Hop into Easter Baking

Good news! Spring has sprung, the birds are chirping, the grass is growing, and one of the first holidays of the Spring season is upon us. Rooted in tradition and beliefs, Easter can be celebrated for many reasons, but one thing that remains universal is that it is a time to bake. What’s more satisfying than offering your guests treats that you’ve lovingly prepared yourself?

Have you ever wondered why bunny rabbits and eggs are among the symbols associated with Easter? Eggs are decorated and given as a symbol of life.  The rabbit is the symbol for rebirth and the moon, and holds a double meaning for Easter as the dates of Easter move each year according to the lunar and solar cycles.  The Easter Holiday may move around, but it is always on a Sunday giving you plenty of time over the weekend to decorate and hide Easter eggs and do some baking.

“Easter baking is traditionally associated with different types of breads, desserts or pastries,” says Marcus Mariathas, master baker, at ACE Bakery in Toronto, Canada. “Families like to bake sweeter and denser treats for this occasion like muffins, cakes, or biscuits.”

Whether you’re baking for brunch, lunch, or dinner, these recipes will tie in nicely as part of your Easter feast. Serve Angel Muffins at your Easter brunch. The Cornmeal Drop Biscuits are an excellent accompaniment to lunch. And let’s not forget about dessert! The Apple and Orange Walnut Cake is sure to delight your guests.

ACE Bakery - Angel Muffins

Apple and Orange Walnut Cake with Orange Calvados Glaze or Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup fine sugar
1⅓ cups very fine dried breadcrumbs
1 cup ground walnuts, approximately 2 cups walnut halves
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ cup cubed, cold unsalted butter
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1 peeled and coarsely grated Granny Smith apple, about 1 scant cup
6 egg whites

Breadcrumbs and ground walnuts take the place of flour in this moist, dense confection. The grated apple helps the cake to stay fresh for 4 to 5 days. You’ve got two ideas for topping – an Orange Cream Cheese Frosting, sure to please the kids in the group, and an Orange Calvados Glaze. The cake is also very good served plain with just a dusting of icing sugar.

Makes one (8½-inch) cake

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
6 Tbsp. softened unsalted butter
½ lb. cream cheese, cut into ½- to 1-inch chunks
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. grated orange zest
pinch kosher salt
1 cup icing sugar 

Orange Calvados Glaze
½ cup icing sugar
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2½ tsp. Calvados liqueur

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease an 8- to 9-inch springform pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Put parchment paper in the pan and grease it as well.

Place the sugar, breadcrumbs, ground walnuts and baking powder in a food processor and pulse to combine.

Add the cubed butter to the breadcrumb mixture and continue pulsing until the mixture is well-combined and has the consistency of moist brown sugar.

Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the orange zest and the apple.

In a separate large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until very stiff peaks form.

Fold 1 cup of the beaten egg whites into the breadcrumb mixture to lighten it up. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites in two additions.

Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a skewer, inserted into the middle of the cake, comes out glistening but clean.

Remove from the oven onto a cooling rack and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan and remove the sides. Let the cake finish cooling before removing the bottom of the pan and parchment paper. Transfer to a serving plate. Frost with the icing or drizzle with 3 to 4 Tbsp. of the warm glaze.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream the butter with an electric mixer or standing mixer in a mixing bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients. Add the cream cheese, vanilla, orange zest and salt; continue mixing until just combined. Gently mix in half the icing sugar and, when just combined, mix in the remaining half. Spread over the sides and top of the cooled cake and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Orange Calvados Glaze
Spoon the sugar into a small mixing bowl and whisk in the two juices and Calvados liqueur. Transfer to a saucepan and quickly bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and spoon over the cake while still hot; discard any remaining glaze.

ACE Bakery Tip:
1. Grind the walnuts with ¼ cup of the 1 cup of sugar called for in the recipe. The ground nuts will stay fluffy and not disintegrate into a paste.

2. Once you have opened a package of shelled walnuts, wrap what you haven’t used and store in the refrigerator or freezer. Walnuts will keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 months and in the freezer for almost a year.

©This recipe is from the More from ACE Bakery cookbook by Linda Haynes.

Fish Fry Fore!

Tee stations, and putting and chipping green

Tucked aside in the Paddock Chevrolet Golf Dome in Tonawanda, NY is The Grill, a perfect setting for watching the game, relaxing after putting and chipping, and surprisingly, it is also a great place to grab a Friday night fish fry.

Start the meal with a cup or bowl of one of their unique soups. Pleasing to soup connoisseurs, The Grill at the Dome has a variety to choose from. Crab Swiss, French Onion and Cream of Broccoli are all on the menu.

