Monday, April 13, 2009

An Easter Parable

I had a very nice Easter--one completely void of fanfare. There was no dyeing of eggs, no fake grass, no pastel candies, no guests, and most of all, no traveling. It may sound dull and boring. But let me tell you, it was sublime. However, it was still a holiday and so I wanted to make it special.

Me + special + holiday = food

Yes, the way to celebrate holidays in my family is through food. Food makes the holiday, and don’t you forget it. I had envisioned a lovely roast. One similar to the roast I made for Christmas three years ago or so and about which I still dream and salivate. It was a lovely rib roast slathered liberally in salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic. The meat was so tender and flavorful. However, Mr. F. and I didn’t really want to mortgage our first born in order to re-create that experience. So, we tried to find the next best cut.

You should have picked up on the fact by now that Mr. F. and I are quite the foodies. We really like our food and are pretty knowledgeable about food preparation. However, it was also clearly apparent that we have been living a pretty vegetarian diet of late because we know practically nothing about meat cuts. What would make a good rib roast substitute? Chuck roast? Sirloin Roast? The options were endless. In the end, we picked out an “eye of rib roast,” whatever that is. But hey, it was cheap, so why not? For sides I was going to have steamed asparagus, and carrots with lime, cilantro, ginger, and garlic. For desert, I would make my Femme Fatal Torte.

I looked up on line how to best cook an “Eye of Rib” roast, slathered it with salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary, and then let it do its thing. The result? Not quite the succulent phenomenon I was anticipating. Eye of rib is a really lean cut. It reminded me of the roast beef of my childhood--probably because it WAS the roast beef of my childhood. It is, after all, an inexpensive cut of meat. I was a bit disappointed. Add to that, my carrot recipe wasn’t the carrot-transforming miracle that I imagined either. Too much lime and not enough salt. I was a bit distraught. Mr. F. remarked that he felt like quite the newly married couple, with the requisite failed fancy meal attempt. Not quite what I wanted to hear, but true.

However, my despair was too precipitate. In an attempt to salvage the meat for future meals, Mr. F. sliced it paper thin. The result: Magical. The meat came to life! It melted in your mouth with infusions of garlicky, rosemary goodness. Truly a resurrection story indeed!

All, in all, it was a very good Easter.

In further celebration of this Holiday, I will share with you one of my favorite roll recipes: Ambrosia Rolls. Why do I call them Ambrosia Rolls? Because they are the food of the Gods.

Ambrosia Rolls

(AKA Orange Rolls)

Yield: 2 dozen


1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)

1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110)

1 cup sugar, divided

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

Cooking spray

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons grated orange rind


3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

To prepare dough, dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons softened butter, salt, and egg, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 cups flour to yeast mixture; beat until smooth. Add 1 cup flour to yeast mixture, stirring until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour and 15 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Roll into large rectangle. Brush surface with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Combine 3/4 cup sugar and rind. Sprinkle sugar mixture over rectangle. Roll rectangle beginning at wide end. Cut roll into 24 pieces. Lay resulting circles in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 25 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Uncover dough. Bake at 350ยบ for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

While rolls bake, prepare the glaze. Combine 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and orange juice in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Stir in 1/2 cup sour cream. Drizzle glaze over warm rolls; let stand 20 minutes before serving.

Eat and feel transfigured.

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