana’i, Hawaii (I’m the executive chef for Four Seasons Resorts Lāna’i—Four Seasons Resort Lāna’i at Manele Bay and Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, The Lodge at Koele), Easter was always my family’s “hopeful” holiday. Glimpses of springtime and warmth would begin to peek through the otherwise wet and cold winters of Chicago, and later, the Pacific Northwest. Bright, soft colors replaced the dark and drab of January and February. This year, my family is anxiously awaiting our first Easter celebration in the Islands. A Hawaiian Easter will blend old traditions with new celebrations as we enjoy eternal sunshine, family and the warmth of the unique culture here.
While we do live on a beautiful island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I have reassured my children—Carter, five, and Sophia, three—that the Easter Bunny finds the time to hop over to Lana’i (that is a big jump). And I’m excited to incorporate the flavors of Hawaii into our traditional Easter dishes, as well as adding healthier options.
Easter baskets are a given at our house. But my wife always cringes a bit at the candy overload—still carrying over from the holidays just a few months before. We try to balance out our kids’ baskets with small treats as equally sweet and entertaining: coloring books, paint and puzzles are always a hit mixed-in, of course, with the standard jellybeans and pastel-hued M&Ms.
On Easter day, we put out a tray of our favorite chocolate-dipped treats on hand for friends and family. Tropical fruits and berries are a nice way to get an array of spring colors to offset a chocolate palette. My kids love fruit—pineapple, papayas, mangoes and apple-bananas (all found close to home)—which balances out the Oreo cookie truffle.
For dinner, we add a tradition from my past. Easter Sunday to me was always special. An early-morning Easter egg hunt was followed by eating as much candy as I could before my mother confiscated my basket. One thing, however, was a little odd: my chocolate Easter bunnies arrived with their ears already bitten off! I could never figure out what had happened. When I was old enough, I discovered it was my mother who just couldn’t control her chocolate urges… Snap! The night before Easter, my chocolate Easter bunny would meet its match. Alas, the next day little Kevin would find that his chocolate Easter bunny had somehow misplaced his ears again. I can remember my mother shrugging her shoulders, saying, “Weird!”
We always had an early dinner, after my grandmother arrived via the Greyhound bus on Easter morning. Grandma Bus, as I called her, would make the trip to Seattle from Salem, Oregon on the bus, which earned her the nickname. (I had a Grandma Crackers, too, but that’s a whole other story.) Anyway, back to Easter dinner: My mother always served roasted chicken, herb-roasted potatoes and sautéed carrots, and snap peas with mint. I could smell the chicken and rosemary-roasted potatoes all day long, and couldn’t wait for supper. I would help Grandma Bus pick the herbs straight from our garden, and I was known to pull up a carrot, rinse it off with the hose, and eat right there in the garden.
Here are two of our favorite recipes you can try at home. Happy Easter, and happy dipping!
1 2 ½ to 3-pound whole chicken
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Rinse the chicken with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Truss the bird with butcher’s twine. (Tip: You don’t have to tie it; I often don’t when making at home, but it will keep the chicken more moist.) Place the chicken in a roasting pan, breast side up, and season generously with salt, pepper and chopped herbs. Let the chicken come to room temperature before roasting in the oven, about 30 to 45 minutes. Roast at 425 degrees F for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 165 degrees F. Cooking time will vary, depending on weight of the chicken. Allow the chicken to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.
Red Potatoes Tossed in Rosemary
1 ½ pounds baby red potatoes, whole
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Wash the potatoes, place in a mixing bowl and toss in olive oil. Add chopped rosemary, salt and pepper, and toss to thoroughly coat. Place the potatoes on aluminum foil on a cookie sheet for easy clean up. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes at 450 degrees F. Tip: Try to time it so that they finish close to the same time as the chicken.
Baby Carrots and Fresh Snap Peas with Mint
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized sticks
8 ounces sugar snap peas, string removed
20 to 25 fresh mint leaves, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons butter
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Peel the carrots and cut into bite-sized sticks. De-string the sugar snap peas and wash. Blanch both one at a time in boiling, salted water until al dente (firm to the bite), and then immediately submerge briefly in ice water (at least five minutes). Blanch carrots first, as your peas will turn the water slightly green. Drain the vegetables in a colander and use a paper towel to remove excess water. Then sauté on medium-high heat with butter, salt and pepper, and mint.
Serve the dishes family style on the table on attractive platters. Use fresh herbs and parsley to garnish. Serves four. Enjoy!
1 16-ounce package Oreo cookies
1 8-ounce package Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
2 8-ounce packages Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate
2 8-ounce packages Baker’s White Chocolate
optional: fresh fruit of your choice, sliced
garnish: crushed nuts, coconut, crushed candies, sprinkles to decorate
Crush nine cookies to fine crumbs in a food processor; reserve for later use. (Cookies can also be finely crushed in a Ziploc plastic bag using a rolling pin.) Crush the remaining 36 (if you managed not to eat any) cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium-sized bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Using the palms of your hands roll the cookie mixture into balls, about one-inch in diameter. The tip of a measuring teaspoon works well for sizing.
Refrigerate the cookie balls for at least 30 minutes before dipping. Combine the two chocolates and melt together by heating slowly in small glass bowl in the microwave, stirring after every 30 seconds until smooth. Set aside.
Dip the balls in the melted chocolate; using two forks, coat the balls, then drain the excess chocolate into the bowl. Place the truffles on a waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Tip: only put three truffles at a time into the chocolate to keep it from getting too cold too fast. (Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature for another use.) Sprinkle the cookie balls with reserved cookie crumbs or decorations of your choice: crushed nuts, coconut, crushed candies, sprinkles, etc. Refrigerate until firm, about one hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in the refrigerator.
You can slice any fruits that you have on hand and dip them in the leftover chocolate for anyone who says the truffles are too sweet—or to add some healthier options. Garnish with sprinkles for fun. Makes 3 ½ dozen.
Read more about Lana’i in Four Seasons Magazine.
As Executive Chef of Four Seasons Resorts Lāna’i, Chef Kevin Erving oversees all culinary operations at Four Seasons Resort Lāna’i at Manele Bay and Four Seasons Resort Lāna’i, The Lodge at Koele. An active supporter of local, organic farming and sustainable ingredients, Chef Kevin brings a new approach to the culinary scene on Lāna’i with his farm-to-table expertise. He lives in Lāna’i City with his wife Jennifer and two young children, Carter and Sophia. When not in the kitchen, he enjoys playing the guitar and outdoor recreation.
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