Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Easter...a little late...

We enjoyed a wonderful, beautiful Easter weekend with family.  The weather was amazing - first time we've hit 60 degrees this year!

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

I had a lot of fun using natural (food-based) dyes for the Easter eggs this year, and got some really pretty ones.  Although the family mocked the brown, natural and "grey" ones, they were a hit for the egg hunt - very tricky to find!
To dye the eggs, I added the food or spice to the pot of water, a splash of vinegar and the eggs and brought them to a boil.  Lowered the temperature and simmered for about 15 minutes.  The dark brown ones were made using coffee grounds, pale natural colored ones were soaked in a puree of chiles, the orange speckled ones in paprika, the greyish ones were grape juice, yellow were turmeric and the pinkish ones were originally beets, but when that didn't give them much color I added some hibiscus flowers as well.

For dinner, we had a baked ham with a glaze of molasses, brown sugar and mustard; devilled eggs, peas, green salad with two types of vinaigrette (orange and pomegranate), mashed potatoes with fresh chives from the garden and rolls made from a Pamela's mix. Delicious!

Angel Pie for Dessert
Was looking for something to do with some strawberries I'd picked up, and thought about making a strawberry-rhubarb pie, but that seemed too heavy.  Scanned through some cookbooks and came across this recipe for Angel Pie from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. 
4 eggs, separated, at room temperature
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 1/2 c. heavy cream*
1/3 c. confectioners' sugar*
8 whole strawberries

*Substituted the real whip cream for the recipe below.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Grease a pie pan.  Combine the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl.  Beat with an electric beater until soft peaks form.  Slowly add 1 cup of the granulated sugar and beat until shiny peaks form.  Spread the mixture over the bottom of the pie pan and build it up around the rim about 1 inch higher than the edge of the pan.  Bake for about 1 hour or until lightly brown and firm to the touch.  Turn off the heat and let cool in the oven with the door open.  While the crust is cooling, beat the egg yolks until they are thick and pale.  Slowly beat in the remaining 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar.  Add the lemon juice.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.  Cool.  Spread in the meringue until it holds soft peaks.  Spoon the cream* over the top and decorate with the strawberries.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Vegan Whipped Topping
from The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook by Cybele Pascal

2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 c. rice milk (*I used cashew milk)
1/2 c. dairy-free, soy-free vegetable shortening
1/2 c. caster sugar (very fine)
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Whisk together the cornstarch and rice milk in a small heavy saucepan until smooth, being sure to whisk out any lumps.
Bring to just below a simmer (a scald) over medium-low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, until it thickens (this happens very quickly, in about 1 minute or less).  Remove from heat and stir vigorously until smooth.  Set aside to cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the shortening and caster sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes, then add the vanilla.  Continue to beat while adding the cooled rice milk mixture, until fully incorporated, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary.  Beat for 2 to 3 more minutes, or until light and fluffy, making sure you've whipped out any lumps.  Serve at room temperature (it solidifies when chilled).

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