Last Minute Easter Lunch!

Lamb Chops with Black Pepper:Pecorino ButterThis year–for the first time in more than a decade–we’ll be empty nesters on Easter Sunday! As it turns out this holiday coincides with our grandkids’ spring break so most of our clan will be away. Instead of cooking for six, I’m planning a menu for two.

Although ham was the star of Easter meals when I was growing up in the South, I’m a huge fan of lamb, and came up with the idea for grilled lamb chops topped with dollops of Pecorino/black pepper butter.

The topping is an “easy-to-put together” blending of softened sweet butter, grated Pecorino and Parmesan cheeses, plus a generous accent of coarse black pepper. The butter takes only minutes to assemble and can be prepared a couple of days ahead. At serving time the chops need less than 10 minutes on an outdoor or stovetop grill. Peas Continue reading

Voting for Spatchcocked Roast Chicken for Easter Dinner

My son loves to host our family’s Easter dinner, but he waits until only days before to decide on the menu. Typically, he calls, pondering choices, aloud with me on the phone. Our conversation this year went like this. Should he serve traditional leg of lamb–no, he exclaims the kids (the 11 and 13 year old) and his wife are not big fans! Baked ham–scratch that since we had it last year! Roast beef tenderloin–oops that was our Christmas main course. Finally, I offer a suggestion. What about spatchcocked roast chicken? After a long pause, he requests the recipe!

Earlier this month I taught a cooking class in which students learned to master the simple technique of spatchcocking a whole chicken. You remove the backbone with a pair of kitchen shears and then open the chicken out like a book and press down on the breast to flatten it. Prepared this way, the chicken cooks more quickly and evenly, a big advantage on a day like Easter Sunday. Continue reading

When the Side Dish Shines at the Easter Table

Roasted Asparagus and Radishes 2 3339x2656My son, who is in charge of our family’s Easter dinner this Sunday, has called me three times the past week to discuss the menu. He has dismissed ham (last year’s centerpiece) as well as lamb (our main the year before), and was contemplating grilled salmon a few days ago. Today he announced that pasta with lobster and fresh peas in a cream sauce would anchor the meal. Whether this latest remains the plat du jour or not is anybody’s guess. What is certain is a side dish that I plan to bring of roasted asparagus and radishes scented with a light Asian-style sauce.

Several years ago at a summer dinner, I tasted roasted radishes for the first time when friends served them as a side to grilled fish. The radishes had lost their peppery quality, and tasted more like petit turnips. Scented with sesame oil, they made a unique and delicious vegetable garnish. When I decided to roast asparagus for Easter, I remembered those radishes and decided to pair them with the green spears. Continue reading

Easter Lamb with a Twist

Photo by Susie Cushner

Photo by Susie Cushner

My son and I have been on the phone several times this week planning Easter dinner for our family. We’ve been back and forth about what should anchor the meal—baked ham, roast lamb, or even grilled steaks. Even though not all of our family is crazy about lamb, I’ve been campaigning for delectable racks of lamb served with whipped goat cheese and roasted cherry tomatoes.

This recipe, which I created several years ago for my book, Sunday Roasts, is elegant, yet simple. The racks are marinated in a classic mix of olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic, then quickly browned and roasted until rosy pink inside. What sets this dish apart from others, though, is its unusual garnishes. Roasted cherry tomatoes and dollops of creamy whipped goat cheese scented with lemon and fresh dill make perfect partners for the chops. Continue reading

A Casserole for Every Season

Baked Salmon and Spring Vegetables 1

It’s a big week for me. I am putting the finishing touches on my latest book, Sunday Casseroles! Over the past year, I have spent hours with a talented team of assistants poring over ideas for the recipes in this collection. I wanted to update many classic  casseroles (think mac and cheese with a hint of crème fraîche), and invent enticing new ones.

 Heavily salted canned soups called for in the casseroles of yesteryear were banished, and replaced with easily made sauces. Fresh vegetables appear in countless dishes, and instead of pouring bread crumbs from a box, I opted for quickly toasting homemade ones in a skillet. Continue reading