Emeril's Easter Feast

Springtime Mushroom and Green Pea Soup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup finely diced smoked ham

1 cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped carrots

½ pound quartered button mushrooms

2 teaspoons minced garlic

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 cups chicken stock or low sodium canned chicken broth

2 sprigs fresh thyme

¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup frozen green peas

¼ cup heavy cream

In a Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the butter and oil over medium high heat until hot. Add the ham and cook, stirring, until caramelized, about 3 minutes. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until mushrooms have released their liquid and are golden brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, thyme, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat so that the soup just simmers and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Stir in the peas and heavy cream, let sit for 5 minutes, then remove the thyme stems and serve ladled into hot bowls.

Yield: About 1½ quarts

Seared Petite Lamb Chops With Rosemary Balsamic Reduction Sauce

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley leaves

1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves

2 teaspoons minced garlic

kosher salt

8 (4-ounce) double lamb rib chops (2 ribs) with bones attached, ribs frenched

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

2 tablespoons minced shallots

6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth

1 large or 2 small rosemary sprigs

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, parsley, rosemary and 1 teaspoon of the minced garlic. Season with salt to taste and set aside. Set a 12-inch oven-safe sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season the lamb chops liberally on all sides with the kosher salt and black pepper. Add 2 teaspoons of the oil to the sauté pan and place the lamb, fat side down, in the pan. Sear the lamb until the fat has rendered and the skin is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook the lamb, turning to cook evenly on each side, about 2 minutes on each side. Baste them with the herb and oil mixture. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook until the lamb has reached the desired degree of doneness, about 5 minutes for rare. (Alternatively, you can grill the lamb chops.)

Make the balsamic reduction sauce while the lamb is roasting in the oven: Set a 10 inch sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the shallots to the pan and sweat until translucent, about 1 minute. Add the remaining teaspoon of garlic to the pan and "sweat" for 30 seconds. Add the balsamic vinegar and rosemary sprigs to the pan and cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Add the chicken stock to the pan and continue to cook until sauce has reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat, remove the rosemary sprigs and swirl the butter into the pan. Keep sauce warm until ready to serve, but take care not to allow sauce to boil or it will separate.

When the lamb has reached the desired degree of doneness, remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. To serve, slice each double chop in half, and drizzle with the balsamic reduction sauce. Serve with the Pan Roasted Herbed Fingerling Potatoes and the Oven Roasted Asparagus.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Pan Roasted Herbed Fingerling Potatoes

12 fingerling potatoes, scrubbed clean

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool under cold running water. Once cool enough to handle, place the potatoes on a cutting board and slice in half lengthwise. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper. Heat a 12-inch sauté pan with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Place the potatoes, cut side down, in the pan and cook until browned and crispy, about 3 minutes. Turn potatoes to the other side and add the sage, rosemary and thyme. Cook for another 3 minutes, until crispy on the second side. Toss the potatoes to evenly distribute the herbs and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve hot.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Oven Roasted Pencil Asparagus

2 pounds pencil asparagus, woody ends trimmed, rinsed and patted dry

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss the asparagus with the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Transfer to a large baking sheet with low sides and drizzle the lemon juice over the asparagus. Place pan in the oven and roast until the asparagus are tender and beginning to caramelize around the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve either hot or at room temperature.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake With Fresh Berry Sauce

1½ cups graham cracker crumbs

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 6 tablespoons melted butter

1½ pounds cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

5 large eggs

zest of 1 lemon

¾ pound ricotta cheese

1 recipe Fresh Berry Sauce, for serving, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix together the crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add the butter and mix well. Using the back of a spoon, press evenly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan. Bake until golden, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool before filling.

In a cake mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream the cream cheese and sugar on low speed until well incorporated, smooth and light, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and lemon zest and continue to beat until well incorporated, scraping down the sides as necessary. Slowly add the ricotta cheese to the batter and mix until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the middle of the oven until starting to set, about 45 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F and cook for another 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven. Using a thin sharp knife, run the blade along the inside of the cake pan to loosen the sides. Loosen the outer ring, and let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack. Once the cheesecake is cooled to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Remove the cake from the refrigerator, and let come to room temperature before serving. Slice the cake and serve on dessert plates, with a spoonful of the Fresh Berry Sauce drizzled over all.

Yield: 1 9-inch cheesecake, 12 to 16 servings

Fresh Berry Sauce

1 quart (1½ pounds) fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

2 cups (3/4 pound) fresh blueberries

1 cups (6 ounces) fresh raspberries

1 cups (6 ounces) fresh blackberries

1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint

1 cup Champagne or sparkling wine

½ cup sugar

Pinch of salt

½ vanilla bean, scraped

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1½ teaspoons fresh lemon zest

Combine the berries and mint in a large bowl.

Combine the Champagne, sugar, salt and vanilla bean in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is syrupy, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until just warm. Remove the vanilla bean. Add the lemon juice and zest and stir to combine. Pour the syrup over the berries and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve sauce spooned over the Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake.

Makes about 2 quarts, 12 to 16 servings