Darlings! Happy early Easter! I hope that you get big ol’ baskets full of eggs and jelly beans and chocolate bunnies.
My mum sent me an Easter package with a note that read, “nothing says Easter like chocolate crosses and vampires.” So in the box was a chocolate cross and a DVD double feature of Once Bitten and the classic Nic Cage vehicle Vampire’s Kiss. YES. After referencing the damn thing over and over I finally have my grubby little hands on a copy. Best thing about it: COMMENTARY WITH NICOLAS CAGE. Consider my mind blown. Mum, I love you. You have made my entire month. And yes, there is nothing that says ‘Easter’ more than candy crosses and the undead.
Also, are chocolate crosses a Pittsburgh thing? I’ve mentioned it to other people and they’re all “why the hell would you eat a chocolate cross?”
Now, I already know what I’m making on Easter Sunday (don’t fret, it’s a blast from the past), but you may be looking for a little inspiration for your holiday dinner. So me, being such a giver, might have just what you need.
So I give you, from April 28th of last year, #13 Marinated Lamb Roast…
This dinner was a winner.
Lamb on Easter Sunday has been a family tradition for as long as I can remember. So I was very happy that Dinner is Served! was so kind as to have provided a lamb roast-centric card in its cavalcade of meals.
Only one problem with #13: it is a roast. That means I have to use the oven. If you have read any of my previous posts, you know how I feel about my oven. I can’t trust it. I’m like the Fox Mulder of amateur home chefs. I can’t trust the oven, I can’t trust the oven thermometer, hell, I can’t even trust the thermometer that I stick into the meat. Sometimes I don’t know if I can even trust myself. Damn, Chris Carter was right when he decided that Mulder’s password would be trustno1.
I had to bring up good ol’ Fox because Cleve and I just watched the movie and are 6 (?) episodes into season 6. I loved the X-Files. I mean I LOVED the X-Files. I had VHS tapes, posters, comic books, action figures. I think I had the Barbie ™ Mulder and Scully. So I have it on the brain and am falling in love with it all over again. Damn you Gillian Anderson for making me cut my hair and dye it red in college, and DAMN YOU for making me do it again 13 years later!
Bringing up the X-Files also gives me a reason to dust off these photos, which are ridiculous beyond comprehension. I remember, as a freshman at Carnegie Mellon, that these photos were the absolute shit. But I have to wonder under what circumstances a photographer and their subject would come up with the following series of photographs. Who was the first to say, “you know what would be awesome? Posing with a tea set!”
David Duchovny, nude, next to an electric stove top. It boggles the mind. At least this makes me want to believe that he has a sense of humor. He looked so hesitant in the earlier pics and then got to the ‘oh fuck it’ point. However, I have to ask, on whose kitchen counter is his fanny parked? And are those artichokes and bunches of grapes on the tiles? And did someone sanitize that tea set before using it again?
Ok, speaking of kitchens and kitchen counters, let’s get back to mine and #13. Marinated Roast Lamb.
I purchased a 3.75 pound boneless leg of lamb (origin: New Zealand) which was smaller than the recommended weight of 5-6 pounds. I put it in the prescribed marinade on Saturday morning, so it had over 24 hours to luxuriate in the oil and seasonings.
At 4:30 on Sunday I turned the oven on to preheat, but it wasn’t until 5 pm that I was able to put the lamb in because it took that long to get my oven up to 325 degrees. Oh, and also, I had to go outside because we had to call AAA because Cleve blew a tire on his Thunderbird in an EPIC pothole at the corner of North Charles and 22nd Street. I really should take a photo of it so you can see it. It’s a moon crater. Speaking of the moon, Cleve is trying to drive the Dirty Bird to the moon. He’s on a lunar mission. But that is a completely different story.
So, 5pm, roast in. At this point I decided to make the Lemon-Mint butter for the peas. Ok, so unlike some other pea dishes (Pea and Celery Salad in Lettuce Cups with Cucumber Mayonnaise), the ingredients of this dish actually could be derived from its nominclature. I took some fresh mint and cut it into thin ribbons. I then mixed this with melted butter, some fresh lemon juice and zest and salt and pepper. I put it back in the fridge to set until it was time to meld it with the green peas.
I should note what I did with the rest of the fresh mint. Quick solution. I put the cleaned mint leaves into an ice cube tray and filled them with water. After they were frozen, I put them in a freezer bag. I now have mint that I can either defrost to use in recipes or just put in a glass of whatever and have fancy-looking mint ice-cubes. I see some nice lemonade, iced tea, and Mojitos in my future. Speaking of drinks, I did make myself a meal-inspired drink. A Sparking Spring Spritzer if you will.
