Recipes for Easter and a menu for Passover – my @AlbertaatNoon column for April

Crown Rib Roast of Pork - photo - Karen Anderson
Crown Rib Roast of Pork – photo – Karen Anderson

It is both Passover and Easter this weekend. May everyone have a peaceful weekend and enjoy sharing the warmth of community and great food together.

I’m going to refer our Jewish friends looking for great recipes to this Saveur article with a beautiful Passover Menu (not something I’d want to get wrong). And for those that can enjoy pork and non-Kosher eating, I’ve got an Easter Refresh Menu for you.

Hamming it up at Easter is delicious but a little predictable. If you’d like to change things up try frying a few slices of ham steak for your Easter brunch – with a side of chocolate eggs fresh from the annual hunt – and enjoy this special occasion Crown Rib Roast of Pork for the big feast.

I’ve attended several Long Table Dinners over the last few years in Alberta and the Easter Menu that follows is inspired by the great tasting food I’ve been served.

Scallop and Saffron Chowder - photo - Karen Anderson
Scallop and Saffron Chowder – photo – Karen Anderson

First Course – Saffron and Scallop Chowder
People brave or lucky enough to be going to Canmore Uncorked’s outdoor long table dinner on April 17 will be happy to be welcomed by this warm and hearty chowder with its silky saffron broth and satisfying scallop umami.
I’ve adapted the recipe shared by Canmore’s Iron Goat Pub and Grill chef Adam Janisse to lighten it up a bit for the home cook. The original recipe had double the fat but I think the extra fat in chef Janisse’s original recipe will help keep his guests warm during their Rocky Mountain High supper.

Saffron and Scallop Chowder
Time: 30 – 40 minutes
Yield: 8 appetizer servings or 6 large dinner servings
Adapted from chef Adam Janisse’s recipe at The Iron Goat in Canmore, Alberta

3 lbs large wild caught scallops (about 6 – 8 per lb)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper for seasoning scallops
4 – 6 oz bacon strips cut in thin strips starting on the short side
1 ½ cups diced carrots
1 ½ cups diced celery
1 ½ cups diced onion
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
½ teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme
2 (234 ml) bottle of Clam Nectar
2 cups Chicken Stock
2 cups water
4 large potatoes cut in bite-size pieces
Pinch saffron (about 20 threads)
1 can evaporated skim milk
1 cup half and half cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the scallops under cold water and then pat them dry with a paper towel. Leave 6 to 8 whole for garnish – see next step. Dice the rest and set aside.
Heat a large fry pan on medium heat and melt the butter.
Season 8 or 6 (depending on portion size desired) scallops with salt and pepper and place them in the fry pan with space between them so that they develop a brown crust and lift easily, turn and repeat. If the scallops are too close they’ll sweat out all their juices and you’ll end up with boiled rubbery pieces instead of caramelized ones. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Heat a soup pot on medium high heat and add the bacon pieces and cook till brown and firm but not crispy.
Add the carrots, celery, and onion and place a lid on the pot to allow the trapped moisture to help soften (sweat) the vegetables for a few moments.
Stir in the garlic, celery salt, and thyme and cook about a minute before adding the clam nectar, chicken stock and water.
Add the potatoes and saffron and bring to a boil and then cook until the potatoes are tender (but not mushy) when pierced with a fork.
Stir in the diced scallops, evaporated milk and cream and heat through.
Season with salt and pepper, ladle into bowls and garnish each bowl with a caramelized scallop and few sprigs of fresh thyme.

Chef Janisse likes to make the soup a day ahead so the flavours deepen in the fridge overnight.

Grapefruit and avocado salad with sesame accents - photo - Karen Anderson
Grapefruit and avocado salad with sesame accents – photo – Karen Anderson

Alternate starter – Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with sesame accents

6 – 8 cups of greens
2 pink grapefruit
1 avocado
½ red onion, diced
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons avocado oil (may substitute olive oil)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Spread the greens on a platter.
Use a paring knife to cut the top and bottom off the grapefruits and then remove the outer skin from the sides.
Slice into the grapefruit to remove the fleshy fruit in between each segment wall and do this over a bowl to save any juices that drip. Drop each segment into the bowl and continue till both grapefruits are done.
Arrange the grapefruit on the lettuce as desired.
Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, and cut each half in cubes and place on the salad as you desire.
Spread the diced onion and then the sesame seeds over the salad.
Drizzle the avocado oil and then the sesame oil on top and season with salt and pepper.

