Guest blogger Kelly Madey offers a perfect recipe good for both Easter and Passover.

At the risk of sounding like a gimmicky infomercial,
Are you tired of making dessert from scratch,
Only to be left with a kitchen full of dishes,
And a bad taste in your mouth?

Do you love lemon pie but can’t seem to get it quite right?
It’s too tart. It’s too sweet;
And don’t forget the incredibly shrinking pie crust.
There has got to be a better way!

All kidding aside, with Easter, Passover, and Mother’s Day just around the corner,
I am heeding my mother’s words of wisdom when it comes to hosting a holiday gathering:
Keep it simple!

This tart recipe is the perfect way to showcase the brightness of spring. It features lots of pucker worthy lemon juice and zest,

lemons_kelly madey

and fresh local eggs from Rick’s Egg Farm.

rick's eggs_kelly madey

The custard tart is a one bowl, whisk-and-pour kind of filling. I love the fact that it can be made a day ahead. This saves me valuable time on the actual holiday, so that I can roam from room to room spraying lemon scented air freshener to give the illusion of a good spring cleaning.

The eggs produce a creamy custard filling which get a boost in the thickening department from a little potato starch.

Potato starch_kelly madey

If you are not familiar with this starch, get to know it. It is very similar in fine powdery texture to cornstarch but potato starch has the advantage of being flavorless. It thickens faster than cornstarch too, and at a lower temperature. It’s also used extensively in Passover dishes, since regular corn starch is not kosher for Passover.

Besides thickening, the starch helps to protect the eggs from curdling in this recipe.

I often use potato starch to thicken sauces and gravy. It is the secret ingredient in my cake recipes because it gives the cake a tender crumb and helps to retain moisture.

And now for the crust….

Instead of the mess making potential of a traditional pie crust, this tart has an unusual and tasty honey almond crust featuring local Buckingham Valley Honey, a hint of cinnamon, and a good dose of melted butter. I love how the almond and honey complements the citrus filling.

Buckingham Valley Honey_kelly madey

The crust does not require rolling, and it is naturally gluten free, thanks to almond flour (also known as almond meal).

Almond Meal_kelly madey

Remarkably, it tastes like a giant graham cracker baked in a tart pan.

crust_kelly madey

There a few pointers for successful tart baking. I brush the tart pan with melted butter to ensure an easy release.

I also bake the tart on a lined cookie sheet to catch any melted butter that may escape.

Be aware that the oven temperature is lower than normal, at just 300 degrees, so that the almonds in the crust don’t burn. The slow and low temperature ensures a creamy textured custard too.

The baked tart should be cooled to room temperature, then chilled for several hours to set. I prefer to chill the tart overnight.

When it comes to serving the tart, you have options. It is perfectly fine, as is:

lemon tart simple_kelly madey

Or you can pile it high with fresh berries, and whipped cream. I am a sucker for whipped cream, sometimes I whip up a batch of slightly sweetened whipped cream using Rich n’ Pure heavy cream available at None Such Farm Market in Buckingham. This cream has a high milk fat content, which results in a very thick whipped cream with excellent staying power. This is the only cream that I can whip a full day ahead without the risk of it deflating or separating.

Whatever way you serve this tart, it is sure to be a simple and sweet ending to your holiday meal. Happy Spring!

lemon tart with berries_kelly madey

For the recipe, continue reading here…

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Matzah_BobolinkPassover is just a few days away so you better have your matzoh ready. Tired of the same old Manischewitz? Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse in Milford makes their own. A couple of years ago I spent an afternoon with Nina White, baker extraordinaire, baking matzoh in her wood-fired oven. She and her husband, Jonathan, own Bobolink and produce some of the best cheese to be had.

Read the full article, Baking matzah for the first time, and learn more about Bobolink.

I just got an update this week from Nina and Jonathan.

We are rolling out the matzohs with reckless abandon! They look as if they were baked on a rock in the desert! Emmer wheat is the ancient grain used in Biblical days. The flavor is more than amazing, and we bake them in less than the requisite 18 minutes. No rabbinical supervision, though!”

Most of their farmers’ markets are in New Jersey or New York City, but you can order and pick-up at their farm as well, which is just north of Frenchtown. Even better, sign up for a matzoh making workshop taking place this Sunday, April 13.

Happy Passover!

Click here to order matzohs

Click here to sign up for a matzoh making workshop on Sunday, April 13, 2014

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chocolate-easter-bunnies_Lake Champlain ChocolatesWith the holidays coming up, there is a lot of Spring eating to do! Let’s start with chocolate.

