Monday, April 2, 2018

Deviled Easter Eggs

In early Christian cultures, both meat and dairy were verboten during Lent. However, since chickens can't turn off their egg laying mechanism, they keep on laying. So eggs laid during Lent were hard-boiled to preserve them until the end of the 40-day Lenten season when they then would become part of the Easter feast.

It's Easter morning, the eggs have all been found - now what do you do with them all? The perfect addition to any Easter brunch table is deviled eggs. This recipe is a little different than the traditional deviled eggs you grew up with. The cornichons and capers add a delicious, piquant flavor to our version!

  • 6 hard-boiled Easter eggs, peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise (we prefer Duke's)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons cornichons* or dill pickles, very finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon capers, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Paprika, for garnishing

Once the eggs are peeled, carefully slice the eggs in half from top to bottom. Scoop the yolks into a medium mixing bowl and gently lay the whites aside. Add mayonnaise, mustard, salt and sugar to the egg yolks and using a fork, stir to thoroughly combine.
Place the mixture into a zip-top plastic bag and cut a small hole at one of the corners. Pipe the mixture into each of the white halves. Chill for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator and sprinkle with paprika for decoration before serving.

*Trader Joe’s sells the BEST cornichons (French for pickles) on the market. They are grown in the Garonne Valley in southwestern France for their company.  They are sour and crisp, and sell for a very reasonable price.

April 24, 2011


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Hot Cross Buns - A Good Friday Tradition

For some, hot cross buns are synonymous with Good Friday. Hot cross buns have a long history that goes back hundreds of years. These special sweet buns, marked with a symbolic cross in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, are a fixture on many Easter tables and are historically considered to be blessed.

Many believe that sharing a bun with a friend will bring both the giver and receiver good luck and continued friendship for the following year. These lightly-sweetened, fruit-filled treats were sold in the streets of England during the nineteenth century to the cries of "hot cross buns; hot cross buns; one a penny; two a penny; hot cross buns!” With such a diverse past, it it clear that hot cross buns are a lovely and meaningful Easter tradition.

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 5 teaspoons (2 packets) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice or water

In a small bowl, stir together milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Let mixture stand 5 minutes, or until foamy. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine flour, spices, salt, and remaining granulated sugar and mix together with a whisk. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into bits and blend into flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Lightly beat 1 egg with the egg yolk. Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour in yeast and egg mixtures, currants, raisins, and orange and lemon zest. Stir mixture until a dough is formed. Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to an oiled large bowl and coat lightly with oil. Let the dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 400°F and butter 2 large baking sheets. On a floured surface with floured hands knead dough briefly and form into two 12-inch-long logs. Cut each log crosswise into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and arrange about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Let buns rise, covered, in a warm place until doubled in bulk again, another 45 minutes.

While buns are rising, lightly beat the remaining egg with confectioner’s sugar to make an egg glaze. Brush buns with egg glaze before baking them in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until buns are golden brown, about 12 minutes. When done, transfer buns to a rack to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, mix together confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice or water. Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the buns in a criss-cross pattern. Serve buns warm or at room temperature with softened butter and your favorite preserves. These delicious buns can be made one week ahead and frozen before being frosted, wrapped in foil and put in a re-sealable plastic bag. Thaw buns and reheat before serving.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

One-of-a-Kind Cheese & Wine Tasting at CalyRoad Creamery

CalyRoad Creamery’s brick & mortar workshop with its petite shop and tasting room makes a cozy and intimate place for cheese and wine enthusiasts to gather for sips and nibbles. Created by two sisters who loved making cheese, CalyRoad Creamery was established in 2009 and was originally located on a West Georgia goat farm. As the business grew, they moved to operation to Sandy Springs and added cow’s milk cheeses to the menu of cheeses they offer.

Hosted by owner Robin Schick and Terry Tomasello of Domaine Wine Distributors, monthly wine and cheese tastings feature unique and rare wines curated by the partners of Domaine alongside the creamy-dreamy artisanal cheeses created in the “make room” visible through the plate glass windows of the Sandy Springs cheese shop.

“We take a very informal approach to our tastings. We suggest that you start with the lightest white wine and move through to the most robust red - pairing the cheeses in the same way. Because everyone’s palate is different, you may find a pairing that you feel is perfect that might otherwise be missed in a specific one-for-one tasting,” explains Schick.