Main Course – Crown Rib Roast of Pork with fennel, apple, wild rice and sausage stuffing.

Apples are always a nice accent for pork - photo - Karen Anderson
Apples are always a nice accent for pork – photo – Karen Anderson

Crown Rib Roast of Pork
Time: 2 hours
Marinate: 30 – 60 minutes previous
Yield – Crown rib roasts are often quite large by virtue of their structure and the butcher needing to tie a rack of ribs into a circle shape. They are an inexpensive alternative to beef and will feed 10 – 12 people easily.

5 – 7 lb rib roast of pork
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon dried sage
1 Tablespoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Set the roast on a rack in a roasting pan, mix the olive oil, sage, and thyme in a bowl and then rub it all over the roast and allow it to marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour.
Season the outside with salt and pepper (stuff with stuffing if you are going to) and place in the hot oven at 400°F for 20 minutes and then lower the heat to 325°F and cook until a meat thermometer reads 160°F when inserted in the center.
Remove the roast from the oven, tent the roast with foil and let the roast slowly cool down and reabsorb it juices as you prepare the rest of your dinner.

Easter Dinner Refresh - photo - Karen Anderson
Easter Dinner Refresh – photo – Karen Anderson

Wild rice, sausage, and apple stuffing
Time: 1 hour
Yield: 10 – 12 servings (may freeze half for a future meal)

1 ½ cups wild rice
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
2 teaspoons of fennel seeds
1 lb of sweet Italian sausage
2 Tablespoons butter
1 diced onion
1 diced bulb of fennel (about 2 cups)(reserve the tops and fronds for decorating your serving platter)
3 diced apples with skins left on
Salt and pepper to taste

Put rice, stock, water and fennel seeds in a pot, bring to a boil on high heat then lower heat and simmer for 45 – 60 minutes or until the rice is tender but not mushy.
Heat a frying pan on medium heat, take the sausage meat out of its casings and break it up as it fries. When the meat is brown, add it to a food processor and pulse until it is finely ground.
Add the butter to the sausage skillet and stir in the onion and diced fennel, cover and cook on medium until the vegetables are soft, add the apples and cook a few minutes more.
Return the sausage to this mixture, season with salt and pepper to taste, pack some of the stuffing into the middle of the roast and cook the rest in a covered casserole at 350°F for 20 – 30 minutes.
Enjoy with some mashed potatoes – I cooked mine with 3 cloves of garlic and then I mashed them with the potato water and added one chopped leek that had been sautéed in two tablespoons of butter – and your favourite vegetable.

Orange Kissed Chocolate Roll - photo - Karen Anderson
Orange Kissed Chocolate Roll – photo – Karen Anderson

Dessert – Orange Kissed Chocolate Roll
500 mlx whipping cream
2 Tablespoons icing sugar
¼ teaspoon orange oil extract
1 package Marie Biscuits (or may substitute chocolate wafer cookies)
Zest of 1 navel orange
6 ounces grated milk or dark chocolate

Whip the cream and as peaks start to form add the icing sugar and orange oil extract and continue beating until distributed.
Place a large piece of foil on the counter.
Remove the biscuits from the package, ice the top of one and set it down whip cream side up and sprinkle with a bit of grated chocolate.
Continue to do this making small stacks until all the cookies are used then turn the stacks on their sides and connect them. You should have used about half the whip cream – reserve the rest in a covered container in the fridge overnight.
Wrap the foil around the cookie log and store in the fridge overnight or at least eight hours.
Remove the log from the foil up to two hours before serving and ice the outside with the reserved whip cream.
Decorate with the zest of the orange and more of the grated chocolate (or little chocolate Easter eggs for fun).
Enjoy by slicing on a diagonal to reveal a more interesting pattern for the biscuits inside.

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