Celebrating Cultures, Promoting Integration
With this quarantine, you might have lost track of time and you haven’t realised this Sunday is already Easter! We understand the feeling and we are totally on board with the haziness of going to any Lidl (within 2kms, of course) and start buying literally everything (By the way, no do not do this!). To not freak out, even more, we came up with 2 potential Easter menus to inspire you.
Recently when I moved in with two chefs, I have basically tasted any sort of dishes (ok, I admit mostly homemade pizza and pasta, whatever). Besides taking the shape of a cargo boat left in the Belfast harbour and pretending to do some exercises to exorcise my guilt-ridden, I also lost track of time. All of a sudden Sunday the 12th is going to be Easter and we needed to come up with two different Easter menus.
In the Emerald Isle as in many parts of the world, this religious festivity is quite celebrated, despite COVID-19. Rightfully, I’d say. Ireland has a whole collection of traditional and mouth-watering recipes, boosting its customs and traditions at its best. Do not let the chocolate eggs fool you, Easter is also made of great roast lambs and inventive recipes also for Vegetarians.
Given the times being, I believe that this Easter will definitely have a different taste, might as well let our menus inspire you.
Traditional Easter Menu:
Let’s kick off with a delicious starter, neither extremely difficult nor time-consuming to prepare for everyone.
Mussels in Irish Cider:
- 3 1/2 pounds mussels, washed and beards removed
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 8 ounces pancetta, cut into small dice
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 3/4 cup good hard cider, preferably Irish
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- A good handful of freshly chopped parsley
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut any mussels that are open before cooking. Place a large pot over high heat and brown the pancetta pieces until they reach a golden nuance. Add in a knob of butter, let it melt, and then add the onion and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes. Add in the cider and allow to bubble away for a few minutes so all the flavours mix in together. Plunge in the mussels, cover with a lid and allow them to steam for about 4 minutes until they open. Remove from the heat, stir in the cream and parsley, and season with sea salt and ground black pepper.
The tradition wants that for Easter, the star of the table would be the lamb, especially a roast lamb leg. Here it is our version.
Crusty Roast Lamb Leg with garlic-ginger sauce
- 8-pound bone-in leg of lamb, trimmed of excess fat
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoons each salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons each minced garlic and fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
Heat oven to 450°F. Have a large roasting pan with a rack ready. Place lamb on a rack. Mix oil, mint, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Add flour and stir until blended. Spread over top and sides of the lamb. Roast 30 minutes, and then reduce temperature to 325 degrees F. and roast 45 to 60 minutes longer until done as desired. Remove to a serving platter, cover loosely with foil to keep warm and let stand 15 minutes. Meanwhile, discard fat from the roasting pan. Place a pan over high heat, add beef broth and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil 2 minutes to reduce liquid slightly. Pour into a sauceboat and stir in lemon juice and pepper, This will make 2/3 cup to drizzle over sliced lamb. Serves 12 with leftovers.
For all the vegetarian enthusiasts, we at Babylon value a lot of integration here’s there why we came up with also a Vegetarian Easter Menu.
Ricotta dip with crushed tomatoes & bruschetta
- 2 x 250g tubs ricotta
- 200g tub light cream cheese
- small bunch mint chopped
- small bunch chives snipped
- 450g ripe cherry tomato
- 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar; 1 tsp of caster sugar; 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
For the bruschetta
- 1 French baguette
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 fat garlic cloves, squashed
In a large bowl, mash the ricotta, cream cheese, mint, chives and some salt. Then, spread over a large plate or a wide, shallow bowl, creating a dip in the centre to hold the tomatoes. Chill until ready to serve. In another bowl, crush and rip up the tomatoes with your hands until they are in small chunks and really juicy. Strain through a sieve and discard the juice. Add the vinegar, sugar, olive oil and a good pinch of salt. Mix together, then set aside. Heat a griddle pan until smoking hot. Brush the bread slices with olive oil and rub with the garlic cloves. Place on the hot griddle for 1-2 mins each side until nicely charred. Pile the squashed tomatoes on top of the ricotta spread. Drizzle with extra oil and scatter with the remaining mint.
Spiced cauliflower roast
- 50g butter
- 2 tsp of chilli flakes
- ½ tsp of sumac
- ½ tsp allspice
- 1 tsp of cumin and 1 tsp of coriander
- 1 cauliflower (about 1kg)
- 2 x 400g cans chickpeas
- 1 red onion
- 200g cherry tomatoes on the vine
- 50g pine nuts
- pomegranate molasses
For the feta dressing
- 100g good-quality feta
- 100g Greek yoghurt
- juice ½ lemon
In a small bowl, beat the butter and spices with a wooden spoon, then set aside. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/ gas 7. Trim the outer leaves of the cauliflower and remove the very bottom of the root, being careful to keep some of the root attached so the whole cauliflower remains intact. Bring a large pan (big enough to fit the whole cauliflower) filled with salted water to a rolling boil. Cook for 3-4 mins to partially tenderise, then carefully remove with two slotted spoons. Put the cauliflower and chickpeas on a baking tray. Rub the cauliflower with the butter, dot a little over the chickpeas and season everything. Roast in the oven for 35 mins until the chickpeas are crispy, the cauliflower is deep golden-brown, and a cutlery knife can be inserted into the middle easily.
Meanwhile, make the feta dressing. In a large bowl, whisk the feta and Greek yoghurt until the cheese has completely broken up and the mixture is creamy. Add the lemon juice, whisk again, then season to taste. Chill until needed. Remove the cauliflower and chickpeas from the oven, transfer the cauliflower to a plate, then mix the remaining ingredients, except the pomegranate molasses, with the warm chickpeas on the tray. Arrange the herby chickpeas on a large sharing platter and place the whole cauliflower on top. Spoon over the dressing and drizzle with pomegranate molasses to serve.
In extreme fairness, the sides can go with both menus. Here our selection:
Crispy new potato
- 1kg Jersey Royal potatoes
- A handful of small capers
- 2 handfuls stoned black olives
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves
- small bunch rosemary, broken into sprigs
- 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar
Heat oven to 240C/220C fan/gas 9. Boil the potatoes until the softer side of cooked, about 12 mins. Drain, slice in half, then tip into a bowl. Tip the capers, olives and herbs on top of the potatoes, then add most of the oil and a little seasoning. Stir together, lightly crushing the potatoes. Line a medium Swiss roll-type tin with baking parchment, leaving some hanging over the sides. Tip the potatoes into the tin and flatten down. Mix the vinegar and remaining oil, drizzle over the potatoes, then bake for 40 mins until golden.
Purple sprouting broccoli and kale gratin
- 400g kale
- 15g butter
- 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
- really generous grating of fresh nutmeg
- 300g purple sprouting broccoli
- 500ml double cream
- 100g fontina, very thinly sliced
- 50g parmesan, grated
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/ gas 6. Remove the tough stems from the kale, then boil it in lightly salted water for 3-5 mins. Drain and press out the excess water. Heat the butter in a frying pan and add the kale and garlic. Cook over a low-to-medium heat for a few mins. Season well and add some nutmeg. Trim the broccoli and halve any thick stalks lengthways. Steam for 3-4 mins or until only just tender. Blot with a tea towel to get rid of the moisture on the surface. Tip the kale into the base of a gratin or casserole dish and place
the broccoli on top. Season well and grate over some nutmeg. Pour the
cream over, then add both kinds of cheese. Bake in the oven for 30-35 mins or until golden and bubbling.
Finally, we all know that there is no better dessert than an inviting and chocolaty Easter egg!
So dig in and dive into one of the best food coma of this month!