Malibu Beach Recovery Diet™: Easter Favorites
Easter is here! And whether it is for you one of the most important religious holidays, or just the fleeting glance into spring renewal, it is accompanied by a multitude of signs everywhere around: buds are coming to life, birds are nesting and singing with their most cheerful tones, and the farmer’s market is abundant in fragrant and exciting produce.
I remember Easter as being one of my mom’s favorite cooking holidays because, unlike Thanksgiving and Christmas, timing was on her side as far as greens were concerned. You can bake extravagant frittatas, full of seasonal vegetables, salads and baby greens are at their best and the first berries are still exciting to our palate after the restrictions of winter. In the Polish and Russian culture, the feast of Easter is represented by a heavy consumption of eggs and lamb, both symbols of renewal.
The first course that I have chosen is a gorgeous salad of green peas with radishes and eggs. Take care of hard-boiling the eggs as indicated and they will be perfectly cooked with a creamy yolk and smooth white. I always make an extra batch to have on the go when I have a snack-attack. The bright green of the peas against the pink and white of the radishes make your eyes sing before the first bite. If you cannot find shelled fresh english peas (Trader Joe’s has those), use frozen but be careful not to overcook and keep your peas on the crunchy side. This salad can also be eaten as a meal in a larger plating if you have leftovers. Peas are a starchy vegetable that also contain a unique assortment of health-protective phytonutrients. One of these phytonutrients (coumestrol) has recently come to the forefront of research with respect to stomach cancer protection. Some researchers have now speculated that the association between green pea and legume intake and lowered risk of type 2 diabetes may be connected not only with the relatively low glycemic index of green peas (about 45-50) and their strong fiber and protein content, but also with this unusual combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.
Certain people shy away from eating lamb because the taste of it is a little too gamey for them. One of the reasons that I love cooking lamb is that it is one of the most natural meats, chemical and hormone free, especially if you are careful to select lamb imported from Australia or New Zealand. It is tender and tasty and in the recipe that I would like to share with you, it loses a bit of its intensity. If I have failed to convince you, substitute organic beef. The stew is a variation of the French recipe for Navarin Printanier, which means Spring Stew. The long stewing process will ensure a fork tender meat along with a rich and satisfying broth. Serve with brown rice to sop up the juices and make extra for leftovers. This is one of those dishes that gets better the more you reheat it.
As a Grand Finale for your Easter meal (and for every other Sunday if you chose) I worked on a Shortbread recipe to adapt it to the Malibu Beach Recovery Diet. Fragrant and tender strawberries are appearing on the markets and if you can, select the smallest possible fruit, as they will be much more flavorful than the larger ones. I appreciate this recipe because it can be made in advance and assembled minutes before serving. Make sure your cream is whipped strongly so it can support the weight of the upper part of the Shortbread. If you prefer to use a mixture of blueberries and raspberries with the whipping cream, you have just created the perfect red, white and blue dessert for the Fourth of July. Believe me, once you taste how good the shortcake portion of this dessert is, you will invent way more reasons to serve it to your friends and family.
For the recipes, click below on “Continue Reading.”
Pea Salad with Eggs, Radishes and Feta Cheese
Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons agave
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 4 large hard-boiled eggs
- 4 cups fresh shelled peas (from about 4 pounds peas in pods) or 1 pound frozen petite peas
- 1 bunch radishes, trimmed, halved, sliced paper-thin
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)
- 3 cups microgreens
To make perfectly hard-boiled eggs, place the eggs in a large pan of cold water. The water should come to an inch above the top of the eggs. Heat the water to simmering. When the waters starts to simmer, remove the pan from the heat and cover. Leave the eggs in the hot water for 10 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon to a water bath to cool them down. After 5 minutes, remove the eggs and peel.
Whisk lime juice, agave, and cumin in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil; stir in dill. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature.
Cook peas in pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, about 5 minutes for fresh (or about 2 minutes for frozen). Drain; rinse under cold water, then drain well. Transfer to large bowl. Add radishes, feta, and dressing; toss. Season with salt and pepper. If using microgreens, divide among bowls. Divide salad among bowls. Top with quartered eggs. Serve.
Spring Lamb Stew
Makes 8 servings
Cooking time: 2 hours
Prep time: 20 minutes
- 2 1/2 pounds lean lamb stew meat (about 1-inch pieces preferably lamb shoulder)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
- 1 (14.5-oz.) can beef broth
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped sweet onion
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 small butternut squash (about 1 lb.), peeled, seeded, and chopped
- Brown Rice prepared according to package directions
- Garnish: fresh parsley sprigs, chopped
1. Rinse lamb stew meat, and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss in flour, shaking off excess.
2. Cook half of lamb in 2 Tbsp. hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until browned on all sides. Repeat procedure with remaining lamb and oil. Stir in tomato paste; cook 1 minute. Add broth, and stir to loosen particles from bottom of Dutch oven.
3. Stir in celery, onion, garlic and thyme. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
4. Add butternut squash and cook for an additional 1/2 hour to 45 minutes or until meat is fork-tender.
5. When ready to serve, place the meat and squash into serving dish. If the broth is too liquid, boil it down to reduce. If the broth is too thick, add a little broth to thin it. It should coat a spoon. Remove the sprigs of thyme and adjust seasoning if desired. Cover the meat with the sauce and sprinkle with chopped parsley on top. Serve over hot cooked brown rice.
Yield: 10 servings (serving size: 1 wedge)
- 4 cups sliced strawberries
- 1/8 cup agave syrup
- 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup agave syrup
- 2/3 cup fat-free buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Cooking spray
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 teaspoons agave syrup
- 2 cups whipped cream
- Whole strawberry (optional)
- To prepare strawberries, combine strawberries and agave; Combine and place in a plastic zip-lock bag. Leave on the counter so that strawberries mellow and start giving out their juice.
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- To prepare shortcake, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (flour through baking soda) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine buttermilk, agave and vanilla; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist (dough will be sticky).
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 4 times with floured hands. Pat dough into an 8-inch circle on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Brush top with egg white mixed with the agave.
- Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Carefully split shortcake in half horizontally using a serrated knife; cool layers separately on wire racks.
- Place bottom half of shortcake, cut side up, on a serving plate. Drain strawberries, reserving juice; drizzle juice over bottom half of shortcake. Spread 2 cups whipped cream over shortcake layer; arrange strawberries over whipped topping. Top with remaining shortcake layer, cut side down. Garnish with whipped topping and whole strawberry, if desired.