This year we used vegetable dyes to make our Easter Eggs. Some of the recipes worked better than others: the red cabbage, turmeric, and yellow onions made beautifully colored eggs. The red onions and beets, on the other hand, resulted in muddy brown eggs. Most importantly, though, mixing up the vegetable dyes was fun. The boys both really got into the whole process of chopping, boiling, stirring, and straining to cook up the dyes. We’ll probably do it again next year.
This morning we had our hunt, which was successful: a full dozen eggs were stalked and laid low by our intrepid hunters.
And several of the eggs were promptly skinned, gutted, and made into sandwiches. We believe in eating what we hunt!
Nanita and Marqueño are on hand again for a few days, to visit with the baby, so they’ll join us tonight for our Easter dinner. I always make “agnello all’araba” (Arabian lamb) from The Silver Spoon Cookbook. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but very delicious. This is a version I’ve adapted slightly to reflect the “salt as you go” philosophy that I’ve picked up from reading Judy Rodgers. (I also switched from kosher salt to sea salt at her recommendation, and I think it makes everything taste better.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Season two and a half pounds of boneless lamb cubes liberally with salt, and slice up three onions thinly.
In a small pot, heat up one cup of stock—any kind, or even just water in a pinch. When it’s hot, take a hefty pinch of saffron threads (if your saffron comes in half-gram envelopes, use the whole envelope) and crush them up using a mortar and pestle, or just your fingers. Stir the bruised saffron into the hot water or stock along with two tablespoons of honey and a pinch each of ground cumin, ground ginger, and salt. Keep it warm over low heat.
Meanwhile, put a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add four tablespoons of olive oil and, when, hot, the onions. Sprinkle them with salt and saute until soft, then move the onions to a roasting pan. Return the now-empty skillet to high heat and brown the lamb cubes, in batches if necessary to ensure that they get a nice crust. Add the browned lamb to the roasting pan. Pour your seasoned water or stock over the meat, cover with aluminum foil, and roast in the oven for an hour.
While the lamb roasts, blanch 3/4 cup pitted, brine-cured green olives in boiling water for five minutes, then drain. Toast 3/4 cup slivered almonds in a small pot or skillet over high heat, removing them from the stovetop as soon as they’re fragrant and beginning to brown.
When the meat has cooked for 50 minutes, take the roasting pan out of the oven, add in the olives and almonds, give everything a good stir, and put it back in the oven for the final ten minutes. Just before serving, sprinkle the meat with fresh chopped cilantro and a generous amount of fresh-ground pepper. (Also, taste a little bit to see if it needs more salt, but it probably won’t.) The Silver Spoon Cookbook notes: “As a side dish, we suggest fresh fava beans boiled in water for 15 minutes, then tossed with butter.”