On this evening, Tomasello, as our sommelier, shared the interesting background of the three wines from Spain’s Rioja wine region. We began with Belezos Rioja Blanco Bodegas Zugober 2014; a crisp oak-aged white with floral aromatics, citrus notes and a hint of cinnamon which matched well with the fresh feta, camembert-style WayPoint and particularly nicely with the pear-cardamom chèvre. Next, we sampled a Picardo Rioja Crianza 2014; a deep crimson color with a minerally bouquet and dark berry notes which paired well with a sun-dried tomato and basil chèvre and the Black Rock aged goat cheese with crushed black peppercorns. Our last tasting was of a Celler Hidalgo Albert '1270 A Vuit' Fina; a juicy red with nice vanilla and black currant flavors, medium acid and balanced tannins that best complemented the cheesemaker’s latest release Hilderbrand Tomme with its rich, aged cow’s milk flavor, light caramel notes and mild nuttiness.

As guests mingled and enjoyed their wine, they had the opportunity to shop for delicious treats to accompany their cheese purchases like crackers, lavash, honey, nut butters and preserves. To experience this unique tasting for yourself, please visit Culinary Local for more information or to purchase tickets. In addition, to monthly wine tastings, CalyRoad offers a monthly wine club with two wines and cheeses shared with members every 30 days.

Disclosure:  I attended this event as a brand Ambassador for CulinaryLocal. While the cheeses and wines I sampled were complimentary, the content and photographs are original and all opinions are unsolicited. #ad


Monday, March 26, 2018

Easter Eggs 101

Helping the Easter Bunny by decorating eggs is a favorite with most children. In my experience, some non-egg-eaters will even try the eggs after they have helped to decorate them. It is best to use white eggs as the colors are more true (unless you are looking for an antiqued appearance).

6 eggs
Water for boiling

Egg Dye:
1 cup boiling water (you can use the water from boiling the eggs)
2 teaspoons white vinegar
food coloring

It is a good idea to test the freshness of your eggs before boiling them. The best way to test whether an egg has gone bad is to float it in water. As eggs get older, the inside portion of the egg starts to decompose and gases build. Hence it floats. A fresh egg will not float, but lie at the bottom of the glass of water.

Place eggs into a pot of cold water, and then cover it and bring it to a boil. Once the water is boiling remove the pan from the heat, and let stand for 12 minutes. Then place the eggs in a bowl of cold water to cool as you begin peeling them under cold water.

Before preparing egg dyes, cover your work surface with newspaper to soak up spills. Then, mix boiling water and vinegar and divide into small containers large enough to place one egg covered with liquid. Add food coloring for colors desired using the color chart (or experiment with your own!) Many companies now makes neon food colorings too.

When dyes are ready, place boiled eggs in the containers one at a time. Metal spoons acan leave unwanted marks on the eggs, so use a plastic spoon “baste” the egg with the egg dye until the color is as dark as you like.

Eggs can be “batiked” by placing stickers or decals on the eggs and then removing them once the dye has dried. Stars, dots, and even hole-reinforcing loops make great designs. Wrapping the eggs with rubber bands creates stripes. Another idea is to use a white crayon to write mystery messages or designs which “appear” when the eggs are dyed.

Allow the eggs to dry on an egg carton (cardboard works better than styrofoam) that has been turned upside down.Paper towels work well but eggs can roll off.

April 22, 2011


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Romantic Rack of Lamb

When the boys were little, it was never easy to find a babysitter on Valentine’s Day so we would put the kids to bed early and have an intimate dinner with a good bottle of wine and these amazing mustard-coated lamb racks served rib ends up and gently interlocked on an heirloom silver platter. A simple dessert of fresh strawberries capped off a quiet romantic evening.

The boys are older now and enjoy these lamb chops as much as we do. The racks can be cut into individual servings as well, then coated and roasted in the same manner. which makes serving a bit easier. You may want to have extra napkins handy because it is impossible to resist gnawing the bones to get every last tidbit.

2 racks of lamb about 7 ribs each
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 large cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon oregano (or rosemary or thyme), fresh or dried
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup coarse breadcrumbs, fresh or Panko
2 tablespoons melted butter

Mix the mustard, garlic, salt, herbs, lemon juice and olive oil and whisk together until it reaches the consistency of mayonnaise.

Your racks should be frenched for the best presentation. If your butcher did no French the racks, do this first. Then, score the fat side of the racks lightly by making shallow crisscross cuts. Leave the rib ends free and coat the tops and sides of the racks with the mustard mixture. This can be done up to a day in advance and kept refrigerated until ready to cook.

Melt the butter and mix with breadcrumbs.

Preheat your oven to 500°F. Roast the lamb for 10 minutes at 500°F to sear. Reduce the thermostat to 400°F removing the lamb from the oven to spread the bread crumbs over the top of the lamb racks and return to the oven. Roast the meat for another 20 minutes, to rosy rare. A meat thermometer insert into the center should read125°F. The meat should be just slightly springy when pressed. Remove the racks from the oven and let rest 5 minutes serving.



Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Red Velvet Madeleines

There is nothing like having teenagers to make you feel old. I made reference to a “cakewalk” and was treated to a volley of eye rolls. Come to find out neither even knew what a cakewalk was. Also known as a “prize walk,” a cakewalk is a hopscotch-meets-musical-chairs raffle in which numbered squares are laid out in a circle for ticket holders to walk around in time to music, which is played for an irregular length of time and then stopped. A number is then called out, and the person standing on the corresponding square on the floor wins a cake as a prize (hence the name).

While growing up in the country, our rural church would have an annual fundraising carnival at which the cakewalk was THE event. The primary reason for its popularity was the community confectionist, Juanita Gunnells’ cakes and candies. She would always donate a German chocolate cake, a red velvet cake, and depending on the weather divinity or peanut butter fudge.*

I was always fascinated by the unnaturally-red, red velvet cake whose color was explained as a chemical reaction between the often-used buttermilk and the red anthocyanin found in cocoa powder. In reality, the red coloring was added to hide the fact that a minimal amount of cocoa powder was used especially during World War II when beet juice was used to add color to red velvet cakes.

Since Dom is not big on cakes, but enjoys a good cookie or pastry, I decided to try a red velvet variant. I had found a French madeleine pan at an antique shop that I was dying to use, so it was providence.  Dusted with confectioner’s sugar, these made a romantic-looking Valentine’s Day treat!

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (yes, it really does make a difference)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine the sugar, eggs, yolks and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat at medium-high speed with an electric mixer for 5 minutes or until thick and pale. Add butter and food coloring to the mixture, and beat until well-blended.

Whisk together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt, and then fold in the egg mixture. Spoon the batter into 2 well-greased shiny madeleine pans, filling three-fourths full (about 1 tablespoon per madeleine). Since I only have one pan, I baked mine in batches; placing the batter in the refrigerator between batches.

Bake at 400° for 8 to 10 minutes or until the centers of the madeleines spring back when lightly pressed. Immediately remove madeleines from the pan to prevent sticking and cool on a wire rack. Cool completely (about 20 minutes) and dust with powdered sugar just before serving, if desired.

*Because of the high sugar content, divinity absorbs moisture from the air on a humid days and can end up a gooey mess.


Friday, December 1, 2017

12 Days of Holiday Cookies

There is nothing like the scent of vanilla wafting through the house as
the holiday cookies are baking. We have compiled some of our family favorites for you. 
Simply click on the picture to be taken directly to the recipe!






Sunday, November 19, 2017

Complete Thanksgiving Menu Planner

With Thanksgiving only weeks away, we are all in menu planning mode. As one of the biggest, if not the absolute biggest food holiday, we thought we would make it easier for you by compiling a round-up of some of our favorites, old and new. Last year we published a Thanksgiving e-cookbook with some Thanksgiving ideas, but this year we have gone a step further and expanded the list to include 40+ recipes with some morning noshes, turkey tips, condiments, side dishes and desserts. Many of them are healthy and some are a bit more indulgent. We even added a few ideas for what to do with those turkey leftovers.

Morning Treats:
Cranberry Financiers
Pumpkin Chestnut Scones
Mug Muffins
Pumpkin Cranberry Bread
Baked French Toast

Turkey Preparation:
     • Brining
     • Stuffing
     • Trussing
     • Barding
     • Butter-crisped Roasting

Two Cranberry Sauces
Pear Cranberry Chutney
Cranberry Zinfandel Conserve
Chardonnay Rosemary Jelly

Pumpkin Hummus
Cream of Peanut Soup

Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins
Boston Brown Bread

Corn Pudding
Potatoes Fondantes
Bacon-braised Brussels Sprouts
Curried Cauliflower
Swiss Chard Gratin
Roasted Beets
Mashed Potatoes with Love
Broccoli with Lime Dressing
Charred Cabbage
Rice-stuffed Tomatoes
Green Beans Gremolata
Sorghum Caraway Carrots
Cauliflower, Leek & Mushroom Strata

Cranberry Almond Tart
Apple Crostada
Hasty Pudding
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Peach Almond Galette
Gingerbread Cake
Sweet Potato Pie
Bread Pudding
Pineapple Cranberry Cobbler
Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

Bobbie Sandwich
Turkey Enchiladas Verde
Turkey Jambalaya
Matzoh Ball Soup

We are honestly thankful to our all al loyal readers! Enjoy your Thanksgiving Holiday!

Originally posted on 11/15/2015

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