Eggs, eggs, eggs!
In concrete (photo Päivi Lemström):
In embroidery (photo Hanna Hosienna):
Under glass (photo via Tumblr):
On a branch (photo brumbrumai):
On sheet music (photo Vibeke Design):
Gadget of the Day: the pressure cooker. I was planning on raving about this device for some time and what an opportunity presented itself: the crown jewel of the Easter table, no less!
Definitely not in my top 5 when it comes to frequency of use and not the cheapest cookware either, a pressure cooker is an item well worth investing in nonetheless. But what the heck does it actually do?
Glad you asked! If you’re into science to some degree, you’ll find this interesting. If not, feel free to skip the next paragraph or, you could read on and tick the ‘Today I Learned’ box.
Invented in 1679 by French physicist Denis Papin, the pressure cooker is a vessel with a lid that seals airtight, fitted with a regulator valve for the slow and safe release of steam. The method is quite simple: during the cooking process, pressure builds up inside the pot increasing the boiling point of the cooking liquid.
Why is this any good? Because the cooking time shortens – you get the same result as if the food has been braised long and slow, but much quicker and with less energy used.
As I mentioned my pressure cooker isn’t out very often, but there are a few dishes I haven’t made in any other pan since I bought it. And Easter Ham is one of them.
BTW, have you ever wondered why we eat ham on Easter when under Jewish dietary laws pork is strictly forbidden? The answer is actually quite profane: it’s in season. Just like fruits and vegetables, meats also have seasons even if this fact is mostly shielded from us by modern storage techniques and efficient food supply chains.
So the tradition of eating pork instead of lamb to celebrate Christ’s resurrection started for practical reasons. Salted, smoked and cured hams of pigs slaughtered in the winter are ready to eat in the spring. And what a reward to think about during a long period of Lent!
In Hungary, we cook our ham for Easter. Traditionally I mean as I, for one, love to prepare the roasted and glazed variety too. For this dish I buy boneless, cured, smoked and netted shoulder cuts with the skin on. These are smaller pieces around 1,5 kg / 3.3 lbs, but would still feed an army (remember to leave room for all the other holiday delicacies!).
Naturally, you can make this in an average pot, but this way the cooking won’t take up half a day. Just put all ingredients in the pressure cooker, set the stove on high to reach boiling, than reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Steam and pressure will do the rest in less than an hour. Top tip: the remaining broth worth its weight in gold and it’s freezable!
I like to do the cooking the night before. After the meat has cooled slightly in the stock, I transfer it to a tray and carefully remove the netting. After a night’s resting, we eat it thinly sliced on Easter morning with hard-boiled eggs, radishes, spring onions, tangy horseradish sauce and fresh braided challah.
When I am to roast ham, I cook it the same way first. What if this year you stopped at that stage too?
Cooked, not roasted: the Hungarian Easter classic.
smoked, netted ham around 1,5 kg
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp whole black or mixed peppercorns
Do you also eat ham come Easter? How do you do it in your country? What do you eat it with?
Today is Good Friday (or Great Friday, as we call it here in Hungary), so I themed the following five images around Easter. Without further ado, a few things that have been inspiring me as of late:
Blossoming branches by Sylvia Home & Inspiration (blog not existing anymore):
A lovely quote by the American poet, essayist and lecturer:
Martha Stewart‘s Glazed Ham with Horseradish Cream:
This rustic Easter decor with subdued pastel hues:
And the cutest cotton tail ever:
Time flies and Easter is already around the corner which, wether you are religious or not, means feasting with a capital F around this part of the globe. With my family being no exception, I wanted to bring you a recipe, something traditional for the holiday that you usually buy instead of making yourself: braided challah!
Since we are among friends here, I will confess that I had an inexplicable fear of everything calling for yeast. Why though? I had no bad experience. Furthermore, growing up I watched both my grandmothers make the most amazing raised doughs turning out perfect every time. Than something snapped, and there’s no stopping me since!
I’ve overcome my reservations and now I urge you to be brave too and try your hands at yeast dough. Made from a few simple ingredients, this challah will be the most delicious, sweet-smelling, flaky-soft and savory beauty on your holiday table and you will think twice getting it from the store again.
Yes, yeast dough is not a 30-minute deal but you can think ahead and prepare your challah in advance, it stays fresh for days. Not that it will stand a chance surviving long enough to dry out (but there’s alway the option for French toast at such an unlikely event). I forgot to measure the loaf when it was ready, but this batch will satisfy your average hungry family at the Easter table for sure. I used this very solid, basic master recipe from Origo Táfelspicc (in Hungarian with detailed photos of each step) and altered it just a bit. Here you go:
500 g AP flour
½ tsp salt
1 packet active dry yeast
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup (250 ml) warm milk
1 egg + 1 yolk + 1 egg for the eggwash
1 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
Try with butter, jam, honey, fois gras… and you can thank me later. 🙂
Once you feel comfortable with the dough, braiding challah is great fun and your loved ones will be sooo impressed with your new talent! You will find tons of tutorials on the different braiding patterns out there.
Hope you are feeling more confident about working with yeast and will give homemade challah a shot. I’d love to hear how yours turned out, so let me know!