Head to Trambauersville for a Homemade Easter Candy Sale at Christ’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Saturday morning beginning at 9 am. Chocolate covered pretzels and cherries, chocolate eggs—butter cream, coconut and peanut butter, chocolate covered peeps and bunnies, oh my! See their website for more details.

The Easter Bunny will be showing up all over the place this weekend but you can have breakfast with him at Grand View Hospital in Sellersville and Redemption Episcopal Church in Southampton, both on Saturday morning. See the above links for details.

seder-platePassover begins this Monday evening and continues for the next eight days. Join Kehilat HaNahar—the Little Shul by the River—at their Community Seder on Tuesday, April 15, taking place at the Lambertville Rescue Squad Banquet Hall. Rabbi Diana Miller and musician Rabbi Ezra Weinberg will lead a traditional seder meal and service with some fun twists. There will be lots of great food—chicken soup with matzoh balls, roast chicken, savory sides and delicious desserts, all kosher for Passover. Bring the kids, bring the parents, bring the neighbors! Doors open at 5:30 pm and the seder begins promptly at 6 pm. All are welcome. Click here for more information and to register.

While April 15, also known as Tax Day, is not traditionally celebrated, two area restaurants are offering specials to help those of us who had to pay up this year. The Washington House in Sellersville is offering a 15% discount on your meal all day. Just visit their website and download the coupon to bring to the restaurant.

tax day martiniIn Upper Black Eddy, the Indian Rock Inn is holding their Annual Tax Relief Special on Wednesday, April 16 from 5 to 9 pm. Select items from their regular menu and some specials are half off. It’s a great chance to sample their food at a real bargain. Reservations are strongly suggested. Contact the Indian Rock Inn at 610.982.9600.

Here’s a fascinating factoid about taxes and eating:

While we will spend 6.1 billion hours to complete our taxes this year… [the] IFIC Foundation 2012 Food and Health Survey shows that most Americans (52 percent) have concluded that figuring out their income taxes is easier than knowing what they should and shouldn’t eat to be healthier!” (FoodInsight.org)

Let’s hope for a year with fewer taxes to pay and healthier, local food to eat!

Click below for this week’s food calendar. 

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Want to go out for Easter this year? Bucks is full of restaurants offering lovely brunches and dinners for the holiday. And we’re not just talking ham. There is some very creative and delicious food being offered out there. Peruse the choices below and click through to the menus where available.

Easter is Sunday, April 20 this year.

The list is organized geographically by Lower, Central and Upper Bucks, and New Jersey.

Have a wonderful holiday!

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Most of us want to eat healthier. Watch the news or read the papers and it can get a little overwhelming. Eat organic? Eat local? No antibiotics or growth hormones? And where can you get all this?

Of major concern to many people today is how the meat we eat is being raised and what it is being fed. Most of the beef, pork and poultry available in the supermarket has been industrially raised in crowded, unhygienic conditions, and fed antibiotics (as a preventive, not because the animals are ill) and hormones to speed the animals’ growth and get them faster to market. But there is an alternative, and it’s right here in Bucks County.

Why grass-fed? Increasingly, consumers are choosing to buy beef that has been raised on pasture – the way nature intended. Why is this better, you might ask? And why is it often more expensive? To answer these questions you need to learn a little more about cattle.

Dennis and Carol Dorney raise grass-fed, pastured cattle on their farm, Naturally@Holben Valley, in New Tripoli, up in Lehigh County. Each Saturday they travel to the Wrightstown Farmers Market to sell their beef.

“I’m not so much a cattle farmer as a grass farmer.”

“I’m not so much a cattle farmer as a grass farmer,” explains Dennis. “I grow the kind of crop that cattle need to eat nutritionally and they do the harvesting.” That includes orchard grass, tall fescue, sorghum grass, brasicas (radishes, kale) and field peas. And no grain. Cattle are not genetically built to digest grain, but those raised in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations – doesn’t that sound appetizing?) are fed a steady diet of corn and soy to speed up the growth process. The Dorneys feed their cattle grass and hay year-round, even in winter. It’s better for the animals, and, as it turns out, it’s better for us humans too.

Holben Valley_cow200x200Less fat, more omega-3. According to recent research, beef from grass-fed meat packs up to a third less fat per serving. The fat it does have boasts more benefits: A three-ounce serving contains 35 milligrams of the heart- and brain-protecting omega-3s EPA and DHA, compared with only 18 milligrams for the same serving of meat from grain-fed stock. Pasture-raised cattle also have twice the conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) per serving (26 milligrams, compared with 13 milligrams in grain-fed). CLA, this research reports, “may influence the onset and severity of several chronic diseases, including various cancers, atherosclerosis, obesity, bone density loss, and diabetes.”

