Food quote of note

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience"…Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Incredible Edible Egg

Most of you who know me know that I have a chicken fantasy -- no, nothing like that -- I would love it if we were able to have chickens in our back yard.  I love the thought of stepping off of my back porch and gathering up a handful of fresh eggs.  Until that happens, however, I must content myself with getting eggs from my friends with coops or picking them up at the neighborhood farmer's market.  The egg is certainly a glorious little food that deserves to be admired any day of the year - but, at Easter it seems only right to spend a few extra minutes singing the praises of these ovoid wonders.

A dozen beautiful brown eggs from my friend Henry's happy hens

Eggs of all shapes, sizes and colors form the base for several of my Easter dishes
So, while there's nothing quite like the beautiful orange-yellow color and and rich, luxurious taste of fresh eggs, I must confess that there's another "egg" that has become an Easter tradition for me - and it's anything but natural.  Guy and I are lucky enough to spend most holidays with our friends Matt and Jennifer McClish and their lovely children - Madeline, Ian, and Aidan.  When the kids were much younger I began a tradition of making Jello Egg Jigglers as part of our Easter feast - and, much to my chagrin (perhaps secret delight?), a bowl of  these non-natural, anti-organic, artificially dyed and flavored spheres of wiggling fun has graced our table every year since.  As you can see from the pictures below, these "eggs" are enjoyed by kids of all ages!

The makings of "Jello Egg Jigglers" - nothing natural to be found here!
Ian takes a minute to admire the "natural beauty" of the Jello Jigglers
It appears that the Jiggler is irresistable to kids of all ages.
Matt and Guy get caught sneaking one of these bright Easter treats.
In addition to the Jello treats, I did make a few other Easter dishes - and one that I wanted to share with you was my dessert - Martha Stewart's Easter Cheesecake.  This smooth, luscious treat was pretty simple to make and turned out to be a big hit with both adults and kids alike.  I have to believe that the fresh eggs were a big contributor to this cake's creamy texture and light yellow color.  It was a yummy end to a great Easter lunch - with a second piece making a great treat after an afternoon bike ride. 

Martha's Easter Cheesecake served with Betsy's Fresh Berry Sauce 

Easter Cheesecake (adapted slightly from Martha Stewart's website)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 pound finely ground blanched almonds
  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 9"springform pan and dust with ground almonds; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, cream, and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, and beat until incorporated. Beat in zests and vanilla.
  3. Pour into prepared pan and transfer to oven rack.  Additionally, place a roasting pan full of boiling water in the oven to keep cheesecake moist while cooking.  
  4. Bake until firm, about 2 hours, adding more boiling water if necessary. Turn off the oven; keep the oven door ajar using a wooden spoon. Let cake cool completely in the oven.
  5. Transfer to refrigerator and chill overnight.

I was going to top the cheesecake with some simple, sliced berries - but my husband reminded me of a great fruit sauce that was a staple of our dear friend and great Southern cook, Betsy Farnsworth.  While we didn't have Betsy's recipe, Guy had watched her make it often enough that we felt pretty confident we could re-create it.  This simple fruit sauce can be used to top just about anything - cheesecake, pound cake, ice cream.

Betsy's Fresh Berry Sauce
  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Cassis (or other liquer such as Chambord or Kirsh)
Place berries, sugar and water in medium saucepan.  Heat over medium high heat for 10-15 minutes, then add in lemon and liquer.  Cook for a few minutes more, then turn off heat and let cool.  Once sauce is cool, puree in blender until smooth.  If desired, pass sauce through medium sieve/strainer to remove raspberry seeds.  Can be stored in refrigerator for several days to a week.

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