Spring & Easter

borekI have to admit I'm a little miffed that the Greeks seem to get all the attention for their Easter traditions. Armenians roast lamb and even dye their eggs red. My mother never baked those eggs into a loaf of bread but we did play a game with them called egg tapping, another one of those Pagan rites taken over by the early Christians. The point of the game is to break your opponent's egg without cracking your own.

One of my favorite dishes always served at Easter is Cheese Beorag, the Armenian version of Spanakopita. Our family even came up with their own version of this cheese and filo ecstasy that makes a perfect addition to an Easter Brunch. It's easy, can be made ahead of time and baked just before you are ready to serve it and I've yet to come across anyone who didn't love it and come back for more.

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rhubarb.jpg As Spring slowly arrives in Maine and the snow stubbornly retreats, I push back the compost covering my rhubarb patch that has been growing for as long as I can remember. The day is sunny and kinda’ warm, what that means around here is, the mid fifties.

The air smells alive, the birds are flying happily and my rhubarb is poking through the winter protective covering. With the spring rain it will grow at lightning speed and keep growing as I madly pull at it to make many Spring and early Summer treats. 

In my house this is the first pie of the year and the first food out of our garden, making us dream of what pies lie ahead, small sweet strawberries, fragrant raspberries and mounds of wild Maine blueberries. But today we “make do” with rhubarb....

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hard-cooker-eggsI love hard boiled eggs. Using them for egg salad and especially for making deviled eggs is always a treat. They are also the perfect high-protein snack right out of the refrigerator.

While I love a good hard cooked egg, I detest peeling off their shells. I have tried every method possible to remove the shell without ruining the egg itself. Nothing has been foolproof. I've also used fresh eggs and old eggs and still nothing has been really successful.

The perfect hard cooked egg is SUPER important when making deviled eggs. The white needs to remain intact instead of looking like a mangled mess. I have found with the pressure cooker, the egg shells are very easy to peel away.

This method doesn't significantly lessen your prep or cooking times, but you do save at the end when it comes to peeling. Totally worth it to me! And your deviled eggs will be pretty.

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deviled eggs"I love deviled eggs and there are so many delicious variations. I'm making these for Easter dinner hors d'oeuvres and using some of the Smoked Sockeye Salmon that I brought back from a recent trip to Alaska. Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon"

7 large eggs (cold)
4 oz. cold-smoked salmon, very finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1½ tablespoons capers, rinsed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon packed finely grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon grainy mustard

Place eggs in medium saucepan, cover with 1 inch of water, and bring to boil over high heat. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fill medium bowl with 1 quart cold water and about 14 ice cubes (one tray). Transfer eggs to ice water with slotted spoon; let sit 5 minutes.

Peel eggs and slice each in half lengthwise with paring knife. Remove yolks to a medium bowl. Arrange whites on serving platter, discarding two worst-looking halves. Crumble the yolks and add the salmon, 1 tablespoon of the chives, the mayonnaise, onion, capers, lemon juice, zest, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper (salt to taste) and mix. Mound the filling into the egg whites. Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon chives and several grinds of black pepper.

– Recipe courtesy of Cook Like James

braidbreadI finally got the urge to bake bread for the first time yesterday. I decided to make a traditional Hungarian kalács that my mother and her mother before her used to make for Easter. It can be made for any holiday, but it has the most symbolism on Easter particularly because it's made with eggs. But also if the dough is formed into a wreath it mimics Jesus' crown of thorns.

It can also be placed in a loaf pan if you like the Wonder-bread look. Traditionally kalács is made with milk and butter to create its brioche-like texture and is braided with three or four strands. The bread looks a lot like a Jewish challah bread too, and technically this recipe is perfect for making challah bread, but to keep it kosher simply replace the milk with water and the butter with margarine.

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