Easter Table: Our Menu

posted by harlie in home

We have a couple of friends, Peter & Kat, with whom, without really trying or planning to do so, we started trading off hosting for Easter. They had us over one year, we had them over the next and then…I guess we just kept going. This year, we figured it was our turn, so we broke out a few of our favorite, traditional recipes and filled out the line-up with some new tasties. I just thought I’d share them with you too (I promise: this is my last Easter post until next year).

My Mister has the most amazing lamb recipe and any time we have the occasion, I encourage him to break that sucker out. It’s a pretty, standard recipe but rack of lamb is a classic and my honey really knows his classics. We also got a ham in case any of the kids didn’t like lamb (which turned out not to be a problem). As a side, I usually make my favorite mashed potato recipe, à la Alton Brown. I also found a great roasted carrot recipe. So simple, so tasty! It will become a staple for us, definitely. Our friends brought a brussel sprout dish that was A-MA-ZING! I know brussel sprouts get a bad rap, but I like them and I asked Kat for the recipe, it was just that good.

I had intended to serve rolls as well, but I forgot. We had a to-do list of things we needed to prep and cook before dinner and I didn’t put the rolls on the list. So they didn’t get made. The dough is still in my fridge. Oops! This is my problem with lists — I have a love/hate relationship with lists. They’re wonderful for keeping track of what I’m doing (and who doesn’t love checking things off a to-do list?), but I tend to rely too heavily on them when I have them. If my list isn’t thorough, I’m in big trouble. Anyhow, I guess I’ll be using it to make cinnamon rolls in the morning.

For dessert, we have two favorites that we always make for Easter. My Mister’s baklava and an orange-chocolate cake from the Barefoot Contessa that I’m working on perfecting. I love this cake and maybe the recipe written as-is works from other people. However, even though it always tastes great, I’m still working on getting the whole dense+moist thing down consistently. The Mister’s baklava, however, is reliably delicious. Dense, but flaky. Sweet, but not cloyingly so. In fact, it’s so good that Peter & Kat’s two daughters assumed we were Greek (they are, we’re not). So, I call that pretty darn good baklava.

I would love to tell you how best to bacon-ize your brussel sprouts, but that is a recipe I have yet to steal. Until then, do you want to find out how to make a killer rack of lamb? Or make baklava just like your Yiayia use to?

Roasted Rack of Lamb
MAKES 4 SERVINGS

 
I love this recipe. We had to double it for Easter and it still turned out wonderful. The only drawback is it is a messy dish to prep. Watch out for that breadcrumb mixture. It can get everywhere!
 

1 8-bone rack of lamb, trimmed & frenched
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 450°F. Move oven rack to center position.
In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, garlic, rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss in 2 tablespoons olive oil to moisten mixture. Set aside.

Season the rack of lamb all over with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy oven-proof skillet (we use our enameled cast iron dutch oven) over high heat. Sear rack of lamb for 1 to 2 minutes on all sides. Set aside for a few minutes. Brush lamb with the mustard. Roll in the bread crumb mixture until evenly coated. Cover the ends of the bones with foil to prevent charring.

Arrange the rack bone-side down in the skillet. Roast the lamb in oven for 12 to 18 minutes, depending on the degree of doneness you want. With a meat thermometer, take a reading in the center of the meat after 10 to 12 minutes. Remove meat or let it cook longer, to your taste. Allow internal temperature to be 5 to 10 degrees less than you’d like because the meat will continue to cook after it is removed from the oven.

Let lamb rest for 5-7 minutes, loosely covered, before carving between the ribs.

Bloody Rare: 115-125°F
Rare: 125-130°F
Medium Rare: 130-140°F
Medium: 140-150°F

Baklava
MAKES ABOUT 28 SERVINGS

 
If you look at the ingredients to baklava, you might think, “Six simple ingredients. How hard can it possibly be?” And according to my sweetie, baklava is simple, but it’s also tedious and time-consuming. He claims to have screwed up the dish on several occasions as he was learning to make it. I have never attempted to make the dish and leave it up to him. He, on the other hand, generally leaves the cupcake experimentation up to yours truly. Regardless, if you can master this dish, you will earn accolades galore, because it is delicate and sweet and DELICIOUS.
 

4 cups California walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 lb. phyllo
1 cup butter, melted
12 ounces honey

Preheat oven to 300°F. Grease a 13×9 baking dish.

In a large bowl, combined walnuts, sugar and ground cinnamon until blended. Set aside.

Place 1 sheet of phyllo in baking dish, allowing it to extend up the sides of the dish and brush with butter. Repeat for 5 sheets of phyllo. Sprinkle with 1 cup of walnut mixture.

Cut remaining sheets to fit dish. Place 1 sheet of phyllo over the walnut mixture and brush with butter. Repeat for at least 6 layers of phyllo. Sprinkle with 1 cup of walnut mixture. Repeat layering two more times.

Top the last walnut layer with the remaining phyllo. Trim any phyllo that extends over the top of the dish. With a very sharp knife, cut just halfway through all the layers in a diamond pattern, cutting into 4 sections length-wise, to make 28 servings.

Bake for 1 hour 25 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Just before removing dish, heat the honey in a 1-quart saucepan over medium-low heat so that it’s hot, not boiling.

Remove dish from oven and spoon honey evenly over the baklava. Cool at least 1 hour. Finish cutting through layers and serve at room temperature.

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