Judy Garland’s 5 Minute French Dressing

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Publicity photo from "Love Finds Andy Hardy", released in 1938.

Publicity photo from “Love Finds Andy Hardy”, released in 1938.

I will never buy salad dressing again.

I saw a post on the PBS Food Facebook page recently about a book called “What Actors Eat When They Eat” (hilarious title!) by Rex Lease and Kenneth Harlan. Published in 1939, the book contains the favorite recipes of more than 100 of the biggest actors and actresses at the time.  It also features publicity photos (including a now-shocking shot of Al Jolson in black face), bios listing the actors birth date (no year for most of the women), height, weight (!), and the studio they were contracted with, and funny notes about the food. It is really interesting and I’ve highlighted two more recipes I hope to create and share with you before I have to return the book to the library.

Love that 1930s typeset!

Love that 1930s typeset!

I decided to try this French Dressing recipe submitted for the book by Judy Garland. It looked really easy, I had a hankering for salad, and I loved the page dedicated to her. Wizard of Oz was released in 1939, but it’s clear this book was compiled the year before, as her bio lists her latest movie as Listen Darlin’.

Judy's page from "What Actors Eat When They Eat."

Judy’s page from “What Actors Eat When They Eat.”

Judy instructs the cook to mix the dressing into the salad using your hands, to ensure that all the lettuce is coated evenly! She ends by saying, “Then you eat it and you’ll say it tastes swell. And mother says it’s very healthy too.”

I used smoked paprika and it was beyond swell… like I said, I don’t think I’ll ever buy dressing again.

It's got a beautiful color.

It’s got a beautiful color.

Ingredients
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 close garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar

Instructions
Put all the ingredients into a salad bottle and shake! Enjoy!

Judy Garland's French Dressing is good on any salad!

Judy Garland’s French Dressing is good on any salad!

The Jane Austen Festival 2014-Stepping Back in Time

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For fans of Jane Austen, one of the must-attend events of the year is the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, put on by the Jane Austen Society of North America Louisville Chapter.  This weekend, we enjoyed our third visit to the festival, which is now in its 7th year.  I applaud the many women and men who work hard all year so we can spend a day living this beautiful era in history.

Held at historic Locust Grove, the festival is always a wonderful feast of colors, sights, and smells. We enjoy the vendors, the author talks, the fashion show, the food, and the people. I was lucky to be approached by several fans of the blog-it was a real treat to talk with these women and one gave me a lead on getting some new dresses for next year’s event (thank you Stephanie!).

I’ve put together a photo tour of our day. For once, the weather was tolerably cool and we only saw a few clouds and spits of rain. I wish I could convey the feel of the event to you in the photos-the gentility of the men, the kindness of the ladies, the feeling of calm, of not being in a rush, of walking and just enjoying the company of the girls and the beautiful sights around us. It’s such a contrast to the outside world! Of course, the use of iPhones in the midst of all that historic scenery makes me giggle a little but it would be a waste to not capture as much of the beauty of it in photos. I did really love the fact that the family that runs Bingley Tea’s dresses in historic clothing, has a beautiful canvas sales tent and uses a smart phone as a cash register!

Lily, Ella and I on the morning of the festival.  These dresses are so comfortable.  Straw bonnets will make your head itch, though!

Lily, Ella and I on the morning of the festival. These dresses are so comfortable. Straw bonnets will make your head itch, though!

We loved these hand-painted shoes on the silent auction table.

We loved these hand-painted shoes on the silent auction table.

The Locust Grove estate is the perfect setting for this event. It's lush, green lawns leave plenty of space for everyone.

The Locust Grove estate is the perfect setting for this event. It’s expansive lawns leave plenty of space for everyone.

This young lady was swirling paints to make stain beautiful stationery and notebooks.

This young lady was swirling paints to stain beautiful stationery and notebooks.

A highlight for me was the author talk! This is Jo Baker, author of "Longbourne."

