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Tag Archives: Easter

Raspberry Cheese Blintzes

29 Mar

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Don’t be afraid. I know, I know. Blintzes—those are made with crepes, right? And crepes are terrifying to make, right? They rip and burn and act all fussy, and who has time to it in front of the stove and babysit that type of food anyhow? Well, sorry, but no. I mean, yes, blintzes are made of crepes, but whatever fears you may have about crepes need to be shown to the door right now. Crepes are not to be feared.

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Truth be told, I think that crepes are not fussy at all, and don’t need to be treated as such, if done right. With a rock-solid recipe for your batter and a nicely buttered pan, you can’t go wrong with making crepes. And if you think they take a lot of time, you’re mistaken. Yes, you have to deal with them on the stove, but with each crepe only taking about a minute to cook—and only on one side, my friends, which means no flipping involved—I’d go do far as to say that crepes are easier to cook then pancakes. Yes, I know, then you need to stuff the crepes. But, look, if you know how to fold a piece of paper (and I am not talking origami folding here, I am talking stuff-a-grocery-list-in-your-pocket style folding), you know how to fold a crepe. I promise you, there is nothing to fear. Plus, with results so delicious, I can’t imagine that any lingering doubts you may have about crepes or blintzes would stick around after your first bite of one of these babies. No, really. They are good enough to erase fear.

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It is not often that I look at a food and the most distinctive adjective I can come up with to describe its appearance “cheery,” but that is exactly what happened when I took a look at a plate of these delicious crepes wrapped around a soft pink filling of raspberries, ricotta, and cream cheese. These blintzes, with their brunch-eaten-outside vibe and touches of fresh fruit, made me think of spring, and when enveloped in the sort of grayness that we in the PNW experience throughout the plodding months of the winter and beyond, a tasty little hint of spring is an especially cheery sight to behold.

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Last Year: Esquire Pancakes–apparently the end of March makes me think of pancakes and the like.

Raspberry Cheese Blintzes

Cheese Filling

¼ cup cream cheese, at room temperature

¾ cup ricotta cheese

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch of salt

½ cup fresh raspberries

Crepe Batter

1 cup milk

2 large eggs

1 cup sifted unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

For Cooking:

4 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

To make the cheese filling, combine cheeses, lemon zest, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whisk thoroughly to combine, until the filling is light and fluffy. Using your hands, break apart the raspberries over the filling, then fold the berries into the mixture.

To make the crepe batter, in a blender, combine milk and eggs, then blend until just combined. Add flour and salt, then blend until smooth, stopping the blender and scraping down the sides if necessary.

Heat an 8-inch or 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add a teaspoon or so of butter to the pan, or just enough butter to coat the bottom of the pan. When the butter has melted pour about 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan, then tilt the pan to coat the bottom as much as possible. Cook the crepe on one side only, until the edges appear dry, about 1 minute. Slide the crepe onto a plate, or remove it to a plate using a flexible spatula. Repeat until all the batter has been used, stacking the finished crepes on top of one another, and adding butter to the pan as needed. Depending on how judiciously you doled out the batter, you’ll end up with anywhere from 9 to 12 crepes.

To make the blintzes, place a heaping tablespoon of the cheese and raspberry mixture onto the center of a crepe. Fold in the sides, then the ends, to encase the cheese and form the crepe into a square.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium to large skillet over medium-high heat. As you wrap each blintz, place it in the pan, seam side down, and cook, turning over once, until the blintzes are golden brown on both sides. The blintzes should only take a maximum of about 3 minutes total to finish cooking.

You can serve these blintzes hot, warm, or cold. If you want to make them ahead of time, you can place the fully-cooked then cooled blintzes in the refrigerator overnight (wrapped in airtight plastic), then either reheat them in a pan the next morning using the same skillet-browning method as before, or serve them cold, which I sort of prefer. Serve with extra raspberries, and, if you wish, a small dollop of whipped cream, sour cream, or crème fraiche.

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Bourbon Apricot Bread Pudding

27 Mar

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If you’ve had fun making cascarones or other Easter egg decorating crafts that involve removing an egg’s insides from its shell, I probably don’t have to remind you that the second part of your egg decorating journey is now upon you. With a big bowl of raw eggs now sitting in front of you, what are you going to do?

Let me tell you what you are going to do: You are going to make bread pudding. Then, you are going to eat bread pudding and, again, I don’t think I have to tell you this, but, my friend, you are really, really going to like it.

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Much in the same vein as a frittata, bread pudding is a great way to use up a few last ends of this and that, eventually creating a finished dish that is light years removed from what you may have initially been able to achieve with each item individually. Because I am frugal to the point of being almost batty, my freezer is populated with several different bags of almost-finished hunks of bread. Not all of the bread is the same type of bread, but in the case of bread pudding, I have found that it doesn’t really matter if all your matches, so long as all of your bread is delicious. I’ve made bread pudding with a mixture of old baguette, leftover brioche, and stale Italian-style boule, and the result is never anything less than fantastic.

