Easter in my Slovak / Serbian Family was centered around family and traditions. Easter eggs and candy were there, but just as ubiquitous were Beets with Horseradish to accompany the ham, freshly baked rich bread, hard boiled eggs, painstakingly colored, and a quasi-cheese type food called sirets (or ciretz). To this day, ham just doesn't seem right without the beets with horseradish accompaniment. Traditions are wonderful.
This Year's Boys and Girls Club Fundraiser Event . . .
Saturday, April 8th, marked the 5th annual Boys and Girls Club Fundraiser, featuring many wines and spirits, as well as foods offered by various chefs, volunteers and others. As "A Harmony of Flavors," I have contributed to this ever since its first year. My appetizer offerings this year were:
Brie in Phyllo Cups with Cherry Preserve & Pistachios, served with Stella Rosa 'Black'
I am very pleased to say that my selected wines paired with my foods just perfectly. The goal is that the wine and the food complement each other, making it a most harmonious tasting. I accomplish this by creating a food that falls within the confines of the types of foods that pair best with the particular wine varietal(s). Online, it is generally easy to find suggestions both from the wine makers themselves, as well as various wine sites and wine ratings, where foods are suggested. From there I created a series of tables, with each column focused on one wine varietal, and the foods that pair best.
This month, rather than a bonus recipe, I am making my wine rating sheets available. There is one for red wine and one for white wine. They are created on a legal sized sheet (8 1/2 x 14-inches), so plan accordingly when printing.
As mentioned above, Beets with Horseradish was one of my paternal grandmother's traditional Easter accompaniment with ham. Grandma and Mom both used plain cooked beets, finely shredded, and adding in a little salt, sugar, and a prepared horseradish to suit their tastes.
As time has passed, I have opted to use pickled beets, whether my own canned beets or store-bought. Pickled beets already have salt, sugar and flavors going on, so no further seasoning is needed but for the addition of the horseradish, the amount of horseradish is entirely up to personal preference. I like it a bit hot, but it can be ramped up or toned down. I use about a tablespoon per jar of beets. Even if you've never heard of such a thing, but you like beets and you like horseradish, I would urge you to five this a try.
Grandma called her bread Pascha." It can be made in a round pan, or just shaped into a round loaf, then topped with one of various types of a "crown of thorns." In this case, I intertwined long rolled strands of dough and set them atop the loaf before proofing. In Mom's case, generally it was just a braided loaf set in a pan to rise.
To add that "extra special" shine, just before baking, whisk an egg with a bit of water and brush this egg wash all over the top with a pastry brush. Read about how I have updated Mom's bread in my Kitchen-Aid mixer, here.
It has been years since I first heard about the little French pastries called Macarons. These are the little sandwiches of meringue type cookie, colored in all sorts of amazing colors and filled with all sorts of flavored and colored fillings. Ever since first seeing photos, I really wanted to try them. Somehow, the time just never seemed right, and so the years have gone by. Now, even here in Aberdeen, SD, I can buy these little pastries at "CJ's Patisserie" in town. And I figured I would try them out. The plan was to make them for the Fundraising event, and to pair them with the Stella Rosa 'Black' wine. And in fact they paired absolutely perfectly with that wine. But these little things are a bit labor intensive, so I threw in the towel on that idea. Meanwhile, we had macarons here at home, for the first time.
My goal was to try making them a bit less sweet, because those I had tasted were so cloying, I couldn't even eat a second one, and I have a very serious sweet tooth. Read about my recipe development, here.
Beef and Pork Seasoning
I bought a bottle of something called "Beef and Pork Seasoning" a long time ago. It was really tasty, so I looked at the list of spice ingredients and created a version of my own, which I have altered and refined over the years. I love this stuff! It is wonderful on burgers and steak or chops, and can be added to stews or roasts. Just get all the whole spices and mix them in a spice grinder and voila! Read the recipe (and lots of others) here.
Happy St. Patrick's Day 2017. I hope you will visit all my sites and try some new (or old) recipes, learn something new about an herb or spice or other subject, or maybe just daydream. However it is accomplished, I endeavor to provide articles of interest. Not everyone cooks these days, due to time constraints. I did cook meals for my family back when I had 4 youngsters and worked 2 jobs, so I know it can be done, though it requires some real attention to detail. Many of my recipes are created now that I am retired and have extra time on my hands, yet many are easy and quick.