A highlight for me was the author talk! This is Jo Baker, author of “Longbourne.”

I tried to pack an authentic picnic lunch.

I tried to pack an authentic picnic lunch.

These young people were playing lawn tennis while we ate our lunch.

These young people were playing lawn tennis while we ate our lunch.

One of the cool new features this year was the military encampment. This table gives you a sense of the provisions provided to the men-a good lesson for the girls!

One of the cool new features this year was the military encampment. This table gives you a sense of the provisions provided to the men-a good lesson for the girls!

In the encampment

In the encampment

I loved this display. I think they gathered letters from volunteers a month ago and presented them to the military men in a packet, like they would have gotten while in service. I was so sad that I ran out of time to include one from us!

I loved this display. I think they gathered letters from volunteers a month ago and presented them to the military men in a packet, like they would have gotten while in service. I was so sad that I ran out of time to include one from us!

Yep, there was a table with real leeches! Hooray for modern medicine!

Yep, there was a table with real leeches! Hooray for modern medicine!

We wandered down to the creek this year, to this little outbuilding.

We wandered down to the creek this year, to this little outbuilding.

These ladies were lined up for the fashion show-always one of my favorite parts of the festival!

These ladies were lined up for the fashion show-always one of my favorite parts of the festival!

We LOVE the shadow puppets. This guy has an amazing reading voice and his wife does the puppets behind the screen.  It's a bit dark down there in the basement so please excuse the softness of the photo!

We LOVE the shadow puppets. This guy has an amazing reading voice and his wife does the puppets behind the screen. It’s a bit dark down there in the basement so please excuse the softness of the photo!

The girls annual photo on the porch.

The girls’ annual photo on the porch.

I HOPE we broke the world record this year for most people promenading in Regency wear. It sure seemed like we had more people!

I HOPE we broke the world record this year for most people promenading in Regency wear. It sure seemed like we had more people!

Lily started drinking milk in her tea after her visit to England last year.  Her favorite flavor of Bingley's is Marianne's Wild Abandon.

Lily started drinking milk in her tea after her visit to England last year. Her favorite flavor of Bingley’s is Marianne’s Wild Abandon.

I thought Ella's teacup was so beautiful! Her favorite flavor is Mrs. Jenning's Delight.  I think we each drank 12 cups of tea!

I thought Ella’s teacup was so beautiful! Her favorite flavor is Mrs. Jenning’s Delight. I think we each drank 12 cups of tea!

This year's menu. Let me tell you, that Pimento Cheese/Benedictine stack is SO YUMMY. I don't know what's in it, besides pimento, but MMMMM.

This year’s menu. Let me tell you, that Pimento Cheese/Benedictine stack is SO YUMMY. I don’t know what’s in it, besides pimento, but MMMMM.

Yummy tea food!

Yummy tea food!

We all three of us had Mr. Darcy's Favorite Lemon cake. It was divine-tart and really delicious!!

We all had Mr. Darcy’s Favorite Lemon cake. It was divine-tart and really delicious!!

And I was so sad to leave. It’s hard to wait a whole year for the next festival but next year, we hope to attend the ball and you know that means-new dresses! We also hope to jazz up our day wardrobe. In the meantime, we’ll be drinking the many boxes of tea we bought and reading Jane over and over again.

Jane Austen’s Sponge Cake

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First, a victory in the garden! I hadn’t been in my vintage garden for four days, so I went out last night to check it and look what I found!

An eggplant and a huge zucchini!

An eggplant and a huge zucchini!

Now, for the good stuff. I am SO EXCITED because the girls and I are headed to Louisville tomorrow for the Jane Austen festival! This is our third visit to the event, which has become a summer highlight for us.

The girls at tea.  I think they love it as much as I do.

The girls at tea. I think they love it as much as I do.

