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Mediterranean Easter (Part 2)


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Ingredients for Mediterranean Dishes
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La Belle Cuisine


Mediterranean Easter (Part 2)

Recipe Source:
Williams-Sonoma Complete Entertaining Cookbook

General Editor Chuck Williams, Menu Concepts and Recipes
Joyce Goldstein, 2000, Readon Publications Incorporated


“Easter is a joyous holiday in the Mediterranean, where it is usually celebrated
with a midday or evening feast laden with symbols of the birth of a new season.
Crisp greens, fresh seafood, tender spring lamb, fragrant herbs, plump eggplants
and artichokes, sweet honey, and rich nuts and cheese – each is a gift from the reawakening earth and each finds its way onto the Mediterranean Easter table…
…You don’t have to observe the holiday to enjoy this Easter repast; its requires
only a desire to celebrate the season. The food for this meal is perfect for family-
style serving, with everything passed informally on platters at the table…”


Gypsy Spinach Pie
Salmon Dolmas with Avgolemono
Rack of Spring Lamb Marinated in Garlic,
Allspice, Cumin and Thyme

Artichoke Hearts with Tomatoes and Currants
Stuffed Eggplant
Asparagus & Potatoes with Almonds & Mint
Citrus & Honey Cheesecake with Nut Crust

 Each recipe yields 6 servings and can easily be doubled to serve 12.

Wine Recommendations:  With the spinach pie, serve a Sauvignon Blanc
from Chile, France or California, or a moderately rich Italian Soave. With
the salmon, pour a dry Chenin Blanc or a Washington State Riesling. For
the lamb, offer a hearty, rich Italian red such as Barolo, or an American
Merlot. With dessert, a Spanish cream or brown Sherry.

Artichoke Hearts with Tomatoes
and Currants

Serves 6

“Sweet-sour artichoke preparations such as this one
are common in the Mediterranean.”

6 large (about 4-inch/10-cm diameter) artichokes
1 lemon half
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) olive oil
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) water, stock,
or dry white wine
2 cups (12 oz/375 g) peeled, diced tomatoes or
drained and chopped canned plum tomatoes
1/2 cup (3 oz/90 g) dried currants, soaked in
warm water to cover for
10 minutes
2 tablespoons honey
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut the stems and tops off of the artichokes, break off and discard most of
the outer leaves and remove all the rest with a sharp knife. Scoop out the fuzzy chokes with a small sharp spoon. Rub the cut surfaces with the lemon half and float the artichoke hearts in a bowl of cold water mixed with the lemon juice until all the artichokes are prepared. Drain and pat dry just
before cooking.
Pour the olive oil into a large sauté pan and place over medium-high heat.
Add the artichoke hearts and toss them to coat with the oil and add the water, stock, or wine. Cover the pan and steam until the artichoke hearts are tender-crisp, about 12-15 minutes (most of the liquid will have been absorbed). Add the tomatoes, drained currants and honey; stir well and simmer, uncovered, until the artichokes are tender when pierced with a knife and the pan juices have reduced, about 10 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper and add more honey or lemon juice if desired. Transfer the artichoke hearts to a
platter and spoon the sauce on top.


Stuffed Eggplant

Serves 6

“Be sure to precook the eggplant shells to make them
tender and completely edible.”

3 baby globe eggplants (aubergines) or 6 slender
(Asian) eggplants (aubergines)
1/2 cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 1/2 cups (9 oz/280 g) peeled, diced tomatoes
1/4 cup (3/8 oz/10 g) chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) water

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. With a sharp knife, carefully score the flesh and remove most of the eggplant pulp, leaving a shell that is 1/4 inch
(6 mm) thick. Dice the pulp and set aside. Salt the eggplant shells and let sit, flesh sides down, in a colander for 1 hour, then rinse and pat dry.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Warm 2 tablespoons of
the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the onion and cook until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Set aside in a bowl. In the same pan, heat 6 tablespoons (3 fl oz/90 ml) of the olive oil, add the diced eggplant and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and parsley to this mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large sauté pan and cook
the eggplant shells, turning once or twice, for a few minutes to soften
them. Then place them side by side in an oiled baking dish and stuff with
the reserved filling. Add the water to the pan, cover and bake until very tender, about 45 minutes.


Asparagus and Potatoes with
Almonds and Mint

Serves 6

“In this quickly assembled vegetable combination, pine nuts would
also go well with the mint and fresh basil with the almonds.”

24 small new red potatoes (about 3 lb/1.5 kg)
About 2 tablespoons olive oil for coating plus
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 lb (1 kg) fresh asparagus
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup (2 oz/60 g) toasted sliced or slivered almonds
1/2 cup (3/4 oz/20 g) chopped fresh mint or basil

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C)
Place the potatoes in a baking pan, coat them with about 2 tablespoons of
the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until the potatoes are cooked through but firm, about 25-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and
let sit until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus. Snap off the tough end of each stalk. If
the stalks are thick, peel the bottom 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) with a vegetable peeler. Bring about 2 inches (5 cm) of salted water to a boil in a frying pan. Lay the asparagus in the pan and cook until tender-crisp, 3-5 minutes. Remove the asparagus and plunge them into ice water, then drain and pat
dry. Cut the asparagus into 2-inch (5-cm) lengths.
Cut the cooled potatoes into quarters. Warm the 1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml)
olive oil in a very large sauté pan. Add the potatoes and heat them through. Add the asparagus, chicken stock and garlic and simmer a few minutes to
heat through. Season with salt and pepper, then add the almonds and mint
or basil and serve.


Citrus and Honey Cheesecake with Nut Crust

Makes one 9-inch (23-cm) cheesecake

“Use dark honey for a fuller-bodied, more intense flavor. The cheese-
cake is best served slightly warm or at room temperature.”

[As a general rule of thumb, for maximum flavor cheesecakes
should be baked at least 1 day in advance of serving. Ed.]

For the Crust:
2 cups (8 oz/250 g) hazelnuts,
toasted and skinned
1/3 cup (3 oz/90 g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4-5 tablespoons (2-2 1/2 oz/60-80 g)
unsalted butter, melted

For the Cheese Filling:
1 1/2 lb (750 g) cream cheese
at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) sour cream
at room temperature
3/4 cup (9 oz/280 g) full-flavored honey
6 eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 tablespoon each grated lemon zest
and grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (essence)
3 tablespoons chopped candied orange peel, optional
1/4 cup (2 oz/60 g) sugar

For the Garnish:
Chopped toasted and skinned hazelnuts
Fresh strawberries, optional

To make the crust, in a food processor, chop the nuts with the sugar and cinnamon as finely as possible; do not let it turn to paste. Add enough butter
to hold the mixture together. Press into the bottom and partially up the sides
of a 9-inch (23-cm) spring-form pan. Set aside.
To make the filling, preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Place the cream cheese and sour cream in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until smooth with the paddle attachment or beaters. Add the honey and beat until there are no lumps. Add the egg yolks, lemon and orange zests, vanilla and,
if using, candied orange peel; mix well.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy. Gradually beat in the sugar until the peaks are almost stiff. Stir one third of the egg whites into the cheese mixture, then fold in the rest. Pour into the prepared cake pan. Bake on the middle rack of the oven until set just on the edges, about 45-50 minutes; gently shake the pan to test. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake
inside with the door ajar for 2 hours. Remove the sides from the pan and
slide the cheesecake onto a plate. Top with chopped hazelnuts and, if desired, arrange berries around the cheesecake.

Mediterranean Easter, Part 1

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