Recipes and Stories

23 April 2014: Easter Lamb Pasta

April 23, 2014

Tags: Feasting on Leftovers, Lamb, Roman Easter Lamb, Asparagus, Pasta

Penne with a Touch of Easter Lamb and Asparagus
One of the loveliest things about a feast day, I always think, is the leftovers. Bits of roast to eat cold with horseradish sauce or warmed in its gravy, cold ham and asparagus, potato gratin or baked macaroni, both of which warm-over so nicely. Soup that can be warmed or thinned with milk and served chilled, either as is, or with other things added to it. (more…)

19 April 2014: Easter VI—Chocolate

April 19, 2014

Tags: Chocolate, Dean Owens, Easter Dessert, Pots De Crème, Classic French Cooking

Dean’s Blender Pots De Crème are drop-dead easy and never fail to impress.
For many families, Easter dessert must be a fluffy coconut cake topped with seven minute frosting, lots of flaked coconut, and often jelly bean “Easter eggs.” Or it might be trimmed into shapes that are arranged on a platter and decorated to look like an Easter bunny. If that’s your tradition, then have at it. (more…)

19 April 2014: Easter V—Asparagus Hollandaise

April 19, 2014

Tags: Easter Dinner, Classic French Cooking, Hollandaise, Dutch Sauce, Asparagus, Asparagus Hollandaise

Classic Hollandaise begins as a Sabayon and should be fluffy and light
Over the last few years, there’s been a big fad for roasted asparagus. There’s nothing wrong with cooking this lovely vegetable in the oven, but it has become so commonplace that it’s in danger of being—no pun intended—overdone.

The preoccupation with one method has also made us forget that it’s not the only good way to cook asparagus. (more…)

18 April 2014 Easter IV—The Potatoes

April 18, 2014

Tags: Easter Dinner, Potatoes, Potato Gratin, Classic French Cooking

Classic French pommes de terre gratinée (potato gratin)
Regardless of whether you choose lamb or ham (or neither—or both) for your Easter feast, nothing will make the dinner seem quite as special as will this classic French gratin. The ingredients are simple and few, and the preparation requires almost no real skill on the part of the cook, but you will not finding anything more elegant and yet elementally satisfying to eat. (more…)

17 April 2014: Easter III—Paschal Lamb

April 17, 2014

Tags: Easter, Easter Lamb, Roast Lamb, Paschal Lamb, Easter Dinner

Boned and butterflied leg of lamb, roasted with thyme and oregano
For many Americans, Southerners in particular, the centerpiece of the Easter feast must be a fat, pink ham. Why and how ham came into this role is lost in time. The older, and more easily understood tradition, is lamb.

The ancient sacrificial lamb of the Passover came to be associated directly with the Christ’s sacrifice at the Crucifixion (“Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast.”), and in the early church, roast lamb was at the heart of the Easter feast. (more…)

14 April 2014: Easter II Spring Purees

April 14, 2014

Tags: Easter Dinner, Classic French Cooking, Purees, Spring Purees, Classic Southern Cooking

Spring Puree, in this case made with fresh young carrots.
One of the nicest ways of beginning an Easter dinner (or any other spring celebration meal) is an old-fashioned French puree. These are not the thick, mashed-potato like “purees” that have become so fashionable lately, but fresh vegetable soups that have been pulverized to a suave, elegant cream.

Not only do purees show off the fresh, full flavors of the season’s produce, they adapt beautifully to the unpredictability of the weather, being equally as good cold as hot. (more…)

9 April 2014: Easter I, Classic Deviled Eggs

April 9, 2014

Tags: Easter, Easter Dinner, Deviled Eggs, Eggs, Classic Southern Cooking, Essentials of Southern Cooking

Classic, Old-Fashioned Deviled Eggs, here garnished with capers and a light dusting of paprika
A recent poll on my social media author’s page confirmed something that any Southerner already knew: it isn’t Easter dinner down South if it doesn’t begin with deviled eggs. But it also gave away something I’ve long suspected: that the affection for these morsels has no geographical limits. They may come in and out of “fashion,” but they’ve never lost their front and center place on Easter’s table all across the country. (more…)

8 April 2014: Baked, Boiled, and Roasted

April 8, 2014

Tags: Beets, Classical Southern Cooking, Baked Beets, Spring Roots, Annabella Hill, Southern Cooking

Baked Beets, cooked whole and simply split and buttered while still hot
“Beets have a finer flavor baked than boiled; it requires longer time to cook them this way.”

— Annabella Hill, Mrs. Hill’s New Cook Book, 1867

Here’s an odd and suggestive historical puzzle: many nineteenth century American cookbook authors agreed with Mrs. Hill, conceding that beets taste best when they are baked whole rather than boiled. And yet, not one of them, Mrs. Hill included, provided directions for doing it. (more…)