It’s a great mother-daughter bonding day. We dress up in our Regency clothes, act elegant and refined, shop, enjoy good food and tea, and learn new things about the era. It’s such a beautiful day-the clothes, the manners, the food- and it’s always a great way to make history come to life your kids. I always make a point to tell my girls about the hardships the women of this era faced. It wasn’t all tea times and piano playing and bonnet-wearing. These ladies had to depend on men for their financial security. They faced life-threatening danger in childbirth. They endured the hardships of poverty and disease. This is why Jane Austen is so incredible-she was among the first women to make her own money writing novels and she created believable, flawed characters who found themselves in all kinds of desperate situations, but who persevered.

One of the big improvements the girls and I are making on our trip this year is lunch! I received a picnic basket for my birthday and I’m putting it to use. I’ll be packing us an authentic Regency-era picnic-cold meat and cheese, biscuits and jam, berries, some root vegetables from the garden, and a cake! Specifically, this wonderfully delicious and easy cake which I found in Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends by Laura Boyle.

You can't tell it fell apart, can you?

You can’t tell it fell apart, can you?

This cake is easy to mix in modern times (thank you Kitchen Aid mixer! What a chore it would be to do this without you!)

The main ingredients are ten eggs, separated.

The main ingredients are ten eggs, separated.

You whip the whites until they form stiff peaks.

You whip the whites until they form stiff peaks.

Then you beat the yolks, mix in the sugar and flour, and fold in the egg whites.

Then you beat the yolks, mix in the sugar and flour, and fold in the egg whites.

The fluffy mixture bakes at 325 for one hour. It fluffs up!

The fluffy mixture bakes at 325 for one hour. It fluffs up!

Now, I do confess to having a bit of a disaster with the final product. The instructions call for you to cool the cake in the pan, upside down like an angel food cake. I think I greased my pan a little too well because when my husband and I flipped it, the cake came sliding out-in two pieces! Now, it was still warm and we immediately put the two pieces back together and the sugar, which was still caramelizing, sort of glued the two pieces together. No matter, really-you serve this cake by slicing it thinly, and spreading some jam between two thin slices, then topping it with a dollop of whip cream. It has a crunchy crust and a fluffy texture inside-really yummy!

Dessert is so awesome, isn't it?

Dessert is so awesome, isn’t it?

Ingredients

10 eggs, separated
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup flour

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour well a Bundt or sponge cake pan.

Whip the egg whites with a beater or in a stand mixer until stiff peaks form, about 10 minutes on medium high speed. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg yolks until foamy. Add the sugar and, when that is well incorporated, mix in the flour.

When the ingredients are well combined, fold in the egg whites slowly (I did mine in three sections).

Pour mixture into the pan and bake it for one hour or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool on a rack, then remove from the pan carefully.

Slice thinly, spread jam between the slices, and serve with whipped cream.

To say I cannot wait for tomorrow’s picnic would be an understatement. Here’s hoping for no rain! Watch for photos and a wrap up of the festival in the coming week and if you are attending, look for me and say hi! I’ll be wearing a white dress with a green sash and a straw bonnet with green trim!

The Vintage Garden Project: Year Two

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It’s been too long since I posted! It’s been terribly busy for me, both personally and professionally, and it was so upsetting to me to leave the blog with no new material for so long. My apologies.  Dear readers, you have not been far from my thoughts for any length of time.

I do have a new recipe which I will post soon! It comes courtesy my second Vintage Garden-yes, I’ve got crops already! I was late on planting, because of all my business but lo and behold, the garden is producing even though I can never seen to dedicate the proper amount of time to it.

This year, I have planted a smaller crop, focused more on vegetables and plants that I actually use in my kitchen-what a concept! I also have been carefully composting coffee grounds, egg shells, and other kitchen scraps all winter long to boost the nutrient content of the soil. Returning from last year’s crop is parsley (which I let go to seed last fall and again this spring, in hopes that I’ll have a fall crop!), strawberries, and a mystery squash-type plant that cropped up between two of my raised beds.  It’s producing flowers but no fruit yet so I must wait to discover it’s identity-but I suspect it comes from something I threw into the bed last fall as compost.  

