Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easter & Smigus-Dyngus

This was our first Easter in the Burgh — far from home in Louisiana. So we decided to host a little brunch for a few friends  who couldn't make it to their respective homes across the country. 

Rasco is ready to party. 

Dress: Dear Creatures

Easter Brunch Menu  

Robert's Frittata 

Pistachio shortbread cookies, refreshing berry salad, veggie hummus & tabouleh platter. 

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies 
You may remember this recipe

Berry Salad
Package of sliced strawberries 
One lime sliced and halved
5-7 mint leaves chopped
Package of raspberries

Coffee Cake
11-12 inch spring form pan
2 cups flour
1 cups flour
2 cups + 3 tbs sugar
1.5 tsp salt
1 cup butter, two sliced sticks
1.5 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup + 2 tablespoon buttermilk
(I used the regular milk with lemon juice conversion)
1 whole egg
1 egg white 
3 tsp vanilla extract, and maybe a tad extra ;) 
1 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon, heaving tsps
1.5 - 2 cups crushed walnuts
Sprinkle nutmeg
1/2 - 3/4 stick of butter, sliced

Grease spring form pan with butter and sprinkle bottom with flour. 
Combine 2 cups flour with sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 
Reserve other cup of flour for crumble. 
Blend in 1 cup butter until crumbly dough forms. 
Add buttermilk (at room temperature), egg, egg white and vanilla.
Mix vigorously until the mixture is fluffy. 
Quickly spoon into spring form pan. 

Blend cinnamon, nutmeg, walnuts and reserved flour and butter.  
Avoid creating gluten by speedily pouring crumble atop. 
Bake at 350 for about an hour. 
(Start peeking at about 50 minutes.)

This recipe was inspired by one at Sally's Baking Addiction
Thank you Sally!

Pittsburgh Traditions as Promised 

When I moved to Pittsburgh, I was excited to learn about a new city's immigrant traditions. Pittsburgh has a large Polish population, which is new for me. And I recently learned about an after Easter Polish custom: Smigus-Dyngus. 

Smigus-Dyngus, or Easter Monday, is a Polish courtship ritual where a man enters the home of the woman he admires and throws water on her. The lucky lady can reciprocate on Easter Tuesday.

Older variations of the custom include spankings and drenchings in bodies of water. Apparently, pretty girls could expect multiple soakings ... again lucky ladies. 

In Pittsburgh, women don't get doused in water anymore, though I did consider dumping a cup on Robert yesterday (Tuesday) because ... well, I could? But a Pittsburgh bar has a Smigus-Dyngus water gun party. And another local bar in my neighborhood hosted a single mingle on the holiday.  Though the soaking sounds cold, a day celebrating looking for love and flirtation is ok in my book. 


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pistachio Maamoul

Some of you may remember I made maamoul a couple of years ago. But it definitely had a Louisiana twist. I was far from the rose water in my Lebanese family's traditional recipe. Which is such a romantic ingredient. And, I used Louisiana pecans instead of pistachios. I did still have my Oma to answer all of the questions I had while baking. 

It was a little bittersweet to tackle this recipe again without her. But she would have loved the Lebanese grocery, Stamoolis in the Strip, where I bought my rose water ... and the chocolate shop filled with German goodies nearby, Mon Aimee Chocolat

A cookie so nice, I made it twice 

- 1 cup cream of wheat (I had to use quick Quaker oatmeal instead)
- 2 cups flour
- 1 - 1.5 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup rendered butter (I used regular, heated butter)
- 1/4 cup milk or water
powdered sugar

For the filling combine ...
- 2 cups ground pistachios
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp rose water, ok 1.5 and .5 tsp arak — my secret ingredient* 
* If you don't have rose water, you can use almond or vanilla extract, or Oma suggested Whiskey when we made them together.

Combine cream of wheat, flour, sugar and rendered butter. 
Add milk slowly, as needed. 
Knead well.  Mold dough into small patties, flatten in palm of hand. 
Fill patty with one tablespoon of filling and cover with another patty. 
Close around edges.
Bake at 350 degrees until bottom is light brown. Probably 9-11 minutes. Broil or use top shelf to brown top quickly, only a minute or two on broil.

Cool and Sprinkle with powdered sugar ... I actually ground the leftover pistachio filling and added confectioners sugar to taste, and  coated the cookies in a pistachio powdered sugar — they smell heavenly! 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


OK, OK ... I have some news for you. 

I moved! 

This little blog(h) now lives in Pittsburgh. 
See what I did there? 

I am now living in the same city as Robert and working as the development editor for a Pittsburgh online magazine. So, life is good. And busy! Sorry for the lack of recipe this week, but I hope this serving of big news fills you! 

Robert and I enjoying a little rooftop picnic in the Strip District.  Via Instagram.

Now, that I am a Yat among Yinzers, get ready for some Pittsburgh food roots and recipes! If you are a seasoned Burgh resident, I would love tips, recipe advice and to get to know fellow blog(h)ers! 

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