Our Easter celebration certainly was different from past years. No big hoo-doo dinner. No gathering with dear friends, but my husband, Jerry and I, still managed to find some joy in this special holiday. We started with a decadent pancake breakfast.
GOOD OLD-FASHIONED PANCAKES
|These pancakes were fluffy inside and perfectly
crisp outside. Serve with lots of butter and real maple syrup.
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 egg, slightly beaten
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in center of dry ingredients and add melted butter and egg. Mix thoroughly, but do not overmix the ingredients. If the mixture is too thick (It should be pourable.) add a tablespoon of water one at a time until your batter is just right. Heat heavy bottomed skillet (I like to use cast iron.) until very hot. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in the pan and when it is very hot either pour batter or spoon out batter to form 3″ sized cakes. Turn only once after the batter begins to bubble. Serve immediately.
This year’s Easter menu was humble, but delicious. I made a spicy, smoky version of Osso Buco using liquid Mesquite smoke, one chipotle pepper in Adobo, and a big squeeze of Gulyaskrem-Hungarian Pepper paste.
Find a more traditional recipe for Osso Buco here: http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=osso+buco
Osso Buco is a slow cooked rustic dish braising meat and vegetables together making a thick and luscious sauce. I used the last of the lamb shoulder from The 47 Ranch. I omitted the wine as I only had really fancy wine from Flying Leap Vineyards and decided to drink rather than cook with it.
|Flying Leap Vineyards is currently offering a free delivery
service, which I took advantage of.
The wine was delivered by none other than
President & CEO/Co-Founder, Mark Beres.
I served the Spicy and Smoky Osso Buco over Risotto with caramelized leeks and parmesan. Our veg was grilled zucchini with parmesan. We ate al fresco, as we usually do Easter dinner, on our back deck.
Dessert was a simple lemon-key lime sherbet. I’d love to do a big Easter dinner this summer or fall; whenever it is safe to gather again.
I want to share another simple, rustic dish that I made this week.
Moussaka is an eggplant and/or potato dish made with ground meat, often lamb, but there are many local variations. It’s origins are Arabic, cum Greek, cum Baltic, cum Turkish. In other words many countries claim its origin and each country has different variations, but for sure it always contains meat and eggplant. Because I am not shopping as often as usual, I made my Moussaka with the ingredients I had on hand.
2 eggplants, peeled and cut lengthwise into 3/8 inch slices
Salt for the eggplant (more salt and pepper for the dish)
1 Tbsp. plus 1/4 cup olive oil (for frying eggplant)
4 Tbsp. butter (1 for sauting the meat; 3 for mashing the potato)
1/2 pound ground beef
1 Italian sausage, out of casing
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 Tbsp. combination finely chopped fresh thyme, rosemary and parsley
1/3 cup crumbled Feta Cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan
More parsley for garnish
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
I topped the Moussaka with a Béchamel sauce, which would be more like what you would find in Greece. The creaminess of the sauce melts into the mashed potato as the Moussaka bakes.
Peel and cook the potatoes. Mash with 2 Tbsp. butter and 1/3 cup Feta cheese and set aside.
Peel and slice the eggplant and lightly salt both sides to improve the texture and mask any bitterness. The salting draws out the moisture giving the eggplant a creamy, silky texture. Lay slices on a paper towel and let sit for about 20 to 30 minutes. After they have set, rinse, dry and set aside.
Heat skillet with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter. Saute onion and garlic (do not brown) and then add the ground beef and sausage. Salt/Pepper to taste. Cook for about 7-10 minutes. Do not worry if the meat is not cooked through as it will cook again when the spices and tomato are added and again when the Moussaka is baked. Remove the meat mixture from skillet and add a bit more olive oil. Cook the eggplant in batches, adding olive oil as necessary, until very tender. Remove the cooked eggplant from the skillet.
Add the meat back into the pan and add all spices, herbs and tomato sauce. Cook for about 20 minutes to meld flavors.
To assemble the dish: Add meat in the bottom of a square casserole. Top the meat with half the parmesan cheese. Next, layer the eggplant and top with the rest of the Parmesan. Spread the mashed potatoes on top of the eggplant and then, if using, top the entire dish with the Béchamel sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes until the Moussaka is bubbling and lightly browned. Garnish with fresh parsley.
In this time of Coronavirus I’ve been cooking and baking more than ever. Every other day I make some kind of sweet, which is my husband’s favorite…sweets, that is, of any kind. This recipe is so simple and kind-of, sort-of good for you because of the oats.
BLACKBERRY JAM OATMEAL BARS
|This is a Ree Drummond recipe-The Pioneer Woman. She uses Strawberry Jam.
2 sticks butter (That is 1 cup.), cut into pieces, plus more for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
12 oz. your favorite jam. I used Blackberry, but strawberry, apricot preserves, blueberry, or any other jam would work well.
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9×13 inch pan. Mix together the butter, flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. I used 2 knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it is the size of small peas. Press half the oat mixture into the buttered pan. Spread the jam over the oats. Sprinkle the other half of oat mixture over the jam and gently press down the oat mixture. Bake until light brown-about 30-40 minutes. Let cool completely and then cut into squares. This is a fairly rich dessert because of all the butter so I cut small squares.
THAT CONCLUDES TODAYS COOKING OBSESSION…
PLEASE STAY HEALTHY AND ENJOY THE LOVE OF FRIENDS AND FAMILY FROM AFAR.
UNTIL NEXT TIME…
SOMETIMES I LIKE TO CONCLUDE WITH
SOMETHING APPROPOS TO NOTHING…
THIS MAGAZINE MOCK-UP WAS MADE BY MY GOOD FRIEND JO JO HAMMOND AT CHRISTMAS. I AM DRESSED IN MY MERMAID BLANKET, WHICH I RECEIVED FROM MY SOON TO BE DAUGHTER-IN-LAW, ALISON GRAHAM WHILE I WAS RECOVERING FROM CANCER. THE MERMAID SYMBOLIZES MANY DIFFERENT THINGS IN DIFFERENT CULTURES. I BELIEVE SHE REPRESENTS STRENGTH, LOVE, AND MYSTICAL HEALING. APPARENTLY IT WORKED!