What do you think my mystery plant will turn out to be?

What do you think my mystery plant will turn out to be?

I actively planted red cabbage, basil, turnips, several kinds of tomatoes, radishes, carrots, sweet peppers, heirloom crookneck squash, and eggplant.  I also planted okra, which did not sprout. Boo.

I got a radish!

I got a radish!

Red cabbage

Red cabbage

As I did last year, I planted pieces of raw, whole fish with my transplants to give them a good boost of fertilizer right from the start.  They're stinky but boy do they work!

As I did last year, I planted pieces of raw, whole fish with my transplants to give them a good boost of fertilizer right from the start. They’re stinky but boy do they work!

I was fortunate to have a small crop of strawberries, which we picked a little on the green side, on the day before we left for vacation. Good thing we did that too, because when we got back, a mole had dug a hole under the bird netting and PICKED THEM CLEAN!

Strawberries, a little green!

Strawberries, a little green!

Darn mole!

Darn mole!

Peppers in foreground, then squash, then eggplant near the fence.

Peppers in foreground, then squash, then eggplant near the fence.

Hello there, eggplant!

Hello there, eggplant!

I also enjoyed a bunch of wild garlic I dug out of the garden while I was planting the initial crop.  The bulbs were so small, but it was good for roasting, soups, and mincing into juice to give dishes an extra punch of flavor.

Lovely wild garlic

Lovely wild garlic

My cabbages are being eaten by bugs. I am using a homemade spray made of crushed garlic and red pepper and water… I’ll let you know if it works!

I take three crushed cloves of garlic and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes and mash them together really good with a mortar and pestle.

I take three crushed cloves of garlic and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes and mash them together really good with a mortar and pestle.

Add the mixture to a spray bottle, add water, and let the whole thing steep for 12 hours. Then spray on your affected plant leaves!

Add the mixture to a spray bottle, add water, and let the whole thing steep for 12 hours. Then spray on your affected plant leaves!

Watch for more blog entries soon!

Kentucky-Style Scalloped Potatoes, ca. 1887

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If you’re interpretation of scalloped potatoes involves a box with dried potatoes and powdered cheese, stop right now. What if I told you that the first versions of scalloped potatoes were just as easy to make as the boxed variety?

Kentucky Style Scalloped Potatoes

It’s true. I made this recipe, which I found in the White House Cookbook, published in 1887. It took very little time and was enjoyed by my whole family. Out of curiosity, I did a little research and discovered that most scalloped potato recipes labeled “Kentucky-style contain no cheese (don’t Kentuckians like cheese?) But that makes it healthier, right? Bonus!

This recipe took about 15 minutes to whip together and left me time to prepare the other parts of the meal. It was a creamy, fancy alternative to plain baked or mashed potatoes.

Potatoes

Ingredients

5 medium size baking potatoes
Salt
Pepper
About 4 tablespoons total of butter
1/2 sweet onion, chopped, or about 2 tablespoons dried onion
About 4 tablespoons flour
2 cups hot milk

Instructions
Peel and slice 5 raw potatoes thin.

Spray an 8 x 11 dish with cooking spray. Put in a layer of potatoes, and season with salt, pepper, dots of butter, a bit of onion chopped fine or sprinkle on some dry onion, and a tablespoon of flour sprinkled over the whole layer. Now put another layer of potatoes and the seasoning. Continue in this way until the dish is filled.

Just before putting into the oven, pour the hot milk over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the potatoes are slightly brown and soft, and the milk is bubbly. Allow to sit for five minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

Deviled Eggs, ca. 1917

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So, now that Easter is over, I have three cartons of colored, boiled eggs in my refrigerator.

Pretty, aren't they?

Pretty, aren’t they?

I love boiled eggs, but using three dozen up is a bit of a challenge, unless you transform them into something else.

