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Archive for March, 2015

TIP OF THE DAY: Easter Bread

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Tsouréki, a braided yeast loaf with red-colored
hard-boiled eggs. Photo courtesy Artisan Bread
In Five
.

 

Modern bakers make loaves and rolls shaped like rabbits. But from early times in Europe, rich, festive breads were baked as a celebration of the end of winter. Later they became associated with Easter.

Often they were yeast breads, filled with luxurious ingredients such as almonds, candied citrus peel and other candied and dried fruits, cinnamon, and saffron. Some loaves were decorated with colored eggs or sugar, elaborately braided or shaped into doves. Most are sweet, some are savory.

Most of the recipes are European, with a few South American specialties. Add one or more of these 21 Easter breads to your celebration. Head to a bakery in your town, or find recipes online.

BABKA FROM EASTERN EUROPE

Babka is a rich yeast loaf that is now enjoyed year-round. Made with butter, eggs and raisins, is native to Poland and the Ukraine. A savory version is made with cheese.
 
CHIPA FROM PARAGUAY

This cheese bread has a dense, chewy texture, similar to a bagel or bialy.

 
CHOEREG FROM ARMENIA

This rich, sweet dough, topped with sliced almonds, is sweetened with the mahleb, a spice ground from wild cherry pits that’s also used in the tsouréki yeast bread from Greece (below).
 
COLOMBA DI PASQUA FROM ITALY
The dough for is similar to panettone, with flour, eggs, sugar, yeast and butter. Unlike panettone, it usually contains candied peel but no raisins. The dough is then fashioned into a dove shape (colomba in Italian) and topped with pearl sugar and almonds. Some modern versions use a chocolate topping.
 
FOLAR DE PÁSCOA FROM PORTUGAL

Also called Five-Egg Easter Bread, this round yeast loaf is sectioned into five triangles, each with a hard boiled egg nestled on top.
 
GUBANA FROM ITALY

From the Friuli region, this strudel-like bread is made from a cocoa dough and filled with pine nuts, raisins and walnuts.
 
HORNAZO FROM SPAIN

This savory yeast loaf is stuffed with hard boiled egg and sausage—typically chorizo.
 
HOT CROSS BUNS FROM ENGLAND

Commonly found in the U.S. as well, raisin-filled yeast buns are marked with a cross of white icing.
 
KOULOURAKIA FROM GREECE

These crisp breakfast biscuits, originating on the Aegean island of Ikaria, are sweetened with honey.
 
KOUZNAK FROM BULGARIA

An eggy dough is mixed with lemon zest, nuts and raisins. It can be oblong or round, or braided and studded with eggs, like Greek tsouréeki.

 

KULICH FROM RUSSIA

This dome-shaped yeast bread is brushed with an egg wash or white glaze, and typically garnished with brightly colored sugar, candied orange peel, chopped almonds and currants. The dough can be mixed with candied citrus, cardamom, nuts, raisins and saffron (photo at right).

PANE DI PASQUA FROM ITALY

This means “Easter bread,” a generic term that can take many forms. One popular shape is a braided ring with a red-tinted hard boiled egg in the center—a riff on Greek tsouréki. Also see torta pasqualina, below.

 
PAO DOCE FROM PORTUGUAL

This lightly sweet, golden loaf is scented with saffron.
 
PAASBROOD FROM HOLLAND

Almond paste is the signature filling of this sweet loaf, along with golden raisins (sultanas) and candied lemon peel.
 
PAASSTOL FROM HOLLAND

 

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Kulich, Russian Easter bread. The baker used her decorating skills to create chocolate scrollwork instead of a simple garnish of dried fruits. Photo courtesy Russian Mom Cooks.

 
This yeast bread is filled with currants, glacé fruits and raisins are first soaked in brandy. It can also include almond paste.
 
