This Easter season, we reflect on why traditions are important, feature ATG’s pick of some of the most famous Easter traditions and serve up some “old” and new Spring recipes, below (including Strawberry Chiffon Pie, Avocado and Crab Salad, and Lemon-Scented Risotto with Seared Scallops):
Cast off winter’s heavy garb with a slice of Strawberry Chiffon Pie. Light and airy and sweet as a breath of Spring air, it is a “traditional” dish from the ancient days of Betty Crocker – America’s fictional home cook, created for a promotional gimmick by Gold Medal Flour in 1921 to personalize responses to consumer inquiries. Betty Crocker became a cultural icon and part of American families’ food “traditions” for more than 90 years!
In fact, during the 1940’s the name “Betty Crocker” was known to nine out of ten homemakers and in APRIL 1945 she was, according to Fortune magazine, the second best-known woman (considered the “First Lady of Food”), following First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The “red spoon” is the most recognizable symbol of Betty Crocker today.
Madeline’s Strawberry Chiffon Pie (pictured above)
This is an old-fashioned recipe that is really simple though it has several steps to it, which makes it a little more time consuming, but well worth it. It is very light and very refreshing and is perfect as a Spring/Easter dessert!
Ingredients for the pie filling:
1 envelope plain gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup whipping cream
1 & 1/2 cups crushed fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 egg white
Extra strawberries for topping
Ingredients for the graham cracker crust:
1 & 1/2 cups graham crackers crushed
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
Mix crushed graham crackers with sugar, pour in melted butter mixing thoroughly and press firmly in pie dish. Refrigerate.
Meanwhile, soak gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes in saucepan. Add sugar and heat over medium heat stirring until gelatin and sugar have dissolved. Remove from heat; add crushed strawberries and lemon juice. Pour in glass bowl and place in refrigerator to cool for about 1 hour or until begins to set. When cooled and slightly thickened remove from refrigerator and beat until light and fluffy (about 3 min – this is what will help to make the pie light and airy). Set aside and proceed to beat the egg white until stiff and then whip the cream and fold both the egg white and whipped cream into the whipped strawberry mixture. Chill in refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Serve with fresh sliced and sugared strawberries and a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
For delicious appetizers and dinner, try the recipes below:
Avocado and Crab Salad (serves two)
1 1/2 cups fresh crabmeat
1/8 -1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 – 2 tablespoons preferably homemade in-store cocktail sauce
Kosher salt and pepper
Instructions for the crab salad:
Drain as much water from crab through strainer and then place in mixing bowl. Add 1/8 cup of mayo and a tablespoon of cocktail sauce, a couple squeezes of lemon and a dash of salt and pepper. Mix and then taste, adding more mayo, cocktail sauce, lemon or seasonings as needed. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for a couple of hours.
Instructions for the avocado:
Fifteen or twenty minutes before ready to serve prepare the avocado by slicing in half length wise and removing the seed. Using a sharp knife score each piece diagonally into moderately sized slices. Gently scoop out and place in shallow bowl or plate for preparation. Using the cooking “au pif” technique of cooking (by nose or instinct) squeeze a little lime juice on avocado pieces and a pinch of salt and pepper and gently combine enough to coat all pieces. With serving dish place avocado on plate and then crabmeat scattered on top. Serve with a lemon slice and any other vegetable of your desire.
Lemon-Scented Risotto with Seared Scallops (adapted from Nordstrom’s Family Table Cookbook)
Ingredients for the risotto:
6 cups chicken broth, heated
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Italian medium-grain rice or Arborio (I used the Italian “Vialone Nano” For Risotto which I bought in Italian market)
1/2 cup dry white wine (do not use sweet wine)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving, if desired
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
Kosher salt and pepper
Instructions for the risotto:
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a deep saucepan over med. heat and add onion stirring occasionally until translucent, about 2 min, Add rice and stir until the kernels are covered with oil and the rice feels heavy in the spoon (be careful not to toast or burn), about 2 min. Add wine and cook stirring until the wine has almost evaporated.
Add 1/2 cup of heated broth to the rice and cook, stirring frequently until the rice has almost completely absorbed the liquid. Adjust heat to med-low to keep the risotto at a steady slow simmer. Continue adding the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until broth is almost completely absorbed before adding the next addition and leaving 1/4 cup for the final addition. After about 15 min. or so the rice grains should be creamy, plump, and cooked through but still slightly chewy. If you run out of broth before the risotto reaches this point use hot water to finish. Take off heat and set aside with lid on while you prepare to sear the scallops. Once scallops have been seared and placed in oven you can finish risotto by stirring in the 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese , the 2 tablespoons of butter and the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. And finally season with salt and pepper.
Ingredients for the scallops:
8 very large sea scallops
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
Red Chili flakes (optional) – I sprinkle some on the scallops right after placing them in the skillet
Instructions for scallops:
Before making the risotto, place scallops in glass bowl and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper – let scallops come to room temp. Then after making the risotto, heat 2 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil on med-high heat (this requires constant attention so as not to burn the butter and oil and yet bring the skillet to a temperature that will sear and nicely brown the scallops). Add each scallop flat side down and sear until browned (about 2 minutes a side). Place on oven-proof platter in a 400 degree oven so scallops can cook through, about 3 minutes.
While scallops are finishing in the oven finish off the risotto by adding the last 1/4 cup of broth, the parmesan cheese and the lemon juice and the seasoning. Serve risotto and scallops with sautéed green beans or lightly sautéed snow pea pods.