Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter Entertaining

Happy Easter everyone!!

Whilst many of us have empty nests, we console each other during some of the holidays with pot luck dinners that do not over tax the host, and allow individual's specialties to shine. Last year, with the girlies home, I went all out with the flowers and daughter #2 did an amazing job arranging them.

This year I struggled with my selection of Ranunculus, Tulips, Daffodils and Iris. Despite the tape I grid over the containers, my dainties flopped over like tired ballerinas.

After much pushing, and tucking piled upon  even more dissatisfaction, I ripped them out of the largest container and tried working with smaller more manageable bouquets. The fabulous effect of last years flowers was derived from massing many small arrangements creating an exuberant interior garden. Now, I remember. This year, the flowers were pretty, but nothing like daughter #2's effusions.

We have a ginourmous kitchen island that is the center of the action.  We dance around each other, weaving in and out between cooks and guests  with the practiced rhythms of a minuet. Mrs. R. and I are in charge of the main course and as usual it was an experiment. The food critics present gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up, so I will happily share it with you. It is extremely easy so I encourage you to give it a try. Cooks Illustrated is a trusted source for my frequent safaris to the culinary frontiers. Rethinking Leg of Lamb in the April 1013 is without a doubt the best version I have ever tried.

Roast Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Coriander, Cumin, and Mustard Seeds
 Serves 8-10 (we doubled it and really could have served 25)

1 butterflied leg of lamb, (6 to 8 lbs)
Kosher salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 piece ginger, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and smashed, (1-inch)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
3 bay leaves
2 strips lemon zest, (2-inch)
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1. FOR THE LAMB: Place lamb on cutting board with fat cap facing down. Using sharp knife, trim any pockets of fat and connective tissue from underside of lamb. Flip lamb over, trim fat cap so it's between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick, and pound roas to even 1-inch thickness. Cut slits, spaced 1/2 inch apart, in fat cap in crosshatch pattern, being careful to cut down to but not into meat. Rub 2 tablespoons salt over entire roast and into slits. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile, adjust oven racks 4 to 5 inches from broiler element and to lower-middle position and heat oven to 250°F. Stir together oil, shallots, garlic, ginger, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, bay leaves, and lemon zest on rimmed baking sheet and bake on lower-middle rack until spices are softened and fragrant and shallots and garlic turn golden, about 1 hour. Remove sheet from oven and discard bay leaves.
3.Leaving the oven at 250 degrees, thoroughly pat lamb dry with paper towels and transfer, fat side up, to sheet (directly on top of spices). Roast on lower-middle rack until lamb registers 120°F, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and heat broiler. Broil lamb on upper rack until surface is well browned and charred in spots and lamb registers 125°F, 3 to 8 minutes for medium-rare.
4. Remove sheet from oven and, using 2 pairs of tongs, transfer lamb to carving board (some spices will cling to bottom of roast); tent loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes.
5. FOR THE SAUCE: Meanwhile, carefully pour pan juices through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Stir in mint, cilantro, shallot, and lemon juice. Add any accumulated lamb juices to sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. With long side facing you, slice lamb with grain into 3 equal pieces. Turn each piece and slice across grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Serve with sauce. (Briefly warm sauce in microwave if it has cooled and thickened.)

    • My Notes: I was religious with the meat thermometer, not trusting my oven calibration. It is something of an act of faith to go ahead and sear the meat under the broiler at this point, since it's looking a tad on the blue side. I heated the pan drippings and juices dropping the herbs, shallots and lemon juice in for a quick stir, before pouring the sauce over the sliced lamb. 

      Now for the dessert, I searched around because we wanted something fruity, without refined flour or sugar. We hit on Mango and Lemon Syllabub and it was a hit!!  Mrs. P. made this easily in under 1/2 hour with my new Vitamix, which I finally sprung for and adore. In my enthusiasm to dive in, I forgot to take a photo but I am using the images and recipe from Grace's Sweet Life which is an adaptation of a BBC good food recipe. It is exactly what we want to top off a hearty meal. It is beyond quick and simple. 

      Photo and Recipe from Grace's Sweet Life

      Mango & Lemon Syllabub

      (adapted from BBC Good Food)
      Serves 6

      For the Lemon Syllabub:

      • 12 ounces heavy cream
      • zest of 1/2 lemon & 2 tablespoons lemon juice
      • 4 tablespoons honey

      For the Mango Purée:

      • 3 large mangoes, peeled and stoned, 1 finely chopped (reserve 1/4 to serve)
      • 4 teaspoons honey
      • juice of 1/2 lemon

      To serve Mango & Lemon Syllabub:

      • flesh of 1/4 mango, finely chopped
      • mint sprigs
      1. For the syllabub, with a hand-held mixer or wire whisk, whip the heavy cream until slightly thickened.  Add the lemon zest, lemon juice & honey, with a wooden spoon, stir to combine.  Let sit for 2 to 3 minutes.
      2. For the purée, put the flesh of 2 mangoes in a food processor or blender and blend to a purée.  Add the honey and lemon juice and blend until smooth. With a spoon, stir in 3/4 of the finely chopped mango.  Spoon the purée mixture into the base of 6 glasses.
      3. Spoon the whipped cream mixture on top of the mango purée.
      4. Garnish with the remaining 1/4 finely chopped mango and add a sprig of mint.

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      1. Beautiful, festive food, flowers and celebration!
        Happy Easter Liz!

        Art by Karena

      2. Looks amazing. One trick I have is to use the florist foam inside a vessel for arranging flowers.
        Thanks for your kind comments as always and sweet words.
        See you in Millbrook one day!

      3. Liz-
        Your flowers were absolutely beautiful!! We had purple irises growing up, and they add so much to an arrangement, and who could go wrong with tulips?
        I will have to try the menu here. Looks amazing.
        I am happy that you had a nice Easter.

      4. Wanted to post you one tiny note to be able to thank you very
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      5. Well, limping in after the party is over, I'm still keen to try that lamb recipe.

      6. Loving the flowers in this interior- ahh spring gone so fast.


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