PINCA FROM CROATIA

Also known as sirnica, this sweet, eggy, buttery bread especially popular in Dalmatia and Istria. Pinca is similar to a briche and is traditionally shaped into a round loaf with a cross cut into the surface, like hot cross buns. Flavorings citrus zest, raisins and rum. Similar to hot cross buns, it is eaten on Good Friday to celebrate the end of Lent.

 
PULLA FROM FINLAND

This braided loaf is infused with cardamom.
 
TORTA PASQUALINA FROM ITALY

In Liguria, the special Easter bread is savory, consisting of thin layers of unleavened dough alternating with a stuffing made of sautéed chard, spinach and/or artichokes plus eggs and cheese, accented with nutmeg. Arugula, asparagus, chicory and radicchio can also be used.
 
TSOURÉKI FROM GREECE

This classic Greek Easter bread dates back to Byzantine times. By the Christian era, red-colored boiled eggs, symbolizing the blood and rebirth of Christ, were tucked into the braids. The rich yeast dough is flavored with orange peel and a charming spice called mahleb (mahlepi, makhlépi), ground from the pits of wild cherries. Other traditional spices include anise seeds and mastic (photo at top).
 
VELIKONOCNI KRUHKI FROM SLOVENIS

These sweet buns are flavored with candied citron, cardamom, ground almonds, lemon zest and raisins, vanilla and brushed with an egg wash.
 
VELKYOS PYRAGAS FROM LITHUANIA

This sweet yeast bread is studded with golden raisins (sultanas).

 
If we haven’t included your favorite Easter bread, let us know!

  

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EASTER: Filled Chocolate Eggs From Chocolat Moderne

There’s still time to order these luscious, hand-painted Easter eggs from Chocolat Moderne.

Decorated with splashy and colorful abandon in the style of Fauvism, each egg measure 3″ x 2″ and weighs 46g, the average size of four of bonbons.

You can buy an assortment ($49 for six eggs or $27 for three eggs) or a smaller box containing one egg ($10). There are:

  • Pink Rose Swirl Eggs, filled with creamy dark chocolate ganache infused with raspberries
  • Purple Rose Swirl Eggs, filled with sea salted caramel (the salt is the famed Halen Môn sea salt from Wales)
  • Yellow Rose Swirl Eggs, all chocolate, pure chocolate ganache made from 72% Venezuelan cacao
  •  
    Make someone happy. Head to ChocolatModerne.com.

     

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    Large, hand-painted Easter eggs. Photo courtesy Chocolat Moderne.

     

      

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    BOOK: The Macaroon Bible

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    A gift for cookie lovers, gluten free observers and Passover hosts. Photo courtesy Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

     

    Before there were macarons, French meringue oookie sandwiches, there were macaroons.

    The soft, gluten-free coconut cookies are a delight year-round, but especially appreciated by Passover observers. Made of shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk and egg whites—without the flour or leavening that are verboten during this holiday—they happily replace other baked sweets.

    Dan Cohen of Danny’s Macaroons and author of The Macaroon Bible, is a great macaroon baker. Starting with his grandmother’s plain and chocolate dipped recipes, he’s brought macaroons into the new flavor age. You can order them online at (the cookies are made with kosher ingredients, but are not certified kosher for Passover). We’re big fans.
     
    RECIPES IN THE BOOK
    Amarena Cherry, topped with an semi-candied cherry
    Baileys McRoons Macaroons
    Bourbon Macaroons
    Black Chocolate Stout Macaroons
    Chocolate Almond Macaroons
    Chocolate Banana Nut Macaroons
    Chocolate Caramel Macaroons
    Chocolate Dipped Macaroons
    Chocolate Malted Macaroons
    Guava Macaroons
    Jamstand Surprise Macaroons (with spicy raspberry jalapeño jam)
    Maple Pecan Pie Macaroons
    Peanut Butter & Jelly Macaroons
    Plain Coconut Macaroons
    Red Velvet Macaroons
    Rice Pudding Macaroons
    Spiced Pumpkin Macaroons
    Stoopid Macaroons (coconut macaroons filled with potato chips, pretzels and Butterfinger, then drizzled with dark chocolate)

    Get the book at Amazon.com.

