An Easter Dinner
April 16, 2006
I have chosen this meal because I feel like you
should have lamb on Easter (you can have ham instead, but I have cleverly covered
that base with the Proscuitto). When you cook a butterflied leg of lamb and
slice it up, you will realize that some parts are thicker than others. This
allows the lamb to cook to different degrees of doneness. Some folks like lamb
rare, but not me, I like it medium well. This way everybody is happy. Since
it’s a holiday, I think you should pour 1990 Burgundy with the lamb, and of
course Chardonnay with the soup which may be made 2 days ahead (that would be
Friday). Another tip or shortcut is to use Knorr Chicken Bouillon cubes instead
of canned broth. Canned broth in my opinion has no flavor and takes up too much
room on the shelf. These little cubes are potent, they are also salty so watch
it. The fresh basil must be cut at the very last minute. As some of you know,
it will turn black after being cut. The air gets to it and it changes. There
is no loss of flavor but it is not appetizing to look at. Finally, a Gremolata
is a mixture of herbs, garlic, and grated zest. The possibilities are endless
with all the choices of herbs and citrus. It is fat free and loaded with flavor.
This menu will serve 8 people.
An Easter Dinner
Orange and Basil Tomato Soup
Lemon Marinated Leg of Lamb with Mint Gremolata
Wesley’s Sautéed New Potatoes
Asparagus Wrapped in Proscuitto
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Orange and Basil Tomato Soup:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
2/3 cups chopped carrots
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 teaspoons dried basil
Scant 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 28-oz cans Italian style plum tomatoes, drained well and coarsely chopped
3 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel, divided (also known as zest)
Generous pinch sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
6 cups chicken broth
6 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, cut into fine strips
Heat oil in large heavy pot over medium high heat. When hot add onions and carrots
and sauté, stirring until vegetables are softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic,
basil, and red pepper and sauté, stirring for 2 minutes more. Add tomatoes,
2 teaspoons orange peel, sugar, ½ teaspoon salt and broth. Bring to a simmer
and cook, uncovered until vegetables are quite tender, 25 to 35 minutes.
Puree soup in batches in a food processor fitted with a metal blade or a blender.
I prefer the blender, but watch the lid, it will pop off and the soup will burn
you. Use a hot pad to keep the lid on. Return soup to pot and stir in orange
juice. Taste, if too acidic add more sugar. Add more salt if necessary. Cool
cover and refrigerate.
When ready to serve, reheat; ladle into 8 bowls and garnish with fresh basil.
Lemon Marinated Leg of Lamb with
Juice and grated zest of 3 lemons
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup honey
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
5 lb leg of lamb, boned and butterflied, skin, fat, and gristle removed
In a large glass bowl or zip-lock freezer bag combine the lemon juice and zest,
olive oil, honey, garlic, rosemary and mint. Add the lamb and turn to coat completely.
Cover the bowl or seal the bag and place in refrigerator. Marinate at least
3 hours or overnight, turning the lamb occasionally.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the lamb on a broiler rack and roast for
10 minutes. Turn the lamb over and roast another 10 minutes, or until an instant
read thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 130 degrees for rare meat.
Allow the lamb to rest for 10 minutes before slicing thinly. Place on serving
platter and scatter some of the mint gremolata over the lamb, passing the rest
1/2 cup grated lemon zest
1/4 chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a medium bowl combine all ingredients. Store in refrigerator for up to 3
Wesley’s Roasted New Potatoes:
This is simple and may be done an hour or two in advance. Buy the smallest new
potatoes you can find (however many you think you need). They should be in season
now. Wash them and put them into a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil and cook
until barely tender, about 20 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes.
Let cool enough to handle and cut them in half. Melt some butter in a large
skillet over medium high heat. Add potatoes and cook, shaking until well browned.
Try to get the cut side of the potatoes face down. Season them liberally with
salt, pepper, and seasoned salt.
Asparagus Wrapped in Proscuitto:
2 lb. Asparagus
12 oz Proscuitto, thinly sliced
10-oz Gouda cheese, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup butter, divided
Cracked black pepper
Snap off tough ends of asparagus. Steam or boil until barely tender, this will
depend on the thickness of the spears. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Divide Proscuitto
into 16 equal portions. Divide cheese slices into 16 equal portions. Divide
asparagus into 16 equal portions and place each portion on one slice of the
Proscuitto from each portion of it (did you get that?). Place all of the cheese
strips except 2 in with the asparagus and top with 11/2 teaspoons butter and
some pepper. Use remaining portions of Proscuitto to wrap around each bundle,
keeping meat thickness as even as possible around asparagus. In a lightly buttered
baking dish, arrange bundles in a single layer. Place the two remaining strips
of cheese from each portion in a criss cross pattern on top of the bundles.
Dot with remaining butter and bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
1 1/2 cups oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans
3 cups grated carrots
In a large bowl, beat eggs with a mixer until lemon colored and fluffy, about
5 minutes. Blend in oil and slowly beat in sugar. In a bowl sift flour, soda,
salt, and cinnamon; add nuts. Fold dry ingredients and carrots into batter.
Grease and flour 3 8-inch or 2 9-inch cake pans. Pour in batter and bake at
350 degrees for 35 minutes or until sides pull away from the sides of the pans.
8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1 16-oz box powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
In a large bowl, blend cream cheese and butter until smooth and free of lumps.
Add sugar gradually and blend well. Add vanilla. Spread icing between cooled
layers and cover top and sides of cake.