One of the many traditions for Greek Easter is the coloring of all the boiled eggs red. In the Greek religion the Easter eggs are used to symbolize the blood of Christ. There is a game played at Easter called Tsougrisma. Each player gets a red egg. One player will gently tap the egg of another player. The winner is the one whose egg does not crack. This player will go on to play others. The winner is the one who successfully cracks the eggs of the other players. It is said that this will bring good luck to the winner through out the year. These are important traditions to my Greek heritage mother, so I did a little research. My maternal grandmother came to the United States early in the 20th Century from a small fishing village in Greece. In that small town they didn’t have access to red dyes. I discovered that the traditional way to dye the Easter Eggs was with a natural dye made from yellow onion skins. This method yields a deep rich byzantine red color, like the color that you find in many of the religious Greek icons. It’s the perfect color, the color of my mom’s childhood and it’s all natural. I suggest trying this out. You boil your eggs in the dye and you can save the dye to color more eggs, I kept it in a plastic container in the fridge. Have fun coloring your Greek Easter eggs!
As the weather cools and my herb garden fades, I still know that my favorite herb will still be available in my garden. My little rosemary bush is the first to planted in the spring and is the last to leave me in early winter. I have it planted near my kitchen door so that I can just dash outside with my scissor to grab a few sprigs while cooking. Towards late afternoon on the weekends, I like to prepare for guests a little snack to go along with a great glass of wine and watch the sunset over the water. So this time of year, when I am planning these snacks, I tend to use rosemary since it’s still available in the garden. I love the scent and taste of rosemary it evokes a combination of both the forest and the sea, much like the surroundings of my house. Fresh rosemary, which is my preference , looks similar to pine needles and when you chop the needles, the fragrance that is released is intoxicating! For the snacks start by getting some store bought olives, add rosemary, a squeeze of lemon juice and some small wedges of cut lemon, last drizzle with a little olive oil and the olives become much more special! The other snacks I’ve made with rosemary are each delicious and quite different, one is roasted almonds, the next is a crostini using crushed cannelini beans on toasts and the last is a savory cracker. Each is a perfect compliment to wine. Let’s raise a glass together to cheer for rosemary!
From by the bay, wishing you rosemary scented food memories!
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups raw whole blanched almonds
Additional coarse sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Heat olive oil in sauté pan add rosemary, salt, cayenne pepper and cook until fragrant – approximately 1 min.
Add almonds and coat and keep in the pan for another minute or two. Remove from heat and place on baking sheet in one layer. Bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring once. Remove from oven, sprinkle with additional coarse sea salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Variation: Roasted Pecans
This will taste completely different but just as delicious. Using blanched almonds as they roast the almonds will fry in the oil.
Replace 2 cups almonds with 2 cups raw whole pecans.
Rosemary Mashed Beans on Chili Toast
1 15.5 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons grated pecorino cheese
In small pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, add the rosemary when fragrant approximately 30 seconds, add cannellini beans and sauté for approximately 5-6 minutes, mashing beans with the bottom of a wood spoon. Combine beans with red wine vinegar, grated pecorino cheese and remaining olive oil to loosen mixture slightly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place bean mixture on top of toast. Serve.
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon chili flakes
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
4 slices ciabiatta bread
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place bread on nonstick baking sheet, brush with olive oil and sprinkle the chili flakes and salt over the bread. Bake until golden brown approximately 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
Rosemary Pecan and Parmesan Cheese Coins
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup pecan flour
4 ounces unsalted butter (1/2 stick), softened
1 tablespoon creme fraiche
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon fine grey sea salt
1 tablespoon rosemary, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons water
Pulse all ingredients except water in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of water.
Form dough by squeezing with hands, adding more water if necessary. Form dough into two logs approximately 1 inch in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut dough into 1/8 inch slices and place on baking sheets unlined. Place baking sheets in oven one on top rack and one on bottom shelf. Bake for 20 minutes in total until golden brown. Half way through switch baking sheets in the oven. Remove from oven and cool. Serve with wine or cocktails.