For people who celebrate Easter, right around the corner is a family gathering promising a traditional menu of glazed ham, spring potatoes and maybe some baby carrots. For a new twist on that old favorite, we took a look around the world at other traditional Easter menu items, solicited the award winning chefs of the Maine Windjammer Association and this is what we found: Roast Leg of Lamb on a bed of Eggplant and Tomatoes, Deviled Eggs and Herb-Braided bread. It’s a new twist on an ancient meal. Enjoy!
ROAST LEG OF LAMB ON A BED OF EGGPLANT AND TOMATOES – from the Stephen Taber. Serves 6
1 four and a half-pound leg of lamb
3 small eggplants, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
2 medium red onions, cut into 8 wedges
1 T fresh oregano, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 T fresh rosemary, chopped
for the sauce:
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
½ tsp. red chili flakes
3 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and chopped
2 8 ounce canned whole tomatoes
salt and freshly ground pepper
red wine vinegar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss eggplant and onion with olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano. Rub down lamb with olive oil, salt, pepper. If lamb is boneless, tie back together with butcher’s twine. Heat a deep stainless roasting pan over medium high heat. Sear meat on all sides. Add eggplant and onions and put in the oven for about 45 minutes. Start checking the temperature in the center for doneness. For medium-rare meat, pull at 140 degrees. Remove meat to a platter and tent with foil in a warm place. For medium to medium-well meat, pull at 155-160 degrees.
In the meantime, make the sauce. Over the medium-low heat with olive oil, sweat garlic. Add tomatoes, a splash of vinegar (or red wine), salt, pepper, red chili flakes, anchovies,. Simmer while lamb cooks.
Pour sauce over roasted eggplant. Stir gently and add rosemary. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a touch more red wine vinegar if needed. Slice and fan over sauce to serve.
DEVILED EGGS from the Stephen Taber
8 eggs, extra large
¼ c mayonnaise
2T Dijon mustard
2T sweet onion, minced
2T capers, rinsed and chopped
½ tsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
salt, adjust as needed
Place eggs in 1 ½ quarts of water, bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cook for 13 minutes – drain and cool in cold water. When cool enough to handle, peel, slice in half, the op yolks into a mixing bowl. Mash yolks with a whisk (or use a handy food processor), then mix in mayonnaise, Dijon, onion, garlic, capers, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper. Season with salt.
If you have a pastry bag and a large flower tip, you can pipe the filling back into the eggs. If not, simply use a spoon or a ½ ounce scoop. Garnish with paprika, chopped fried onions or shallots, or more capers.
BRAIDED HERBED LOAF from the Mary Day
1 cup warm water
1 package dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 T oil
1 tsp marjoram
2/4 tsp. dill weed
3/4 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. rosemary
3 cups flour
Proof yeast in warm water in which sugar has been dissolved. Stir in 1 cup of flour, then salt, oil, and herbs. Add remaining flour one cup at a time. Knead dough for about 10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary. Let rise in an oiled bowl, covered, until doubled. Punch down. Cut into 4 pieces and roll each piece into a strand about a foot long. Make a braid, pinching and tucking ends. Let rise again on a greased baking sheet. Bake in a hot oven. For a nice, skinny crust, beat an egg with a tablespoon of water and brush on loaf just before baking. Like French bread, which it resembles, it is best when eaten fairly fresh. The herb combination is very nice.
For more information about recipes from the galleys of the Maine Windjammer Association click here.