Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spring & Easter 2012: Bone Marrow Tacos

Easter Flowers and Marrow Tacos
So I've been MIA.  No big excuse, just life going along with a million things to do.  Roman turns 3 in just a few days!  We've got his party coming up and my mom and stepdad arrive tonight for a week-long visit.  Add to that the impending move to Denver, random scattered family birthdays / my watercoloring and my new addiction to Prison Break and there is precious little time left to blog.  No big deal, though, as the lull in activity has left me with more than enough food for sharing, albeit a little late.

So, Easter (yes, I am that behind). We got to host a few family members at our house for Easter this year, which was really exciting as it's really the first time we've gotten to do that, well, ever.  I decided to plan a full-on Greek Easter Menu and had lots of fun doing it.  I used my Greek cookbook go-to The Foods of Greece by Aglaia Kremezi as well as her Greek menu posted on from several years ago.  Then I got so into her food that I also ordered her other book The Foods of the Greek Islands.  The menu came out to be perfect for a group of 5 adults and one child.  It also really took me back to my Grecian adventures throughout the years, and I always appreciate revisiting those if only in nostalgic flash-backs.  In the making of said Greek foods I also made some delicious marrow tacos.  I know, most of you non-marrow-eating-freaks probably think I'm a freak for eating it.  Too bad.  Your loss. :)

Here's the menu in list form.

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Brenda's Nearly-Ideal Greek-Inspired Easter Menu

because Easter just feels Greek to me 

This soup is not for the faint-hearted.  I love offal and this is particular soup has an "offal" lot of it (boom-boom-crash!). :)  The swirling in of the egg-lemon (avgo-lemono) sauce at the end makes the broth so fresh and delicious, as do the fresh herbs.  Oh and I definitely recommend adding the rice.  Such a great starter.

I've made this stuffed leg of lamb for Easter two or three times now and it has converted several non-lamb-eaters.  It is so freaking good and so fail-safe.  Even Matt's Gramma, who was concerned about her salt and fat intake was so happy with it because of the inclusion of dandelion greens.  Very little prep work to do with it and it's quite impressive looking.

Actually, I used Cat Cora's recipe and modified with Oregano instead of Thyme (Church-Style Roasted Potatoes), but this recipe is equally good.  I also steamed some green beans and tossed those in with the potatoes at the last minute in a cast-iron skillet.
I used baby russets and peeled them for that extra finesse.  Delicious.
This was so much fun to make!  The sweet-dough recipe from Bon Appetit is amazing and can be applied and used in so many ways.  Plus, the bread is a real eye-catcher with the whole eggs in it.  Mine were all very bright color which made it a great centerpiece as well.
My next recipe to try with this dough is this amazing Cherry-Almond Focaccia! I'll have to wait until fresh-cherries are in season.

Fresh Cheese & Honey Tart from Santorini served with macerated strawberries and basil
This is a light version of a cheesecake with a really interesting crust made with beer, oil and flour.  Very nice spring-time dessert and it paired perfectly with the basil strawberries. :)

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Also in preparation for Easter, Roman and I kept busy making special Easter treats for
everyone.  In the spirit of Mexican confetti eggs, I cut a hole in and blew out a dozen eggs,
little hands filling
little eggs 

dyed them and then filled them with goodies (with Roman's help).  We used nuts, dried
fruits, small chocolates and some jelly beans so that the eggs had a slightly more adult feel.  I then served them as a little after-dinner-but-before-dessert treat.  They were so much fun to crush open - like little mini pinatas. :)

Overall, it was a wonderful celebration, full of good food, laughter and a fair-share of sugar-meltdowns thanks to the Easter Bunny.  We took a walk on the beach at the Eastern Promenade after eating and then came home for dessert - Gramma brought her Italian Ricotta cheesecake, which is one of my favorite desserts so I was very happy.  I was left with a certainty that I'd made the right choice in creating a Greek-inspired menu as it was very different (and yet semi-familiar) for Matt's Italian family, and also provided everyone with a talking point.  Here's my freaky little recipe for you to share in some of the Easter goodness.

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Marrow Tacos

Serves 3-4

One of the things on the menu that took a little more work than anticipated was the Magiritsa - a Greek Easter Soup traditionally served on the Saturday night before Easter.  It is a light stock flavored with the offal of the lamb and Avgo-Lemono Sauce, one of my all-time favorite Greek things.  The original recipe called for Lamb neck, liver, tripe & even head.  Wouldn't you know it, after calling 3 different butchers I was basically laughed at for thinking that anybody would have / keep or even want those pieces of meat.  Whole Foods was able to supply me with lamb leg bones and a lamb neck.  I got beef liver, and couldn't find tripe, so that had to do. 

One of the beauty of leg bones is the wonderful marrow they have inside.  Growing up it was one of my favorite parts of eating soups and stews like Mole de Olla - having a marrow taco.  You quickly toast a corn tortillas, squirt and spread lime juice all over one side, spread the little delicious nugget of marrow on it and then sprinkle with salt and devour.  So delicious, so simple and so nutritious (although, marrow is a little fatty).  Mmmmmm.  Such a commonly wasted delicacy!

So as I made the stock for the Magiritsa, I took the marrow out to include in the soup itself, but saved a couple of choice bits for myself for some pre-Easter marrow tacos.  So delicious.  Try them out. :)

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4 large Lamb or Beef Marrow Bones
6-8 corn tortillas
1 lime, halved
salt & pepper to taste

1. You can roast the marrow but I usually just boil it to get a stock out of the deal at the same time.  Then you can make soup AND tacos :)  Boil until the marrow looks opaque.  Then lift the bones with tongs and using a chopstick or the back side of a fork, pull the marrow out, attempting to keep it in large chunks.

2. Toast your corn tortillas on a comal or directly on the flame of a gas stove.  Don't leave them so long that they turn into tostadas, but I like some charred bits on mine.

3. Take a lime half, squeeze over the tortilla as you cup it in your hand, and spread using the lime.  Add some marrow and spread.  Salt and pepper as needed.  Eat while still hot!

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