It’s all about genetics. The Dorneys live on a 250 acre farm that has been in their family since 1957. In 1988, they bought some beef cows that were already bred, but then a few years later they got their own bull, and started cross-breeding to get hybrid vigor. It’s all about genetics. Farmers raising grass-fed cattle are quickly learning how to breed and watch carefully when the animal is ready to go to slaughter. That produces tender beef with great taste.

Because the Dorneys have a small closed herd, and don’t bring in cattle from outside auctions, the animals do not require antibiotics. They also choose not to use growth hormones or steroids. Although they are not USDA certified organic, they follow many organic practices. For the first ten years, Dennis fed the cattle conventionally with alfalfa and corn. But that all changed when Dennis attended a Mennonite meeting where they spoke about the benefits of grass-fed beef. From that point on, the animals were fed only grass year-round.

“We care about our product and we’re trying to do it the right way.”

“We care about our product,” says Dennis, “and we’re trying to do it the right way.” That includes being sustainable – growing everything they need to feed the cattle and using conservation practices like crop rotation and tillage, pasture management and contour farming. They also compost the manure and bedding from the herd; plant disease and pest resistant plant varieties; and conserve soil and water by using no-till and minimum tillage practices for their crops.

At Holben Valley Farm, the cattle are rotated through nine pastures, or paddocks. When they’ve eaten down the grass in one paddock, they move onto the next. The Dorneys have 50 acres in pasture now but their goal is to add 10–20 more this year. “The more the cattle can harvest their own food (instead of us humans),” explains Dennis, “the more cost efficient it is – less feed, less fuel.”

Grass-fed cattle take an average of 20 months to mature for market, as opposed to cattle raised in industrial feed lots which take 14-16 months. This is the main reason grass-fed beef is more expensive than what you might pick up at Costco. “It’s more work but better meat,” says Dennis. “It’s also better for the cattle and it’s healthier for humans.”

Holben Valley_Carol Dorney_editYou can learn more about the Dorneys and Holben Valley Farm on their website, www.lehighvalleygrassfed.com, including the cuts of meat they sell. Or come out to the Wrightstown Farmers Market every Saturday to meet them and buy some great-tasting, healthy beef. Look too for their pasture-raised turkeys come next fall.

The Wrightstown Farmers Market is at 2203 2nd Street Pike in Wrightstown, just north of Richboro and Newtown, PA. This month there are two mini-markets, on April 12 and April 26. The market’s regular season begins on May 3.

So what if it’s a little overcast and chilly today? It’s April! Woohoo. Here’s all the fun food news for this week. Enjoy!

Pierogies; iStockEaster yummies. Two local churches are selling traditional Eastern European specialties in preparation for Easter. St. Anne Ukrainian Church in Warrington—who make and sell pierogies on most Wednesdays—have a special sale for the holiday. Order homemade kielbasa (rings or sticks), kabanos (links), babka (homemade Easter bread) and, of course, pierogies. Put your order in by Sunday, April 6 for pick-up on April 12. Call the church’s office at 215.343.3948 or see their online order form here.

St. Mark’s Orthodox Church in Wrightstown/Newtown will be offering their homemade many varieties of pierogies, nut and poppy seed rolls, stuffed cabbage, kielbas rings and babka too. Stop by the church this Saturday, April 5 from 9 am to 1 pm. Call 215.788.2106 for more information.

Stack of Pancakes with Syrup; MSClipArtOur local firehouse, the Lingohocken Fire Company in Wycombe, is holding their annual Pancake Breakfast this Sunday, April 6 from 8 am to 1 pm. Come for the pancakes, sausage (really good), French Toast, coffee and all the fixings. Yours truly will be pouring coffee from 10:30 am on.

Sunday is a busy day. Arts for the Manor, an organization that brings local artists to Neshaminy Manor to work with residents, is holding their 12th Annual Benefit Brunch & Art Show. For more information, click here.

If you haven’t spent time with local entertainer and singer, Dwyane Dunlevy, here’s your chance. At the New Hope Winery on Sunday, Dunlevy will host the April Cabaret Brunch from 12 pm to 3 pm. It will be an afternoon of comedy, wine, and song, with brunch items like a Farmer’s Egg Casserole, hand-carved ham, Lobster Mac & Cheese, marinated vegetables, a smoked salmon platter and a dessert buffet. $25 covers the brunch and entertainment. Click here for tickets.

DFC-LocalLive2014BannerAlso on Sunday, mark your calendar for the 3rd Annual Local Live at Puck in Doylestown. The event is a fundraiser for the Doylestown Food Co-op, who just celebrated the grand opening of their first brick-and-mortar store. The evening is full of good music and delicious local food. You can purchase tickets—only $15 ($12 for Co-op members)—at their website.

