Vegetables and Sides

Pastel Tea Eggs

I admit to throwing in a little red food coloring in my red velvet creations.

Frosting? Yup, the rainbow reduced to little plastic squeeze bottles goes in there too.

But there always seemed something so off about dying eggs for Easter in such a way.  Though I’m neither a Christian nor a Jew, I grew up Catholic and have many beloved Jewish friends (and the culinary traditions are stellar).  So the holidays of this time of year still mean, to me, a bit of a fresh start.  The earth is starting to pour out beautiful things for us to eat again, and animals are popping out little ones by the baaa’ful (or neigh-ful or whatever).  It’s a time of cleansing and self-reflection.

So, I set to making an Easter egg that not only looks beautiful and delicate and natural, but actually has some flavor benefit as well.  Because why dye the outside of the egg if, when putting together a holiday plate, you can color the part that you eat and infuse some new flavors too?  My mind quickly turned to… tea.

Clockwise from top: chamomile, burdock, hibiscus and raspberry Earl Grey teas.

I drink a lot of tea.  I own several items in which to brew it.  I drink it by the potful as I type.  One whole shelf of my (teeny tiny) pantry is devoted to it.  I throw it into scones, cookies, cakes… delightfulness.

But can it dye eggs?

Various hues from the different teas.

Yes, it can.  Much more subtly (in the cracked, stain-glass versions) than bright pigments.  But the colors are so soft and delicate and would seem perfectly at home nestled in baskets on raffia amongst dark-chocolate bunnies (or whatever your tradition may be).

Perfectly cooked and colored.

My favorite (color-wise): Hibiscus

Tea Eggs

I doubled each amount of tea and let the teas sit for 20 minutes, covered, to make sure they were at full strength.

Burdock: I was disappointed that this didn’t do too much in the color department, but the deep, smoky flavor was quite lovely.  Would probably work best with completely shelled eggs rather than the cracked version I tried.

Hibiscus: Turned the shelled egg to a glorious purpley-red, and gave the cracked one dark purple/blue lines.  I wonder how it would have been had I soaked it longer…?

Raspberry Earl Grey: Gave clear, dark blue lines and an awesome flavor.  Would be great to use on a salad with slivered almonds.

Chamomile: I was surprised that it made the egg as yellow as it did! And the flavor was truly beautiful… fragrant and slightly sweet, like springtime!

Perfectly Cooked Hard Boiled Eggs

Place eggs in a pot and fill with water until it covers the eggs over by at least one inch.  Bring up to a boil, then remove from heat, cover and let sit for 12 minutes.  Immediately rinse eggs and run with cold water.

To Color Eggs

The eggs can be put directly in the cooled tea once they’ve been strained and slightly cool.  If made in a large enough mug, you can color three eggs at a time.  Play around with shelling them completely or cracking them thoroughly to give the stained-glass-window affect.  I let my eggs sit for about 75 minutes, but the longer they sit obviously the more they’ll color up.  Occasionally stir them around for even coverage.

Happy Easter!

Gluten-Free Pastry Puff Party!

photo Brent Herrig

I’ve been obsessed with a gluten-free cream puff recipe.

Having gone without gluten for almost twenty years (minus the occasional succumbing to a bowl of homemade pasta passed to me or the gloriousness of a chewy piece of bread on my family’s island in Portugal just last week), delicate, precious things like filled pastry puffs had long been far from my food thoughts.

But when I sourced a bakery for gluten-free Easy Eats magazine’s Sweet Surprise column in our most recent issue, those thoughts shifted.  As I assisted the food stylist on the shoot I fell enamored of the smooth, thick dough that puffed into crackly rounds.  I was amazed by how such seemingly simple ingredients and a rather quick process could make something so delightful.

So my proposal for FoodBuzz’s 24×24 dinner party – where 24 bloggers from around the world host and post on the same day – quickly centered around the thought: how much can I play with this in one meal?  The owner of the bakery and creator of the recipe, Geri Peacock, had mentioned that, growing up as a child, her mother and grandmother filled the shells with things both savory and sweet.  It was a bit of her heritage that she had adapted for the gluten-free community years later.

So I rounded up some friends, checked in about their dietary issues and cultural backgrounds, and set them in the living room with some cocktails and a really random mix of music, and got to stuffing.

