After our scrumptious brunch, I spent the rest of Easter afternoon preparing dinner. My family doesn’t really have a lot of Easter traditions pertaining to food (except jelly beans), so I had a lot of fun in the week leading up to the holiday coming up with a menu that I thought would be festive and seasonal for the two of us.
As often is the case when I’m preparing a big meal, I think it’s best to start with dessert - that way, there’s plenty of time for things to cool, set, and other things desserts need to do. So I excitedly began by preparing a carrot cake, one of Rob’s favorite desserts. I used Alton Brown’s recipe (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/carrot-cake-recipe.html), and as you can see, my food processor! (aka “the kweeze”)
The last time I made a carrot cake, it was for my college roommate Kate Bax’s wedding, and I shredded the carrots by hand (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/76439557467/lifes-a-happy-song). It took almost an hour and turned my hands completely orange, so you should have heard me “squee!” when the food processor that Rob’s aunt Joni got for me took care of business in like 30 seconds. Amazing.
I loved using the food processor so much that I followed Alton’s advice and used it for my liquids, too! After combining the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and the perfectly shredded carrots, I poured the whole thing into the cake pans I got from my other college roommate, Rachel Zak. Our apartment smelled so. good.
But it would only get better from here. Once the cake was done and out of the oven, I was ready to move to the lamb. I had never prepared lamb myself before, and I thought it seemed quite appropriate for the occasion. So I bought a leg of it from Belmont Butchery a few days before (http://www.belmontbutchery.com/).
It wasn’t cheap - I think it was about two pounds of meat and yep, you’re reading that right, it cost $27.34. But I had planned the expense, and even though the fresh cuts at Belmont Butchery are a little more expensive than you’ll find at the grocery store, the freshness and excellent customer service is always worth it. Plus, I love butcher paper and everything that comes in it. Behold.
Just gorgeous! I treated it with Alex Guarnaschelli’s recipe (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alexandra-guarnaschelli/roasted-leg-of-lamb-recipe.html) that I’d seen in my Food Network Mag (the December issue, actually). I loved the idea of the lamb with a little dijon mustard, white wine, and fresh thyme. I roasted it in my oven until it got to a nice medium rare.
In the meantime, I thought a fun appetizer for Easter would be deviled eggs. A more recent issue of the Food Network Magazine had come with this little pull-out book of 50 deviled egg recipes (hellooooo nurse), and I selected the triple onion (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/articles/50-deviled-eggs.html). Because who cares about breath.
My mommers taught me how to make boiled eggs, and I haven’t deviated much from her original instruction - just cover eggs with water from the tap and bring it to a boil. Once it’s rolling, remove from heat and cover for 8 minutes. After the eggs were cool, I extracted and mashed the yolks with some French onion dip, some scallions, and some French-fried onions. Triple onion indeed.
I went ahead and served these to Rob before the rest of everything was ready. They were tasty, by virtue of being deviled eggs, but I didn’t think the French onion dip added much more unique flavor than a usual spoonful of mayonnaise would have done. I think the crunch of the French fried onions was the best part, otherwise I think a plain old deviled egg would have been just fine. By the way, I love that this photo is blurry - I clearly couldn’t contain myself in the presence of that ridiculous stache enough to hold the camera still.
One other thing I’d prepared for our dinner was a side of veggies. I’d selected, you guessed it, another recipe from my Food Network mag - butter-braised carrots and leeks (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/butter-braised-carrots-and-leeks.html). Carrots are obviously a fan favorite when it comes to vegetables thanks to their sweetness, but I also really love leeks - these big, sophisticated onions are fresh and mild, and they really balanced out the carrots well.
So after cooking these on the stovetop with butter, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and lemon zest, it was time to serve. My lamb had been resting out on the counter for about fifteen minutes so I wouldn’t lose those juices I’d been working so hard to achieve.
Speaking of juices, I’d also made a pan gravy from the drippings, just by putting the same roasting pan the lamb had been cooked in on my stovetop, adding some chicken stock, and letting it reduce. It looked just perfect in the vintage Pyrex gravy boat gifted to me by my lovely friend Nikki Pourladian
Rob very graciously offered to slice our little leg o’ lamb. I was slightly disappointed to see that it was a bit more done than I wanted it to be - I’d cooked it to the exact internal temperature listed in the recipe for medium rare (130 degrees), yet it looked more like medium than a medium rare. Which is hardly the end of the world, but when you spend $27.34 on a piece of meat, you want to cook it right! This picture actually makes it look a little less pink than it really was.
As a final touch, I hearkened back to my waitressing days at CC’s City Broiler (http://www.ccscitybroiler.com/), and added some goat cheese that I’d mixed with very slight amounts of horseradish and dijon mustard. That’s the way they served their rack of lamb, and I thought that it would be a tangy and delicious compliment to the dijon preparation that went into the lamb and gravy themselves.
This dinner was a.maz.ing. The vegetables were perfectly braised, buttery and a little tangy with that bright hint of lemon zest. The lamb was tender and juicy, and it was a textural home run with the velvety goat cheese. The mustardy, herbaceous gravy on top of it all was the icing on the cake.
Speaking of the icing on the cake, we were very challenged with this dinner to save room for dessert. But we persevered and each had a big helping of my scratch-made carrot cake. I wish I’d had a little more cream cheese frosting, but the cake was so moist that it really didn’t need it.
Well there ya have it, folks - a really good dinner that managed to make its way out of my kitchen. The eggs, the veggies, the lamb, and the cake were such a celebratatory way to end the Lenten season, and I was so thankful that my weekly fasting was finally over. Like I said before, that was a big challenge for a girl who loves cooking and eating as much as I do, but the awareness I gained about my privilege as a well-fed individual made me all the more grateful for every meal that has come my way ever since.