Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day, occurs every year on January 6. Epiphany means “manifestation” as it commemorates the first time Jesus’ divinity manifested itself through the visit of the Three Kings. I thought in honor of the first day of Epiphany, which is the beginning of Epiphanytide, a period lasting until Lent, I would talk about our Christmas dinner. My dear mother-in-law, Helen, always considered Epiphany the last day of Christmas and that is when she would take down her tree. Christmastide ends and Epiphanytide begins!
For now…back to Christmas dinner!
|Mediterranean Stuffed Leg of Lamb,
Butternut Squash with pecans,
Creamed Spinach and Hasselback Potatoes.
But first, our favorite appetizer…
We celebrated this year with our friend Leslie Jackson and her two pups, Gracie and Ruby.
|Gracie on the left and Ruby on the right.
We started with an array of appetizers, but my favorite was a recipe from my friend, golf buddy, and neighbor Bonnie Ungerecht. Unfortunately it is not shown on the tray as the shrimp was just coming out of the oven. A perfect hors d’oeuvres for a party as you can make the sauce several days in advance, clean the shrimp in the morning so within 10 minutes your fancy hors d’oeuvres is served!
2 lbs. peeled large or extra-large shrimp, peeled, deveined*
Good quality olive oil
Kosher salt/freshly ground pepper
For the sauce:
1 1/4 cups mayonnaise**
1/2 cup Heinz chili sauce
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. bottled horseradish, drained
2 tsp. Sriracha (I used 1/2 tsp. as my husband does not like hot spice.)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup minced scallions; about 2 scallions
2 Tbsp. capers, drained
*Of course, use less shrimp if your party does not require 2 full lbs. and you will have Louis Sauce leftover, which is not a bad thing!
**Hellman’s is my favorite, but west of the Rocky Mountains it is packaged and sold as Best Buy–exact same thing.
Make the sauce:
In a medium bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, chili sauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, horseradish, Sriracha, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper. Stir in the scallions and capers. Cover and place in the fridge (up to a week) to meld flavors.
When ready to serve, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dry the shrimp well with paper towels. Place them on a foil-lined sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, add salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast for 10 minutes until firm and just cooked through.
Put the amount of Louis Sauce appropriate for the number of shrimp you are serving in a serving bowl on top of a tray. Spread the hot shrimp and oil on the tray around the bowl of Louis and serve with crackers, crostini, or any small breads. It is also delicious on its own.
MEDITERRANEAN STUFFED LEG OF LAMB
This recipe is from several I found online and then adapted. I often do a stuffed leg of lamb at Easter, but this is the first time we’ve had it for Christmas.
1 (5 lb.) boneless leg of lamb*
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped, plus a few sprigs for roasting
10 oz. bag fresh spinach
6 oz. (or more) soft goat cheese
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
2 tsp. pine nuts
4 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. fennel seeds, slightly crushed in mortar/pestle
2 Tbsp. sesame oil plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 bottle good red wine for deglazing
Remove plastic netting or twine form around the leg of lamb, if any, and open up the roast on a cutting board. Remove the bone if necessary. Place the boned side of the roast up. With a very sharp paring knife, cut away any excess fat, sinew or silver skin. This takes time, but is well worth it as your lamb will be much more tender as a result. Using a sharp knife cut 1/2 inch deep slits where necessary to help the roast lie flat. Cover the meat with plastic wrap and pound with a mallet (I use my Mom’s very heavy marble rolling pin!) until lamb is uniformally about 3/4 inch thick. This can also be done ahead of time. Wrap the lamb in plastic and put in the fridge until ready to continue, or even do the night before.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Liberally salt/pepper the lamb on all sides. Spread the garlic and rosemary evenly over the lamb. Spread the spinach leaves to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Break up the soft goat cheese and drop evenly over the spinach. Then add the crumbled goat cheese. Finally top with the pine nuts.
Roll the roast into a tight cylinder starting from the wide end. The stuffing will keep popping out, but just push it back in and keep rolling. Tie with kitchen twine at 2 inch intervals. Carefully rub 4 Tbsp. olive oil over the tied roast.
In a flat dish mix together the flour, 1 Tbsp. salt, 1 Tbsp. pepper, thyme, and fennel seeds and press the tied roast firmly into the flour mixture to coat all sides.
Heat 2 Tbsp. sesame and 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a heavy oven-proof pan over medium-high heat until oil is shimmering. Sear all sides of the roast, including the ends, to a golden brown. Add 1/2 bottle of red wine over top of roast. Top with 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary. Place in oven and roast to your desired doneness. Baste every 15 minutes with pan drippings. 145 degrees is rare; about 1 hour. Remove from oven. Tent with foil and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing.
*I could not get a boneless leg so got a semi-boned leg and boned it myself. This was a large lamb; my guess bordering on a year old.
I’m going to conclude with my favorite recipe for Key Lime Pie. I’ve had this recipe so long that I don’t know where it came from, but it is a classic Key Lime Pie recipe.
CLASSIC KEY LIME PIE
For the Graham crack crust:
1 1/2 cups Graham cracker crumbs, 12 full sheets of Graham crackers
1/3 cup sugar
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
Crush the crumbs in a food processor or place them in a strong plastic bag and smash them until they are fine crumbs. Combine Graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Add the melted butter and stir until fully combined and all of the crumbs are moist. Scoop the mixture into a 9 1/2 – 10 inch pie plate. (I should’ve used a 10 inch plate as I had extra filling, but simply put it in a custard cup and baked alongside the pie.) Firmly press it down into an even layer on bottom and up around the sides of the dish. Use your fingers to do this. You do not want the bottom crust to be too thick or it will be difficult to cut through once cooked. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool while you make the filling.
To make the Key Lime filling:
1 cup key lime juice (I use Nellie and Joe’s Famous Key West Key Lime Juice.)
2 14 oz. cans sweetened condensed milk
5 large egg yolks
Combine the key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and whisk until fully combined. Pour the filling into the Graham cracker crust and spread it around into one even layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until the top of the pie is set, the pie will still be jiggly.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool for 2 hours. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 6 hours or overnight. Once chilled, top with whipped cream and lime zest.
I guess this means Christmastide is over and we’re on to a new year. I hate to see this season end, but greatly look forward to more adventures in the kitchen in 2019!
Until next time…