Monday, April 14

Easter breads, terrines and pasta pies / Natural Easter eggs coloring

Here are my new food discoveries and some fun recipes that will put some interesting twist on anyone's Easter cooking. If you still didn't decide and want to change this year your boring and classic Easter table , I have some great and original recipes for you.
Just one of these additions will impress and cheer up your food layout for this upcoming Holidays.

Casatiello tricolore/
Napolitan Easter Bread

It's Italian, as you can see by the mix of colors.
But it's also so unique.
I'm starting this Easter cook-off, with this fun bread, that would impress and cheer any table. You can make it any time of year but the Easter version have cooked eggs on top, as many of other Easter breads have (one made for Eastern Orthodox Christian Easter shown in some of my previous posts)


For the white dough:
500 ml water (11/2-2 cups)
400 gr flour
200 gr durum wheat semolina
2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp dry yeast
1 egg

For the green dough:
500 ml water (11/2-2 cups)
400 gr flour
200 gr durum wheat semolina
2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp dry yeast
200 g fresh spinach
5 basil leaves 
1 dl olive oil
cherry tomatoes
200 g provolone or other half soft cheese pieces
optional: salami (Neapolitan,chorizo..),olives, other cheese cubed or grated

White dough:
First knead the dough by adding the yeast previously proofed in warm water and gradually add the flours and mix together, first formed a smooth mass and then add the egg salt and pepper. We add the remaining flour making a smooth dough to rise by at least 30 minutes .

Green dough:
Cook the spinach in a pan with the basil leaves . Let them cool and drain it in a colander that will remove excess water. Puree in a blender. Prepare the dough, as the white flour but without the egg which will be replaced by pureed spinach mass. Mix with other ingredients and let the dough rise for 30 minutes.

Weave colors
At this point, re - knead the two compounds separately, add the oil incorporating it slowly to the dough and having placed them on a floured surface, weave them by adding a few pieces of provolone cheese and tomato. You can add pieces of ham etc if you like.
For the Easter version incorporate boiled eggs at the top and cover them with dough crosses.
Let the bread rise at least another 2 hours in a warm, dry place .

Bake the colorful Casatiello bread for about 1 hour in the oven at 180 degrees until it is golden brown and serve with love and proud (amore e orgoglio!).

Before and after baking

gluten free bread I made with ham

As preferred, you can make this bread gluten free, as I did with a combination of rice, corn and black bean flour.. It's little bit more difficult to shape it with all the "stuffing", but it's possible. See it on the top photo.

Jambon Persillé Easter Ham in jellied parsley

This is a french classic for the Easter (Burgundian specialty), a kind of terrine with a puree of parsley leaves  with ham in jello.

Here is a classic traditional recipe that uses raw uncooked ham, and it takes more than few hours to make. 
The second recipe with mushrooms twist is a shorter version of the classic one but still tasty.
If you love mushrooms, and have less time, than this one will be also gourmet recipe although it uses already cooked ham.
Classic Jamon Persille

4-lb.(2kg) trimmed, uncooked ham, with bone
1 lbs. veal bones
1 medium onion
2 carrots
1 small clove garlic, whole, plus 2 minced
3 black peppercorns
2 tbsp. fresh tarragon leaves
2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 cups dry white wine
1 cups chicken/beef broth
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 large egg whites
1/2 package powdered gelatin
2 cups parsley leaves, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
In a large pot, combine ham, veal bones,  onion, carrots, whole garlic clove, peppercorns, tarragon, thyme, wine, chicken broth, and enough water to cover ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until ham is tender, about 4-5 hours. Remove from heat and cool for at least 1 hour.
Remove ham from bone and discard bone, along with veal bones. Shred ham into long pieces and cut into 1⁄4" dice. Combine ham, vinegar, and minced garlic, then set aside.
Reduce stock over high heat, to about 3 cups. Adjust seasoning. Stock should be highly flavored at this point. Remove onions, roughly chop or mash them, and add to ham mixture. Strain stock through a cheesecloth.
Beat egg whites until stiff, and stir into stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. The crust, that forms will  clarifying the stock. Strain, pouring carefully to avoid disturbing raft; discard raft. Dissolve gelatin in 1 tbsp. cold water and stir into hot stock.
Pour a 1/3 of the stock into an oiled loaf pan. Sprinkle with a thin layer of parsley, then a layer of the ham mixture, and season with salt and pepper. Repeat until ham and parsley are used up, ending with a layer of parsley. Add stock to cover. Chill over night. Refrigerate remaining stock, and dice, after it congeals, for garnish. Unmold onto a platter and serve with diced aspic.
Quick Mushroom Jamon Persille
For the Mushroom Gelée
1 lb champignons or other mushrooms, 400gr
1 small white onion,
2 tbsp butter,
salt, one pinch,
1 tbsp olive oil,
0.75 l water,
2 egg whites,
5 gelatin sheets, (or 10 gr of powder)
Peel the onion; clean the champignons with a brush, or under water, shortly. Remove stems from champignons ans slice them. Saute the onion in oil and butter on very low heat. Add in half the champignons, and cook for 10 min. Add in the water and cook for 30 min more. Pass through a sieve, add salt if necessary. Let cool. 
To clarify this stock: Combine the rest of champignons, with the egg whites (previously slightly beaten) and incorporate this to the filtered stock. Take to a boil. Then lower heat, and cook for 10 min, stirring. Filter the stock making it pass through a clean cloth. While still warm, add in the gelatin (previously softened in 1 tsp of cold water). Set aside  250 ml from this stock. Check seasoning. Let cool. 
For the Ham Persillé, you will need: 
1 shallot,
1lb cooked ham, diced, 400gr
2 tbsp olive oil,
1 tbsp parsley, chopped,
1 tbsp tarragon, chopped,
1 tbsp capers,
cornichons, 10gr 
1/2 lb Mushroom Gelée (made previously see up), 250ml 
salt, pepper, to taste
Peel the shallot, and slice it finely. Sauté the shallot in the olive oil quickly. Set aside. Cut the ham in very small cubes. Slice finely the cornichons and the capers. Put everything in a salad bowl. Add in the chopped parsley and tarragon. Place layer by layer of the mushroom gelee and ham mixture in a terrine. Cover with the mushroom gelée. Refrigerate for 2 hs minimum.
 Unmold, serve with sauce Gribichecombine some homemade mayonnaise, with some sliced capers, cornichons, chopped parsley or cilantro, tarragon, salt, pepper to taste. 