The first thing that came to mind was deviled eggs. Everyone loves them and they’re super easy to make.

Vintage Deviled Eggs

I actually had a hard time finding a recipe for deviled eggs in my vintage cookbook collection. This surprised me, because I was able to find a recipe that dates to Ancient Rome on FoodTimeline.org. It calls for the yolks to be mashed and mixed with pepper, garlic, anchovies, olive oil, and wine. The mixture is piled back into the boiled white. Sounds yummy! You can also find recipes in Medieval European cookbooks, which call for the eggs to be stuffed or “farced” with raisins, cheeses, sweet spices, or suet! I think I prefer the Romans’ recipe.

The term “deviled” came into vogue in 18th century England and was applied to a variety of foods.  It generally referred to foods seasoned with mustard, curry, cayenne or other fiery spices. (Side note: I have made egg salad with curry-it is fantastic!!)

I finally settled on a recipe I found in a book I got as a parting gift when I left my TV news job last July. A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband by Louise Bennett Weaver and Helen Cowles Lecron was published in 1917 and is hilarious. It’s written like a novel, in chapter form, following the cooking trials and tribulations of Bettina, a newly married housewife who spends a lot of time and energy making lunches and dinners for her husband Bob, and a variety of friends and family who come to visit them in their new home. It’s very quaint, slightly silly, and amusing to my feminist sensibilities. This recipe comes from the chapter where Bettina serves a Fourth of July picnic.

A note about the recipe-I added mayonnaise because without it, the yolk mix was dry and crumbly and I was sure my family wouldn’t like it. Store mayo was a new concept in 1917, so it makes sense that it wasn’t included in this recipe. But your modern palate might prefer it. The mix does have a bite to it, thanks to the vinegar, but I rather liked it! I would leave out the salt next time, but I left it in the recipe as an optional item.

Half the eggs and remove the yolks.

Half the eggs and remove the yolks.

Mash everything together. I  was lucky-my parsley came up again this spring in my garden in a perfect row, so I had fresh parsley for this recipe!

Mash everything together. I was lucky-my parsley came up again this spring in my garden in a perfect row, so I had fresh parsley for this recipe!

This is what it looked like without the mayo.

This is what it looked like without the mayo.

Ingredients
6 hard-boiled eggs
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/4 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley or 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt (Optional)
3 tablespoons mayo (Optional)

Instructions
Shell the eggs. Cut lengthwise in half, remove yolks, and mash them.

Add the vinegar, mustard, butter, parsley, and salt and mayo, if you desire.

Refill the egg whites and serve. Enjoy!

Pretty good!

Pretty good!

Julia Child’s Crepes with Creme Anglaise

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Editor’s note: This blog post is guest-written by my 13-year-old daughter, who was required to cook a French dish for her French class! I am using her project report as the text for the blog. She did a great job. We chose to make berry-stuffed crepes with creme anglaise, which is a light, custard-based pouring sauce used mainly with dessert dishes. This recipe makes 2 cups of the creme anglaise, so there are plenty of leftovers-try it on pancakes and waffles, french toast, or pound cake. You can serve it hot or cold. One note about the reference to the pan-I do not have a crepe pan. We tried using a griddle, but we switched to a non-stick skillet with rounded edges, which heated the batter more evenly, to my surprise. Enjoy!

I really enjoyed this project because it was different. You don’t cook for a grade very often, so this was enjoyable. We did not have to go shopping; as I picked a recipe that I already had the ingredients for, which was convenient. I used a kitchen-aid mixer as opposed to something else, like a whisk, which saved a lot of time.

The crème anglaise took a bit of patience because you had to continuously stir it while it thickened for a long period of time, but it was worth the wait. It did not thicken as much as I had hoped, but it was still delicious with the berry crepes. The crepe batter we used was flavored with brandy and vanilla, so it was good even plain or with a little sugar.

