My favorite poem about spring is In Just by e.e. cummings. Besides the freaky and slightly scary little lame balloonman, this poem sums up everything I love about spring. Are you familiar with it? Here it is as quoted from Poetry.org:
By E. E. Cummings
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
whistles far and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
when the world is puddle-wonderful
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
Yeah, I told you the balloonman was a little freaky. But that aside, just reading this poem reminds me of the smell of spring mud and light breezes. It transports me back to my childhood and that great feeling I used to get playing outside on those first magnificent warm sunny days of spring, of jumping in mud puddles, and of birds singing and bees buzzing.
Yup, spring is here and it has been S-P-E-C-T-A-C-U-L-A-R! We’ve spent the better part of the past two weeks outside inhaling as much spring as we can get our lungs around. After a long and particularly cold and snowy winter we are reveling in it. You too?
Of course between Easter, Mother’s Day and the Twin’s birthday celebration, there’s a lot of time to cook for a crowd this spring. We’ve been doing our share of that too. All this nice weather has us working up appetites for grilled food and spring fare. With Mother’s day this weekend, I thought I’d share the whole menu for a spring feast. This feast was our Easter dinner this year, but I saved it because I thought it would make a wonderful Mother’s day meal too.
The bulgur pilaf is my own recipe. If your not familiar with bulgur then your are missing out. You may remember my recipe for whole pumpkin stuffed with lamb and bulgur. This recipe is a basic pilaf that goes with anything. You can build onto the flavors here to customize this pilaf in the same way you might for a rice pilaf. Add saffron for a more middle-eastern flavor or oregano, rosemary and thyme for a more Mediterranean flavor. We eat this with chicken, lamb and fish; its just plain tasty.
The rest of the menu is from various places. The absolutely fantastic Leg of Lamb with Herbs and Mustard recipe is from Cooking Light and is some of the best lamb I’ve ever had. The only changes I made to the recipe were to use whole bay leaves instead of ground, a couple extra cloves of garlic and whole grain mustard instead of traditional Dijon. With the lamb and bulgur pilaf, I also served simple steamed green beans topped with sauteed mushrooms.
Another amazing recipe was the dessert. Glissade Chocolate Pudding from 101 Cookbooks isn’t typical chocolate pudding. On the chocolate dessert spectrum it falls somewhere between chocolate pudding and chocolate mousse, but it is all delicious! My mother-in-law discovered this recipe for Passover, and we’ve enjoyed it several times since then. If you are a chocolate fan you are going to be all over this. Make this exactly by the recipe. Don’t make one single change. The importance of the quality of the ingredients cannot be understated here; there are so few ingredients that there is nowhere to hide. Have lots of fresh real whipped cream on hand to gild the chocolate lily.
To make this meal as easy as possible, I’ve included a timeline for preparing the meal. The timeline can be found below the bulgur pilaf recipe. Happy Mother’s Day to all the other mom’s out there and happy spring to everyone! Enjoy!
Basic Bulgur Pilaf
I call this recipe “Basic” because it’s the perfect platform for all sorts of enhancements. You can get creative with this recipe by adding different ingredients. Add a pinch of saffron to the broth, or diced sauteed zucchini before serving.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
3 large cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon paprika
1 cup wheat bulgur
2 cups chicken, beef or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent and soft, about 7 minutes.
Add the garlic, tomato paste, paprika, salt and pepper and cook for another minute.
Add the bulgur and stir until the grains are coated in the onion and tomato paste.
Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the bulgar rest for ten minutes. Fluff the pilaf with a fork and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Garnish the pilaf with the parsley and toasted pine nuts before serving.
A Spring Celebration Menu
Steamed Green Beans with Sauteed Mushrooms
Glissade Chocolate Pudding (101 Cookbooks) with Whipped Cream
Up to one day ahead:
- Prepare bulgur pilaf (without garnish), refrigerate when cool.
- Blanch and shock green beans.
- Make Glissade Chocolate Pudding
Night before: trim lamb, tie and spread with mustard marinade.
2 hours before service:
- Prepare lamb for oven by placing on broiler rack with rosemary. Pre-heat oven.
- Whip cream for dessert. Refrigerate.
1 1/2 hours before service:
- Place lamb in oven to cook. Test temp after 40 minutes.
- Saute Mushrooms
1/2 hour before service:
- Remove lamb from roasting pan (I cooked to 130 not the 145 suggested in the recipe), but keep covered to continue to rest. Discard rosemary and remove potatoes (if using). Make sauce for lamb (keep sauce warm in oven).
- Reheat green beans and top with mushrooms (keep warm in oven)
- Reheat bulgur pilaf (keep warm in oven)
- Toast pine nuts and chop parsley
Right before service:
- Slice lamb
- Garnish Bulgur Pilaf with pine nuts and parsley