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Easy Easter Dinner

IN THE April 16 ISSUE

FROM THE 2011 Articles,
andFood Fun,
andMargaret Mendel
SECTIONS

by Margaret Mendel

Coupon for Valentino’s Italian Restaurant at the end of this article.

Once Daylight savings begins, I start planning my Easter dinner. We usually have between 12 and 14 people sitting at our table on that day. It used to be a big deal and I’d spend long hours shopping and preparing special dishes.

By the time everyone sat down for the Easter dinner, I’d be dog-tired and, quite frankly, couldn’t wait for the meal to be over so that I could put my feet up and relax.

But then I wised up and simplified the meal. I searched out recipes for main courses that were delicious, quick to prepare, consisted of simple ingredients and required little or no babysitting while they cooked. I found side-dishes that were no-fuss ways of dealing with that part of the meal, too.

Desserts were a bit tricky because in the past I had set the expectations pretty high for how the meal would end. But there are plenty of delicious and simple to prepare recipes out there and I’ve begun to take advantage of them.

I’d like to share with you some of the recipes that have simplified my Easter dinner preparation. I have presented to you in this article three possible meat dishes for your consideration. There is an easy vegetable side dish and a simple great desert.

ROAST LEG OF LAMB IN A PACKAGE

1 boned leg of lamb (about 4 pounds)
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Juice of one lemon
1 pound of small mushrooms
1 Tablespoon of oregano
1 Bay leaf
½ teaspoon paprika
1 onion, sliced
4 tender carrots, sliced
½ cup water or chicken stock

Cut slits in the lam and insert pieces of garlic. Rub the meat with salt and pepper. Sprinkle meat with oregano and paprika. Carefully pour lemon juice over meat making sure that all the meat is covered in the juice.

Place lamb in the center of a large sheet of aluminum foil that has been set into the middle of a roasting pan. Make sure that the foil will be large enough to close around the top of the meat but not hug the lamb too tightly.

Cover the meat with the onion slices, bay leaf, carrots, mushrooms and the ½ cup of water or chicken stock.

Roast meat in a 375-degree oven for 2 ½ hours.


CORNISH GAME HENS WITH DRIED FRUIT STUFFING

This is a simple recipe that uses dried fruit, sliced apples, garlic and orange juice. I usually prepare one hen per person. My mother-in-law only eats half of her hen and then she takes the other half home, while the big eaters at the dinner table finish the meat and then suck on the bones. I put the ingredients into the cavity of each washed Cornish game hen:

1 Cornish game hen, washed, salt sprinkled into the cavity
3 dried apricots
2 or 3 pieces of any dried fruit of your choice
1 dried prune
1/8 apple, thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons orange juice
½ garlic clove, minced or thinly sliced

Place the dried fruit, apple slices, and garlic into the cavity of the hens and then pour in the orange juice. Put the hens in a pan and roast at 350 degrees for about an hour. If the hens are packed tightly against each other they may take a bit longer to cook.


ROCKY’S EASY SPANISH-STYLE FRESH ROAST PORK

Instead of a standard ham try a fresh pork roast. Here is a great recipe that tastes even better if marinated for at least an hour or, even better, over night and then left to cook in the oven for hours without any babysitting.

In a blender or processor turn the following into a thick paste and then set aside:
1 onion, cut into quarters
1 Habanero chili pepper, cut into pieces with seeds removed (optional or adjust to taste)
5 or 6 cloves garlic
½ cup white wine vinegar

Combine the following in a bowl and mix thoroughly:
2 Tablespoons Adobo seasoning
3 teaspoons garlic powder
3 teaspoon of dried oregano
½ cup cilantro, finely minced

6-pound fresh pork roast, skinless

Rub into the surface of the pork with the garlic powder, oregano and cilantro mixture and then place the meat into a non-reactive container (preferably glass or corning ware).

Pour the blended paste over the meat making sure to cover front and back of the roast; put into refrigerator and let stand at least an hour, or for tastier meat, refrigerate over night. If the meat spent the night in the refrigerator, let the pork stand at room temperature for an hour before cooking. Preheat oven to 400 degrees for 15 minutes and then turn oven down to 325 degrees. Transfer meat to a roasting pan cover with a lid or foil, securing along the edge where the foil meets the pan to insure that the steam does not escape. Cook covered for about 2 hours. Remove cover and roast for another hour. Let meat rest for 20 minutes before carving. A 6 pound roast should feed about 12 people.


ROASTED VEGETABLES

This is usually a dish that is determined by what looks good at the green grocer. However, I always use sliced apples, garlic and cauliflower. The amount of vegetables you use will be dependent on the number of people you have for dinner. This recipe is for 12 people, so if you are only cooking for 6 then you can cut this recipe in half.

2 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 pear, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 head of cauliflower, cut into flowerets
4 carrots, peeled, sliced into chunks
3 parsnips, peeled, sliced into chunks
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, medium sized, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place all these ingredients into a bowl with the olive oil and mix until all vegetables appear to be coated with the oil. Put vegetables onto a cookie sheet and roast in the middle of the oven for about 40 to 45 minutes. This dish reheats nicely if prepared ahead of time or it could be served at room temperature. Salt lightly after the vegetables are cooked.


CHOCOLAT-RICATTA PUDDING

1 heaping Tablespoon cocoa powder
2 cups fat-free ricotta cheese
3 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup of Greek yogurt

Using either a mixer or a blender, thoroughly combine the cocoa powder, ricotta, confectioners’ sugar, almond extract and yogurt. This mixture can be served immediately or refrigerated for up to a day or two. If served chilled an ice cream scoop makes a nice presentation. This recipe easily serves 6 people.

For an extra treat place a dollop of whipped cream, a bit of raspberry jam or a fresh piece of fruit on the crown of the pudding. For a very grown-up treat pour a tablespoon full of Amaretto on top of the pudding. The liquor will puddle on the bottom of the dish and flavor each tasty spoonful.

When you’re not busy with Easter prep, why not grab a meal at Reedley’s own Valentino’s–their specials are listed on their Facebook page. Check out this special coupon for KRL’s readers!

Margaret Mendel was born in San Jose and has a Master’s degree in Counseling from the University of San Francisco & a Master’s of Fine Arts in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Currently residing in New York, she has had several short stories and articles published.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Alex April 17, 2011 at 10:50pm

great idea for a healthy dish the Roasted Vegetables
wish you well
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