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Easter? Already? What to make? Ham? Lamb?
Unlike Christmas, what to serve at Easter is not written in stone. Here, we present a couple of ideas for Easter dinner, including a dessert.
HAMMING IT UP
Unless you're cooking for a crowd, baking up an Easter ham may not be worth the time, effort and expense. If not, you'll do better to stick with ham steaks, a faster and more economical cut.
Ham steaks also are easily adapted to the number of people you need to serve.
Writes Associated Press Food Editor J. M. Hirsch: "I started by sorting out the sides. I wanted potatoes in the mix, but I knew these would take the longest. A quick saute with some butter and thyme got a bag of new potatoes rolling. I then transferred them to the oven to finish.
"Which gave me an idea for a fresh approach to doing the green beans. I dumped my prepped green beans into the now-empty pan, tossed them with butter, garlic, salt and pepper, then covered the pan and set it aside. It was just enough to get them barely tender by serving time.
"For the ham steaks, it isn't so much cooking as reheating and flavoring. So I started with a saute of onion, then added the steaks and let them brown just a bit on both sides. For the glazing effect, toward the end of cooking I added a blend of maple syrup and hot sauce, then let it bubble and thicken.
"And that's it. A complete ham dinner without the hassle."
MAPLE HAM STEAK WITH ROASTED POTATOES AND GREEN BEANS
• 6 tablespoons butter, divided
• 28-ounce package new potatoes, halved
• 1/4 teaspoon thyme
• 1 teaspoon salt, divided
• 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
• 12 ounces green beans, ends trimmed
• 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
• 1 pound ham steaks
• 3/4 cup maple syrup
• 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
• 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spritz it with cooking spray. In a large skillet over medium-high, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the potatoes, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Toss well and saute for 10 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking sheet, then roast for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, return the skillet to the burner over high heat. Add another 2 tablespoons of butter. When the butter is melted, add the garlic and paprika. Stir for 30 seconds, then add the green beans. Toss well, saute for 3 minutes, then cover, remove from the heat and set aside. In a large saute pan over medium-high, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the ham steaks and brown for 3 to 4 minutes per side.
In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, hot sauce and soy sauce. Add this mixture to the pan, moving the steaks around to coat. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the liquid is thickened. Serve the ham steaks, topped with the onions, with sides of roasted potatoes and green beans.
Makes 6 servings.
GOING FOR LAMB
This Japanese-influenced recipe for rack of lamb from Marcus Samuelsson's cookbook "New American Table" coats the lamb in a miso-butter blend, then packs crunchy panko breadcrumbs around the outside. The best part is that it's fast and easy to prepare and can be done ahead and reheated.
MISO-RUBBED RACK OF LAMB
• 2 tablespoons dark miso
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1 tablespoon mild chili powder
• 1 large egg yolk
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 frenched racks of lamb (1 1/4 pounds each)
• Salt and ground black pepper
• 3/4 cup panko
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the miso, butter, chili powder, egg yolk and sage. Set aside. In a large saute pan, heat the oil. Season the lamb with salt and pepper, then add it to the pan and sear until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Let the lamb cool slightly, then smear the miso-butter mixture over both sides. Firmly press the panko into the miso-butter mixture on the rounded side of each rack. Place the racks, rounded fat sides up, in a roasting pan. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted at the center of the rack reads 125 degrees, about 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.
(Recipe from Marcus Samuelsson's "New American Table," Wiley, 2009)
Makes 6 servings.
Most people are familiar with the classic tiramisu, an Italian espresso-mascarpone layered dessert. This version borrows the concept of a layered mascarpone cream and ladyfinger dessert, but adapts it with spring and Easter in mind. If lemon and raspberry aren't your thing, you can substitute another berry combination, including blueberries, sliced strawberries, orange segments or mango. If you don't care for alcohol in your desserts, substitute juice for the liquors. Mascarpone cheese can be found in the specialty cheese section of most grocers. Organic edible flowers can be found with the herbs in the produce section.
For the syrup:
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 3/4 cup limoncello liqueur
• 3/4 cup lemon juice
For the mascarpone cream:
• 5 egg yolks
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 3/4 cup elderflower liqueur
• 3/4 cup limoncello liqueur
• Two 16-ounce tubs mascarpone cheese
• Two 3-ounce packages ladyfingers
• Two 6-ounce containers raspberries
• To garnish, if desired: Sugared flowers — organic edible flowers, such as pansies, roses or marigolds; 1 egg white; 1 teaspoon water; sugar
To make the syrup, in a small saucepan over medium, combine the sugar, limoncello and lemon juice. Heat until simmering and the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool. To make the mascarpone cream, in a medium stainless steel bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and both liqueurs. Set aside.
Bring a medium saucepan with 1/4 inch of water to a simmer. Place the bowl of the egg mixture over the pan. The bowl should rest over the water without touching it. Whisk the yolk mixture continuously until thickened, lightened in color and hot to the touch, about 10 minutes. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the mascarpone cheese and the yolk mixture. Beat together on medium-low until thoroughly mixed. Increase speed to medium then beat for 30 seconds. It should be thickened and hold peaks.
In an 8-by-11-inch pan, arrange a layer of ladyfingers across the bottom. The number that will fit will depend on the size of the ladyfingers. Sprinkle evenly with the syrup. You should use half the syrup. Spread half of the mascarpone cream over the top of the ladyfingers. Evenly distribute 1 package of the raspberries over the cream, gently pressing them in. Arrange a second layer of ladyfingers, drizzle with the remaining syrup, then top with the remaining mascarpone cream and raspberries. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.
To make sugared flowers, you can choose to use small flowers whole or pull the petals off larger flowers. Beat the egg white and water together until bubbly. Using a small clean paintbrush (be sure it's never been used for paint) paint the flowers or petals lightly with the egg white mixture, then sprinkle with sugar. Set aside on a wire rack to dry. Sprinkle over the top of the tiramisu before serving.
Makes 12 servings.