What’s in Your Basket?

Easter has always had a close association with food. The word comes from the name for the Anglo-Saxon goddess of light and spring, Eostre, and special dishes were cooked in her honor so that the year would be endowed with fertility. As the first major holiday of spring, everything centers around new birth, and eggs, green vegetables, and spring lamb figure prominently in the cuisine. And the “forbidden” foods of Lent — butter, eggs, sugar and cream — reappear in an infinite variety of rich Easter breads.

This month I’m here to share with you two classic Easter recipes: Easter sweet bread and deviled eggs.

Being of Italian descent, bread continues to be a staple at any social gathering at my house and with my family. Think about bread for a moment. It’s the most common staple originating from the most common and inexpensive ingredients. And it is a food we all relate to and a food that we can share as we sit around the table enjoying a meal.

Plus the smell of fresh-baked bread would put a Yankee Candle to shame!

Sweet Bread Recipe

2/3 cup whole milk
5 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1-3/4 tsp. active dry yeast
2 large eggs, room temperature
2-3/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus 1/2 Tbsp., melted

Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat or in a microwave until it reaches 110°– 115°. Transfer milk to a 2-cup measuring cup and stir in 1 Tbsp. sugar. Sprinkle yeast over milk and whisk to blend. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs and whisk until smooth.

Combine remaining 4 Tbsp. sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add milk mixture. With mixer running, add 1/2 cup room temperature butter, 1 piece at a time, blending well between additions. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Knead on medium – high speed until dough is soft and silky, about 5 minutes.

Brush a medium bowl with melted butter and place dough in bowl. Brush top of dough with remaining melted butter and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, approximately 60-90 minutes (or 2–2 1/2 hours if dough has been refrigerated).

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. If using a loaf pan or free form baking on a tray, make sure that it is well buttered to prevent the bread from sticking. Brush the top with an egg wash (1 egg + 1 Tbsp. of water beaten) to ensure a golden brown color. Bake approximately 20-25 minutes or until the internal temperature is 185 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Serve plain, with butter, or be creative! I love to use it for French toast and bread pudding.

Deviled eggs, or eggs mimosa, are hard-boiled eggs, shelled, cut in half, and filled with the their yolk mixed with other ingredients such as mayonnaise and mustard, but many other variations exist. Deviled eggs are usually served cold. They are served as a side dish, appetizer or a main course, and are a common holiday or party food.

It seems that everyone has their own recipe for hard boiling eggs. Here is what seems to be the most popular way:

Cover the eggs with at least an inch of water in a large saucepan. Add a teaspoon of vinegar and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil. Cover, and remove from heat. Let sit covered for 12 – 15 minutes. Drain hot water from pan and run cold water over the eggs for a few minutes before peeling.

Classic Deviled Eggs

1 dozen eggs
1 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. minced onion or shallot
1/4 tsp. tabasco
Salt and pepper

Using a fork, mash up the yolks and add mustard, mayonnaise, onion, tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon egg yolk mixture into the egg white halves. Sprinkle with paprika.

Truffle Deviled Eggs

One dozen hard-boiled eggs, shells removed
1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp. truffle oil
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish

In a bowl, add the egg yolks, mayonnaise, truffle oil, salt, and cayenne pepper and mix well. Spoon or pipe the mixture back into the eggs, and garnish with chopped chives.

Salmon Deviled Eggs

3/4 cup diced, peeled russet potato (about 1 large potato)
One dozen hard-boiled eggs, shells removed
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. finely chopped red onion
4 tsp. chopped fresh dill
3 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 slices smoked salmon, cut into 1/4 inch strips

Peel and finely dice the potato and place in small pot of boiling, salted water and cook until fork tender, about 10 minutes. Place only 8 yolk halves in a bowl and discard remaining yolks. Add potatoes, sour cream, lemon juice, red onion, 2 teaspoons dill, and mustard to yolks. Mash with fork or a mixer until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fill egg white halves with seasoned yolk mixture. Garnish each egg with salmon strip and top with pinch of remaining dill.

Jay P. Obertance is a food, quality, and entertainment addict; a gourmand/chef with a passion for fine dining and a love of company to enjoy and share it with. As his motto goes, “Life is too short to eat mediocre food.”