Saturday, March 30, 2013

Green Eggs & Brown Eggs & White Eggs: Experimenting with Natural Dyes for Easter

The results
The colors, before dyeing
Green eggs and brown eggs and white eggs, oh my! 

This year, to add a new twist to our usual naturally dyed Easter Eggs, we opted to experiment with several colors of eggs. Our local cookbook store, Omnivore Books, sells farm fresh, colorful eggs. I buy a dozen often. Two of our cats, Willow and Oolong, were even featured in their newsletter, checking out a new batch.

Are these cat food?
To add to these colors we picked up a dozen at 4505 Meats, because we wanted to include a few white eggs for comparison. We then hard boiled a dozen: 4 white, 4 green and 4 brown.
Our dyes were made with:
Blackberries (previously frozen, from our backyard patch)
Beets (One large red beet, roughly chopped)
Onion skins (mainly yellow, but with a few red mixed in as well, gathered from our vegetable drawer, about 1 cup in total)
Red cabbage (1/2 of a head, roughly chopped)

Place each dyeing material in a in separate pot and cover with water. After they reach a boil, lower your heat and simmer until you are happy with the color. In our case, that was about 30 minutes. Strain the liquid into 4 large canning jars (or bowls) and allow to cool.

We added our brown eggs plain, but for each white and green egg, wrapped a rubber band around the egg so we could tell them apart. 

Checking them out
Labeled, because as you can tell, they look alike
The results:
Cabbage after three hours. Note, from K: "I like that blue. I don't want them in any longer. You need to take them out. Now!  . . . The brown is weird looking."
Brown, white, green
We waited until the next morning to check the other three.

Onion: As you can see, one of the rubber bands fell off. K says "Very dark, but pretty."
White, green, brown
 Blackberry: Again, a missing rubber band. The most delicate color.
White, green brown
Beet:We were hoping they would be a bit pinker. 
White, green, brown

All of the eggs

Sunday, March 17, 2013

K's St. Patrick's Day Party Cake

"Mama, I want to make the cake like one of the Thiebaud cakes from Caitlin's book."
"What does that mean?"
"Vanilla cake with layers and filling inside."
"What kind of filling?"
"Can I use your lime curd?"
"The lime jelly?
"I want bright green frosting. And I mean BRIGHT green."

Her plan: 2 batches of Rose’s Downy Yellow Butter Cake, cut to make a total of 4 layers, filled with lime jelly and frosted with BRIGHT green buttercream, plus a few sprinkles for good measure.

Cake ingredients
Lime jelly to contrast with the sweet cake and frosting
The final cake
Leftovers. The jelly helps keep the cake moist.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

More from K: Sprouts Cooking at Tartine

It was a good cooking weekend for K: First the Omnivore Books pudding contest and then on Sunday she participated in a Sprouts Cooking class at Tartine Bakery. I've mentioned Sprouts here before, they offer cooking classes, camps and more, all designed to get kids better connected to the food that they eat and cook. K has really enjoyed everything that she has done with them and I admit that more than once I have wished that I could participate as well. Perhaps someday they will offer a parent-child class. For more info, see there site.

From K: "First we walked to Tartine. It felt like walking to school, except I had my kit of knives, a rolling pin, apron and two rags with me. As soon as I got there, they talked to us about kitchen safety and showed us around the kitchen. There were 9 kids in the group with one baker from Tartine and three from Sprouts. One of things we saw was a walk-in refrigerator. It was giant and had blocks of butter that were something like 44 pounds each!

They split us into groups and gave us a recipe. One group made a small batch and the other made a giant batch of a dough called Pate a Choux. I was in the giant group. We each got a different ingredient. I got two--butter and sugar! You had to scrape the butter off of one of the giants blocks. The sugar was in a regular container. 

After we finished the dough, we separated 120 eggs. We did not use them for our project. It was fun because there was so many of them and the pile of yolks was enormous. We needed to use two containers.

Then we piped the dough out onto baking sheets. I made broomsticks, circles, a K and an eight. While they were baking, we made whipped cream. We each had bowls and whipped it by hand. It took a while. At home we usually just do it in the mixer. Then we mixed some of it with pre-made pastry cream to make Bavarian Cream. Then we supremed citrus. That is a fancy way of cutting so you don't get any of the pith. It also makes neat slices.

When the dough was finished baking, we started assembling. We cut the shapes in half and put whatever we wanted inside: whipped cream, Bavarian cream, powdered sugar or fruit. Later they brought out caramel and two kinds of Bi-Rite ice cream: salted caramel and cookies and cream, that we could also use. The dough tasted kind of like a popover. They were really good and I made a bunch to bring home to Mama.

The best part of the class was assembling and eating. I learned how to supreme fruit and what Bavarian cream was. I also got to see the inside of a professional kitchen and that was cool. I was surprised at how small it was, considering how busy they are. The baker was also really nice and so were the kids. I hope I can go to Sprouts Camp again this summer."

Slightly messy from transport, but proof she really did bring some home.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Post from K: Cookies and Cream Pudding

Ready to go!
Whisking the pudding. I love my Wicked shirt!
Cookie crumbs, in process
Violet watched
To finish, whipped cream and a few chocolate pearls

Turns out 3 was both the entry number and placement!
K's thoughts on the Omnivore Books pudding contest:
When Mama told me that there was going to be a pudding contest at Omnivore, I wanted to enter. Actually, I wanted to eat pudding, but it seemed like it might be fun to do both. I had never made pudding before so it was really hard for me to decide to know what to make. Mama had a bunch of ideas like chocolate and butterscotch, but I wanted to do a vanilla pudding. Mama said it might be fun to think of something besides just plain vanilla. So I came up with the idea of layering. Mama suggested that I could layer with the Blue Bottle sable cookies, that I had made when we tested recipes. 

Step one was to make the cookies. Instead of making them look nice, I made a mess on the baking sheet because I was going to crumble them and did not care how they looked. Plus, it was fun. The next step was the pudding. I used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen and one from the New York Times. I started with one recipe and it seemed like it was not going to thicken. I let it sit overnight and then made a new pudding recipe, which worked. After I made the new one, I reheated the old one and it thickened. It needed to chill quickly because it was almost time for the contest.
When the puddings were cold, I started the next step, layering. I did cookies, pudding, cookies, a lot of pudding, cookies, pudding and then whipped cream flavored with vanilla. Then Mama let me use some of her chocolate pearls on top. 

Carrying it to the contest was hard! It was heavy and Mama had to help. My pudding was the third entry. There were a lot of people and a lot of different puddings. People got to taste every pudding and then they voted for their favorite. I came in third, sort of, because there was a tie for second place. It was really fun and I want to try doing it again.