I did end up making a pretty big mess, but that’s half the fun, right? My favorite part of this project was definitely eating it, and my least favorite part was probably trying to make the first few crepes. The pan I had wasn’t working very well, and the batter kept going on too thick and would not cook all the way through. I made a mess, but made some good ones eventually.

Ingredients
For creme anglaise
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tsp cornstarch or potato starch
1 3/4 cup boiling milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon rum, kirsch, cognac, brandy, orange liqueur, or instant coffee (optional)
For crepes
1 cup flour
2/3 cup cold milk
2/3 cup cold water
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons melted butter

Instructions

To make the creme anglaise, place the egg yolks and sugar into a mixing bowl and combine, beating for 2 to three minutes, until the mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon. Beat in the cornstarch.

Beaten egg yolks and cornstarch

Beaten egg yolks and cornstarch

Keeping the mixer running, gradually add the boiling milk in a thin stream of droplets to allow the yolks to slowly warm. If you add the milk too quickly, the eggs will cook and you’ll be finished! We used a spoon and dripped the milk into the yolk mixture, one spoon at a time.

We added the milk one spoon at a time to keep from heating the eggs too rapidly.

We added the milk one spoon at a time to keep from heating the eggs too rapidly.

When all the milk has been added, pour the mixture into a heavy saucepan and set over moderate heat, stirring lowly and continuously with a wooden spoon and reaching all over the bottom and sides of the pan, until the sauce thickens just enough to coat the spoon. Do not let the custard come anywhere near a simmer. (Max temperature would be 165 on a candy thermometer).

Lily pouring the mixture, which was quite foamy, into the saucepan.

Lily pouring the mixture, which was quite foamy, into the saucepan.

Stirring it over the heat.

Stirring it over the heat.

Take the sauce off the heat and beat it for a minute or two to cool it. Beat in the vanilla and any optional flavoring you choose.

Add the flavoring!

Add the flavoring!

Brandy makes everything taste better!

Brandy makes everything taste better!

To make the crepes, place all the ingredients listed above, in order, in a blender and blend for 2 minutes until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides when necessary. Refrigerate for two hours.

Blenders make mixing very easy!

Blenders make mixing very easy!

When it’s time to cook the crepes, hit a non-stick skillet pre-treated with cooking spray to medium heat. When you drop a few droplets of cold water on the surface, they should sizzle. Do not let it get to the smoke point! Spoon 2-3 tablespoons (we used a spoon ladle and did one ladle full) onto the pan and immediately begin to tilt the pan in all directions to cover the bottom evenly.

Almost ready to flip!

Almost ready to flip!

Cook about 1 minutes, or until browned on the bottom. Turn carefully and cook briefly on the other size. Cool on a plate as you continue to make the rest.

Lily made the crepes!

Lily made the crepes!

Light, sweet, beautiful!

Light, sweet, beautiful!

You can stuff crepes with a variety of things-jam, berries or other fruit, chocolate sauce, marshmallows, caramel, or plain powdered sugar. Drizzle creme anglaise over the top and enjoy!

Swan’s Down Easter Egg Cake, ca. 1953

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On my search for vintage Easter recipes, I came across this ad from 1953 from Swan’s Down for an Easter egg-shaped cake.

Cake ad from 1953.

Cake ad from 1953.

Sold!

(Actually, Swan’s Down has a whole section of old ads on their site-I’m thinking a Swan’s Down vintage cake ad series is in order!)

Swan’s Down cake mix is no longer manufactured, but you can use any cake mix in this recipe. It’s a perfect example of that 1950’s fixation with packaged foods that were easy to make. Because it’s so simple, it would be a fun baking project with kids!

Cheap yellow cake mix!

Cheap yellow cake mix!

You bake it like any other cake.

You bake it like any other cake.

Ingredients

One box yellow cake mix
One container chocolate frosting
One container white/vanilla frosting
One small bag jelly beans
1/2 cup flaked coconut
green food coloring

Instructions

Bake the cake in two 8 inch cake pans according to the package directions. Cool completely and remove from pans.

