My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.

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200th Blog Post! Deviled Eggs Three Ways 2

Posted on April 05, 2010 by crankycheryl

[4/8/10 — This picture was included in the march of gorgeous spring holiday food over at Photograzing.  If you too are a lover of food-porn take a look!]

I’d like to nominate deviled eggs for the next food craze.  They’re cute, only slightly naughty, portable, adaptable, and individually sized.  What’s not to love?

For our annual Easter brunch-egg hunt extravaganza, I wanted something simple, special and spring-like and this is what we got.  They went fast, and I think I’ve found my brunch potluck standby for the season.

Do remember that the freshest eggs are harder to peel.  If you have time to think ahead, get the eggs you’re likely to want for this a week or so before you make them.

Deviled Eggs Three Ways
yield: 36 halves

Boil eggs your favorite way, or else try this technique that allegedly preserves more of their protein and other nutrients.

Place in cold water to cover by at least an inch:

  • 18 room temperature eggs

Bring water just to a boil, stir vigorously once or twice, then cover and turn off.  Let sit for 20 minutes. (I’ll admit that I often let them sit for an extra 5 to ensure they’re done.)

Prepare a platter by rinsing and arranging:

  • about 4 c. torn lettuce or mesclun salad on a large platter

Cool the eggs by plunging into a bowl of cold water with some ice in it.  Peel, cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out the yolks into a medium bowl.  Add to the yolks:

  • 3/4 c. mayonnaise
  • 2 T. yellow or other fairly mild mustard

Beat with an electric mixer until very creamy and smooth.

Using a spoon or pastry bag, fill 24 of the egg white halves with the yolk mixture.  To the remaining yolk mixture add:

  • 2 – 3 T. pesto (I used the local Bella Pesto I picked up at a recent winter farmer’s market, which was incredibly fabulous), depending on how strong and green you want the flavor and color.

Fill the remaining 12 egg halves with the pesto mixture.

Slice or rip into 12 small square-ish pieces:

  • 1 1/2 oz. good quality smoked salmon

Curve into a small roll and tuck next to the yolk mixture in 12 egg halves.  Place next to each salmon piece:

  • 1 caper per egg

Serve, and watch ’em go.

Spring Fever Weekend 0

Posted on April 01, 2010 by crankycheryl

This is the time of year when I always reflect on having a non-existent religious upbringing.

Spring celebrations in my family meant a new Easter dress (I have no idea why since we weren’t going anywhere but am sure I insisted on it), matzo, gefilte fish (I liked the Manichewitz stuff from the jar – what can I tell you?), and an Easter basket with marzipan fruit and a chocolate rabbit in it.

But no matter what we believe, doesn’t this time of year just demand a celebration?  The mud and the returning birds, the fuzzy buds just starting to emerge on the trees, and the tulips’ leaves reaching for the light.  Every day a bit more sunlight and some other animal or plant awakens.  The garden is calling and already the days of snowsuits are passing.  Every year, these spring days are their own renewing miracle.

Z. and I were driving around last week, and he asked me what Easter was.  I started talking about spring and how people have celebrated the Earth’s waking up from winter for thousands of years, and I talked about how half of our family is Jewish and how the Jewish people celebrate surviving a really hard time during Passover and I mentioned the seders we’ve been to, and then I talked about how Christian people believe that this is when Jesus Christ came back to life and that that’s a very important holiday for them.  I was pretty sure that I had talked entirely too much, when Z. said:

“Mommy – I know the true meaning of Easter.  The true meaning of Easter is an ogre in a bunny suit and he gives candy to kids.  He loves kids!”

“Loves like to eat, or to play with?,” I wanted to know.

“That’s silly!  Who would he have to play with and give candy to if he ate the kids.”  [disbelieving giggle]

I’m pretty sure he didn’t get this in his pre-school class at our Unitarian Church, but who knows?

And we’re gearing up for the weekend.  Today I’m shopping for ingredients for a flock of assorted macaroons:

I can’t promise that they’ll all be free of crazy flavors.  I’m having a minor obsession with the idea of orange and star anise in the maple, though I’m sure I should restrain myself.

And then there will be colored eggs and deviled eggs and a potluck brunch and an egg hunt and Easter baskets that contain marzipan though neither boy likes it.

And then there’s the matter of finding the ogre and a bunny suit that will fit him so he can join us as we cavort in the mud.

Favorite French Toast 0

Posted on April 14, 2009 by crankycheryl

french-toastWhen I was a little girl I insisted on a new Easter dress every year.  I don’t know why my mother indulged me.  We were not Christian and did not go to church.  I particularly remember one Easter morning, wandering around and around and around our block, clutching my brightly colored basket in one hand in my lavender gingham with not another child in sight in our Italian Catholic neighborhood.

Of course, neither were we observant Jews, with my father having left behind his family’s religion long before.   The closest I ever got to Passover was matzo and canned macaroons.

I’m still the same.  I’m not overrun with ham or with brisket like many of my friends.  But what I’ve got running amok in my kitchen is scads of rapidly aging bread that showed up at our Easter potluck.  Well, leftover bread is not such a bad thing.  Plus I’m not morosely wandering the neighborhood in gingham.

And it gives me a reason to share my favorite French toast recipes, one traditional-ish, and one savory.  I’ve got the first one in the fridge ready for tomorrow morning.

Bev’s Overnight Oven French Toast
Serves 6 – 8

This is my former mother-in-law’s recipe, which she makes on Christmas alongside fried Spam (mmmm).  She used to make it with a warm winter fruit compote that I’ve never seen anyone eat, so now it’s just maple syrup.  It’s really nice and fluffy and souffle-ish.

  • 1 long loaf (10 oz.) French bread [or your leftover whatever, of course], cut into 1″ slices
  • 8 large eggs
  • 3 C. milk
  • 4 t. sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 2 T. butter

Arrange bread in greased 9″ x 13″ dish.  Mix together eggs, milk, sugar, salt and vanilla and beat well.  Pour over bread.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  The next morning, dot with butter and place in cold oven set at 350.  Bake 45 – 50 minutes, then let stand 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Chive French Toast with Lime Cream and Smoked Salmon
Reprinted from Food & Wine, August 2000

4 servings

  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 C. skim milk
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 3 T. snipped chives
  • four 1/2″-thick slices challah, semolina, or other firm-textured white or whole grain bread
  • 1/4 C. light sour cream
  • 1 t. freshly grated lime zest
  • 4 t. unsalted butter
  • 6 oz. thinly sliced smoked salmon

In a shallow bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the milk and salt.  Stir in the chives and let stand for 10 minutes.  Add the bread and let soak until saturated.

In a small bowl, mix the sour cream with the lime zest.

In a large non-stick skillet, melt half the butter.  [I never use non-stick skillets.  I don’t trust Teflon, and try to avoid cooking in it.]  When it sizzles, add 2 slices of the soaked bread and cook over moderately high heat until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes.  Turn the slices and cook until browned on the other side, about 2 minutes longer.  Transfer to plates.  Repeat with the remaining butter and bread.  Top with salmon and pass the cream on the side.

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