This is one of my Hall of Fame votes. Every year I change two other votes, but Prokofiev's Dance of the Knights holds a special place in my heart.
It reminds me of seeing Romeo and Juliet ballet in my home town. It was and still is one of my most favourite ballets. I think I saw it first when I was in high school, and I promptly fell in love with the ballet dancer who performed the part of Tybalt. He was a very good dancer, and was soon poached by one of Moscow theatres. That was a long time ago, and his name now escapes me.
In case you are curious, the other two votes from me were for Masquerade Suite by Aram Khachaturian (no.218 this year), and The Gadfly by Shostakovich, which appeared this evening at no.81 933 places up). I was quite torn whether to choose The Gadfly or The Jazz Suite no.2.
Our Easter started very early, as Sasha got up at some ungodly hour, when it was still dark. I fell back into an uneasy slumber, and in the meantime he wandered downstairs and raided the locked cupboard with sweets.
Eddie wanted to go to the Easter service, and came back loaded with more chocolate eggs and Easter books.
I dyed a few token eggs to put on a table as a centrepiece.
When Eddie came home from the church, he asked me: Mummy, are you cooking your tights? - It's true, I was wrapping up eggs with herbs inside the pieces of old (washed) tights. I cooked them in the boiling water with the food colouring. The pattern is not very clear, as the eggs were brown to start with.
I'm not sure why most of the eggs that you see in the shops are brown (or blue, if you buy local breed eggs), and never white. When we were kids, most eggs were white, and easy to decorate for Easter.
This is a pattern from mint leaves.
While Eddie went to the church with his Dad, I started cooking lamb. I have bookmarked recipe on Waitrose site. I don't often cook lamb, but the recipe for Juniper and rosemary lamb with damson and sloe gin sauce sounded very tasty. I'm glad I tried it, it was delicious, and I'm definitely going to cook it again, when we have guests for dinner.
I have slightly adapted it, but mostly followed the Waitrose recipe. Since I cooked just for our family, I used half a leg at 1.1kg weight.
Easter lamb with juniper and rosemary in damson and sloe gin sauce
2 rosemary sprigs
2tsp sea salt
2tsp demerara sugar
2 cloves of garlic
1tsp butter spread like Lurpak
2tbsp olive oil + more
10 juniper berries
lamb, half leg (1.1kg)
1 red onion, thinly sliced
for the gravy:
2tbsp damson jam
sloe gin, about 100ml ( I used more than Waitrose's suggestion of 2tbsp)
Remove the leaves from the rosemary stalks, put into a bowl with garlic, salt, sugar, juniper berries, butter spread and olive oil. They suggest crushing the rosemary with a pestle. I used a handblender to blitz it all together. Definitely add some olive oil to make a spreadable consistency.
Rub the marinade all over the lamb and sit it on the thinly sliced onion in a roasting dish. Drizzle some olive oil over the onion too. Let it sit for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the roasting dish in the oven for 10 minutes, then cook the lamb as you like it - 8 minutes per 100g of weight if you like it well done, or 6 minutes per 100g if you like it pink. Turn it once over, and occasionally baste with the lamb juice.
Once cooked, take the lamb out of the oven, wrap in foil and let it rest for half an hour. To keep it warm, put a clean towel over the foil.
For the damson sauce, tip the roasting tin to collect all the juices in a small pan, add the damson jam and sloe gin. Using a little whisk, break the jam, to achieve the right consistency. Reduce the sauce.
Serve the lamb with the damson gravy, and roast potatoes and carrots.
I also put a jar of mint jelly and redcurrant jelly on the table. I did buy fresh mint to make my own mint sauce, but was running out of time, and The Bay Tree mint jelly is lovely.
If you want to cook the same dish, I used Tiptree Damson jam and Gordon's Sloe Gin.
The Hall of Fame continues tomorrow, and do I dare to hope that the Lark Ascending will topple over. I would be pleased with any other piece of music getting to no.1 just to make it descend.