Seasonal Recipes

Easter and Passover

 

Pear and Apple Recipes

Tuesday
Apr152014

The Enchanted Garden Cake Deconstructed

Because the devil is in the details.........

Dark chocolate bunny and marzipan vegetables

Carrot cake, cream cheese frosting, coconut "grass" and (crushed) chocolate wafer "soil"


 

Monday
Apr142014

The Enchanted Garden Cake {Easter 2014}

Saturday
Apr052014

Coconut Macaroons

What would Easter (or Passover for that matter) be like without macaroons? Now mind you, I don't mean just any macaroon.  I mean the type of macaroon that is a small mound of coconut, chewy on the outside and moist on the inside -- mysteriously held together by something.  The big question is what?

Most recipes suggest that the coconut is held together by a combination of sweetened condensed milk, beatened egg whites and vanilla extract. (Some even go so far as to suggest flour, which is just odd. Flour in a Passover dessert?)  I have tried many variations on this theme, and have never been happy with the results.  In particular, I have found that the macaroons are:

  1. too sweet
  2. too dry
  3. do not hold their shape (i.e. the batter is too thin)
  4. stick to the baking pan

But this recipe, loosely adapted from the Baker's Royal blog, is spot on.

The recipe contains 4 ingredients (coconut, egg whites, sugar and vanilla), which cook over simmering water until the the egg white/sugar mixture thickens and turns from translucent to opaque.

It takes about 15 minutes for the mixture to thicken in a stainless steel bowl; a little longer if you are using a glass bowl. In any case,  don't stress about the time. Just cook the mixture to the point where it "holds its shape without a puddle of syrup forming around it".

You can use a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon to drop the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I baked this batch of cookies approximately 15 minutes, but I would start to check the cookies after 13 minutes.

These are delicious dipped in semi-sweet chocolate, but are also good plain.  The macaroons are best eatened the same day, but will stay in an airtight cookie tin for several days.  Avoid putting plastic wrap on them, as it will make the cookies soggy. Enjoy!

Here is the printable recipe.  

Sunday
Mar302014

Dying Easter Eggs Naturally

When I was growing up, my mother and grandmother would dye Easter Eggs using red onion skins. Using this method, the eggs turn a rich sienna color. But it turns out that many different types of vegetables, fruit juices and spices can be used to dye eggs - as well as red wine and strong brewed coffee/tea.

Natural dyes are very simple to make and are basically variations on the same theme. Some people boil the eggs in the dye solution. I opted to color warm, hard cooked eggs.

I made 3 Vegetable Dyes this year, using sugar beets, purple cabbage and yellow onion skins. These are admittedly the most labor intensive and messy of the bunch, but the results are well worth the effort.

Sugar Beets = mauve pink

Purple Cabbage = 'robin's egg' blue.

Yellow Onion Skins = orange

Red Onion Skins = sienna

Some people boil spinach to extract its color and make green eggs. It didn't work for me. As an alternative, I dyed the eggs yellow using turmeric (see below) and then soaked them for a few minutes in the purple cabbage dye to make them green.

To make the dyes, the vegetables need to boil for approximately 30 minutes to extract their color. After the vegetables/skins are strained off, add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of salt to each quart of liquid.

I would highly recommend using disposable gloves if you have them, as these dyes are unforgiving on nails and cuticles!

Making dyes from Spices is less time consuming, but yields equally lovely results. I used turmeric, but cumin, celery seed, dill seed or paprika can also be used.

Turmeric or Cumin = yellow

Celery Seed = green

Dill Seed = golden brown

Paprika = brick red

To make the spice dyes, add several tablespoons of spice to one quart of boiling water. Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, stir and then stand back. The fumes are very strong!

The easiest dyes to make are from Fruit juices, Wine, Coffee or Tea.

Grape Juice or Brewed Red Zinger Tea = lavender

Cranberry Juice = light pink

Brewed Coffee = brown

Red Wine = deep purple

These dyes do not need to be heated. Simply add 2 Tablespoons of white vinegar for every quart of liquid and stir well.

All of the dyes can be made ahead of time, and stored tightly covered until ready to use. (You don't want to spill beet or red cabbage dye, believe me.) I would recommend storing the vegetable and fruit juice dyes in the refrigerator, to prevent them from spoiling.

For the pastel colors, I soaked the eggs for approximately 30 minutes. The dyes from sugar beets and coffee take a little bit longer. For the deeply colored eggs, I soaked them overnight.

Naturally dyed eggs have a beautiful matte finish. If you would prefer a glossier finish, the eggs can be polished with a very small amount of vegetable oil.

Whatever you do, have fun and experiment. This process is very forgiving and the results are just lovely.