    And take a look at the history of macaroons and macarons.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Best Decorated Easter Eggs

    Can’t decide how to decorate your Easter eggs?

    Check out this gorgeous array of 16 ideas collected by BehindTheCookie.com.

    We like these gold foil-accented eggs, but we’re creating a craft contest for our Easter guests—before the meal begins—from the Humpty Dumpty idea.

    Don’t tell them, but everyone who completes a Humpty Dumpty design gets a prize (a chocolate egg, of course).

    Take a look and decide on your favorite. The contest is optional.

     

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    Add some gold foil to your Easter eggs. Photo courtesy BehindTheCookie.com.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Wines For Easter Dinner

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    Lachryma Christi, “Tears Of Christ,” a
    delicious red for Easter. Photo courtesy
    Vinmoldova.md.

     

    What’s a holiday feast without memorable wines? THE NIBBLE’s wine editor, Kris Prasad, has come up with special recommendations for your Easter dinner.

    Whether your main course is lamb, ham, beef or poultry, these affordable red wines are not only tasty, they’re clever: You’ll have an anecdote to share with your guests as they taste and comment.

    Here are three wines with religious significance that should be on your table.

    RED WINE FROM ITALY: LACHRYMA CHRISTI, “TEARS OF CHRIST”

    With lamb or ham, you need a medium-bodied red wine.

    Legend has Lucifer grabbing a piece of heaven as he was being cast out of it; he dropped it near Naples. When God found that a piece of heaven was missing, He shed tears and vines grew where his tears landed—on Mount Vesuvius.

    The vines bear both red (Aglianico) and white (Coda di Volpe, Falanghina, Greco and Verdeca) grapes that produce wines called Lachryma Christi, “Tears of Christ.”

     
    The grape variety is mainly Aglianico, one of the noble red grape varietals of Italy (along with Nebbiolo and Sangiovese).

    If you can’t find the Lachryma Christi from the producer Mastroberardino, substitute another producer.

    RED WINE FROM FRANCE: ST. JOSEPH “OFFERUS”

    This red wine from the acclaimed Rhone producer Jean Louis Chave has a religious reference to Joseph of Arimathea. St. Joseph, canonized by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, was allowed to remove Christ’s body from the cross and bury him; he was supposedly present at the time of the Resurrection.

    According to the Gospels, Joseph, a man of wealth, donated his own prepared tomb for the burial of Jesus after his crucifixion.

    This is the St. Joseph for whom the great northern Rhone wine appellation is named—a west bank appellation that primarily produces red wines from the Syrah grape, along with some white wines made from Marsanne and Roussanne. There’s a faint illustration of him behind the print on the label.

    The doubly-aptly-named “Offerus” is a wonderful Easter offering. Pair it with either lamb and beef.

     

    WHITE WINE FROM GREECE: MERCOURI REFOSCO

    A Greek wine for Easter? Absolutely! There are important connections.

    The very word “Christ” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word “Messiah,” the Anointed One. Paul the Apostle spread the gospel throughout Greece.

    Refosco is a grape variety indigenous to the Friuli region of northern Italy. In 1870, Theodore Mercouri imported Refosco cuttings and planted the first vineyard in the western Peloponnesian Mountains of Greece.

    This wine has velvety tannins and uncomplicated red cherry fruit flavors, which pair well with lamb.

    FOOD TRIVIA: The Peloponnese region of southern Greece is known for its currants—the Mercouris also grow them. The word “currant” derives from the nearby port of Corinth, from where the currants were shipped.

     

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    A double offering: Offerus from St. Joseph. Photo courtesy Winenoir.Blogspot.com.

     

      

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