Natural Dye for Easter Eggs

This year, when coloring eggs, I experimented with some natural Easter egg dye from vegetables and spices.  The top row are various shades of blue from red cabbage on brown eggs (the left two) and white eggs (the right two).  The second row are reds, pink and browns from onion skins and beets.  From left to right:  red from yellow onion on a brown egg, pink from beet juice on a white egg, brown from onion skin on a white egg and brown from onion skin on a brown egg.  The bottom row are shades of yellow from turmeric.

This method is more time-consuming and laborious than just buying a PAAS kit. The results are not instantaneous either.  And the colors are not as exciting…but it is SAFER and HEALTHIER.

I used onion skins, turmeric, beet juice, and red cabbage to get brown, yellow, pink, and blue eggs.  The red cabbage worked out the best.  Turmeric would be the winner because it made a nice yellow and it was the easiest to do.  For all the eggs, be sure to refrigerate them as they are soaking in the dye, especially overnight.

Blue Eggs

2 heads red cabbage

6 cups water

6 tablespoons white vinegar

a dozen hard-boiled white and brown eggs

Roughly chop the cabbage. In a large pot, add water and vinegar.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the cabbage and reserve the “dye.”  Let it cool.  Put it in a smaller pot or bowl so that it will cover the eggs.   This should be enough for a dozen eggs, give or take one or two.  These will take on good color in no time.  I left some in overnight.  The brown eggs are a deep bluish-green and the white eggs are a nice blue.  If you soak them for only a few minutes, they will be a lighter blue.

Red eggs

12 yellow onions

4 cups water

4 teaspoons white vinegar

6 eggs, not pre-boiled

Skin the onions. Put onion skin, water and vinegar in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the skins and reserve the “dye.”  Let it cool. Put it in a smaller pot or bowl so that it will cover the eggs (add a little water if you need to). Boil the eggs as you would for hard-boiled eggs.  I brought them to a boil, then shut off the heat and let them sit, covered for 10 minutes.  The color on brown eggs is very deep red.  Leave in overnight for best color.  I did not try these on white eggs because I ran out, so I want to do it again on white eggs.

Now, if you don’t boil the eggs in the dye and just soak them in the onion dye, they will be brown, not red.

 

Brown eggs

1 bag red onions

4 cups water

4 tablespoons vinegar

6 hard-boiled white and brown eggs

Skin the onions. Put onion skin, water and vinegar in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the skins and reserve the “dye.”  Let it cool. Put it in a smaller pot or bowl so that it will cover the eggs.  Leave in overnight for best color.  You can see the brown eggs are darker and more reddish-brown than the white eggs.

Yellow eggs

3 teaspoons turmeric powder

3 tablespoons white vinegar

6 white eggs, not pre-boiled

water to cover eggs

Put all in a pot.  Boil as you would hard-boiled eggs. I brought it to a boil, turned off the heat, covered it and let it sit for 10 minutes.  Then, I rinsed them and let them dry.

Pink eggs

Juice from two cans or two packages of beets

6 white hard-boiled eggs

Add some water so that the juice will cover eggs.  Soak overnight.

OK, these don’t really get very pink.  I want to try these again using fresh beets because the color is supposed to be hot pink.  Stay tuned.

 

Gluten-Free Italian Easter Pie, Pizza Chiena/Pizza Rustica

pizza chiena, pizza rustica

Gluten-Free Pizza Chiena or Pizza Rustica, or Savory Italian Easter Pie

Pizza chiena or pizza rustica is a savory Neapolitan pie served at Easter time.  My family is from the area surrounding Naples and they called it pizza chiena, pronounced like pizzagaina, or pizzagain, as they pronounce the hard ch sound as a hard g in Neapolitan dialect and the last vowel is often left off.

pizza chiena, pizza rustica

Gluten-Free Pizza Chiena

For the crust:

5 cups gluten-free flour, not sifted

5 teaspoons xantham gum

3/4 cup shortening

4 eggs

warm water

olive oil

Put your flour on your work surface.  Dot with shortening and incorporate until it becomes somewhat crumbly (won’t be as crumbly as gluten flour would be).

Make a well and add eggs, incorporating them.  Add enough warm water until you have a workable dough.  Knead for about 5 minutes.  Put a little olive oil in a bowl.  Add the dough ball.

Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rest for about a half hour.

For the filling:

People use different ingredients in the filling.  It usually always has ricotta, eggs, grated cheese and salami.  From there, it varies.  You can also use gluten-free soppressata, capocollo, mortadella, or Italian sausage.  We only used soppressata, capocollo and salami.  One of my grandmas used provolone.  Also, some provolone can be sharp and you don’t want it to be too dominant a flavor.  Some people lump all the ingredients in there, some people chunk it, some people dice it very small, some people layer it.  It’s all your preference. 

