Easter Sunday 2011

Easter, for us Christians, is a time to rejoice and filled with profound religious and doctrinal significance. For those of different traditions, I paint the holiday as a day to honor  all those men and women who have through their their deeds and words, shown us time and time again, in myth and in recorded history, what true selflessness, altruistic compassion and love for others is. These people, some famous in our collective experience but others many others, quite personal heroes who dwell within our hearts and memories,  have helped us become who we are, and thought us to want to become better human beings.

As an Italian-American, And of course, Easter is a time to test our culinary prowess, challenging ourselves and then entertaining others through the offering of foods.  I strive to make sure that all three perspectives are highly respected, remembered and then celebrated as I along with family and friends festively celebrate at the our large table, just across from the granite island.that often inspires these words.


  - Corn meal pizza with spicy baby fish spread (Sardella) and cracked Calabrian olives
  - Phyllo Dough squares filled with caramelized balsamic onions and baby arugula
  - Giardiniera salad
  - Mixed olives
  - Spicy dried sausages from Abruzzo
  - extra sharp provolone

   -  Lasagne con polpettine
   -  Lasasgne alla ricotta

- stuffed leg of lamb with  vegetable and provolone filling

  - warm cauliflower and sundried tomatoes salad
  - cooked granny smith apples  chutney 

Wine, desserts and fruits

Here are a few pics and stories. Enjoy !

corn meal pizza (unbaked)
corn meal pizza (baked)

Do not be fooled by the red color here. There is not an ounce of tomato sauce on this pizza. Neonata is a delicacy from Calabria and Sicily, consisting of translucent baby fish scooped from the sea, blanched in salt water. Fishing neonata has now become regulated, as it's ecological impact can be easily understood. Regionally known as "Bianchetto" or "Rosamarina" or "Sardella",  it can be prepared in many ways, including mixed with crushed chili paste and used as as spread. The pizza gets an extra shot of oregano imported from italy. This style pizza was one of the many varieties that folks back home in Calabria would bake in the stone and brick ovens in the fields.   This pizza must be eaten hot, as it tends to dry up although, I must say , once it dries a bit, it gracefully invites a few more glasses of red wine. Do you hear Circe singing here?

Oh, before I forget, the dough here was 2/3 cornmeal and 1/3 white bread flour. A dose of dry yeast was added for leavening.

phyllo dough filled with caramelized balsamic onions

We served these squared with clotted English cream and pinch of salt. Very aromatic , this tastes great even the day after.

stuffed roasted leg of lamb (resting)

The leg of lamb was partially butterflied and coated inside and out with a mixture of fresh and dried herbs. The filling which included a small onion, slivered garlic, yellow bell pepper,arugula leaves, was prepared in two steps. The sauteed mixture was, once slightly cooled, combined with panko bread crumbs and small cubes of sharp provolone cheese. This filling was then placed on the interior side on the lamb leg, , sealed with mini skewers for cooking, and tied with a butcher's twine as shown in the picture.  The provolone cheese holds up quite nicely to baking, which occurred at around 375 F . Cooking time will vary with household and tradition. We like our meats fully cooked.

stuffed roasted leg of lamb (carved)
The lamb was a big hit, even after our excessive meal. It served granny smith apple chutney and other sides. This tasted even better the day after, especially as a carved cold meat. I knew pork worked well when cold, but was surprised at good the cold lamb tasted. Roast beef, step aside. There's a new sheriff in town.

Happy Easter All!


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