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Because I had dried apricots on hand, I decided to put them to use in this bread pudding, and because there are few things as well-paired as stone fruits and bourbon, I just had to give the apricots a nice soak in some bourbon before tucking them into the pudding. No surprise, the two items just sang when put together, and they did wonders for bringing out all the right notes when they met up with the dark brown sugar of the custard. With less than ¼ cup of sugar in the entire affair, I’d argue that this lovely, only mildly sweet dish could be carted out for brunch and never seem out of place. Not that I could ever think of a time or place where I would not welcome this bread pudding, but that’s just me.

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Last Year: Brown Butter Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting

Bourbon Apricot Bread Pudding

½ cup coarsely chopped dried apricots

2 tablespoons bourbon

2 cups milk

4 large eggs

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar, separated

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch of salt

5 cups stale or slightly dried bread cubes, cut into 1-inch chunks

¼ cup coarsely broken raw pecan halves

In a small bowl, combine dried apricots and bourbon. Toss to combine, then allow to soak for at least 20 minutes, tossing frequently to make sure the bourbon reaches every bit of the apricots.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl or in a large measuring cup, combine milk, eggs, 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whisk vigorously until the brown sugar has dissolved and the eggs are completely combined. Place the bread cubes in an 8” x 8” square baking pan, then pour the custard over the bread, soaking every piece as much as possible. Allow bread to rest in the custard for 15 minutes, pushing the bread down into the custard every couple of minutes to ensure that everything gets nice and soaked.

When the bread has finished soaking, remove the apricots from the bourbon (discarding the remaining bourbon, ahem, in any way you wish). Add the apricots to the soaked bread, using your fingers to poke the fruit down and really nestle them in. Sprinkle the pecans over the top of the bread, then sprinkle over the 1 teaspoon of dark brown sugar.

Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until the custard in the center of the pudding is set, and the bread has puffed up quite a bit and turned a nice golden shade. Serve hot or warm.

Makes roughly 6 to 8 servings.

Avocado, Fennel, and Egg Salad

22 Mar

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I have an almost phobic dislike of mayonnaise. It wasn’t always this way. I can remember not caring one way or another about mayonnaise when I was a kid, but, as an adult, there are few food items that make me want to turn around and run more than the sight of mayonnaise. I don’t care for the odor, I possess no tender feelings about the taste, and, up until a jar mistakenly showed up in our refrigerator last week, I don’t think I had so much as touched a jar of mayonnaise for the better part of a decade.

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So, what is a person to do when the topic of egg salad comes up? Ordinarily I would just excuse myself politely and then shudder off any lingering thoughts of the m-word, but since I have taken it upon myself to help those who may be in need of some post-Easter-egg-dying recipes, ignoring the problem really isn’t going to help anyone. Besides, shouldn’t we all just face our fears instead of—okay, no, so I am not even going to pretend that I am planning on making friends with mayonnaise. I’ve lived this long without it, and I think I am doing just fine.

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Luckily for me, and lucky for the state of egg salad, one doesn’t need mayonnaise in order to whip up an utterly dreamy batch of egg salad. Looking for another creamy sidekick to help bind some eggs together, it occurred to me that I could just use the food that I have been using for years to adorn my sandwiches in place of mayo: avocado. Super smooth, wonderfully rich, and delightfully mild, avocados make a perfect addition to egg salad. Because I have been on a huge fennel kick lately, it seemed only natural to add a handful of chopped fennel to the salad, and, sprinkled with a shot of fresh lemon juice, it was just the thing to make this salad sing. Piled on slices of hearty, multigrain bread or nestled on top of a hill of fresh greens, it’s an egg salad I think anybody would greet with open arms.

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Last Year: Polenta Toast with Roasted Asparagus and Fried Eggs

And, in case you missed the link above, here is an article I wrote for Portland Farmers Market last year about naturally dying Easter eggs (those beautiful eggs seen in the picture above were dyed using onion skins!).

Avocado, Fennel, and Egg Salad

1/3 cup chopped fresh fennel

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

½ medium avocado, peeled and diced into cubes

3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh fennel leaves

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

salt to taste

In a small bowl, combine chopped fennel and lemon juice. Toss to combine, then set aside while you prep other ingredients.

In a large bowl, combine avocado, eggs, chopped fennel leaves, pepper, and salt. Toss to combine. Add chopped fennel, along with any remaining lemon juice from the bowl, and toss everything together to combine. Taste for seasoning. You may want to add more salt and pepper.

Serve on toasted bread, on top of fresh greens, or, if you are my husband and you like to use a tortilla chip as a fork, eat it as a dip with tortilla chips.

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