Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: A feast fit for spring

Easter is the holiest of celebrations for Christians, and roast lamb and ham are traditionally served

Easter has deep roots in the mythic past. Long before it was imported into the Christian tradition, the spring festival honoured the goddess Eostre or Eastre.

The holiday is a celebration of spring, and growth, the renewal of life that appears on the earth after the winter. Christianity itself, came late to the Easter party. There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament, or in the writings of the apostolic Fathers, but as times and history changed, many new celebrations were added to Christian life  in commemoration of God’s goodness to mankind.

Easter is the most important, as it is a celebration of the life and death of Jesus Christ.  Easter Sunday is only 18 days away and many families are planning to celebrate with extended family or friends. So celebrate as you wish with eggs, chicks, bunnies, chocolate, fancy breads and a great feast.

Today we continue with Easter recipes started last week. Both are easy to prepare and can be the star of your Easter dinner table.

Herb and Garlic Roast Leg of Lamb

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

1 tbsp. chopped fresh or 1 tsp. dried rosemary leaves, crumbled

1 tbsp. chopped fresh or 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crumbled

3 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp.  kosher salt (or coarse salt)

1/2 tsp. pepper

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

5 to 6 lbs. (2.5 to 3 kg.) boneless leg of lamb

Heat oven to 325 F.

In small bowl, stir all ingredients except lamb until well-mixed.   Place lamb in shallow roasting pan (keep netting or string on lamb). Spread herb mixture over entire surface of lamb. Insert meat thermometer so tip is in thickest part of lamb and does not rest in fat. Roast, uncovered, from 2 hours 5 minutes to 2 hours 15 minutes for medium-rare or until thermometer reads 140 degrees F. (For medium doneness, bake until thermometer reads 155 F.)

Remove from oven; cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes or until thermometer reads 145 degrees F. Remove netting or string before serving. Serve with pan juices if desired.

Easter Ham

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup orange marmalade

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1/2 fully cooked-bone-in ham (6 to 8 pounds)

1-1/2 tsp. whole cloves

In small bowl, combine brown sugar, marmalade and mustard; set aside.

Score surface of ham, making diamond shapes 1/2 in. deep; insert whole clove in centre of each diamond.

Place ham cut-side down on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, at 325 for 2 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 140 degrees F.

Brush ham with glaze. Bake 45 minutes longer, brushing with glaze every 15 minutes. Serve remaining glaze with sliced ham.

Yield: 16-18 servings (2 cups glaze).

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every Wednesday and one Sunday per month.