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Carrie’s Kitchen: Recipes for an exquisite Easter meal in isolation

About a week into the quarantine, my mother called me and carefully brought up the topic of Easter.

“I hate to do this,” she said, “but I don’t want to host Easter this year, do you think that will be OK?”

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Considering our family gatherings now have 13 adults and nine children, including six children under the age of 4, I told her I thought it would be a moot point before we got to Easter. And so it has.

Whether you are a believer or not, I’m sure we will all feel the sadness of Easter in isolation this year. For those of us who are believers, not being able to gather and celebrate Christ’s resurrection with our church families is particularly disheartening. Yes, there will be online services, and we will still worship, but “alone together” is not the same as “together.” However the Bible says “wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them,” so God will still be pleased.

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As for the part about seeing family on the holiday, I’m so grateful to be going through this epidemic during the digital age. My family is regularly trading video messages back and forth through the app Marco Polo, helping us to stay in touch with our siblings and their children even more than we would have if things were “normal.” We might have to try out a family Zoom hour on Easter Day to still have a little live conversation together.

Our family always gets a big ham on Easter, but there’s only so much ham the three of us can enjoy, so I was planning to treat myself with lamb chops instead, if I can find them. This is a simple recipe for seasoning them with herbs then cooking them in a skillet, and finishing them off with a balsamic reduction.

For the vegetables, I would love to have these honey and brown sugar roasted baby carrots, kind of like Easter’s equivalent of Thanksgiving’s sweet potato casserole. I’m not sure what most families do as their green vegetable for Easter, but I’ve been in the mood for Swiss Chard, and I like to add acid to them to help tame their earthiness, which is why I chose this version with lemon.

My husband hasn’t been eating many sweets since going vegan, but he does cheat occasionally, and I think he would love this coconut cake with a cream cheese frosting, coated with more toasted coconut. I’m not a coconut fan, but I’m planning to make homemade chocolate-covered peanut butter eggs.

Happy Easter, dear readers, and I hope you find a new and creative way to celebrate this year.

Enjoy!

Lamb chops with balsamic reduction

3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

4 lamb chops (3/4 inch thick)

1 tablespoon olive oil

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1/4 cup minced shallots

1/3 cup aged balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon butter

In a small bowl or cup, mix together the rosemary, basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Rub this mixture onto the lamb chops on both sides. Place them on a plate, cover and set aside for 15 minutes to absorb the flavors.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place lamb chops in the skillet, and cook for about 3 1/2 minutes per side for medium rare, or continue to cook to your desired doneness. Remove from the skillet, and keep warm on a serving platter.

Add shallots to the skillet, and cook for a few minutes, just until browned. Stir in vinegar, scraping any bits of lamb from the bottom of the skillet, then stir in the chicken broth. Continue to cook and stir over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the sauce has reduced by half. If you don't, the sauce will be runny and not as good. Remove from heat, and stir in the butter. Pour over the lamb chops, and serve.

Honey brown sugar roasted carrots

2 pounds baby carrots (look for fatter ones)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss carrots with oil and season with salt and pepper to taste and arrange carrots in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Combine butter, brown sugar, honey, Italian seasoning, balsamic vinegar, and garlic in a small sauce pan and stir over medium high heat until completely melted and mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over carrots.

Bake for about 20 minutes until tender and easily pierced with a fork. Serve immediately.

1 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 large bunch Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed and reserved; leaves torn into 2” pieces (about 6 cups)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and half of Swiss chard, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing often, until wilted, about 4 minutes. Add lemon juice and remaining chard and cook, tossing, just until all chard is wilted, about 1 minute; season with salt and pepper.

Incredible coconut cake

For the cake:

5 eggs, separated

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup canola oil

2-1/4 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, chopped

1 teaspoon coconut extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the frosting:

11 ounces cream cheese, softened

2/3 cup butter, softened

4-1/3 cups confectioners' sugar

1-1/4 teaspoons coconut extract

2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

Place egg whites in a large bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In another large bowl, beat sugar, butter and oil until well blended. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Stir in coconut and extracts..

Add cream of tartar to egg whites; with clean beaters, beat on medium until stiff peaks form. Fold a fourth of the egg whites into batter, then fold in remaining whites.

Transfer to three greased and floured 9-inch round baking pans. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

For frosting, in a small bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar and extract; beat until smooth.

Place one cake layer on a serving plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting and sprinkle with 1/3 cup coconut. Repeat. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake; sprinkle with remaining coconut. Refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting. Store in the refrigerator.

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