Sweet Pea Salad

 

pea saladSummer is the season of all manner of salads, fresh and crunchy, sweet, vinegary, sauced and everything else your imagination can create. Sweet Pea salad is one that I don’t see very often and yet I find it to be such a unique flavor that I thoroughly enjoy it each time it is served.

Smooth green peas melt on your tongue, with a touch of egg, crunch of celery and hint of red pepper and onion, it is a flavor sensation on your taste buds. It puts a smile on your face and enhances all the dishes that accompany it.

Add Sweet Pea salad to your celebration this holiday and see how well it is received by all. You may want to tuck a copy of the recipe next to it for all those requests you are sure to get.

Makes about 6 cups

  • 6 hardboiled eggs, peeled and chopped small
  • 1 small red pepper, fresh roasted or canned, cleaned, peeled and diced
  • 2 cans Le Sueur sweet green peas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons white or red onion, finely minced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup mayo, Hellman’s regular (not salad dressing)
  • Crisp bacon crumbles, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Add a splash of fresh lemon juice to brighten the flavor. Gently blend with mayo to desired consistency. Chill thoroughly. Store in the refrigerator until read to serve.

Peggy Sholly
Down Home Delicious®
A Taste of Down Home Delicious®
Down Home Delicious® Extravaganza

Red Potato Salad

 

chunky potato saladSometimes I think my whole life centers around food because I cook and talk about food so much. Its not really that way but I am a serious foodie. My husband, my children and I have definite preferences in food and have no shame when it comes to professing our favorites. One of those family favorites is potato salad. Not just any potato salad but for my family it is MY potato salad. More food snob than foodie. There is nothing magic about my recipe. It is a very easy recipe with a ratio of one medium red potato to one large egg per person for generous portions.
We have a cute story we like to share in our family regarding potato salad. My sons grew up to be outstanding cooks and even stronger food snobs wanting only “Mom’s” food. Their poor wives had a struggle at the beginning. My eldest son’s wife came to me early in their marriage begging me to teach her how to make potato salad.
Because the recipe is easy and she is a gifted cook, she learned quickly. The problem was that my son snubbed his nose at her potato salad saying it wasn’t like mine. After a few discouraging times we worked out a plan. The next time she made potato salad she told him I had dropped off a bowl of it for him and he gobbled it up saying how much he loved it. When he finished eating she told him it was in fact her potato salad. We got a big laugh out of the experience and you can bet she didn’t have any more complaints from him.
Different people have different tastes so I have offered two pictures of potato salad to show you how different they can be. The one picture is what I recognize as southern potato salad and the other is chunky potato salad with skins. Either is delicious so try one or both.

Makes 1½-2 quarts

  • 4 unpeeled medium size red potatoes
  • 4 large or 3 jumbo eggs in the shell
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup dill, or sweet, relish, optional
  • ½ teaspoon prepared yellow mustard, optional
  • ½ cup mayonnaise, Hellman’s preferred
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced celery or ¼ teaspoon dried celery seed, optional

Wash potatoes until clean. (I use red potatoes because they do not fall apart like white potatoes and do not become mashed potato salad like white potatoes tend to do). Put deep holes in potato. Place potatoes, eggs (gently), and salt in a large pot and cover with cool water. Bring water to boil. Immediately turn heat low enough to allow water to bubble gently and cover pot with a lid. Cook for 35-45 minutes. After 10 minutes remove eggs and cover with ice to stop cooking process. Allow to cool to room temperature. After potatoes have cooked a full 35 minutes, test a large potato with a fork to see if it is tender inside. As soon as potatoes are tender, drain water, cover with ice and cool to room temperature. You can peel hot potatoes under the faucet with cool water running, just strip skin off and return to water until cool.

While potatoes are cool, peel and dice eggs, and place in another bowl. Add relish, and mustard, if preferred. Add mayonnaise (not salad dressing), salt and pepper, and mix well. If you like celery in your potato salad you can add a little finely chopped celery or a small amount of celery seeds at this time. Taste and adjust salt and pepper seasoning as needed.

When potatoes are sufficiently cooled, dice potatoes into a large bowl. Hint: Like potato skins? Leave skin on a couple of potatoes before dicing but too much skin will be overpowering. Add egg mixture to potatoes, mix well and taste again, adjusting seasonings as necessary. Personal taste dictates how much mayonnaise and/or seasonings you may want to use. Because you can’t judge in advance how dry a potato may be inside, be sure that you put sufficient mayonnaise in your salad to make it moist. Season to taste.

I like plain potato salad, so I do not generally get very creative. However, you may choose to substitute an equal amount of sour cream for a portion of the mayonnaise. Suggestion: Add a small amount of the other flavors into about a cup of the potato salad in a small bowl, mix and taste. If you do not like the new combination it has not ruined the whole batch. Potato salad is best chilled and is always better when it has had time for the flavors to blend, anywhere for a period of a couple hours to over night.

Hints:

Recipe can be increased or decreased at a rate of one potato per one egg, then adjusting seasonings proportionally. This is not an exact science, so tasting and adjusting is an important part of preparation.

One of our more picky eater children visited last week and she devoured the potato salad. I knew I had done good. It is so simple that it’s a shame not to indulge yourself regularly.
Ya’ll have a down home delicious meal and no fighting over the potato salad please, there’s enough for everyone.