1 lb. ricotta (Use a good brand with no added gums or thickeners.)

1 lb. basket cheese (If you can’t get this where you are, you can just use another pound of ricotta.  Or you can let one pound of ricotta sit in a colander or in cheesecloth the night before to drain out water.)

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1 cup gluten-free salami, diced or not (You can use any of the above listed meats, as long as they are gluten-free.)

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1 cup gluten-free prosciutto, diced or not

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8 eggs

1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese

1 cup fresh mozzarella, diced

black pepper to taste

egg yolk for egg wash

In a bowl, mix all ingredients.  Just stir it all together.  No mixer needed.

Grease and gluten-free flour a 10-inch springform pan or a 13×9 rectangular pan or a large cake pan or pie dish (depends on how much filling you have).

Cut off 2/3 of dough.  Roll it out into a circle and line springform pan.

Fill with filling.

Roll out remaining dough into a circle.  Top pie with it.  I used an Italy-shaped cookie cutter to decorate the top.  You can use any shape you like or no shape at all.  Brush with egg wash.

Bake at 375 degrees for 1/2 hour.  Lower heat to 350 for 1 more hour.  Let cool for a few hours.  Refrigerate.  We eat this at room temperature or cold from the refrigerator.

Gluten Free St. Joseph’s Day Zeppole

zeppole, sfince, sfinge

Happy St. Joseph’s Day! Now, everyone can partake in the festivities with a gluten-free version of zeppole or sfince/sfinge di San Giuseppe. I used the basic gluten-free cream puff recipe from King Arthur Flour. However, I did not have gf King Arthur flour on hand, so I used a homemade blend. My blend is from the all-purpose flour blend in Gluten Free & More magazine with a little tweak.

Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend

1 1/2 cups sweet rice flour

3/4 cup tapioca starch

3/4 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

OK, so you will still use 3/4 cup of this flour blend to make the cream puffs. Follow the directions for cream puffs. I spooned generous tablespoons of dough onto the parchment paper. For me, it made 8 cream puffs. When they are cooled, you will add the ricotta filling.

Ricotta Filling

about 2 lbs. ricotta (or two containers, some containers are 15 oz.), drained in a colander or cheesecloth to remove excess water

1 cup confectioners’ sugar (or to taste, if you like it more or less sweet)

milk, optional

chocolate chips

candied citron or orange peel

crushed pistachios

maraschino cherries

Mix the ricotta and sugar. If it is too thick, add a bit of milk (not too much because you don’t want it liquidy). If you want, you can add some chocolate chips or candied citron. You can also decorate them with candied citron, candied orange peel, crushed pistachios, and/or a maraschino cherry.

Senza Gluten, Senza Worry

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In Italian, the word “senza” means without. Senza Gluten is an Italian restaurant in the Village that is completely gluten free. This restaurant is a great concept because Italian food, with its myriad of pasta dishes, is often hard to find gluten free.  It is nice for people with celiac disease and those with gluten sensitivity or intolerance to have a night out senza worry.

For starters, we had cauliflower parmesan, cauliflower breaded with cheese and tomato sauce. A nice way to eat cauliflower.

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My friend ordered a Cesare, or Caesar salad.

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My entree was a vegetable lasagna, so the restaurant is vegetarian friendly as well.

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My friend got the risotto ai funghi, risotto with mushroom, parmesan and truffle oil.

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Finally, one is lucky to find a gluten-free entree at the average restaurant, let alone a dessert. Here, there are a number to choose from of Italian classics like tiramisu and panna cotta as well as a chocolate torte and biscotti.

One good thing to keep in mind while dining here is that Senza Gluten is cash and American Express only, so come prepared.

Day of the Dead Pan de Muerto

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I got some pan de muerto, or pan de los muertos, from a Mexican bakery for Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, also known as All Souls’ Day, November 2. Pan de muerto is a sweet bread made for the occasion that is a round loaf with bone shapes on top. Some of the bread is shaped like a person.

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I saw a wonderful replica of an ofrenda, a Day of the Dead altar, at the Museum of Anthropology at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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Gluten-Free Candy Corn Pretzel Fudge

This Halloween, I made a gluten-free version of Lil’ Luna’s Candy Corn Pretzel Fudge with gluten-free candy corn and white chocolate and my favorite Snyder’s of Hanover gluten-free pretzel sticks.

candy-corn-pretzel-fudge

Halloween Chocolates

I saw these delightful Halloween-themed chocolates in the window at Li-Lac Chocolates on Bleecker Street. Choose from pumpkins, witches, skulls or ghosts. I love the ghosts, and they are also available in milk and dark chocolate.

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