Posts Tagged ‘Leigh Bullard Weisblat’

Community Easter Bread

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
Leigh watches Michael and Benjamin place their eggs in the bread.

Leigh watches Michael and Benjamin place their eggs in the bread.

 

Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without the Easter egg.

 

This symbol of spring represents fertility, youth, and new beginnings—all the hopes that suddenly arise in our breasts when the sun rises higher and earlier again in the spring.

 

This braided loaf is made more festive (and more seasonal) by the inclusion of eggs in its folds. Plain eggs work just fine, but I always welcome an excuse to get kids coloring things so I asked my nephew Michael and his friends Benjamin and Carson to dye some eggs for my loaf. 

Carson rolls an egg in his dye.

Carson rolls an egg in his dye.

I got extra help from my sister-in-law Leigh, who is MUCH better at braiding bread than I am.


So my Easter bread is a community event. I hope yours will be, too!

Leigh braids the rolls of bread.

Leigh braids the rolls of bread.

Ingredients:

 

2/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons sweet butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 packet yeast

2-1/2 cups flour (approximately)

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs for the batter
4 to 5 eggs in their shells for the braiding (dyed if you like)

 

 

Instructions:

   

In a small saucepan heat the milk and butter just to lukewarm; the butter will be soft but not melted.

In a medium bowl combine 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the yeast. Pour the milk/butter mixture over them, and leave the yeast to proof for 5 to 10 minutes.

 

Beat in 1/2 cup flour, the remaining sugar, the salt, and the 2 eggs; mix well. Add 1-1/2 cups more flour, and stir.

 

Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Knead it for 1 to 2 minutes, adding a bit more flour as needed.  Allow the dough to rest for 5 to 10 minutes; then continue kneading, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

 

Grease a medium bowl, and place the dough in it. Cover with a damp towel, and allow the dough to rise until it doubles in bulk, about 1 hour.

 

Uncover the dough, punch it down, and divide it into 2 mounds. Let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Stretch each mound into a roll at least 24 inches long.

 

Form a rounded braid with the two rolls, sealing them at the ends. Place the bread on a greased (or parchment-covered) baking sheet. Insert the eggs in their shells into spots in the braid. (If you wait to do this until the bread has risen again, the eggs will pop out of the bread; this happened to us!)

 

Cover the braid with a damp dish towel, and let it rise until it doubles, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees about 15 minutes before you want to bake the bread.  

Bake the braided bread until it is a golden brown, between 35 and 55 minutes depending on your oven. Makes 1 loaf.

 

easter-bread-web

 

The Festival of Lights (and Latkes!)

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008
Chic Cousin Jane Shows Off the Latkes

Chic Cousin Jane Shows Off the Latkes

Sunday evening my family celebrated the first night of Hanukkah. Our cousins Jane and Alan joined us for a laughter-filled evening, and we made latkes, something we do only once a year. (They’re too fattening and too special to make more often.)

Because we make them so rarely I have to recalibrate my potato pancakes each time I make them. The recipe that appears below is therefore a little vague. Adjust your latkes as you need to; I always do!

It’s traditional to use vegetable oil in these cakes, but I love the flavor that good olive oil imparts. The oil should, after all, star since Hanukkah celebrates oil that burned for eight days and eight nights more than 2000 years ago.

You may ask why I’m mentioning both Christmas cookies and Hanukkah pancakes on this blog. I was brought up doing a little bit of everything by my Jewish father and Unitarian mother. Even if I weren’t a religious mutt, I think I’d probably want to make foods for many different holidays. I love learning about different culinary traditions–and I embrace any excuse for food, fun, family, and friends.

Once a Year Latkes

Ingredients:
2 large baking potatoes

1 large onion, more or less finely chopped

1 egg, beaten (you may use another if you really need it)

2 to 4 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

freshly ground pepper to taste (we like lots)

extra-virgin olive oil as needed for frying

Instructions:

          Wash the potatoes well and peel them if you want to (the skins are nutritious so don’t feel you have to). Grate them. This takes a really long time with a box grater so we prefer to use the grater attachment of our food processor. We only get it out for latkes, and we never quite remember how it works, but luckily my sister-in-law Leigh kept the instruction book. Even more luckily, Sunday night Cousin Alan remembered how it works!

          Do not use the main blade of the food processor as it will make the potato pieces small and wet.

          Wrap the potato shreds in a clean dishtowel. Carry it to the sink, and wring out as much liquid as you can. Leave the wrapped shreds in the sink to drain while you prepare the rest of the ingredients (and maybe have a cocktail or two).

          In a medium bowl, combine the potato pieces, onion, egg, 2 tablespoons flour, salt, and pepper. In a large frying pan, heat a few tablespoons of oil until the oil begins to shimmer. Scoop some of the potato mixture out of the bowl with a soup spoon, and flatten it with your hand. Pop the flattened potato into the hot oil. It should hiss and bubble a bit; if not, wait before you put more pancakes into the oil.

          It’s just fine if your latkes are a little ragged around the edges; the potatoes are the main event, after all, and you don’t want them too homogenized. If they don’t hold together and are hard to turn, however, you may want to add a little more flour and even another egg to your batter.

         Fry the potato cakes a few at a time, turning each when the first side gets golden. Drain the cooked latkes on paper towels; then pop them into a 250-degree oven to stay warm until their cousins are finished cooking. When you run out of batter (or feel you have enough for your family!), light the menorah and serve the latkes. Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.

Michael and Cousin Alan Light the Menorah

Michael and Cousin Alan Light the Menorah

 Here are a few more photos of our evening:

At the Food Processor

At the Food Processor

Sister Leigh at the Stove

Sister Leigh at the Stove

latkes-on-tray-web3

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Hanukkah!