Commercial cakes contain too much leavener and tend to "dome."  Trim off the top to create a flat surface.

Commercial cakes contain too much leavener and tend to “dome.” Trim off the top to create a flat surface.

When cake is cool, cut each cake layer in two about 1/4 inch off center, making 2 large half-circles and 2 smaller half-circles. If the tops of the cake layers have “domed”, trim the dome off so the layers are flat on both sides.

Cut the layers in half, slightly off-center.

Cut the layers in half, slightly off-center.

Place these 4 pieces together, cut side down and with the smaller half-circles on the outside, with frosting between each layer to stick them together and form an egg shape.

Frosted and ready to be stacked.

Frosted and ready to be stacked.

Trim the rounded edges of the half-circles to make a more uniform egg shape.

Trim the layers to make a uniform egg shape. This can be tricky-trim a little bit at a time.

Trim the layers to make a uniform egg shape. This can be tricky-trim a little bit at a time.

Cover the mound with frosting.

Cover the whole mound with chocolate icing.

Cover the whole mound with chocolate icing.

Decorate with extra white and tinted frosting, jelly beans and any other Easter themed candy of your choosing.

Tint coconut green for the grass at the bottom of cake.

A fun addition to your Easter feast!

A fun addition to your Easter feast!

Enjoy!

Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Easter Eggs

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My brain has transitioned to Easter and all it’s culinary delights-ham, deviled eggs, salads, and candy.  I have an insatiable sweet tooth, so any holiday where baskets of candy are distributed is a good holiday in my book!

I was searching for easy candy recipes when I came across this unusual mixture on the internet. I can’t find a date for it… but the weird, secret ingredient — mashed potatoes- gives us a clue that helps me to date it to before 1940.

I love these!

Mashed potatoes are found in many baking and candy recipes before the 1940’s, as they were a common binding agent.  It sounds strange. I was so worried that the taste of the potato would show up in the eggs! But if you mash it well, it blends right in and you don’t even know it’s there!The secret ingredient! The secret ingredient!

I admit, this step felt weird but the potatoes disappear in the peanut butter.  Magical!

I admit, this step felt weird but the potatoes disappear in the peanut butter. Magical!

Make an egg shape...

Make an egg shape…

Dipping into the chocolate.

Dipping into the chocolate.

One note-this recipe contains a raw egg white. If you feel uncomfortable about it, you can use powdered egg white substitute OR meringue powder (watch to make sure there’s no added sugar). You can also substitute any nut butter! DO NOT substitute instant mashed potatoes for the real thing-they just don’t work as well.

These eggs are really easy to make and delicious. You can decorate yours to match the season, if you like!

Ingredients

One medium potato, peeled and cubed
One 18 ounce jar (or 2 cups) creamy peanut butter
One egg white, beaten until foamy
1/2 cup margarine
16 ounce package of confectioner’s sugar
12 ounce bag chocolate chips OR half a package (six blocks) of chocolate bark

Instructions

Place the potato in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash until no lumps remain. Set aside and let cool.

Mix peanut butter, egg white, and margarine in a bowl. Add half the confectioners sugar, mix, and then continue adding sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until the mixture is stiff and holds a shape when pressed but is not dry or crumbly (I used about 3/4 of a bag).

Mix in the cooled potato.

Cover mixture and refrigerate at least two hours.

When the mixture is well chilled, melt the chocolate chips or the chocolate bark in the microwave. Take a spoonful of the peanut butter mixture, shape into an egg, dip it with tongs or a spoon into the chocolate, and set the covered egg on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.

Do this until all the peanut butter is gone. If you want to add sprinkles, do so immediately after dipping the egg in chocolate. Let them sit until the chocolate is set. Store in the refrigerator.

As good, or maybe better, than Reece's!

As good, or maybe better, than Reece’s!

Enjoy!

