Fortunately for me, I have friends who are amazing cooks. At a recent Food Friend Dinner we had what I thought was the perfect Easter dinner with all the tastes of spring. You may appreciate a sampling that you might use for your own celebratory menu.
Hot smoked salmon with dill sauce,
Fresh dill and lemon slices
Baked quinoa with slivers of sautéed red pepper and leeks.
Roast leg of lamb baked in a salt crust
Petits pois, steamed artichokes and sprouts in a lemon vinaigrette
Salad of mixed greens, spirals of
cucumbers, blueberries tossed
with a vinaigrette
Rhubarb tart with ice-cream and
blood orange compote
Blood Orange Compote
Citrus fruits of all sorts are in season now. Claudia Wood made this compote with blood oranges. Their vibrant red colour gives drama to the dish. However, navel oranges make a great substitute if blood oranges are unavailable. This dish would be perfect as part of a dessert course (as in this menu) or a course in a brunch menu. It can be made up to one day ahead. Allow two oranges per person, about 10 with enough for six to eight servings.
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) water
1/4 cup (50 mL) Grand Marnier
Using a sharp paring knife start at the top of the orange and cut down from the top to the bottom to remove a band of the skin and pith. Repeat all the way around the orange to remove all the peel and pith. Using the same knife, cut the orange in thin horizontal slices about 1/4 inch thick. Place in a shallow platter. Cover and refrigerate.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan melt the sugar over medium-high heat, watching carefully, and allow it to become golden brown. Remove from heat, stir in water and return to heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove and cool to room temperature. Stir in liqueur and pour sauce over orange slices. Cover oranges and refrigerate.
Leg of Lamb in Salt Crust with Red Wine Mint Sauce
The salt crust on the lamb ensures juicy, perfectly roasted lamb beneath without a salty taste. Kathryn Tanaka served thin slices of this roast with a sublime sauce made from reduced wine with added fresh chopped mint and parsley. Yum!!!
5 lb (2.2 kg) leg of lamb
2 cups (500 mL) kosher salt
4 egg whites
Red Wine Sauce with Fresh Mint and Parsley
2 cups (500 mL) red wine
1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh mint, finely chopped
1/4 cup (50 mL) Italian parsley, finely chopped
In a food processor combine salt and egg whites until a paste is produced, or whisk together in a bowl. Smear this mixture all over the leg of lamb to completely coat. Place on a rack in a roasting pan and put into a preheated 375˚F (190˚C) oven. Immediately reduce heat to 300˚F (100˚C) and roast 1.5 hours. Remove leg roast covered in salt crust and let stand about 30 minutes. Remove the salt crust (it will come away in large pieces). Slice lamb thinly and serve with sauce.
Red Wine Sauce
In a stainless steel saucepan over medium high heat, bring wine to the boil; allow it to simmer uncovered until reduced by one half, about 20 minutes. Stir in mint and parsley. Allow to cool and serve in sauceboat to accompany sliced lamb.
Spring Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Noella Kyser is an extremely creative cook as this salad exemplifies – colourful with a variety of flavours and textures, it is the epitome of spring.
8 cups ( 2 L) mixed greens
1 cup (250 mL) thinly sliced red radishes
1 cup (250 mL) thinly sliced English cucumber
1 cup (250 mL) thinly sliced yellow peppers
1 cup (250 mL) blueberries
1 cup (250 mL) roasted green beans
3/4 cup (175 ml) vegetable oil
1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 tbsp (15 mL) each, liquid honey and Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh black pepper
In a large bowl, or platter, toss together mixed greens, radishes, cucumber, yellow peppers, blueberries and green beans.
In a food processor combine oil, lemon juice, honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper until smooth and well combined. Pour into a jar; drizzle several tablespoons over salad and toss to combine. Serve salad immediately.
Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer
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