Recipe Test Nest » Holiday » Celebrating Passover and Easter
Celebrating Passover and Easter

I love this time of year and the many opportunities for religious celebration. I hosted a TEST NEST on Passover and while the menu wasn’t a true Seder dinner, I did have a few appropriate items. Until Monday night I had not had any “failures.” My wonderful testers (Jamie Kalama, Dan Evans, Anna Haymore, Bill Atkinson and Jon Rainey) were very forgiving about my mistakes, maybe this is why they ALL stayed to help clean up and socialize. In fact, we partied until close to midnight.

I went all out on the decorations. My roommate Lisa suggested that I incorporate a “nest” into each dinner. I love the idea and I’ve been thinking of how to do it. I remembered some Easter “nest” decorations in Martha Stewart that I had wanted to try to make. I have to give a special shout out to my friends Jeff Johnson and Lisa Higbee who helped me make the nests – it took many hours. It also took a few hours to marbleize the eggs (my favorite way to make elegant Easter eggs). I hard boiled the eggs so we could eat them rather than blow them out.

Mocktail: Appleberry Sparkle (throw away)

A light mix of Cranberry, Apple and Pineapple juices with Sparkling water – while good, we all decided it wasn’t worth keeping.

Appetizer: Saffron Hummus and Homemade Arab Flat Bread (hummus-4 Star, bread-3 Star)

A unique gourmet twist on traditional Hummus, I infused the saffron in wine with a touch of paprika and cumin. I’m not a great homemade bread maker, I like using my bread machine. If you use this recipe keep checking the bread, waiting until brown around the edges made mine a little too hard, making for great pita chips.

1st Course: Matzo Ball Soup (3 Star)

Submitted by Eliana Hansen in Isreal. The flavor was terrific, but my matzo balls didn’t keep their shape so the final result was more of a mush than balls. I’m going to have to find some experts and watch their techniques and try it again.

2nd Course: Roasted Herb-Stuffed Leg of Lamb (4 Star)

The mix of herbs rolled in between the meat gives every bite lots of flavor. Lamb is a tricky thing, this was my fourth time cooking lamb, and it was a little over cooked. The recipe calls for roasting 50 minutes, but check the meat after 35 minutes, especially is you prefer your lamb to be more on the rare side.

Israeli Couscous Risotto (4.5 Star)

Not quite sure what would make this a 5 Star, but it is best dish of the night. The mixtures of butternut squash, couscous, parmesan and parsley are very unique and the paring with the lamb was perfectly complementary.

Dessert: Cardamon Creme Brulee (3 Star, ability to be 5 Star)

This was my first time making Crème Brulee from scratch, so I probably should have practiced on my roommates a couple times. Simmering cardamom pods and vanilla bean with the creme made the flavor absolutely amazing, however, the custard ended up being runny. I consulted my favorite pastry chef, Aaron Brown, who explained that I might have over whisked the anglaise (custard) and broken down the coagulated protein, if this is the case the baking time won’t make a difference. I baked it twice the recipe time and it seemed like the sides had set. I’m determined to get it right so I’ll be practicing – once I master it, I’ll have to invite my testers over again for a redo.

Isn’t it always true that you only fail when trying to impress? Bill Atkinson is Mr. Gourmet Chef himself (remember, he taught me about Morel mushrooms) and I can’t claim victory. Hopefully next time.


3 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. Daniel (April 2, 2010)

    It was a very pleasant evening. Great food (obviously), a beautiful setting, and fun company.

    I can't remember why we didn't give the Israeli couscous risotto five stars. While it probably wouldn't function well as an entree or even as a standalone appetizer, it balanced perfectly with the meat and was both colorful and flavorful.

    I look forward to at some point in the future having the opportunity to try cardamom creme brulee 2.0 (now with coagulated protein!).

  2. Monster Mary (April 4, 2010)

    The marbled eggs are beautiful. The kids made our eggs and they were all very bright or puke colors from over mixing. It was fun though, they loved it.

    The menu looks great. I agree that Lamb can be tricky. We made a rub for ours today and I actually cooked it just about perfect. I like it a little more rare but it was still juicy. The sauce I made from the juices was really good though. We ate homemade french bread, wilted spinach and bacon salad, and garlic mashed potates. Then we had raspberry shortcake for dessert not that we needed any after all our easter candy.

    I've never had that soup before and will have to give it a try sometime. Let me know when you work out the kinks :) .

    Can you beleive Mikeis doing dishes right now without me? It's an Easer miracle.

  3. Bill (April 8, 2010)

    It was great fun and very well thought out with beautiful decorations. I enjoyed the last-minute chopping and pouring, and the meeting new people.

    Did you notice that (it was a surprise to me) this event made it into the Carrier Pigeon?



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