Torta di tagliatele sweet
This is an unusual and fun dessert again served in Emilia region of Italy for the Easter. It started as a dessert of poor people but depending on the ingredients that you can modify up to your taste, it can be quite a specialty! Serve it with some fruit alcohol sauce for a special zing! 

Sweet spaghetti pie with raisin sauce

This torta is served originally, without sauce, for Easter Sunday in poor Neapolitan families. Raisin sauce can be used for many other sweets, as the addition. 
For the pie:½ lg (250g) thin spaghetti, broken up2 tbsp oil for pasta water1 tbsp salt3 eggs½ cup (125g) sugarJuice and grated zest of 1 orange1/3 cup (60g) sultana raisins1 tbsp grated Parmesan1 tbsp melted unsalted butter, plus extra

Sauce (optional):1 lb (500g) raisins3 cups (750g) water1 cup (250 ml) port vine½ tsp ground each cloves and cinnamon½ cup (170g) honey

Sauce: Boil raisins for one hour in the water Put the boiled raisins in a processor to get about 2 cups of syrupy sauce. Return raisin sauce in a pan and add port, cloves and cinnamon and honey. Simmer about ½ hour. Cool.Pie: Preheat the oven to 350F-180C. Meantime, cook the broken spaghetti until tender. Rinse with cold water. Drain. Combine remaining ingredients except melted butter in a large bowl. Add spaghetti and mix well. Transfer into buttered pan and drizzle with melted butter. Bake for about 45 minutes until golden. Do not overcook so spaghetti don’t get “crispy”.
Serve with raisin sauce if desired.

Chocolate tagliatele torta 
250 grams of fresh noodles
250 grams of sugar
250 grams of peeled almonds
100 grams of chocolate drops
butter q.b.
dry liqueur ( optional)
Chop the almonds and sugar together , after you add the chopped chocolate chips and divide the mixture into 4 parts. Take a baking dish , cover with parchment paper ( soaked and squeezed ) and put in it a few knobs of butter. Take the mixture of sugar, almonds and chocolate chips and make a first thin layer in the pan. Take 250 grams of noodles , break it up into 3 parts, and then cover them with a layer inserted into the pan . Sprinkle the whole thing with liquor. Redo the same layers ,mentioned (sugar - almond - drops noodles + + dash of liqueur ) two more times , ending it all with a layer of mixture of sugar , almonds and chocolate chips.
As a finishing touch , add some butter over the cake and in the meantime, preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Then enter your cake in the oven and cook for about 40 minutes, until the noodles above are golden
Naturally colored pastel Easter eggs 
with flower imprints
At the end have some naturally colored Easter eggs this time. I had couple of posts before about natural way of coloring it, but this time I expanded the selection of fruits and vegetables that you can use and got few ideas for shapes that you can imprint into the eggs. For more how to color the eggs by imprinting herbs see my last year post where you can get the idea how it works.

Homemade Natural Coloring

      Natural Blue 

Half head red cabbage 
Baking Soda

Wash the cabbage and cut out the stem.
Chop into small pieces.
Place cabbage pieces in a pot and add water until the cabbage is covered.
Simmer for 10 minutes and then drain.
The resulting liquid will be purplish.
Gradually add baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until you get a nice blue hue.  Be careful, because the baking soda will add flavor to the coloring.  If you are using the color for something you will be eating then you need to be especially careful how much you add.  Since it is the alkaline quality of the baking soda that causes the red cabbage juice to turn blue, you can also add spinach juice, green tea, or another alkaline ingredient.
The color in the cabbage juice, itself is not particularly sensitive to temperature, but the mixture of the baking soda with the juice is.  So add the color after the food item has cooled, or else only add it to food items that will not be heated.
Natural dark Blue with blueberries
Add 2 cups of frozen blueberries into a 2 quart pot

Add 3/4 cup of water

Add 1 tsp vinegar

Bring mixture to a boil and cook the berries until they start popping, while mixing frequently

Mash them with a potato masher to make a thick sauce like consistency.  If it seems too thick add a little more water

When the berries are cooked, strain them into a glass coffee cup, it  will submerge one egg .

For a pale blue color – leave the egg in the juice for about 20 minutes.  For a darker blue color leave it in the juice for about an hour…or longer.

Rinse the egg from any residue of the juice in cold water

Natural yellow with turmeric

Add 2 cups of water into a 1 quart stainless steel pot…

Add 4 heaping Tbsp of Turmeric, mix and stir until all powder is mixed into the water

Add 1 tsp of vinegar

Bring this mixture to a boil and add your eggs, remove from heat and let the eggs be submerged for about 1 hour or longer.   The longer you keep the eggs in this dye the deeper the yellow color will be….

Rinse the eggs with cold water to remove any spice particles

Natural purple with grape juice

for 12 eggs
8 cups water
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 cups grape juice 

Place eggs in single layer in a pot, add water , vinegar and grape juice. Bring to boil, simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the eggs.
If you want dark shade, leave eggs over the night in a liquid.

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