An International Easter Celebration…and No Mint or Passport Required!

No chocolate eggs here.  Not even an Easter Egg Hunt or marshmallow chicks this year.  But it sure was a busy Easter  visiting all of the countries we had to visit…with much happiness and love.

 This Easter took us (figuratively) around the world…and back.  Back to where it all began.  The journey Diana and set out upon…being together.

It started in Cuba, kind of.  Actually Saturday we went to Craig and Misty’s for the beginning of our Easter celebration.  The “Cuba” part is a reference to the drinks I made for everyone to enjoy.  I put a spin on the Springtime favorite, Mojito, and turned it into an “El Cubano”.  This sounds a little deeper, richer than a Mojito, and it is…more refined, aged, just a touch more sophistication or élan.

El Cubano

  • 2 ounces aged rum (I used Pyratt’s XO, which is a wonderful rum worth trying…even on the rocks by itself)
  • Juice of one lime
  • Mint
  • Brown sugar (white may also be used)
  • 1 ounce Prosecco (again, most any sparkling wine will do well)
  •  Place .5 tsp of brown sugar in a shaker.
  • Add the juice of one lime
  • Add 5-6 Mint leaves
  • Muddle the mint leaves with the lime juice.
  • Add a little cracked ice.
  • Add the rum and shake well.
  • Pour into a glass filled with cracked ice, and top off with about 1 ounce of Prosecco

As with most cocktail recipes, the recipe is up for interpretation…you like it sweeter, add more sugar.  Too “limey”?  Use less.  You get the picture.                 

And while we were in Cuba, (yes for those of you interested I had a cigar…as if you needed to ask), we had a brief encounter with Australia, mate.


Tyler gave us a call from “Down Under” inMelbourne.  Many of you know he is there playing soccer for the Sunshine Georgies FC.  There are no games Easter week-end, so he was doing a little venturing out of Melbourne with a couple o’ mates. It is always great to hear from Tyler.  The updates on the soccer team seem to be the focus of many of our discussions, but those are really just secondary…to hearing from him.

Then Easter morning, instead of being awaken by Leon Russel’s “Roll Away the Stone”  or “Prince of Peace”[both which should automatically be added to your playlist…they are really good…trust me ] the morning greeted us with a call from Oslo, Norway!  Yep, Yvonne and Blake called to see if the Easter Egg Hunt was on, and also to make sure we were not caught up in the wake of the tornado damage from Friday evening.  They just bought an apartment in Oslo, and through the magic of Skype video, Blake showed us the hole in the wall that was created from removing the wall paper…I guess Blake got his handy man skills from his father (guilty as charged).

Poland was our next stop…or I should clarify and say St Charles,MO. (which happens to be much closer than Poland)  But true to tradition, Dan and Nancy served Polish Sausage for Easter.  This tradition goes back a long way, and is as good today as it was when I was growing up.  It was grilled on the ‘barbie and tasted better than ever…

We weren’t able to stay in Poland very long before the train left for Italy. (what the /&%$@#!? is he talking about?)

Rachel and Drew were meeting us at our place to have an Easter dinner right out of Tuscany.  We had leg of lamb (recipe below) that was perhaps the best we ever fixed.  But to open up the festivities, we had a “Caprese”, cocktail, not salad.  This is a recipe I found in The Food Network magazine, and “edited” it a bit. I used Purus Vodka in making it, and I think the crispness of this organic vodka made a difference…plus, it too is fromItaly…so it’s got that going for it.  And so we started the Italian venture with a “Caprese” cocktail.

 Caprese Cocktail

  •  1.5 – 2 pounds of tomatoes
  • PurusVodka
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 12 or more small grape tomatoes (cherry tomatoes will work well also)
  • Small fresh mozzarella balls
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Cut up the tomatoes and place them in a large non-reactive pot, or jar.  Pour in a bottle of Purus Vodka.  Muddle the tomatoes, mixing well with the vodka.  Cover and let this infused for 6-12 hours, or more
  • Pierce each cherry tomato with a toothpick and place them in a small container and cover with about 1.5 cups of balsamic vinegar.  Let these marinate for 4-8 hours.
  • After they have marinated, store the cherry tomatoes in a container and refrigerate until ready to use.  Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small sauce pan and turn heat to medium-high.  Boil the vinegar down until it takes on a syrup consistency. (about 20 minutes or so) Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Pour the vodka and tomato mixture through a sieve and strain well, being sure to get much of the juice from the tomatoes, but not the pulp.  Chill the tomato-vodka until ready to enjoy.
  • Take .5 ounce of the vodka and about 5 basil leaves, then muddle together in a shaker.  Add another 1.5 ounces of vodka and some ice, then shake well.
  • In a well chilled martini glass, place a marinated cherry tomato and then drizzle some of the balsamic syrup in the bottom. (I have also made this using balsamic glaze you can get at the store…works fine)  Pour the vodka into the chilled glass and garnish with a mozzarella ball, another cherry tomato and a basil leaf on a toothpick. 

