Plus, a new Thai noodle house opens on the South Side.
We asked some of our local food-blogger friends, with whom we work at our blog, pgplate.com/forks, if they’d like to share some Easter recipes with our readers and here’s what they sent. We encourage you to visit their blogs and see all the other good stuff that they do.
In the Romanian tradition, food plays an essential role at Easter. The menu is elaborate and always includes red-tinted eggs and a variety of lamb dishesand a wide array of sweet treats!
The traditional Romanian dessert is called Pasca, a festive and fancy cake served only at Easter. It’s a sweet and cheesy custard studded with vanilla-infused raisins and surrounded by a crunchy and flaky crust. My grandmother Vicki’s Pasca, which inspired this recipe, is an easy and beautiful cake.
— Dana Cizmas, who blogs at http://simplyromanesco.blogspot.com
For the crust
100 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to coat the pan
100 grams granulated sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 heaping tablespoon sour cream
300 grams all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
For the custard
500 grams ricotta cheese, at room temperature
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
200 grams granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
100 grams raisins
Lemon zest from 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat the bottom and sides of the springform pan with butter.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, beat the butter with the sugar, using an electric hand mixer, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Beat in the sour cream. In batches, beat in the flour, baking powder and salt mixture until well combined. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the ricotta cheese, eggs and egg yolk (mixing well after each egg addition), sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest. At the end, fold in the raisins. Set aside.
Roll out the dough into a ¼-inch-thick round. Place the dough in the springform pan making sure that it also covers the sides of the pan. Pour the custard over the dough. Bake for 80 to 90 minutes or until the custard is cooked through and golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean (check the cake after 60 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly for 10 minutes. Remove cake from the springform and let it cool completely.
Makes 10 servings.
Mushroom, spinach & cheddar quiche and Banana blueberry power muffins
There are 2 recipes that are always, always present in my family’s house on Easter Sunday morning: quiche and banana muffins. Both are 2 of my mom’s favorite dishes to make and ours to eat. Plus, we (read: my mom!) love that they can be made in advance, so our time can be better spent with each other and ogling baskets of candy.
— Katy Zeglen, who blogs at Baking Domesticity and All Things Mini: http://bakingdomesticityallthingsmini.blogspot.com
The quiche (infinitely adaptable): http://bakingdomesticityallthingsmini.blogspot.com/2012/03/quiche-redux-mushrooms-invade.html
The muffins (also adaptable from original base recipe): http://bakingdomesticityallthingsmini.blogspot.com/2014/03/banana-blueberry-power-muffins.html
Lemon-Poppyseed Easter Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream
These wheat-free, vegan treats are based on Fran Costigan’s Lovely Light Lemon Cake recipe. I decorated them with all-natural Jordan almonds (purchased from Whole Foods).
— Leah Lizarondo, who blogs at brazenkitchen.com
2 cups spelt flour
1½ tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄3 cup canola oil
3⁄4 cup maple syrup
2⁄3 cup almond milk or rice milk (unsweetened, unflavored)
1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced lemon zest
1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄2 teaspoon lemon extract
2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1⁄3 cup poppy seeds
Lemon Buttercream (recipe follows)
Position rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line mini muffin tins with muffin cups.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Whisk together oil, maple syrup, almond milk, lemon juice and zest, vanilla and lemon extracts and vinegar until well blended.
Pour wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir with a whisk until the batter is smooth. Mix in poppy seeds. The batter will be fairly thick.
Fill muffin cups to just about full (not quite to the rim, a little over 3⁄4 full). Tap the pans lightly on the counter to eliminate air bubbles.
Bake about 10 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool on racks completely. I cannot stress this enough. They must be at least room temperature before you ice them or the icing will melt.
To assemble, pipe buttercream (recipe follows) using your favorite tip.
1⁄2 cup Earth Balance soy-free spread or butter, softened
3 tablespoons rice milk or milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (if you have a microplane, that would be best)
1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon lemon extract
Using a standing mixer, cream milk and butter together. Add sugar, one cup at a time and the rest of the ingredients. Beat until fluffy.
Flourless Chocolate Cookies
These flourless chocolate cookies are a delightful spring holiday treat! Not only are they perfect for Passover because of the lack of flour, but they are also a crowd-pleaser at Easter celebrations. Plus, they don’t include pricey, completed ingredients, making them a great introduction to gluten-free baking.
— Caroline Shannon-Karasik from Sincerely Caroline (http://sincerelycaroline.com)
3 cups gluten-free powdered sugar
3⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
4 large egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life brand)
1⁄2 cup chopped pistachios
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats. Set aside.
Whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa powder and sea salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Beat egg whites and vanilla in a medium bowl until frothy. Stir in dry ingredients, adding slowly until thoroughly combined. Fold in chocolate chips and pistachios.
Drop batter by the tablespoonful onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake 14 to 15 minutes until cookies are shiny and cracked around the edges. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 to 6 minutes (centers will have a batter-like consistency) before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Marinade for Lamb
Greg and I haven’t yet established any of our own Easter traditions nor do we have any Easter family recipes/traditions from when we were kids — the meal is different every year. This year we plan to make a leg of lamb on the grill (or in the oven if the weather isn’t nice). My family always uses the same marinade when we make lamb — leg or chops. My mom found it in a magazine, but no one has the original clipping anymore so I don’t know the source.
— Nicole who blogs at Yum Yum (http://blueeley.blogspot.com)
1⁄3 cup dry red wine
1⁄3 cup lemon juice
1⁄3 cup vegetable oil
1⁄4 cup Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon rosemary
Salt and pepper
Mix all the ingredients together and pour over the lamb. Marinate for 6 to 7 hours, basting occasionally.
I remember the days of searching for cheesecloth last-minute (only craft stores had it, but now you can find it in Giant Eagle this time of year) and very strange-looking balls of cheese hanging in the basement! This food is my favorite part of Easter — it’s like cold scrambled eggs!
— Becky Cibulka from Sabor PGH (http://srtacibulkasavors.blogspot.com)
1 quart milk (I usually use 2-percent lowfat)
1 dozen eggs
Dash of vanilla (optional)
String (kite string works well)
Using a double boiler, place water in bottom but don’t let it touch the bottom of the top pot. Add milk to top pot.
Turn on the gas and start warming the milk. Break the eggs in a separate bowl (you can break them directly into the milk if you want).
Whisk the eggs a little and SLOWLY pour the eggs into the milk mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Stirring continuously, after a few minutes, it will begin to look like cottage cheese. Continue to stir until the liquid is clear.
Place cheesecloth in colander so it overlaps the sides, have string ready.
Pour mixture in cheesecloth, pull sides up and around, and twist to form a ball (it will be very hot!)
Tie string around cheesecloth and hang in a cool place until all the liquid drains and the ball is set (approximately 4 to 6 hours or overnight). Refrigerate until ready to eat.
When my grandfather, Lennie Cibulka, was alive, he made the hot beets — basically grated beets with horseradish for heat. This is a fairly simple recipe, and one that is constantly adjusted for taste.
I, personally, don’t like beets. But I do love horseradish, so I usually end up putting the leftover jarred horseradish on my Cirak as a garnish (and for heat, as I like my foods spicy — not surprising, right?)
Pure grated horseradish (jarred)
Wash the beets, then boil in water until soft.
Peel beets, then grate them with the small sharp end of a hand grater (WARNING: this causes your hands to be stained, sometimes for several days! Wear gloves, if possible.)
Add vinegar, horseradish, and sugar to taste.
Mom’s Easter Sugar Cookies
With Easter coming up, I asked my mom for her sugar cookie recipe so that I could share it with yinz. Kathy makes these cookies every Easter and hers are blue, pink and green pastel bunnies and chicks. Though we still have a few months to go until the Steelers return to training camp, the Buccos are back and baseball season is in full swing. Thus, I decided to decorate these sugar cookies with both the Pirates and Steelers in mind. The recipe is straightforward and relatively simple. As Kathy says, it’s all about the icing! So break out your favorite cookie cutters and get decorating.
— Liz Boyd who blogs at Stiller Snacks (stillersnacks.com)
For the cookies
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1⁄2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon lemon zest
For the icing
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
6 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar together in large mixing bowl with mixer on medium speed. Scrape down sides, then mix in egg, followed by vanilla. Sift together flour and baking powder in separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet in 3 additions with mixer on low. Add lemon zest to dough, then form into a ball. (Dough will be fairly dry and crumbly.)
Roll dough to 1⁄4-inch thickness, cut cookies and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Form dough scraps into ball, roll out and cut again. Repeat until all dough is used.
Whisk together 1 cup confectioners sugar and 2 tablespoons milk in a small bowl. Icing should be a thick, syrupy consistency (You can adjust sugar/milk ratio to reach desired consistency.) Add 2 to 3 drops food coloring. Repeat for different colors. Once cookies have cooled, spoon icing on top and decorate with writing icing.