I have been obsessed with this Vinho Verde that the Discount Liquors on St. Paul Street has been carrying. Twin Vines is the name of the wine. It is so light that it’s almost colorless. It has a hint of sparkle. And it’s damn cheap to boot. Sadly, I was just in there yesterday and it looks as though they don’t have it in stock. Big-ass sad face. Anyway, I made a spritzer. I just added a lemon slice, and some fresh mint. Totally not fancy nor groundbreaking in anyway, but Vinho Verde or a Verdejo is a great springy/summery wine and is worth a try.
Ok, at 5:30 I put the rest of the marinade onto the roast. Then I decided to attempt the orange cups. I will be upfront with you: I never intended to fill the orange cups with gooseberries. I have never in my life seen a gooseberry. I’ve seen durian, Buddha’s hand, dragon fruit, but never in my life have seen a gooseberry, so I was 100% certain they were not gonna carry that shit in my Safeway. I changed it up a bit and decided to put the Lemon-Mint peas in the cups.
Here are some photos of the orange cups:
So I got a little zealous with the scooping. Wouldn’t you have done the same? Well, the peas were half-way home, so all I had to worry about were the cups. In all honesty, I was surprised that these things turned out anywhere as good as they did. Even though they have an evil I want to eat your brain jack o’lantern look about them. I fixed them with some plastic cling wrap.
At ten after 6, the roast had hit an internal 120 degrees on the meat thermometer. And the oven thermometer read under 300 degrees although the oven dial was at 350. Thwarted again by my evil oven.
#13 said to cook it to an internal temperature of 175 for medium. Well, Cleve and I like our lamb rare so I was aiming for more of a 160. The lamb also came with a pop up thingie that would also indicate ‘medium’ at around 175.
6:30 and internal lamb temperature was at 140. So close! At 7:15 the meat thermometer was right under 160. But what? What is this? The damn pop up timer has sprung. Does this mean that my meat is overcooked? I hit 175? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Yeah. The roast was done. I let it sit for a little bit, as prescribed by the directions from the lamb-producing people in New Zealand. During the rest time, I nuked the peas and mixed them with the butter and when I made the Egg-Ribbon Soup from Card #92.
FYI, another family Easter tradition is a luncheon of Italian Wedding Soup on Easter Sunday prior to the lamb feast. It typically includes ham sandwiches from the Herb Brittner ham the day before. It was so eerily coincidental that #13 would include an Egg-Ribbon Soup, which just happens to be the poor man’s Wedding Soup. So poor that it doesn’t have chicken or pasta or meatballs. It doesn’t even have spinach or escarole. YET! This simple soup, with just bouillon, parsley, eggs and cheese, perfectly captured the essence of a wedding soup in all of 15 minutes. It was surprisingly good and would be excellent in case of a cold or flu.
So, in the 15 minutes that the roast was resting I prepared the soup and buttered the peas. At 7:35 I could declare: Dinner is Served!
I really should’ve taken out the meat 15 minutes earlier. But, like I said before, I don’t know who or what to trust when it comes to using the oven. The lamb was a little overcooked for both our tastes, but was yummy just the same. We threw some mint jelly on that meat and went to town.
I think I have mentioned in previous posts how much our household likes lamb. But after watching Cleve on Easter Sunday take down what had to have been over a pound of lamb (and get the meat sweats) I can say that he doesn’t just like lamb. Cleve loves lamb the way Mulder loves Scully. It transcends space, time and dimensions. Speaking of which, how fucking badass was “Triangle?” That’s the one where Mulder is on the Queen Anne in the Bermuda Triangle. It’s all in the super-long tracking shots (awesome!) and has the much-anticipated Mulder/Scully kiss, although Scully wasn’t Scully, she was some sassy broad who was on the ship with a man who would create a bomb that could destroy the world. Whatever. There was some Fox on Dana action.
I’m such a nerd. Cleve is a nerd, to0! And these two nerds liked this meal. I also liked that for dessert I just bought biscotti and arranged some fruit on a plate that I would have purchased anyway for my workweek lunches.
So in summation, although I, like Mulder and Scully, could trust no one (and by “no one” I mean “all temperature regulating and measuring instruments”); and regardless of how many oils, slimes, sludges and alien ingredients may come my way, everything somehow ends up being OK (Well, except for Pea and Celery Salad in Lettuce Cups with Cucumber Mayonnaise). This works out wonderfully for me. And Fox and Dana, too. Seriously, how have they not been booted from the FBI yet? Everywhere they go multiple people die. The truth is out there and it’s here: http://xfilesbodycount.blogspot.com/ The deaths number in the thousands.
Just to end this post, I wanted to include the following song, which was really hot shit at my nerd college. I sometimes still send out this sentiment to the universe–recovering sex addict or not.
And, if perchance you roast lamb and have leftovers, try this amazingly easy recipe for lamb curry. I just made it and it was economical and delectable.