Julia Child’s Homemade Mayonnaise

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There’s a scene in the movie “Julie and Julia” where Julia and her Mastering the Art of French Cooking co-authors are discussing the task of creating a fool-proof mayonnaise recipe that housewives can duplicate. They’re trying to make it easy, but their angst makes it seem like it must be a difficult recipe to duplicate. Thus, I vowed never to try it.

Until I did.

Julia Child's Mayo

It happened rather simply. I had six egg yolks left after a weekend of baking recipes that contained egg whites.  I hate waste.  I could feed them to my dog, but that felt like it wasn’t the frugal thing to do.

I remembered the mayonnaise recipe. I felt adventurous. I just decided to do it.  Nike would be proud.

It turns out, making mayonnaise isn’t exactly difficult-it just takes a lot of time.  If you don’t have a KitchenAid mixer or a stand mixer, it will also take a lot of muscle power. Fortunately, I have Babs and a book to keep my occupied during the half hour mixing process. Use a medium speed on your mixer while incorporating the oil.

Homemade mayonnaise is SO. MUCH. BETTER. than store-bought mayo. I can hardly believe I waited this long to make it. I’m not a huge mayo fan, but I find I am using it more now that I have my little plastic container of homemade bliss. It’s rich and creamy and doesn’t taste like plastic.

Thanks, Julia!

Thanks, Julia!

If I can do it, you can do it! This recipe comes, of course, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, published in 1961. It makes about a cup of mayo. I’ve included some videos to help you, as it really is necessary to show the process of incorporating the oil into the yolks.

It starts with three egg yolks and a mixer.

It starts with three egg yolks and a mixer-although I kept thinking about how Julia did the beating of the yolks and the oil by hand… ouch!

Julia has some extra tips with her recipe.
1.) Temperature: Mayonnaise is easiest to make when all ingredients are at normal room temperature. Warm the mixing bowl in hot water to take the chill off the egg yolks. Heat the oil to tepid if it is cold. Make sure your egg yolks are at room temperature.
2.) Egg Yolks: Always beat the egg yolks for a minute or two before adding anything to them. As soon as they are thick and sticky, they are ready to absorb the oil.
3.) Adding the Oil: The oil must be added very slowly at first, in droplets, until the emulsion process begins and the sauce thickens into a heavy cream. After this, the oil may be incorporated more rapidly.
4.) Proportions: The maximum amount of oil one U.S. Large egg yolk will absorb is 6 ounces or 3/4 cup. When this maximum is exceeded, the binding properties of the egg yolks break down, and the sauce thins out or curdles. If you have never made made mayonnaise before, it is safest not to exceed 1/2 cup of oil per egg yolk.
5.) REFRIGERATION: After several days under refrigeration, mayonnaise has a tendency to thin out, especially if it is stirred before it comes to room temperature.

Ingredients

3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups olive oil

Instructions

Warm the mixing bowl by running it under warm water. Dry and add egg yolks, beating for 1-2 minutes, until they are thick and sticky.

Add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, the salt and the mustard. Beat for 30 seconds.

Time to add the olive oil

Time to add the olive oil

The egg yolks are now ready to receive the oil. Add it a teaspoon at a time while beating the mixture constantly. Watch the oil and not the sauce. When the egg yolks have absorbed the oil, add another teaspoon-and not before!

Keep doing this until you have added 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the oil. At that point, you’ll see the sauce thicken and you can take a deep breath, because the “crisis” point is over. If you are beating the sauce by hand, you can rest for a second. Then keep adding the oil, one to two tablespoons at a time, blending thoroughly after each addition.

When you have added all the oil, beat two tablespoons of boiling water into the sauce to keep it from curdling.

Season to taste with wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, mustard, curry, or any other spice you like.

Thickened up and ready for sandwiches!

Thickened up and ready for sandwiches!

If the sauce is not used immediately, scrape it into a small bowl and cover it closely so a skin will not form on its surface.

Enjoy!

Julia Child's Mayo

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