The fish fry selection is pretty standard, and going with the Platter would not be a splurge at $13. A flakey Haddock with just enough olive oil at the bottom of the plate is pleasant, along with a good portion of fried shrimp. The potato salad is also excellent.

Paired with a Flying Bison Rusty Chain, the soft, malt flavor with a hint of apricot adds a good balance with the fish.

Service at The Dome is above par, and the environment is suitable for the plethora of HD televisions.

If you go: The Grill at the Dome, 175 Brompton Rd., Tonawanda, NY 14150, 716-504-4745. The Dome is open September – May. Reservations for parties of two are not accepted.

Ireland I’m Coming Home, to Shannon

Step across the pond and into the Emerald Isle, without leaving stateside. Shannon’s Pub (2250 Niagara Falls Blvd., Buffalo, NY 14150, 716-743-9348) serves homemade, dollar-friendly food in a charming pub setting.

Besides the welcoming fresh pints, long oak benches and a fireside hearth, the wait staff is very accommodating to patrons, and regulars. The overall atmosphere is entertaining. Every Wednesday and first Thursday of the month, traditional Irish songs are performed on stage.  Hear the fiddles and voices of Dave North Trio, Crikwater and Penny Whiskey, all slated to perform this month.

Shannon’s daily fresh Fish Fry gives an option of Haddock, and beer battered or broiled are not the only options. A crabbed-stuff Haddock (broiled) is a refreshing change. As a side, try the mashed potatoes with extra gravy. Don’t forget the homemade maccaroni salad and ask for extra lemon if ordering the broiled Haddock.

If abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent, don’t start with the potato chowder. Although chock-full of vegetables in a creamy broth, it also has bits of bacon.

A pint of Guinness not brought to the table until settled at the bar makes the meal complete.

Full Service Seafood

Growing up in Lockport, NY, Fridays during Lent started with an order to go at Montondo’s Seafood (201 East Ave., Lockport). With a 90-year history, it’s a haunt Lockportians know well.

Their fish and seafood menu is extensive, ranging from Breaded Fish Haddock, Shrimp, Scallops, Seafood Platter, Lake Perk, Yellow Pike, Fish Sandwich and Oyster. My favorite is the Clam Strips with pint-sized sides of macaroni and cheese and clam chowder. A Children’s Portion is also available.

To-go dinners include fries, Cole Slaw, tartar sauce, cocktail sauce or blue cheese. Potato or macaroni salad may be substituted for French fries.

Montondo’s Seafood also sells wholesale. For home cooks they may have just what they need, and will supplies recipes to help.

From www.montondosseafood.com:

Cold Salmon with Mustard Sauce

Mustard Sauce

2 tbsp prepared mayonnaise

1 tbsp whole grain mustard

½ tbsp chopped fresh chives

2 drops lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, chives, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until needed.


Salt and ground pepper

2 sprigs parsley

2-6 oz. salmon fillets

2 small cherry tomatoes

4 baguette slices, brushed with olive oil, toasted and thinly sliced

½ medium cucumber peeled

Pre-heat the broiler until very hot. Sprinkle a baking sheet with salt and pepper and lay the salmon on it. Broil for 30 seconds (or until the fish is slightly medium-rare). With a spatula, transfer the salmon to a cold baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator until cold.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon mustard sauce on each of 2 plates. Top with the salmon. Garnish each plate with 2 baguette croutons, a parsley sprig, a cherry tomato, and a few slices of cucumber. Serve with fresh lemon.

Find Seafood Facts from Montondo’s here.

If you go, Montondo’s Seafood, 201 East Ave., Lockport; 716-434-2818

A Pub with Soul

Among the trendy boutiques and hair salons on North Buffalo’s main drag of Hertel Ave. is The Wellington Pub (1541 Hertel Ave., Buffalo). On Friday evenings during the Christian Lenten season, the casual dinning room at The Wellington Pub is packed, and rightfully so.

A smaller-sized portion of the grilled fish fry still has big flavor

Offering a few varieties of the traditional fish fry, patrons can choose from the traditional beer battered haddock, or grilled with lemon and butter, and there is a junior-size option of both.

Try a cup of their chowder chock-full of fresh haddock and crab. It’s the dill that makes this starter come alive.

Don’t pass up the bacon buttermilk potato salad as a side. The typical scoop of coleslaw will also accompany the plate. For an alternate, The Wellington Pub also serves crab cakes.

The bartenders at The Wellington Pub also know a good pint. Don’t abstain from a perfect pour of Guinness with this meal.

If you go, The Wellington Pub, 1541 Hertel Ave., Buffalo, NY 14216; 716-833-9899.