Stir Crazy: The Easter Show

Naturally dyed Easter eggs. —Robin Murena photo
Naturally Dyed Easter eggs —Robin Murena photo

Recipes and photos from Stir Crazy food chat show, broadcast March 26 on, hosted by Patty Gay. Guests are The Twins, Judy Vig and Joy Paoletti; Robin Murena, food blogger at; and Dan Bonanno chef at A Pig In A Fur Coat in Madison, Wisconsin.

Listen to Stir Crazy Thursdays at noon on this site or Follow Stir Crazy on Twitter @StirCrazyCT. For more information about Stir Crazy, contact Patty Gay at For more recipes from The Twins Judy and Joy, visit their Facebook page: twinsjudyjoy

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

From Robin Murena: This is a fun DIY project. Kids will love to color eggs using real vegetables. Since only the liquid from the cooked vegetables is used, you can enjoy the veggies for lunch or dinner.

Hardboiled Eggs (whatever size you like)
For the various colors:
The outside brown skins of Yellow Onions
Red Cabbage
White Vinegar
Large Mason Jars with lids or containers with covers to hold the eggs

Prepare the solution for the eggs:
Orange-Colored Eggs:
Put the brown peels of 6 yellow onions into a small saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover them, bring to a boil and boil for 15 minutes. Strain, reserve the liquid, cool, and add 3 tbsp of white vinegar.

Pink-Colored Eggs:
I used a small bunch of beets, 2 medium and a small. Put beets in a medium saucepan. Top with enough water to submerge them. Boil until the beets are tender to the fork and strain, reserving the liquid. Cool the liquid and add 3 tbsp of white vinegar.

Blue-Colored Eggs:
Shred 1/4 head of red cabbage and place in a pot and cover with cold water. Boil until the cabbage has reached a firm tenderness and strain. Reserve the liquid, cool, and add 3 tbsp of white vinegar.

To color the eggs:
Place liquids separately in either large Mason Jars with lids or other containers with lids. Add eggs and make sure they are covered with the liquid. Cover tightly and refrigerate the eggs in the liquid overnight or longer. Remove eggs and let dry. Keep dried eggs refrigerated until using.

Simply delicious and refreshing Lamb Carpaccio by Chef Dan Bonanno. —Patricia Gay photo
Simply delicious and refreshing Lamb Carpaccio by Chef Dan Bonanno. —Patricia Gay photo

Lamb Carpaccio with pea shoots, salsa verde and egg yolk
by Chef Dan Bonanno of A Pig In A Fur Coat, Madison, Wisconsin

1 lamb loin
6 oz chopped parsley
2 oz chopped chives
2 oz chopped tarragon
1 oz thyme
1 shallot fine chopped
1 clove of garlic fine chopped
4 oz extra virgin olive oil
Zest of one lemon
6 egg yolks
1/4 pound of pea shoots
Block of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1. Take the lamb loin and trim of the fat and silver skin. Then wrap the loin tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer.
2. Once frozen, use a deli slicer to slice the lamb a 1/8” thick and place on a 9×9 plate.  Start with the middle and stop when you cover a third of the plate.
3. For the salsa verde.  Place add herbs in a medium size bowl.  Add shallots, garlic and lemon zest.  Slowly add olive oil and add salt to taste.
4. Spread the salsa evenly on the sliced lamb. With a peeler, shave the block of parmigiano into 3” strips. Garnish with parmigiano strips, fresh pea shoot, salt black pepper and lemon juice.
5. Crack the egg carefully trying to remove the yolk. Discard the egg white and clean off the chalaza (the little white piece of the egg). Place the egg yolk  in the center of the plate and finish with salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Mushroom Risotto
by Chef Dan Bonanno of A Pig In A Fur Coat, Madison, Wisconsin

3 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 lb. of fresh mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 cup Arborio rice
2/3 cup white wine
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat.
2. Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.
3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and rice to the skillet, stirring to coat the rice with the oil, cook for about 2 minutes. When the rice heats up, pour in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes.
4. When al dente stir in the butter and parmigiano reggiano until dissolved. Serve immediately.

About Robin Murena’s Home-Cured City Ham:
A great make ahead dish! Make it up to one week ahead of Easter. Once cooked, keep it refrigerated then heat it and eat it!
From Robin:
—Curing your own Easter ham from pork is not only impressive but more importantly it’s easy. I’ve been making my own ham for holiday celebrations for the past few years and it’s become a tradition. This ham is made with a wet cure or otherwise known as a “city ham.”
—You could use a fresh uncured ham or rear leg pork potion from the butcher, but I prefer to use a pork loin for this ham. It’s daintier and easier to cut and there’s plenty of room for all the other sides to fit on the plate without colliding.
—Find a food-safe plastic bucket that is big enough to fit your cut of pork, allowing it to be submerged in a brine. I use a four-quart Pyrex mixing bowl to fit a 5 to 6 pound ham.
—The brine is simple to make, but a key ingredient is Prague Powder otherwise known as InstaCure #1 Curing Salt. This is what maintains that rosy pink color that we associate with ham. I buy Prague Powder from, but it’s easily attained from online retailers and on

