Pre-Easter Dinners

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter. Another holiday filled with an enormous assortment of food, which some tend to regret indulging in come Easter Monday. This year my Easter started three days early. Matt and Kate, two of my friends, returned home from a six-month teaching stint at a Canadian International School in Japan. Their trip was abruptly cut short by the devastating earthquakes and tsunami.

As a result, it was the first time we have all been home together in over three years. Once again, my friend Adam took the lead on organizing an Easter-food get together. The mission: we each take a course. Adam of course took his specialty--mains; Matt side dishes and I claimed dessert (not really my specialty, but really working on it). Two of Adam's friends from college, Brian and Tammy, joined us last minute. They came with food in-hand, fuelling us with their short-notice wraps while we waited for Matt to show up.

MAIN: For Adam's main, he pulled a recipe from one of my all-time favourite chefs--Jamie Oliver. The recipe is found in Jamie Oliver's
Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook cookbook. For those that don't yet own the cookbook, I highly recommend it. It is one of the favourites in my collection. Not only does it contain incredibly simple, tasty dishes but also breaks down the basics when it comes to different cuts of meat, how to prepare seafood, as well as various cutting techniques explained. 

For our main, we were having "Blackened Barbequed Pork Filets" (181). Yes, if you have been keeping track of my previous posts, Adam is an Asian-Canadian, cooking a British chef's version of Deep South (Texan) American Barbecue. Got it? Doesn't get more globalised than that, eh? The marinade was amazing. All made from scratch, none of that store-bought crap. It contained cumin seeds, fennel seeds, cloves, smoked paprika, orange juice/zest, thyme, garlic, Heinz ketchup, and balsamic vinegar. Sounds really exotic, as well as really random... but honestly... SENSATIONAL. The pork was cooked beautifully, to the point where it felt like it was melting in your mouth.

SIDE-DISH: Matt kept it simple, but kicked it up a notch. He prepared a salad with goat's cheese, red onion, tomatoes, cucumber, parmesan cheese, and dressed it all with Newman's Own Dressing. I'd heard of Newman's Own Dressing before, but didn't know that it was such a socially conscious company. They apparently donate 100% of the profits (after taxes) to various charities. Amazing, eh? The salad was delicious. Adam decided to give Matt's category a boost and quickly threw together a lemon/cooked pea quinoa salad. When the two were combined--fantastic! 

DESSERT: Tiramisu. Go figure the Italian-Canadian chooses this for dessert, eh? I like to make Tiramisu because, to be totally honest, not a big fan of baking. As with most Italians, we HATE measuring and choose to just eye everything out and adjust according to taste. Well, this method doesn't work so well when it comes to baking :) 

Basically the Tiramisu just calls for 6-ish eggs (yolk and whites separated), sugar, mascarpone cheese, savoiardi cookies, and some really good quality fair-trade organic espresso .What you want to do is mix some sugar with the egg yolks till smooth. Then add the mascarpone cheese until you get a nice creamy texture. Add any additional sugar to taste. Beat the egg whites until peaks are formed. Fold the egg whites into the yolk/cheese mixture. If you find it too thick, you can add a touch of espresso just to thin it out a bit. Next step is by far the easiest (and a lot more fun than trying to fluff up egg whites*). Lay out a thinnish layer of the cream in a container. Next take the savoiardi cookies, and quickly dip them into the cooled espresso. Layer the espresso-dipped cookies into the container. Spread another layer of the cream on top. Follow this with another layer of espresso-dipped cookies. Then another layer of the cream. Continue until you get your preferred cake height or you run out of cookies. You want your last layer to be the cream. Garnish with a bit of fair-trade organic cocoa. Put in fridge until ready to serve, the longer you let it rest the more the layers incorporate into each other and the better the tiramisu tastes. Everyone seemed to enjoy the Tiramisu, some even digging in for seconds :)

*NOTE: don't try to fluff up the egg whites with sugar incorporated, you'll be there FOREVER. Trust me ;)

Nonna Esposito's Good Friday Dinner

Good Friday was spent at my Nonna Esposito's this year. The woman is always try to plump us up. She in a (nice) way reminds me of the old lady from Hansel and Gretel. Only it is LOVE that is behind her motives ;) Dinner included: Sicilian-style couscous, crab, fish, prawns, salad, artichokes and of course Nonna's famous homemade pane (bread). I think the pictures speak for themselves :) 

What are you making/having for Easter dinner? Going anywhere special? I'd love to hear about it! Email me at: and fill me in :)



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