Greetings, my fellow port swillers! (Those of you who get the “Hee-Haw” riff in the title may give yourselves a star.)

Ol’ Robbo is very pleased to report that his Easter Dins turned out absolutely fabulous.

I don’t do this to toot my own horn. I’m still a rank amateur with a very modest range, but I’ve discovered a real delight in cooking. Part of it is simply being able to eat tasty meals. Part of it is the reward of seeing others really enjoy my efforts: (All the gels were home, and we were joined by Middle Gel’s Young Man. (More on that later.) They all pitched in with a whoop and a holler and there were very, very few leftovers.) Part of it is the pure logistical challenge of working out multiple dishes in very modest facilities. (Consider yourselves lucky, by the bye, because Ol’ Robbo wrote and deleted here a long rant about the phoniness of Dream Kitchens and the Beautiful People who own them.)

Anyhoo, because I’m a giver, allow me to cut right to the chase and offer up the recipes. (I apologize in advance if this post goes a bit long but WordPress, in its infinite wisdom, seems to have eliminated the “below-the-fold” feature.)

Cracked Pepper and Herb Rack of Lamb

Ingredients: 1 frenched rack of lamb; 2 TBSP cracked black pepper (more to taste); 2 TBSP chopped rosemary; 1 TSP kosher salt (more to taste); 3 TBSP olive oil; 1 TBSP minced garlic. (I doubled the recipe without a problem.)

Cooking: Blend pepper, salt, rosemary, garlic, and olive oil. Rub lamb thoroughly on both sides. Place in plastic bag or other container and let marinade. (Overnight in fridge is best). Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Set pan on stove-top at medium heat. Place lamb in pan, fat side down, and sear for 3 to 5 minutes. Flip lamb over and place pan in oven. Roast for 25-30 minutes. (This seemed a bit long to me, but believe it. I took mine out after 20 minutes and it was very rare inside.)

Marinated White Beans

Ingredients: 1/3 cup olive oil; zest of one lemon; juice of one lemon; 1 medium shallot, diced; 1 clove garlic, grated or minced; 1/2 TSP kosher salt; freshly-ground black pepper to taste; 2 15-ounce cans of canellini beans; 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley; 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano.

Cooking: (Do this the day before.) Thoroughly rinse beans and give them a good shake to remove water. Combine olive oil, lemon zest and juice, shallot, garlic, salt, and pepper, whisk together. Add beans, parsley, and oregano. Mix thoroughly. Store overnight in fridge, allow to come to room temperature before serving.

“Portuguese” Mint Rice

Ingredients: 4 cups water; 1 TBSP butter; 1 TSP kosher salt; 1 cup long-grain white rice; 1/2 cup chopped mint leaves. (I did 1 1/2 the recipe without a problem.)

Cooking: Bring water, butter, and salt to boil in large saucepan. Add rice and cook uncovered at high boil for 7 minutes. Stir in mint and boil for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let steam for 3 minutes. It’ll come out mushier than the usual 20-minute simmered rice but don’t let that worry you. It’s wonderfully refreshing.

Standard Popovers

Ingredients: 1 cup flour; 1 cup milk; 3 eggs; 1 TBSP butter (melted); white pepper and salt to taste.

Cooking: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine ingredients in bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour into Pam’d or greased muffin tins, about 3/4 full in each cup. (The recipe makes 8 popovers.) Place in oven and cook at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook another 15 minutes. Don’t peak. You can do this first if you need the oven for other things and either place them on a warming rack or even serve at room temperature.

Steamed Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce

Ingredients: I bunch asparagus with woody bottoms trimmed off; 3 egg yolks; 1/4 cup of water; 2 TBSP lemon juice; 1 stick of butter in 8 pieces.

Cooking: Asparagus (do this last): Dampen four sheets of paper towel, squeeze out excess water, place in stack. Place asparagus in flat line on stacked paper towel. Sprinkle with salt. Roll paper towel over on itself with asparagus inside. Place in microwave and zap for 3 minutes. Sauce: Separate out yolks by slurping back and forth between eggshell halves until whites have dropped off. Whisk yolks, water, and lemon juice in small sauce pan until blended. Cook over low heat until it bubbles at the edges. Stir in pieces of butter one at a time until melted and sauce thickens. Add salt, pepper if you like. Serve immediately. (I’ve made this many times and it usually works out fine. I tried to double the recipe here and for some reason it never thickened up but remained soupy. Dunno why. It tasted fine but tended to run all over things.)

So there you have it, a menu full of easy-to-prepare but delicious dishes. And if you’re concerned about horses and barn doors, just remember that Easter is not a single day, but an Octave. Every day this week is Easter Day, so if you want to tie this meal to the holiday and don’t want to wait until next year you’ve still got plenty of opportunities now to try it out. Enjoy!