Recipe: Robin Murena’s Home-Cured City Ham

One 5-6 pound pork loin or uncured fresh ham/pork
3/4 cup of Kosher salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp or 12 whole cloves
1 tbsp Prague Powder
Fresh water to fill your bowl
Glaze: Brown sugar mixed with maple syrup

1. Add all the dry ingredients to the clean plastic bucket/vessel for your meat and add one cup of warm water and mix the ingredients together. Add meat and cover with enough cold water to submerge it. If  the meat floats, use a plate as a weight to keep it under the water.
2. Cover the container and keep it refrigerated to cure it. It should remain refrigerated in the brine one day for every two pounds of meat.
3. Flip the meat once a day to make sure it’s getting cured equally.
4. When the curing process is over, drain the ham and refill vessel with fresh, clean water and allow the ham to sit in the fridge one more day. This will remove excess salt.
5. Time to cook the ham. This can be done up to one week before serving.
6. The ham can be smoked on a grill or baked in the oven. The key thing is to cook it until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees.
7. Robin smokes the ham on a simple Weber kettle grill. Keep the flame on one edge of the grill and make a smoke box with an aluminum loaf pan to hold wet hickory chips.
8. Place the ham or hams on a piece of aluminum foil opposite the flame. Combine brown sugar and maple syrup to make a baste and brush on the the ham. Allow to smoke for a few hours on until the internal temperature is 150 degrees.
9. Or place the ham on a rack in a pan and brush the ham with the paste. Bake at 325 degrees until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees.
10. Once cooked, the ham will keep in the fridge for a week.  Before serving, warm it up in the oven. Serve with mustard or ham sauce.

From The Twins Judy Vig and Joy Paoletti
A wonderful cheesy, peppery bread served traditionally at Easter but it is so good it may be a favorite all year long.

1 cup warm milk
2 (1/4 oz each) packages active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 eggs
3/4 cup grated Romano cheese
3/4 cup grated asiago/parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, softened

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk, add sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with the flour, eggs, cheese and butter and pepper; beat well, about 4-5 minutes. The dough will be very sticky (you can add a bit more flour if needed) Scoop dough onto a floured wood board and knead until it all comes together, doesn’t stick to your hands and is a smooth dough. Additional flour can be used.  Prepare pan you have chosen sprayed with Pam cooking spray. Place dough into pan and  cover and let rise for about 60 minutes, or until nearly doubled. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until bread is golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pan and place on a wire rack to cool.

What’s Easter without dessert?  Since everyone is likely to be on chocolate overload from the Easter baskets, a nice traditional Italian Ricotta Pie filled with vanilla essence will fit the bill.

Nana's Ricotta Pie — The Twins Judy and Joy photo
Nana’s Ricotta Pie — The Twins Judy and Joy photo

Nana’s Italian Ricotta Pie
From The Twins Judy Vig and Joy Paoletti: This 100 year old recipe from our Nana is truly treasured and we feel her even closer to us as we prepare her favorite Easter pie.

Nana’s cookie crust (recipe below)
1 1/2 pounds of ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup vanilla sugar (recipe below)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (for decorating)

1. Make Nana’s Cookie Crust and Vanilla Sugar. Preheat oven 350 degrees. Combine the ricotta and flour in a small bowl.
2. In a medium size bowl beat the eggs well. Add the sugar and vanilla gradually and continue beating until smooth. Add the ricotta mixture and beat will again. Pour into prepared pie crust.
3. Sprinkle the 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon over the top of pie and swirl with a sharp knife to make a design. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. Enjoy!

Nana’s Cookie Crust
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup vanilla sugar (recipe below)
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup milk
3 tsp. baking powder
4 cups flour

1. Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla.
2. Mix baking powder and flour together and add to creamed mixture along with the milk. Mix and chill 1 hour.
3. Use about half the pie dough to make a crust (remaining dough can be used for another pie or for cookies!) Roll chilled dough between two sheets of wax paper is neat and quick, no need to flour anything! Place into 9 inch pie plate and fill with ricotta filling.

To make Vanilla Sugar: Combine 2 cups granulated sugar and 1-2 vanilla beans, split. Using an airtight container, push vanilla bean gently into the sugar. Let the bean perfume the sugar for several days. Use sugar as directed.

Stir Crazy Guests,Robin Murena, Joy Paoletti, and Judy Vig. —Patricia Gay photo
Stir Crazy Guests Robin Murena, Joy Paoletti, and Judy Vig. —Patricia Gay photo
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