The pastry recipe is below, with my thoughts about how to make each batch spot on.  Click on the images for links to the other recipes.

And please check out Easy Eats magazine for the original recipe and other beautiful gluten-free recipes, lifestyle tips and stunning photos – and my most recent feature of five gluten free pasta recipes! Oh, and coming out in May, my feature of six top-notch chefs give us their own food thoughts and easy-to-execute classic recipes made gluten free (two of the chefs even put gluten-free options on their menus after!).

Oh, and mucho thanks to my photographer, Brent Herrig, for plating and snapping away.  All images are his.

Brent Herrig © 2012

Gluten-Free Pastry Puffs

Makes about 36 puffs, depending on size

The original pastry recipe took a teeny tiny bit of playing with – things like the position of the oven rack and sheets used made a huge difference in how one sheet would either rise and become too thin or remain deliciously eggy but too dense.  Luckily they are rather quick to whip up, and once you get the hang of it you can start swapping flours and fats with relative ease.


  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, Earth Balance or lard
  • 2 cups Cherbourg Bakery flour blend
  • 8 large eggs, at room temperature
  • dash of salt


Heat oven to 400° with rack in the center / one notch down from center.  Line 3 baking sheets with Silpat (the original recipe says ungreased cookie sheets but mine continually stuck that way – could be my ancient oven).

In a small pot on high heat, bring the water and butter (once it’s melted) to a full boil.  Lower the heat, add the flour all at once, and mix thoroughly, using a combination of smearing together and folding to completely incorporate the flour into the liquid.  Cook until a smooth ball forms.  Immediately transfer to a standing mixer with the paddle attachment.  Beat in eggs one at a time, starting on a low setting then raising to incorporate.  About halfway through, beat until smooth, and then continue with the rest of the eggs.  Once all are in, beat for about one minute on medium-high speed.

Drop on sheets in smooth lumps, about one tablespoon for smaller puffs (what I used for dessert) and twice the size for larger ones.  Bake one at a time for 30 minutes (I was lucky to use a neighbor’s oven as well).  Once you put the puffs in, don’t open the oven for a good 25 minutes to check – they need the heat to rise properly.  Cool for a few minutes before removing to cooling rack.

Depending on the sturdiness of the puffs, I cut out small tops and filled them or sliced them in half and used them in a slider-type of way.  As they’re light, eggy and rather flavor-neutral, they worked well with strong savory and sweet flavors equally.

Puff Pastry Party Menu

Piri Shrimp

This is the one dish for which I’m not posting a recipe, because I totally cheated and just threw 1 pound of ethically caught shrimp (as in not from Thailand and labeled with certain standards) with 1 bottle of Very Peri Mild (I was sent some to test out and it’s quite delightful).  I marinated it overnight and then threw them in a hot pan with the juice of one fresh lemon.  YUM!

Lamb Stew

Garden Chicken Salad

Jerusalem Artichoke and Kohlrabi

Mini Banana Split with Dairy-Free Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mini Strawberry Shortcakes with Dairy-Free Liquid Cheesecake

Jerusalem Artichoke and Kohlrabi Pastry Puffs

Brent Herrig © 2012

I found some Jerusalem artichokes in my market a few weeks ago, and then time got away from me and they remained… in my fridge.

So when I realized my FoodBuzz 24×24 Gluten-Free Puff Pastry Party was a little light on the veg, it went into a pot with some kohlrabi, onions, garlic and tumeric.  I’d normally use this combo as a side or puree for something extremely rich and hearty, but as I like my vegetables simple and clean, this combo still satisfied me.

For the gluten-free puff pastry recipe and this dish’s party compatriots, check out the menu.

Brent Herrig 2012


  • 1/2 lb Jerusalem artichokes
  • 4 small kohlrabi
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 2″ piece of tumeric, chopped fine
  • 2 Tbsp butter


Boil the artichokes until soft, then peel off the skins with your hands (easier than peeling).  Mash.

Peel and boil the kohlrabi until fork-tender.  Chop small.

In a small pan, heat olive oil.  Add onion, garlic and tumeric and cook until soft.  Add the butter, artichokes and kohlrabi, and mix to combine and heat through.

If desired, puree until smooth with a hand blender.


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