Nice start for a Tuscany-styled Easter meal. Agree?

In Tuscany, a whole roast leg of lamb is the traditional Easter feast. So we paired it with other regional flavor combinations: a dried-cherry crust, and a side of prosciutto-studded sauté of artichokes and peas, and the warm asparagus salad.  In the interest of time and space, here is the leg of lamb recipe.  I anyone would like the other recipes…no problem, just let me know.

 Tuscan Roasted Leg of Lamb

  •  7-lb. bone-in leg of lamb
  • 4 cloves garlic,
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (10 to 11 oz.) dried sweet cherries, soaked in 1 cup hot water for 30 minutes or so
  •  1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1-2 Tbs. chopped fresh sage
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2-3 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 2-3 ribs celery, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1-1/2 cups sweet red vermouth,
  • 1-1/2 cups low-salt beef or chicken broth

 Position a rack in the lower middle of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F. With the point of a knife, make 16 slits all over the lamb and insert a sliver of garlic into each slit. Sprinkle 1 tsp. salt over the meat. Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a large, heavy roasting pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, sear the roast until browned lightly on at least the two widest sides. Transfer the meat to a platter and then carefully pour the hot fat out of the pan.

Put the dried cherries with their soaking liquid, the breadcrumbs, mustard, rosemary, sage, 1 tsp. salt, the pepper, and the remaining 2 Tbs. oil in a food processor and pulse to make a coarse, wet paste. Arrange the carrots, celery, and onion in the roasting pan to set the lamb. Put about a third of the cherry paste onto the bottom of the roast (the wide side closest to the bone). Set the roast bottom side down on the vegetables. Pat the remaining paste evenly on the rest of the lamb. Put the pan in the oven and set a timer for 25 min.

After 25 min., lower the heat to 375°F and roast until the temperature at the thickest part of the meat is 125° to 130°F for medium rare, another 35 to 45 min. (or longer if you prefer medium  or well-done lamb). Check the roast periodically to be sure the cherry crust isn’t getting too dark; if it is, drape a piece of foil loosely over the lamb. Transfer the meat to a carving board or serving platter. Loosely cover the lamb with a sheet of aluminum foil and let rest for 10-15 min.

Meanwhile, set the roasting pan over two burners on medium high, leaving the carrots, celery, onion and any fallen-off crust in the pan. Add the sweet vermouth and broth. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon and let the liquid simmer until it reduces to about 1 cup of slightly thickened sauce, 8 to 10 min. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce through a fine sieve into a serving bowl. Discard the solids.

To serve the lamb, carve 1/2-inch slices. Some of the flavorful crust will fall off while you carve–just spoon it up and serve it along with the meat. Arrange the sliced lamb on a large serving platter or individual plates and drizzle with the sauce 

Bon Appetito!


I know this is a long-winded recipe…but it is one that is worth trying.  If you do, you will want it again…guar-an-teed.  (The left-over lamb is ridiculously good, if there is much left) And the best of all…no mint jelly!

Thus our international Easter celebration came to an end…through Cuba (by way of Collinsville), on to Melbourne (to check on the soccer team and hear from Tyler) then up through Norway where we got a “This Old House” episode (with the help of Skype) before heading out to Poland and St Charles…and then arriving in Italy, with the help of our kitchen in Wildwood, where we celebrated life and our love for one another with Drew and Rachel.

So, I hope your Easter was as wonderful as ours, even without the chocolate eggs, marshmallow chicks and Easter egg hunt.  (actually the Easter egg hunt was the only thing I really missed)

Mangiare bene  (Eat well)

Bere bene (Drink well)

L’amore ben bene (Love well)

…and my friends, I leave you with the lyrics in Leon Russell’s song Prince of Peace

Oh, never be impatient with the ones who love you

It might be yourself that you’re burning

Sing a song of love and open up your heart

For you might be the prince of peace returning


Published in: on April 27, 2011 at 10:26 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. really informative post in this blog. Most what i read online is trash and copy paste but your posts are not alike. Bravo. I like to read and suggest all my friend to read this blog. Thanks for share.


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