Thursday, April 24

Crossing Paths

 Do not go where the path may lead.  Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

There's a wild and wooded area not far from our house.  A series of paths loop and crisscross like shoelaces through the trees.  The kids love to run ahead, looking for smaller paths that intersect with the main ones.  They know these narrow paths are sure to lead to something amazing.  Isn't that always the case?  Some of the best opportunities are found only when you leave the smooth, straight path and venture deep into the forest. 

The path I was on runs parallel to another larger path, however the two rarely connect.  Occasionally, through the tree branches (still bare from winter) and the dense undergrowth (just beginning to turn green), I would see a jogger or a mother pushing a stroller.  Perhaps they saw me too, headed the same direction, on a different path, though we never met.  Our paths never crossed.  If I were to get to the larger path I must step off my well worn trail and navigate one of those rocky footpaths through brambles and wild bushes.  This is exactly what I did, without even knowing it, when I boarded a plane to Las Vegas last November to speak at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference.

I believe that everyone crosses our path for a reason.  It was at the conference that I crossed paths with Cheryl Viirand, someone on a parallel journey.  Cheryl is the founder and CEO of Freedible, a groundbreaking new social site dedicated to individuals with dietary restrictions.  Little did I know that I'd develop a passion for her mission and soon be walking alongside her on the same path, toward the same destination.  Cheryl's zeal for empowering "custom eaters" is unmatched and truly inspiring.  In just a few short years she's created a platform on which to encourage, inform, and connect with thousands of families who struggle with the question of "what to eat?" daily.  Freedible is like facebook for food allergies (or any other dietary restriction, from Celiac disease to weight loss). 

So last weekend, in addition to celebrating Easter and spring and the renewal of life, I celebrated the crossing of paths.  You may have noticed that my blog posts have become few and far between, and that's because I recently became the community engagement manager for Freedible!  Of course, I'll still continue to share my peanut free recipes here.  It's all about balance.

You all know how I love to celebrate with food, and who better to turn to when planning a holiday meal, than the grande dame of food herself, Julia Child?  I made a variation of her mustard glazed roasted leg of lamb, served on a bed of mashed potatoes to soak up the rich, mahogany pan sauce.  It was Easter, after all, so I adapted her recipe for butter braised carrots, adding tart cranberries to cut the sweetness.  Yes, it's cliche, but I also served deviled eggs (Oeufs Mimosa sounds so much nicer, no?) stuffed with red pepper, olives and chives.  My kids love these and it's the best way to use up Easter eggs before we're all sick of them.   It was a simple meal, really.  The rolls were from Rhodes, which are made in a peanut and tree nut free facility.  Finally, I served a simple romaine salad with a raspberry-balsamic vinaigrette.  (Raspberry-balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt and fresh parsley.  Add it all to a jar in the proportions you like and shake it up).

A festive meal would never be complete without a decadent dessert.  It had to be something light, fresh and springy.  I made a cream cake, garnished with fresh spring berries.  Easy and unpretentious.

 My brother (the one who is so adept at choosing the perfect wine to go with every meal) brought a Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot, and with it we toasted:  to Easter, to family, and to paths that cross.

I'd love for you to join me at Freedible!  Click here to connect with me, set up a free account, and see what all the excitement is about!

Mustard Glazed Leg of Lamb
adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1

1 boneless leg of lamb (2-3 lbs)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, pressed (divided)
1/2 tsp dry rosemary
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
1 Tbsp flour
1 1/4 cup chicken stock

Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C).  Rub a very thin layer of olive oil in the bottom of a shallow roasting pan.

Spread the lamb on a cutting board and cut away any excess fat from the inside of the meat (leave the thick layer of fat on the outside).  Mix together the mustard, soy sauce, one clove of pressed garlic, the rosemary, ginger and olive oil.  Rub approx. 1/3 of this mixture on the inside of the lamb.  Roll the lamb back into a roast and tie several times with kitchen twine.  Rub the remaining mustard mixture on the outside of the lamb.  Place the lamb in the greased pan and let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.  Place the lamb in the oven and roast for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 140 F for medium-rare or 150 F for medium-well.  Remove the meat to a warm platter and cover with foil.  Let rest at least 15 minutes before carving.

While the meat is resting, pour the oil from the pan, leaving just a thin coating.  Place the pan on the stove over medium heat.  Add the onions and remaining garlic and cook until soft, being careful not to let the garlic brown.  Whisk in the flour and cook a minute longer.  Whisk in the chicken stock and cook until thick and bubbly.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.  Pour a few tablespoons of sauce over the sliced roast and serve the rest at the table.

Butter Braised Carrots and Cranberries

1.5 lbs organic carrots
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
1/3 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
a handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped, to garnish

Peel the carrots and cut them into large chunks on a diagonal.  Place them in a large sauce pan along with the water, butter, sugar, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cover and bring to a simmer.  Simmer slowly for 30 minutes.  Uncover and simmer until the liquid has thickened and become slightly syrupy.  Add the cranberries and toss.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Garnish with a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley.

Cream Cake with Berries

3 cups cake flour
3 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, very soft
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk

for the cream:
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
strawberries, blueberries, raspberries

Preheat your oven to 400 F (200 C).  Trace the bottom of two 8-inch, round cake pans on a piece of parchment paper and carefully cut out the circles just inside the line.  Spray the pans with non-stick spray, or butter well.  Press the parchment into the bottom of the pans, and spray or butter that as well.  Dust the inside of the pans with a few teaspoons of cake flour and set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a large mixing bowl.  With and electric mixer, slowly beat in the butter until just incorporated.  Beat in the sugar and then the eggs, one at a time.  Mix the vanilla and milk and slowly beat this in until everything is just combined.

Pour the batter evenly into both pans and bake 30 - 32 minutes.  Test for doneness with a toothpick or wooden skewer.  Cool completely before removing the cakes from the pans.

Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until firm peaks are formed.  To make the layer cake, spread a dollop of cream on the top of one cake.  Add a layer of sliced strawberries and top with the second cake.  Spread the remaining whipped cream on top and down the sides of the cake.  Garnish with fresh berries.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.  Serves 10.

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1 comment:

  1. Dear Rebecca,

    You've caught me off-guard - and reading your beautiful prose brought tears to my eyes. Thank you - for the power of your words, and for believing and joining in my mission. I am truly honored, and convinced that together we can do so much to help so many - simply by focusing on all we have in common.

    So here's to crossing paths - a worthy thing to toast indeed!

    Very best,