For Palm Sunday (and the beginning of Holy Week), Mass began with a procession and the blessing of palm fronds and crosses outside; and ended with a rousing chorus of 'Happy Birthday' for our parish priest, who will be 52 tomorrow. The church was filled to the rafters for the occasion, but I've noticed in the last few weeks that even on ordinary Sundays, attendance here is high - such a difference to how things were in my old parish. After Mass, I participated in a sponsored walk across The Hague to the ICC, to raise money for providing a proper healthcare in Kenyan refugee camps as part of our Lenten campaign. At the ICC, we were given a short but very interesting presentation about the Court and the cases that are brought before it. There are 4 crimes within the Court's jurisdiction, namely: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes committed after July 1st, 2002 and, under certain circumstances, the crime of aggression. The ICC differs from the ICJ in that here cases are brought against individuals, rather than against nations. There are currently 7 investigations and 8 preliminary examinations underway; all in all, 15 cases have been brought before the Court since it was established in 2002, of which 6 are currently at the trial stage.
I got chatting to one of my fellow parishioners, and she turned out to be working in HR. She's asked me to mail her my cv, which I will do...but without expecting too much at this stage.
But now: a recipe, courtesy of one of my French Facebook friends, one that I will certainly try next time I have a dinner party - although it's actually a traditional dish for Easter (apparently).
A traditional French casserole for Easter:
2 1/2 - 3 lb shoulder of lamb, bone removed
2/3 c of white wine
5 large firm potatoes
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
several sprigs of rosemary
salt and ground black pepper
The night before the meal:
slice the cloves of garlic into smallish pieces and insert them into little incisions made in the lamb. Then massage it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary. Wrap tightly in clingfilm and put in the fridge overnight.
preheat oven to 230C/450F; peel and slice potatoes crosswise, somewhat thin. Do the same to the onion.
Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil and spread the potatoes over it evenly. Spread the onion rings on top, pour in the wine. Season with salt and pepper. Unwrap the lamb, lay it flat on the top and put the dish in the middle of the oven. After 15 mins, lower the temperature to 175C/350F; continue to roast for 10 mins per pound for medium rare (the preferred European way), or 15 mins per pound for well done. If at any point in the process, the lamb gets too dark, cover with aluminium foil for the rest of the oven time. Remove the lamb for cutting and let it sit while you put the vegetables in a serving dish. Use a slosh more wine to scrape up all the browned bits and drippings for gravy, thickening with a bit of cornstarch, if necessary. Serves 4-6, depending on appetite.
Accompany with a simple salad with vinaigrette dressing (made with walnut oil, if possible) and garnished with walnut halves and crumbled roquefort. A cabernet sauvignon is perfect for this delicate meat.