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Time for Easter Classics


Ireland Hopping / By Margaret M. Johnson

Unlike other holidays with a fixed date, Easter takes place on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox (always March 21) – or any Sunday between March 22 and April 25 each year. And while the date changes annually, the menu for Easter Sunday dinner is generally rooted in the classics: baked ham (or lamb, if you prefer), a fresh spring vegetable, and something chocolate to finish. What’s not to like! You’ll find these and other springtime recipes in “SPRING, An T-Earrach,” in Favorite Flavors of Ireland. You can order signed copies at www.irishcook.com

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SERVES 14 to 16

Most cooks like the convenience of a fully cooked smoked ham, especially spiral-sliced, so this recipe (and the glaze variation that follows) is hard to beat. Serve it with oven-roasted asparagus and carrot and turnip purée (recipes follow).

7 to 8 pound spiral-sliced smoked ham, bone-in

1 cup honey

1 (6 ounce) can orange juice concentrate (thawed)

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup apricot jam

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place ham on a rack in a shallow baking pan; cover pan tightly with foil.

  2. Combine honey, orange juice, soy sauce, jam, nutmeg, and cloves in a medium bowl. After roasting ham for 30 minutes, pour sauce over and continue to roast, basting frequently with sauce, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion (not touching bone) registers 140° F (about 15 minutes per pound).

  3. Remove ham from oven and let rest for at least 30 minutes; slice and serve.



SERVES 10 to 12

3 pounds fresh asparagus

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning

Sea salt

  1. Raise oven temperature to 400° F. Remove and discard woody stems from asparagus. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with lemon pepper and salt. Roast for about 25 minutes, or until tender.


SERVES 10 to 12

2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into pieces

2 pounds turnips or rutabagas, peeled and cut into pieces

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Chopped fresh chives, for garnish

  1. Cook carrots and turnips in salted boiling water for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tender. Drain and mash.

  2. Transfer to a food processor. Add sour cream, ginger, and butter and process for 15 to 20 seconds, or until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with chives.


SERVES 14 to 16

1 1/2 cups crushed digestive biscuits or graham crackers

2 tablespoons butter, melted

3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted

1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur

3 large eggs, beaten

Fresh berries, for serving

Mint leaves, for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 325° F.

  2. In a medium bowl, combine crumbs and butter. Press onto bottom of a 9-inch springform pan; bake for 10 minutes.

  3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until blended. Add chocolate and Irish cream; mix again. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition on low speed; pour over crust.

  4. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until center is almost set. Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack; let cool for 20 minutes. Run knife around the rim to loosen and let cool completely before removing the side of the pan. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Slice and serve with berries and garnish with mint..

Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page now includes “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, including how to order her cookbooks, visit www.irishcook.com.