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What's Cooking? - Posted March 28, 2014 noon
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photos by Shannon Richardson

New Life, New Tradition

Easter is a day to celebrate renewal, so why observe it with the same tired old baked ham and deviled eggs you served last year? This spring, Mary Fuller of OHMS Café & Bar helps us update our Easter table with a more ambitious menu: savory grilled racks of lamb, roasted carrots, creamy risotto, and a delicious coconut macaroon cake topped with colorful berries. Freshen up your family tradition, surprise your Easter guests, and welcome springtime with something new.

recipes created by Mary Fuller, OHMS Café & Bar
location, china, and serving pieces courtesy of Marci Hand and Little Brown House
floral arrangements by Parie Donaldson, Parie Designs


Grilled Rack of Lamb
4 racks of lamb
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Slather lamb racks and chill for at least 30 minutes. Will keep in refrigerator for two days. Grill lamb at 350 degrees for 10 minutes on each side for medium rare. Spoon salsa on top of lamb and add a drizzle of chimichurri.

Makes 5 or 6 servings

Citrus Herb Salsa
½ tablespoon minced garlic
1 orange, zest only
1 lemon, zest and juice
2 tablespoons each of fresh rosemary, tarragon and parsley, rough chopped
½ cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients except olive oil, then whisk in oil and salt and pepper to taste. Let stand at room temperature.

Makes about ¾ cup


Chimichurri Rojo
1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
½ teaspoon garlic
¼ cup olive oil
In a blender, combine the first four ingredients, and then slowly add olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper; keep at room temperature.

Makes about ¾ cup


Roasted Carrots
1 pound carrots, tops trimmed and cut in half
3 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter

Blanch carrots in boiling water for 20 seconds, drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, sauté with butter until tender; season with salt and pepper.

Makes 5 or 6 servings


Risotto
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon minced shallots
½ cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon dried oregano
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Sauté shallots, garlic, olive oil and rice until toasted. Deglaze with white wine and stir until alcohol has cooked off. Add 1 cup water, chicken stock, bay leaf, and oregano then turn down heat to a very low simmer. Stir at 5-minute intervals for about 30 to 45 minutes, adding the extra cup of water until rice is al dente. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 5 or 6 servings


Coconut Macaroon Cake
1 cup shortening
½ cup butter
3 cups sugar
6 eggs, separated
¼ teaspoon almond extract
¼ teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1 cup milk
2 cups coconut
In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. In a separate bowl using an electric mixer, beat shortening and butter until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Gradually add flour and milk, alternating between, starting and ending with flour. Add extracts and coconut until well mixed. Gently fold in egg whites and transfer into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 300 degrees for at least 1 hour until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve with fresh berries and whipped cream.

Makes 15 servings

Meet the Cook: Mary Fuller, OHMS Café & Bar

“I come from a down-home heritage,” Mary Fuller says. “We made do with what we had in the refrigerator. I like to open up a fridge full of meats and vegetables and create something from that.”
When Mary refers to a refrigerator, however, she’s talking about the large commercial one in the back of OHMS Café & Bar in downtown Amarillo. She purchased OHMS from original owner Jonathan Early in 1992. Prior to that, Mary worked as a bookkeeper for Plains Builders, her family’s general contracting business, while doing a little catering on the side.
“I’ve got a large family, and our whole family loved to cook,” she explains. “And I knew how to do my own bookkeeping, too, so that was kind of a nice combination.” Today OHMS remains a family affair. Mary’s daughter, Leigh, has worked at the café since 2008. The cozy bistro serves lunch Tuesday through Friday and dinner Tuesday through Saturday.
Mary says the rack of lamb is popular at the café and perfect for an Easter or Passover dish. “It’s actually quite simple to make,” she says. “This is beef country, but it’s surprising how many people enjoy lamb here. It’s not gamey at all. It’s very tender and delicate, so it works for all kinds of tastes.”
A variety of sauces pair well with lamb, but Mary loves accompanying it with a pesto-like chopped-herb gremolata with fresh rosemary. “We also made a chimichurri rojo, which is quite spicy if you want a little kick to your entrée,” she says. “It’s very good.”
As for the dessert, the macaroon cake comes from an old family recipe. “It’s a big pound cake made with the egg yolks and the egg whites separated,” she says. “You get all your fluff and leavening from the egg whites being whipped hard. A pound cake has such a nice texture and this one is especially good with the coconut in it.”

by Jason Boyett

Jason has written more than a dozen books and is the host and creator of “Hey Amarillo”, a local interview podcast. Visit heyamarillo.com and jasonboyett.com.
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