Peggy Sholly
Down Home Delicious®
A Taste of Down Home Delicious®
Down Home Delicious® Extravaganza

Italian Easter Bread is Easy, Delicious and Beautiful

 

Easter Egg BreadOh yum, major indulgence time is close. Jesus’ followers celebrate that the time of penance and fasting is over for He has risen. It is time to celebrate to the max. There are so many lovely things you can add to your Easter meal to make it special, to celebrate the joy of the day, and remind all of the blessing of new life that is given to us. Even non-Christians can enjoy these goodies simply because they are as beautiful and as fun as they are delicious. Two of my favorites are Easter bread and colored deviled eggs, recipe to follow soon.

Have you ever experienced a traditional Italian Easter Bread, especially one with a sweet contemporary twist? If not, its time you indulged yourself. This is a treat you can do with your children, or friends, or family, or by yourself as a gift for someone special. It is as delicious as it is appealing.

Italian Easter egg bread is a circular braided bread studded with dyed raw eggs in the shell, tucked into the braids of the unbaked bread. Traditionally, the eggs can be natural or dyed in festive Easter colors. Use brown eggs for a earthier version or color the eggs just like regular easter eggs but carefully so as not to break the shell. The yeast bread base comes out rich, fluffy, and is easily pulled apart plus the eggs are baked within their shells.

Easter Egg Bread, which is Greek in origin, has been made by Italian families for centuries for Easter celebrations and St. Joseph Altars celebrating the Feast of St. Joseph. Often families that bake their own bread simply use some of the bread dough, rather than a special recipe, to make the bread ring. For those of you who don’t want to make your bread from scratch you can purchase yeast bread dough in the cooler section of your local grocer and go from there. Follow directions on the package until time for braiding.

For those who do not want to make their own Easter Bread many bakeries prepare the breads for purchase. It just seems to taste better homemade. With a little creativity it can also be made for other holidays. My recipe is a cinnamony version of the soft tradiitonal yeast bread and is quite appropriate for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. But watch out, it can be addictive. Maybe it will become a new Easter tradition in your family or circle of friends.

Italian Americans often use eggs that are natural colored or that are dyed in pastel colors, because the colors are closely associated with Easter especially in the United States. The bread may be left plain or decorated with festive icing after baking. I prefer mine with colored eggs and icing…the more self-indulgent the better. If you want to be extravagant you can even go so far as to make it like an Easter basket, adding jelly beans and candy Easter eggs on the icing. Or make the center hole large enough to put Easter grass in the center after baking and cooling and fill the grass with Easter goodies like in an Easter basket. Get as fancy as you like, it is beautiful and fun either way, simple or extravagant.

Italian Easter Bread

SERVES 10

 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 .25-ounce package active dry yeast
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 5 small or 6 large raw eggs, washed, and dyed if preferred – eggs cook while baking
  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ cup granulated light brown sugar with ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon stirred into it

 

 

Hint: You can also make individual size braided breads with the colored egg in the center, or only two eggs tucked in the small bread, and that way each person may decorate their own for a fun experience.

Preparation

Combine one (1) cup only of the flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl and stir well.

Put milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until milk is warm and butter is softened but not melted (watch it carefully). Slowly add warm milk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring constantly. Add ½ cup flour and beaten eggs and beat well.

Add remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, blending well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, folding dough over repeatedly, until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

Place dough in a lightly oiled 3-4 quart bowl and turn dough to coat with oil. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and allow dough to rise in a warm place until dough is doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal size rounds, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each round into a long strip about 36 inches long and 1/2 inches thick. Spread butter lightly on top of dough strips leaving the edges without butter or sugar.

Sprinkle sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly over butter then roll up log fashion encasing the cinnamon sugar mixture. Use the two long rolls of dough to form a loose braid in a ring on a greased or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Leave spaces for the five eggs. Seal the ends of the ring together and use your fingers to slide the eggs between the braids of dough evenly spacing eggs around the circle as much as possible. Do not cover eggs with dough, they should be nestled about ½ way down inside of dough. See picture.

Cover dough on cookie sheet loosely with a damp towel. Place in a warm place and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Brush risen loaf with melted butter and sprinkle dough (not eggs) lightly with cinnamon sugar (1 tablespoon white granulated sugar with ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon stirred in).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. for at least 10 minutes. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven and cool completely. When thoroughly cooled drizzle or spread confectioners icing over top of dough (icing can be colored if you like) and sprinkle cookie sprinkles over icing. Other decoration ideas are in narrative and also follow.

Decoration:

To make eggs look like they are in a nest, do not add sprinkles. Instead, put a nice swatch of icing around egg, then sprinkle green tinted* coconut around eggs, to look like a nest of grass, pressing coconut down slightly to be anchored by icing.

*To tint coconut put it in a zip lock bag and add a few drops of food color. Seal bag and squoosh coconut around with fingers until it is evenly colored.

Ya’ll get ready for a down home delicious Easter and plenty of fun, fun, fun.
Hint: You can also make individual size braided breads with the colored egg in the center, or only two eggs tucked in the small bread, and that way each person may decorate their own for a fun experience.

Peggy Sholly
Down Home Delicious®
A Taste of Down Home Delicious®
Down Home Delicious® Extravaganza