Magazine article Sunset

A Fresno Armenian Christmas

Magazine article Sunset

A Fresno Armenian Christmas

Article excerpt

At Christmas, Christine Vartanian-Datian of Las Vegas always comes home to Fresno, California, where she grew up and where her mother, Alice Vartanian, still lives. The meal is a feast of Armenian specialties, including leeks with lemon dressing and a stuffed leg of lamb. "The house smells wonderful because my mother has baked for a month," says Vartanian-Datian.

Lemon Leeks with Olive Oil

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 25 minutes

MAKES: 10 to 12 servings

3 pounds leeks

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or pressed

1/2 CUP Olive Oil

2 onions (I lb. total), peeled and thinly sliced

1 teaspoon sugar

About 1/4 cup lemon juice

Salt and pepper

1. Trim root ends, coarse tops, and outer layers from leeks; cut leeks in half lengthwise. Hold under running water and flip layers to rinse out grit. Cut leeks into 2-inch lengths.

2. In a 12-inch flying pan or 5- to 6quart pan over medium-high heat, stir garlic in 2 teaspoons oil until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add leeks, onions, and '/2 cup water; cover and simmer until leeks are tender when pierced, about 15 minutes.

3. Add remaining olive oil and sugar to pan, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon juice to taste.

4. Spoon leeks into a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving: 127 cal., 65% (83 cal.) from fat; 1.2 g protein; 9.2 g fat (1.2 g sat.); 11 g carbo (1.2 g fiber); 12 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Wine-marinated Stuffed Leg of Lamb

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 1 1/2 hours, plus at least 2 hours to marinate

MAKES: 10 to 12 servings

1 bottle (750 ml.) dry red wine

3/4 teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 dried bay leaf

1 boned leg of lamb (4 to 41/2 th.)

1/3 cup pine nuts

1 1/2 pound mushrooms, rinsed

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

1/3 cup finely chopped pitted dates

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

2 tablespoons minced parsley

1 1/2 cups fat-skimmed beef broth

1 tablespoon sugar

Salt and fresh-ground pepper

1. …

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