Do you love Yeungling beer? Here’s your chance to meet brewer Jennifer Yeungling, from the famous brewery in Pottsville, Pa. Next Wednesday night’s dinner (April 9) at the Spinnerstown Hotel will feature five brews, including their newest, Summer Wheat, paired with great food. See Spinnerstown Hotel’s Facebook page for up-to-date information.

Click below for this week’s food calendar.

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Shop, Support and Learn About Local Farmers, Food Artisans and Sustainable Businesses at Region’s Largest, Local Gathering

Philly Farm & Food Fest

Last year was the first time I attended the Philly Farm & Food Fest. What fun! Rows and rows of local producers, farmers and food artisans filled the Pennsylvania Convention Center Annex, all offering samples of their delicious food.

This year, there will be 100 vendors sampling and selling locally grown and produced foods – from fruit and veggies to specialty gluten free baked goods to meats, poultry and eggs to decadent desserts and organic ice cream.

Bread_editThere will also be farm-to-table restaurants, local beer and spirits as well as loads of sustainable businesses. Come too for the DIY kitchen demos and kid-friendly workshops, featured speakers and industry leaders in nutrition, healthy lifestyle and sustainable entrepreneurship.

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Here are some tasty tidbits from last night’s 2014 Gourmet Getaway – Cuisine for a Cause. Sorry I don’t have more pictures. I guess I was too busy eating…

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We are fortunate here in Bucks County to have a strong community, interested in supporting a myriad of great causes. Here’s a few special events coming up in April that you might want to put on your calendar.

red wineAre you a wine rookie ready to learn more? Or are you an aficionado ready to put your taste buds to the test? Either way, you’ll want to come to the first annual Taste for Life to sample premium wines from around the world, dance to live music and eat delicious food.

David Presti was a big fan of wine and cuisine. So it’s fitting that to celebrate his life and raise money for cancer research there should be a big party. Taste of Life, organized by David’s wife, Nancy, will take place at Aldie Mansion on Sunday, April 6 from 4 – 7 pm. David and Nancy both battled cancer twice over in the last ten years, all while raising two amazing teenagers, but David succumbed last March at the too young age of 55. His family is excited to begin this tradition, and to celebrate at Aldie Mansion, where Nancy and David were married. To learn more and buy tickets, go to davidtasteforlife.org.

Brunch-framed“I’d rather have art than bingo,” says Anne, a resident at Neshaminy Manor. So be it. Arts for the Manor brings local artists to Neshaminy Manor, the nursing care facility in Warrington, to teach art to residents on a weekly basis. This year is the 12th Annual Benefit Brunch and Art Show featuring food from some of the area’s best local chefs. Brunch will include fresh baked pastries, eggs, a waffles station, ham, sausage, prime rib of beef, chicken dishes, cold marinated salads, salmon, cheese boards, fruit, and much more. The art exhibition and sale will feature paintings, prints, drawings, pottery, and jewelry from local artists and Manor residents.

The event takes place on Sunday, April 6 at 11 am. To buy tickets—only $30 per person—visit Neshaminy Manor at 1660 Easton Road. You can also call Kathy Bates at 215.345.3858 or email her at kmbates@co.bucks.pa.us.

meatballs-ricotta-tomatoThe Friends of the Free Library of New Hope-Solebury are presenting their own version of the Hunger Games with Meatball Madness on Tuesday, April 8. Four chefs from New Hope restaurants pull out all the stops as they compete for your votes for the tastiest meatball in town. Dinner includes pasta, meatballs, salad and a cash bar, all beginning at 6:30 pm, and taking place at Jon & Peter’s at 96 South Main Street in New Hope. Proceeds benefit the operations of the New Hope-Solebury Library. The cost is $15 per person. For more information or to make reservations please email the Friends of the New Hope-Solebury Library at friends.nhslibrary@gmail.org.

April in RioWho needs to go to Brazil when you can dance and eat the night away in carnival-style? On Saturday, April 12, come to the James A. Michener Art Museum for April in Rio, a grand event to raise money for cancer research at the Fox Chase Cancer Center. There will be Brazilian music by Sambagrilo and a performance of Samba dancers to accompany the cocktail hour. Brazilian-themed delicacies will be served at dinner in the glass-walled dining room of the Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion and Bill Schutt will conduct a live auction featuring items such as trips to Tuscany and Scotland, and tango lessons for six people followed by dinner. The museum galleries will also be open to guests. To receive an invitation, email AprilinRio@gmail.com or visit the event website.

