In Italy, the church bells stop ringing on Holy Thursday and Good Friday to remember the death of Jesus on the cross. Then on Easter Sunday morning, the church bells ring out once again, telling people that Jesus has risen. Italian children wake up on Easter morning and find eggs scattered in their rooms. Eggs, rabbits, and young animals are thought to represent re-birth and fertility in the spring. Easter is considered the most important religious event of the year in Italy, even shadowing over Christmas in its religious and cultural importance.
|Lauren (my niece) at Egg Hunt|
In my family we always had an Easter egg hunt for the small children. I recall back, taking those plastic colored eggs and filling them with some change plus candy or chocolate eggs. Then we would go outside in my parent’s yard and hide them. My nieces, nephews, and my son would all go out and see who could find the most. It was so funny to watch the really small children find the eggs; they would get so excited when they found one.
Throughout the world the most popular Easter symbol is the lamb. The reference to the lamb in Christianity goes back to the book of Genesis, from the Bible. In past centuries it was considered a lucky omen to meet a lamb, especially at Easter time.
|Butter in shape of lamb|
In the 7th century the Benedictine monks wrote a prayer for the blessing of lambs. Little figures of the lamb are made of butter, pastry, cakes, or chocolate have been substituted for the meat, forming Easter table centerpieces. Many Easter Sundays, I can remember my mom cooking lamb for dinner along with our Italian traditional dishes.
Christians consider eggs to be “the seed of life” and so they are symbolic of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter eggs are colored and decorated to represent the sunlight of spring. Different cultures have developed their own ways of decorating Easter eggs. The most celebrated workshops are Faberge. They created exquisite jeweled Easter eggs for the Russian Imperial Court, and they are still the most sought after eggs in the world.
My recipe this week is called “Baked Fresh Ham with Port Wine.” My brother found this recipe in the New York Times, many years ago and thought my mother would like to prepare this as our Easter Sunday Dinner one year. And I must say it was delicious. Between the ham, wine, rosemary, and sage, the aromas were incredible as well as the taste. This dish can be prepared for any day or any occasion.
1 12-to-14-pound fresh ham, unsmoked
3 large garlic cloves cut into 12 slices
1 tablespoon crumbled leaf of rosemary
1 tablespoon crumbled sage
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 medium-size onions, peeled
1/2 cup port wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups water, if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 375°F Place the ham, skin side up, on a flat surface and, using the tip of a very sharp knife, make 1/4-inch-deep gashes, from the butt end to the shank end, cutting through the skin at 1-inch intervals. Insert a sliver of garlic into each gash. In a small mixing bowl, blend well the rosemary, sage, salt and pepper and rub the mixture on the ham. Place the ham, flat side up, in a large baking dish or roasting pan and place in oven. Bake, basting occasionally, for 2 1/2 hours. Remove all the fat from the roasting pan and add the onions. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and cover with aluminum foil. Continue baking and basting for an additional 30 minutes. Remove the fat from the pan. In a small mixing bowl, blend the wine, chicken stock and tomato paste. Add to the ham in the roasting pan. Re-cover ham with foil and continue baking for 1 1/2 hours or until the ham is thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F degrees. If the liquid is reduced too much, add 1 or 2 cups of water. Remove the ham from the roasting pan. Tilt the pan and using the spoon, skim off the fat and return the ham to the pan. Cover with foil and let the ham rest for at least 20 minutes before carving. Serve the ham sliced with the pan gravy spooned over. Yield: 12-20 people
My other recipe this week is called “Bunny Buns” by Rhodes Bake and Serve Rolls. This is an easy recipe and the children can help make these little delicious warm rolls for your Easter table.
12 Rhodes Dinner Rolls, thawed but still cold
Cut a small piece off of one roll for a tail. Roll remaining piece into a 12-inch rope with pointed ends. Twist top of rope together. Place on a large sprayed baking sheet and pull pointed ends apart for ears. Roll small cut off piece into a ball for the tail. Make an indentation with your finger at the spot for the tail. Moisten the tail with water and place in the indentation. Repeat the above steps with remaining rolls. Cover with sprayed plastic wrap and allow to rise 30-45 minutes. Remove wrap and bake at 350° F 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy with butter for your Easter Dinner. Serves: 6
Till Next Time…………………..
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