Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter, UGG, Lamb

I have just eaten one of my home made Hot Cross Buns, I thought - when I made them yesterday - that they weren't all that successful. However, it tasted great. That's one of the problems with not cooking things with any regularity. I cannot remember the last time I made them. I just read an excerpt about Hot Cross Buns which told me they originated in ancient Greece and were often made as an offering to the gods although in those days, prior to Christianity, they might be stamped with the horns of a sacred ox. This picture is half of one which takes up two pages in my Time Life Cooking of the Middle East. These Greek men are cooking the Paschal Lamb at a street barbecue pit. Probably, the lamb has lived with the family for the last few months before they killed it. The whole event being symbolic of the sacrifice of Christ. The guys are having a bit of a party there, drinking a sip or two of retsina whilst they are cooking. The women, meanwhile, are baking all kinds of breads and pastries probably in the local baker's ovens as their own wouldn't be big enough for the Easter feast. This picture was taken on the slopes of Mount Parnassos near Delphi, but was, certainly at one time, repeated over many areas of Greece, particularly in the islands. There is another picture in the book showing the smoke from many such barbecue pits on Easter morning. The Greek women also prepare kebabs of liver and skewers of organ meats (offal) called kokoretsi, small pieces of which will be offered to anyone who calls at the home whilst the men are roasting the lambs. The delicious smells emanating from these barbecue pits are absolutely wonderful. I cannot speak with total authority, but I know some people from what used to be Yugoslavia (when I was young), practice the same way of cooking their Paschal lambs. I know a Yugoslavian friend of our had such a barbecue for his wedding some 20 years ago. On GMA this morning they revealed a new website where they have all the recipes prepared by their guest celebrity chefs such as Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck, Sara Moulton, etc. etc. there are, apparently, over 1,000 recipes. This morning Emeril prepared an Easter ham. This is something Matt and I have never understood even after 34 years or living in North America, buying a cooked ham and then cooking it. When we buy a cooked ham we slice it thinly and eat it with Coleman's mustard (very hot). I have never tried to buy an uncooked ham here, but we used to in the UK and then cook it having poked cloves into the skin and such. That was another thing I found confusing, where we lived in North Carolina they refer to a leg of pork, uncured, as a ham???? Churchill said it best, two nations divided by a common language. Another segment on GMA today was regarding UGG boots which are so very popular these days, they say. Apparently, because there is no arch support, the boots are not very good for you and wearing them a lot for long periods puts a strain on your heels and ankles and makes them work too hard which can then affect your knees and hips in later life. Same applies to flip flops, so said the Podiatrist. The report stated that people are wearing them even though there is no snow and it isn't cold. The problem can be alleviated by wearing an insert, either one you buy or a prescribed orthotic. As a note here, as a young woman I used to live in flip flops, I still wear them a lot and I have had a hip replacement. Any connection? Of course Matt has had two hip replacements and a knee replacement and has never worn a flip flop in his life. Go figure. As an alternative to ham, I am giving you a lamb recipe from The Best Three and Four Ingredient Cookbook. This is basically how I cook my lamb although I don't always include the rosemary. I also serve mine with homemade gravy which I have described in a previous blog and mint sauce - English style - NOT mint jelly nor that wishy washy stuff you can buy in a bottle but the stuff you get in a jar which is so thick you sometimes have to mix it with a bit more sugar and vinegar. One thing I would take issue with would be the roasting time, I would cook for 20 mins per lb. I think 25 mins. it would be somewhat overcooked Roast Leg of Lamb with Rosemary and Garlic This is a classic combination of flavours and always popular. Serve as a traditional Sunday lunch with roast potatoes and vegetables. Leaving the lamb to rest before carving ensures a tender result. Serves four to six 1 leg of lamb, approx. 4 lb. 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced leaves from 2 sprigs fresh Rosemary from the store cupboard 2 Tbs olive oil salt and ground black pepper Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Using a small sharp knife, make slices at 1 1/2 in. intervals over the lamb, deep enough to hold a piece of garlic. Push the garlic and rosemary leaves into the slits. Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the lamb and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Place in a roasting dish which is also oiled. Roast for 25 mins per lb. of lamb, plus another 25 minutes. Remove the lamb from the oven and leave to rest for about 15 minutes before carving. Happy Easter.