Today is Holy Thursday, another important day in the Easter week which commenced on Palm Sunday. Tomorrow is the sombre Good Friday when we reflect upon Christ's crucifixion — His ultimate sacrifice to save souls. In Jamaica, it is a long holiday weekend. Many flock to church on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. On Good Friday, some Christian denominations fast for a half- or a full-day and break it with a simple yet delicious repast of traditional fried fish. Easter Sunday tends to feature more elaborate lunches with a roast bird, lamb or ham, and many side dishes. Dessert usually takes the form of bun and cheese or cake and ice cream.
You can be totally non-traditional and use Easter recipes from other countries or whatever strikes your fancy. Even though I love seasonal foods, I must confess that there have been some years where I have craved something different when ennui has set in. Writing around these seasons each year inevitably leads to repetition, so it's with trepidation that I approach writing about Easter, Christmas or Independence — for what else can I say that I haven't already said? I really appreciated the Easter bun recipes last week from some of Jamaica's top chefs who thought outside of the box in the Jamaica Observer Easter Cookbook.
Vegetarians, you can prepare a full-on elegant Easter spread. Some ideas include a vegetarian pie with gorgeous local vegetables encased in a creamy or spicy sauce layered with a flaky and buttery puff pastry topping, gourmet vegetarian individual pizzas with salad on the side, a stunning rice dish such as a pilaf mixed with some wild rice for contrast or dried fruits and seeds for added texture, or a whole grain dish such as couscous or quinoa. You could also try roasted stuffed pumpkin with beans, a sophisticated pasta dish with mixed mushrooms, a hearty lentil stew with exotic spices, a nut roast, and raw food side dishes. The choices are endless for vegetarians using seasonal vegetables.
Singletons who don't have families to spend Easter with should gather together other individuals in similar situations and organise a potluck. There is an Italian saying I recently came across from an Italian food blog I follow: "Natale con I Tuoi, Paqua con Chi Vuoi", which translates to English as Christmas with your family and Easter with whom you please; so there is no excuse to be lonely unless you are purposely seeking solitude. I know some people who dread holiday weekends because they are solo. Therefore, if you know someone who lives alone and can do with some extra company, invite them over.
Last but certainly not least, you can always go to the beach or one of those other street food places and not cook at all, since they tend to be open if more established restaurants are closed for business. If you are feeling extra lazy, fast-food joints are always an option because they never close, but I still would prefer that you have home-cooked food! Whatever your choice, I hope you have a wonderful Easter holiday with people who mean a lot to you.
Thyme and Chilli Marinated Feta Cubes
This is a simple and tasty appetiser to serve guests with crusty bread. The woodiness of thyme and spices complement the salty cheese. You can finish off with a little freshly cracked black pepper if you wish.
1 standard block of Feta, cut into cubes
1 fresh sprig of thyme, leaves stripped
1 fresh sprig of oregano, leaves roughly cut or 1/2 tsp dried zest and juice of 1 lime
1 chilli or hot pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
Extra virgin olive oil
In a bowl add cubes of feta, thyme, oregano, zest and juice of 1 lime, hot pepper and coriander seeds Pour over enough olive oil to cover, and toss cubes to be evenly coated. Marinate for at least 24 hours (or longer).
JuicyChef’s Easter Lamb Chops with Garlic, Rosemary and Pimento
I’ve been so exhausted of late that to be honest, I don’t see myself slaving over the stove this Easter, but I do want my lamb! So in order to get my lamb fix, I will prepare some lamb chops instead.
2 medium-sized lamb chops per person
Fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves stripped and roughly chopped
Pimento, crushed, to taste
Salt, to taste
In a large bowl add crushed garlic, rosemary, pimento, salt and olive oil together and make a paste. Rub mixture all over lamb chops and marinate for a few hours or overnight. Grill until medium rare to medium or to your preferred doneness.
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Wishing you and your loved ones a peaceful and holy Easter.