Carrot Soufflé and Yogurt-Marinated Leg of Lamb With Cardamom and Orange

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate. --Julia Child

Chris and I didn't have any plans for the weekend, but somehow we ended up hosting a lovely, last-minute get together with friends for Easter Sunday.

I think the fact that our new dining table arrived on Saturday put us in the mood to start entertaining again -- even if we don't have proper chairs yet and won't have a sofa for 12 weeks.  (Ah, the joys of moving/buying new furniture!)  

Our friends were taking care of the ham and deviled eggs, so I decided to do a roast lamb.  I had seen a great recipe in the New York Times from one of my favorite food writers -- Mark Bittman, so I decided to buy a leg of lamb and try it out.  And, since it was Easter, and all things bunny, I thought a carrot soufflé would be a nice accompaniment to both the ham and the lamb.  

Both dishes were relatively easy to make -- with minimal effort and outstanding results!  The lamb was moist and flavorful, and the varying thickness of the leg offered rare, medium-rare, and medium-well done pieces of meat, so there was something for everyone. The soufflé was creamy, fluffy, and pudding-like, with a hint of sweet and a touch of spice.  Yum.  

At the last minute (literally), I decided to make some couscous with ground coriander, garlic, butter, parsley and raisins (just toss the raisins in with the boiling water and they will plum up) and also steamed some asparagus and drizzled it with walnut oil and a sherry vinegar glaze.  My mom sent us some homemade rolls, so those were added to the menu as well. (Thanks, Mom!) The ham was terrific, too, by the way (it had roasted for 6 hours!) and I think I ate at least 4 deviled eggs before I even sat down to the table...what a nice table, it was, too!  ;)

Carrot Soufflé

2 pounds carrots, peeled
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tsp each of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg
1/3 teaspoon of orange zest (optional)
3 eggs, beaten
Brown sugar and cinnamon (for topping) 

To Do:
  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees
  • Lay carrots on a roasting pan with a bit of water in the bottom of it and roast in the oven for 20 minutes until they start to bubble and soften, then remove from oven and chop coarsely.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add carrots and cook until very tender, about 5-10 minutes. Drain.
  • Place carrots and the butter in food processor and process until smooth (no chunks!).
  • Add the sugars, flour, baking powder, vanilla and spices and pulse until mixed.
  • Add in the eggs one at a time and process until incorporated and batter is smooth.
  • Pour into a casserole dish (or into ramekins for individual servings).
  • Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon and bake for about 45-60 minutes, until it has puffed and browned.
  • Serve immediately, or reheat before serving so it puffs back up.
  • Enjoy!

The recipe for Mark Bittman's Yogurt-Marinated Leg of Lamb With Cardamom and Orange can be found here.  But, basically, it involves removing excess fat from a 5-7 pound leg of lamb/shank (the fat is what gives it a strong mutton-y odor/flavor) then marinating it at room temperature for about an hour with whole milk yogurt, orange zest, chopped mint, salt, pepper and the star of the show: freshly ground cardamom.  The recipe doesn't say how to ground cardamom (I had the whole pods), so I just did the obvious. I cracked the pods open with the back of a wooden spoon then separated the seeds from the pods. 

Then, for added flavor, I toasted them for a few minutes on the stove and then ground them into a powder using my mortar and pestle (on a side note, my pestle went missing soon after and I have yet to find it...).  The smell of fresh ground cardamom makes me swoon.  Lovely!  Now, imagine that on lamb. Terrific!!  

After the lamb marinated, I put it in a 425F degree oven for 30 minutes and then, since the meat was starting to brown a bit too quickly, I reduced the heat to 375F degrees and cooked for about another 45 minutes, until the thickest part of the meat registered in the 130F degrees mark.  I removed it from the oven, let it rest, then carved it up and served it with more freshly chopped mint.  Mark Bittman suggested serving it whit Harissa on the side, which is a lovely, spicy, red pepper paste/condiment.  I must say, the man knows what he's talking about. Divine.

Anyway, it was a lovely meal, with lovely people and a great way to christen our new table. Cheers!