Sunday, April 17, 2011

Easter dinner

For a traditional Easter dinner, you could well try a roast lamb. I’ll just repeat the note in our third blog: Lamb Roast: There are similar basic recipes in every general cookbook (whether Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food, Betty Crocker Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Cook Today, New Tenth Edition, or either Joy of Cooking - here's the link to Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition - 2006); we stud the lamb with garlic as well as smear it with crushed garlic, sprinkle salt and much black pepper over it. Serve on the rare side. It’s rather odd that, though Papa and I rarely eat meat, when we do it must be carnivorously rare (or at least medium rare). Or you could use a basic recipe for baking a ham.
With the lamb, we usually eat on the side sautéed carrots or green beans. So, again, I’ll just repeat what we’d written on our first blog post: Here is a simple tasty dish to enhance any meal – a Sautéed Carrots recipe. We first tasted these deliciously simple carrots when we lived in England for a year and visited friends the Hagopians in Branbury Cross near Oxford; the recipe stems from their teaching days near Paris in the decade after World War II. Green beans are also excellent cooked in this way. The ingredients: 1 pound fresh carrots, peeled, halves or quartered long-ways (depending on size of carrots), and cut into 2 or 3 inch lengths; 2 cloves of garlic, squeezed or minced; 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Steam the cut carrots for 10 minutes. When done, heat oil and garlic together in a frying pan, under high heat. Add the carrots and stir fry until the edges of the carrots show small signs of browning, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve these savory, slightly caramelized carrots (or green beans).
Also with lamb roast, Armenian Souboreg is a delicious cheese and noodle dish that compliments lamb, ham, or any meat, and can be eaten as a side dish with an Easter dinner, or with a salad, or as a wonderful vegetarian meal. This can be made ahead and baked at dinner time. Ingredients: 12 oz. wide egg noodles (Mrs. Weiss’s Halushka noodles or De Cecco’s papardelli);  12 oz. Monterrey Jack cheese; 12 oz. small curd cottage cheese (either 2 % or full fat is fine); 3 eggs, beaten; ½ cup Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, finely chopped; 4 tablespoons sweet (unsalted) butter; 1 teaspoon salt; freshly ground pepper to taste; a pinch of ground nutmeg, if desired. Boil the noodles in salted water until al dente. Drain and rinse in cold water. The cheese mixture: mix coarsely grated jack cheese, the cottage cheese, and the beaten eggs together. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Put half of the cheese mixture in a separate bowl and mix in parsley to it. In a buttered 9x13 inch oven-proof (such as Pyrex) pan, put half the noodles, then the parsley-cheese mixture. Then add the rest of the noodles to cover, and over this layer, on top, spread the remaining cheese mixture (the one without parsley). Place dabs of butter evenly over the top. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown on top. As a delicious side dish, this serves 8; as a main dish, this will serve 4 to 6 people.
In my old Armenian cookbook, a version of this recipe is listed as “mock sou-boreg.” This would be akin to listing any recipe using dry pasta as mock spaghetti. There is nothing “mock” about it. Of course, our grandmothers did make the dough from scratch; alas, some made it well, while others made it doughy. At least the noodles we purchase provide consistently good quality. (Here, by the way, are links to two fine Armenian cookbooks: The Armenian Table: More than 165 Treasured Recipes that Bring Together Ancient Flavors and 21st-Century Style and The Cuisine of Armenia by Sonia Uvezian.)
California Sweets: Here is a recipe for a wonderful, healthy, yummy cookie – easy to make, too. Ingredients: 2 large eggs; 8 oz. chopped dates; ½ cup raisins; 2 ½ cups coarsely chopped walnuts; 1/3 cup sugar; 1 tablespoon flour. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients. Pour into a 9 inch square pan, greased or lined with parchment. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. When cooked, cut these luscious and simple cookies into 25 squares.
Next: Chocolate Chip Cookies – as good as they get.

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