Sunday, April 20, 2014

And The Winners Are...

Easter and Spring Greetings
It was just 11 years ago the St. Paul Pioneer Press started the Peeps Diorama contest. 
Each year the bar seems to get higher on the quality of imaginative entries that feature the sugar coated Peeps. Some have even created Twitter accounts, websites or short stories to showcase their creations. Over 200 dioramas and two dozen videos were submitted this year. Many of the dioramas are inspired by pop culture, film and television. Some went a bit 'highbrow' with dioramas inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Matisse and Vermeer. One diorama illustrated a Robert Frost poem, and some made social commentaries on our long brutal winter, gay marriages, New Jersey bridge traffic jam and even the Ukraine.

The first place winner "The Adventures of the Speckled Candy" was influenced by the one minute mysteries with a homage to the locked rooms Sherlock Holmes stories. There was an extra twist to this diorama as it came with an original Sherlock Holmes short story.

To view all the winners follow the link.
Balsamic Strawberry Crostini with Goat Cheese
Cook's notes: This appetizer is quick to assemble. The basil chiffonade and pepper that are added to the macerated strawberries add just a touch of savoriness to the dish. It was festive looking and perfect for an Easter brunch. Although strawberries aren’t at their prime season right now, the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar facilitate in bringing out the juiciness of each strawberry, so much so, that they almost become even juicier and sweeter than at the height of summer. 
The recipe comes from Nicole at Cooking for Keeps
  • 2 cups strawberries, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons basil, cut into a chiffonade (plus more for garnish)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • ½ baguette, cut into ½ inch slices
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Combine strawberries, vinegar, sugar, basil, salt, and black pepper together in a small bowl. Let set for 30 minutes to an hour.
  • In the meantime, place crostini slices on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until slightly crisp about 8 minutes. Let cool.
  • Spread goat cheese on toast and then layer balsamic strawberries over. Sprinkle with more basil.

Definition: Chiffonade is a knife technique used for cutting herbs and leaf vegetables such as lettuce into thin strips or ribbons.

To chiffonade leaves of basil for instance, you would stack the basil leaves and roll them into a tube, and then carefully cut across the ends of the tube with your knife to produce fine strips.

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