Wednesday, April 2, 2008


I admit that I've been fairly lax with posting lately, but it's been a busy couple of months. There were many reasons, the biggest being that I was on the road working for a good period and we hosted my in-laws for 2 months; which I was initially trepidacious of, because our house is so small, but in the end it turned out to be very enjoyable. Regardless of those things, there still has been a lot of cooking and eating, though very little in the writing department. Hopefully, that changes, starting now. I'll keep it simple this time.

We hosted 21 people for our annual Easter dinner this year. This year's menu turned out fantastic and there really wasn't a lackluster dish in the bunch. It was a diverse and eclectic potluck menu to say the least. The menu had a decent amount of Russian / Czech Influence, followed by English, American Southern, French, and some California Modern. Oh, and some delicious Margaritas. Thanks to everyone who helped to make it such a great day and wonderful meal. Onto the food...

THE MENU (recipes to follow if not already linked)


Hot Pepper Pickled Eggs & Pickled Beets with Red Eggs served on pretzel sticks (see my next post for the egg recipes)

Prather Ranch Whiskey Sage Sausages with hot mustard

Easter Bread - Pascha (we add white raisins)

Homemade Pumpernickel Bread

Biscuits and Honey Butter

Main Course

Rotisserie Jamison Farm Leg of Lamb with Oil-Cured Black Olives and Herbs

Fresh Baked Ham with Whisky and Cola Glaze


French Potato Salad

Easter Cheese - Cirok

Minty Mushy Peas

Carrots with Ginger

Fresh Garden Arugula & Baby Lettuce Salad with Shaved Fennel and Green Garlic with Lemon and Olive Oil (pick the arugula, baby lettuce, fennel, and green garlic. Shave the fennel and green garlic. Toss with lemon juice and nice virgin olive oil)


Brown Sugar Almond Lemon Cake with Creme Fraiche and Fresh Berries

Coconut Cupcakes

Classic Margaritas


Rotisserie Leg of Jamison Farm Lamb with Oil-Cured Black Olives and Herbs
adapted from The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook by Amelia Saltsman

1 semi-boneless leg of lamb, 7lb
7 cloves garlic, peeled, plus 8 cloves for the pan
1.5 tsp kosher salt
1 cup pitted oil-cured black olives
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1/8 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
1/8 cup fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped, plus sprigs for pan
1/2 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 bottles dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock

Cut 12 or more slashes, each 1 to 2 inches deep and 2 inches long, in the leg of lamb, spacing them evenly. With a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic with the salt. Add the olives and herbs in batches, adding a little olive oil with each addition (using up to 1/4 cup total), and mash to make a textured paste. Stuff the olive-garlic paste into the slashes, and don't worry about being too neat. Rub the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil over the lamb and season with pepper. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator up to 6 hours. Bring to room temp before cooking.

If using a gas grill with rotisserie burner, turn on two of the burners to low and turn the rotisserie burner to high. Preheat the grill with the lid down. I remove the grates from my grill and set a stainless steel food-service rectangular pan on top of the burner heat dispensers. I have a 3 burner grill. I have the two outside burners on low and the middle burner off. I fill the pan with the two bottles of white wine, chicken stock, garlic, and leftover herbs. The pan will act in two ways; it will keep the air moist while the lid is closed and it will catch the drippings from the lamb. Skewer the lamb onto the rod along the bone and then tie the lamb leg with kitchen twine like you tie a roast. Add the end prongs and secure the lamb to the rod securely. Put the lamb and the rod onto the rotisserie unit over the pan and adjust it for balance. Cook the lamb with the lid down approximately 20 minutes per pound or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the leg (not touching bone) reads 120 for rare and 140 degrees for medium. (The temperature will continue to rise a few degrees outside the oven.) Remove the meat from the grill, cover on a platter with foil and let rest for about 20 minutes before serving. In the meantime, take the drippings and stock-wine mixture off the grill and transfer to a pan. Reduce on a stovetop over medium heat till slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper and add a pat or two of butter (add any juices from the lamb platter just before you carve the meat as well). Transfer to a warm serving bowl. Remove the lamb leg from the skewer and carve the leg into long thin slices with the grain, parallel to the bone. Serve with the sauce.


2 cups pickled beets from the pickled beets and red eggs - ground in food processor
mix with
1 cup of horseradish
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
put in jar and store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temp to serve as a condiment.

Gingered Carrots

2 pounds baby carrots
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh, peeled, grated ginger
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Place carrots, juice, butter, sugar and ginger in skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to boil. Cover and cook 3 minutes. Uncover and simmer about 10 minutes or until liquid glazes the carrots. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

Classic Margarita

1 1/2oz (1 Jigger) Cazadores Reposada, Corzo Reposada, or Don Julio Blanco (Whatever Tequila you really like - don't waste money on Anejo - you need something with more oomph to stand up against the lime)
1 1/2oz Cointreau
juice of 1/2 - 1 lime (depending on how tart you like it)
Margarita salt

Put ice in a cocktail shaker and combine the tequila, cointreau, and lime juice. Shake a couple seconds and then pour into your favorite ice-filled glass. If you like the rim of your glass with salt, take one of the lime halves and run it around the rim and then dip the rim in a plate of the salt.

Note or suggestion: I prefer my margaritas tart and smoky. To accomplish this, either go for the whole lime or back off on the cointreau. For the smoky, I add a floater (1/2 - whole shot) of really good Mezcal. I love Del Maguey's Chichicapa. If you can find it, it's fantastic - but really expensive. It adds an amazingly delicious smokiness to it. I also mix some ground chile powder into my salt to rim the glass.