El albergue

El albergue

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easter for three

Easter has always been a time of happy celebration for me – springtime, eggs, the empty tomb, lots and lots of family, and lots and lots of food. Through the past couple of years, it has changed a little bit to include more friends than family, and even the utter simplicity of surprise chocolate bunnies on hostel pillows in Prague one time. This year though, I got to go back a little to how it use to be, with family and lots of food included.

Ok, so the amount of family was a bit smaller, including only my brother Zach and his wife Kali besides me, but we sure as heck put in the spirit of the holiday, playing cards, relaxing, and cooking up one delicious meal after another to celebrate all weekend long.

Here are just a few of the things we concocted, just to give you an idea:

For dinner one night we had pan roasted chicken legs with cardamom and peppercorns, with the spicy seeds sticking to the caramelized and crispy skins. PLUS wonderfully cheesy broccoli with just enough cheese to be decadent but not so much that it didn’t still count as a vegetable. AND bulgur tossed with fresh green onions to lighten things up. Oh goodness…

Saturday morning, we went all out, blowing the innards out of six eggs in order to make baked egg cups, which, by the way, is something that you need to make RIGHT NOW! Taking the idea off one of my favorite food blogs, we partially fried up six pieces of bacon, coiled them around inside the cups of a muffin tin, added the finely chopped remnants of the other nights’ cheesy broccoli, and filled in all the nooks and crannies with the whipped eggs we had so laboriously extracted from their shells. Bake it all up and serve with some beautiful slices of fresh tomato and pear, and that’s what we were scarfing down in ecstasy as we contemplated how to paint our drying egg shells.
... and a little parmesan freshly grated over the top never hurt anyone, right?

That night, Easter eggs painted and done, we made the best tomato soup ever. No joke. Zach went from warily sidling around the kitchen and declaring that he was not a fan at all to rapturous delight and avowing himself number one fan in the few seconds it took him to taste a spoonfull of the finished product. My trick? I make it chunky, with plenty of sweetly browned onion and garlic hiding out with the tomato, and only just enough cream to smooth things out – this is tomato, and not cream soup, after all! Oh, and I’m sure the bubbling little pieces of baguette and Swiss cheese toast didn’t do much to hurt the mood either hehe.

Sunday was a lot of fun too. I tried my hand at a Spanish Easter staple – torrijas. Sort of like the Spanish version of French toast, it involved more baguette, a little honey, and a whole lot of long soaking in milk. The idea is to come out with something warm and slightly sweet, with chewy edges and a center soft almost to the point of pudding. It didn’t come out quite like the torrijas I enjoyed in Spain, but fortunately the only complaint the other two had was that there wasn’t enough baguette to make more!

After breakfast, we threw a lamb leg roast in the crockpot and jaunted off to church, happy in the knowledge that dinner was already on its way to being done. And oh, what a smell greeted us when we came back home! Mmmmm. We lazily took our time getting everything ready, going in stages as we paused to relax and watch an episode or two of our favorite tv shows, but by the time a neighboring medical student came down to share in the holiday meal with us, we had a regular little feast on the table – the lamb was practically falling off the bone, the mashed potatoes were piled high, the cauliflower was perfectly browned, the wine was in the glasses, and the gravy was swimming about in the finest of our gravy boats… ahem… coffee mugs...

Add on top the hearty oatmeal cookies I made afterward with dried blueberries, craisins, and chocolate chips, and it was a day to die for. So delicious.

 Now THAT, my friends, is how to celebrate Easter.

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