Spring has Sprung!

April 5, 2010

It’s been too long but welcome back folks!

I have had a busy month filled with projects that keep me from properly blogging but let’s waste no time and jump back into the thick of things.  I wanted to share with you yesterday’s delicious Easter Dinner.  Originally conceived for 11 people it reduced over the week to four and i for one could not have been happier.  Because of our smaller number i decided to give things a lighter, more casual feel.  Off the menu were starters and salads and in lieu of dessert we went for a hike in the woods which was a terrific way to spend some time together.

I wanted to do a Provencal-style lamb at first with lavender and roasted tomatoes and olives but i was out of the herb and the tomatoes at the market were sickly looking.  The past few days  had been so bright an almost summery i though a picnic would be fun but as the lawn furniture was still put away the dining room table would have to suffice.  So, our evening meal had turned into an afternoon affair and i wanted to still invoke that casual feel on the plate but celebrate the season too.  I still was  fixed on the Mediterranean as a starting point. I thought of the lamb kabobs at Boqueria and their patatas bravas, all crunchy and creamy.  There is no deep fryer in my kitchen and some of my guests had  expressed a desire to “not have a spicy meal” (who me?) so the piquant aoili that coats those tasty potatoes was out. However…. my mind traveled further south and i remembered a Greek Easter feast I’d had years ago. It too had take place on a bright sunny afternoon and all the flavors from that trip came swirling back at.

Leg of Lamb with Salsa Verde

LAMB MARINADE
1 12# leg of lamb
1 head of garlic
1 bunch of rosemary
1 Tablespoon  ground coriander
1 Tablespoon mustard powder
1  tin anchovy fillets
1 Tablespoon ground pepper
2 Tablespoons fleur de sel
1/3 cup olive oil

strip the rosemary stems and chop, roughly 3T and blend with salt, pepper, coriander and mustard in a large bowl.
peel and mince garlic cloves with 1/2 the anchovies (more to taste) into a paste and combine with spices and oil.
slather the meat with the marinade and let sit overnight.

cook for  1 hr to 45minutes at 400F and let stand for 25 minutes
while the meat rests mix the salsa

SALSA VERDE
1 bunch mint
1/2 bunch Italian parsley
1 Tablespoon capers
1/2 tin of anchovy fillets
2 Tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

roughly chop herbs and anchovies and transfer into a food processor, adding zest, capers and  vinegar too.
pulse until combined and  slowly pour in olive oil.
season to taste (but be aware, the saltiness of the capers may bloom the longer it sits)

Red Potato Salad with Saffron Dressing

the local red potatoes i had on hand were a beautiful creamy golden color inside and i decided to match the vibrant green of the lamb’s sauce to pair it with a delicate hue like these tubers already had, but would loose when cooked. That picnic thing was still in my brain and it cried out for potato salad. My friends Yarrow & Rienne had made an inspiring pear cider over the holidays (some of which i was lucky enough to receive as a Christmas gift)  and it would give the zing i was looking for.  There was a bunch of green beans kicking around too so i blanched ‘em and threw ‘em into the mix for texture instead of celery.

POTATO SALAD
2 # red bliss potatoes
3 Tablespoons pear cider vinegar (apple, white wine will also do)
1 Tablespoon salt
1 # string beans
1 bunch scallions

cube and simmer the potatoes in salted water for 15 minutes and drain and set aside.
cut string beans into 1/3s and blanch.
mix salt and vinegar and toss the potatoes, and string beans and scallions which have been thinly sliced (green only).

Saffron Mayonnaise
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
pinch salt
3 threads saffron
1/4 cup grape seed oil
1/4 cup water

in a blender place the yolks, saffron and mustard and mix on low speed followed by the lemon juice.   Slooooooooowly incorporate the oil until the mixture thickens and binds gradually increasing the speed. If your mixture holds and is thick, add a bit of water. The idea here is not as solid as something you’d spread on a sandwich but  will coat- like a yolk on its own. Spoon into the Potato Salad and season to taste.

To accompany the meal we had a delicious bottle of Wrongo Dongo, an inexpensive Jumilla, that was right on the money. One guest brought homemade Pumpkin Muffins with apples and walnuts, a perfect foil to the lamb jus and a nibble that was half-way to dessert.  It was one of the easiest meals i’ve made in a while and can’t wait to find a use for the shank bone. Any suggestions?

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