Easter 2016

It is Easter Monday and seemingly everyone else is off from work except me. The subway was empty this morning; I didn’t have to do my typical wait on the train for 10 minutes in the tunnel north of St. Clair West while empty trains are sent through for more important people. The offices at work are empty and it is a slow, rainy day.

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Easter weekend was relaxing, spent outside with beautiful weather and with amazing people. On Friday we made our traditional Italian pasta appetizers, calascioni. This is something that Ninni remembers making as a young girl in Italy, when these types of expensive meats and cheese could only be bought at Easter. This tradition has been passed on to me and Giancarlo and we now share this tradition with his best friend Nick and his wife, Rachel. The day is spent rolling out homemade pasta dough, cutting out perfect circles, filling each ravioli-like pocket with the meat and cheese mixture and baking in the oven until they are golden and oozing cheese. After a few hours of hard work, we enjoyed dinner, wine and Yahtzee.

Saturday was a day for errands and sitting outside and enjoying the sun. We sat in the backyard and thought about the longer days of summer that are so close but still seem so far on this dreary Monday morning. We have already started planning decorations for the backyard and ways to maximize our time outside this summer: a party at the end of June, camping, festivals and many nights in the backyard under the lights with wine and friends.

On Sunday we headed down to The Federal for an Easter brunch with just the two of us. We were tucked in the front corner of the restaurant where we enjoyed the Eggs Federal for me and the Grilled Cheese from him.

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The Eggs Federal with poached eggs, mushroom tarragon cream, and bacon on an English muffin.

The Grilled Cheese with cheddar, pickled red onion, and house-made ketchup.

Can it be called an eggs’ Benedict if it doesn’t have hollandaise sauce? A quick Wikipedia search would indicate yes, but that it would be called eggs blanchard or mornay etc. Just like a Benedict without ham is blackstone or Florentine. I love the tarragon and mushrooms in this sauce; it gives it a much earthier, woodier flavour than your typical buttery hollandaise sauce. The bacon is crispy enough that you can actually cut through each strip and enjoy bacon with every bite of egg and English muffin. If you are a vegetarian (I won’t hold it against you) you can switch your bacon for kale.

GC had been craving a grilled cheese sandwich for a few days and this satisfied his cravings. It was a simple grilled cheese but the pickled red onion and house-made ketchup elevated this to a different level beyond your home kitchen.

Since it was Easter and brunch we ordered dessert, a half order of waffles. The Belgian Waffles with lemon cream, fruit and maple syrup.

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The waffles were incredibly lemony and light. The exterior of the waffle was delicately browned and crunchy, protecting the light, airiness inside. The pockets of the waffle cradled pools of freshly melted butter that combined with maple syrup and whipped cream. It should be noted that the waffles were served with edible glitter and GC was less than impressed but I thought it made them more festive and playful. Yummmms.

After an awkward run-in with a reverend, (we were driving away from our parking spot outside of his church 10 minutes before Easter mass started) we headed home and enjoyed espressos and calascioni in the backyard with Giancarlo’s parents – a truly Italian experience. After some time with the Italians, we headed up to Newmarket to enjoy some Easter Chinese food. This isn’t a typical tradition Easter tradition just the result of a busy time at work for my mom. To help make Easter slightly more festive, I made a tarte au citron – a recipe from David Lebovitz.

IMG_5749This tarte is incredibly easy and really interesting to make. The crust isn’t your typical pastry crust that starts with flour and cold butter. The crust is made by putting butter, water, oil, sugar, and salt in an oven-proof bowl and baking until the butter is melted. The flour is added once the butter is melted. The result is a buttery, light crusty that isn’t quite as flaky as your traditional pastry crust but is more understated for the bold flavours of the tart filling itself. This lemon custard is so easy to make but rich and decadent due to the number of eggs used: 4 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks. The lemon flavour is pure and fresh, using zest and freshly squeezed juice to give a tart but underlying sweetness to the filling. This custard would taste heavenly spread across a fresh scone or English muffin.

Happy Easter and happy munching!

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