Finally, don’t miss an 8-course dinner at Honey in Doylestown on April 23 to benefit Animal Lifeline. Animal Lifeline is located in Warrington, PA and was founded in 2006 as a non-profit organization to create humane solutions for animals locally and nationally. They provide animal rescue and transport, disaster response, shelter and rescue rehabilitation, humane education, adoption, and local spay/neuter and food bank programs. See this delicious 8-course vegetarian, seasonally inspired and locally sourced menu at Honey’s website (under “What’s New”). The cost is $150 per couple and 100% of the food sales from this dinner will be going to Animal Lifeline. To make reservations, please call 215.489.4200.

 

So much to eat and drink, so little time. This week is full of food events, from fish fry dinners, to wine “boot camp,” to meeting the new “kids on the block” and making cheese. Here are the highlights.

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You know how good bacon smells? Imagine spending three hours surrounded by that lovely, smoky aroma. Add some beer and nice music, and you’ve got yesterday’s 1st Annual Bucks Bacon & Beer event, co-sponsored by Bucks County Taste and Triumph Brewing Company. It was a blast. I’m still recovering.

Bucks Bacon & Beer logoSeventy plus happy guests filled the room, making their way among a half a dozen local bacon purveyors, and, quite frankly, stuffing their faces. These were serious bacon folks. “You are doing God’s work,” one said to me after I told him the event was my brainchild. They were thrilled to be at the “first” (with a commemorative pint glass to prove it) and can’t wait for next year. There was also a certain glee that they had beat out their friends to a ticket this year.

But when I asked one of the guests, which bacon he liked best, he thought for a moment, then said, “I like them all. It’s like beer. There are all different kinds, and they’re all good!”

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New chives; (c) 2014 by L.GoldmanDespite the frosting of snow earlier this week—which I refused to acknowledge—we are on our way to spring!

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I’m a Philly girl, through and through, and proud of it. So I’m always a little embarrassed when friends and family ask for a restaurant recommendation in Philadelphia, and I come up blank, especially since there has been such an explosion of incredible restaurants in the past ten years.

My standard excuse is that Bucks County is my beat. As it is, I don’t have enough time to visit (or revisit) all the restaurants in Bucks that I would like. M.O.M.’s is a perfect example.

I vaguely remember when the former Maxwell’s on Main operated over four years ago at the same location but I didn’t have any fond memories that drew me back. To be honest, I haven’t paid much attention to the new M.O.M.’s that Brian and Nate Hugill opened in January 2010 with their friend and chef, Bobby Marchesano. I knew it was a fun place to meet up, with a good craft beer selection, but knew nothing of the food.

So when M.O.M’s asked me if I’d be interested in doing a tasting, I was curious. I’m always a bit uneasy when I am comped a meal. There is certainly a sense of obligation to write about it, and to say something complimentary. I don’t see myself as a food critic, so I don’t write critical reviews. If I can’t find enough good things to say about a place, I just won’t write about it.

Thankfully this was not a problem with M.O.M.’s.

Imagine finding a piece of New Orleans in the center of Doylestown. Warm, Southern-style comfort food with interesting twists all over the menu. Sweet, smoky and with a touch of spice. Creole ingredients like crab, crawfish, sweet potatoes, andouille sausage, grits, collards, smoked pork and bread pudding. I had no idea this was going on at Main and Court Streets.

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Recipes don’t lie. And in the case of Gross’ Gourmet, they tell quite a story. Fifty-three years of serving up delicious, home-cooked foods like fried chicken, meatloaf, mac ‘n cheese and German potato salad. It is comfort food at its best, and it’s a Bucks County tradition that Leslie and Andy Bilotta are proud to continue.

If you’ve lived in Bucks for a while you may remember Gross’ small storefront just off Swamp Road, by the car dealerships in Doylestown. Selling mostly fried chicken and sides, the modest store was a great place to pick up a last minute dinner. The chicken was always good—crunchy and flavorful. The business was originally begun by the Gross family in Perkasie, who still sell chicken wholesale to local restaurants. But when the Bilottas bought Gross’ in 2005, they got the recipe book too, filled with original recipes for all of Gross’ favorite dishes.

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“I started taking the recipe book home,” explains Leslie, “I’d test and cook, and then bring it to the store for tasting.” In this way, Andy and Leslie have brought back to life so many of the original Gross’ specialties, and more than just chicken. You’ll find pulled pork, barbecued ribs, soups, quiches, stuffed peppers, warm sides and cold salads. Everything is made from scratch and everything is made on the premises.

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clover_blue moon acresHow thrilling to see grass again – even if it isn’t quite green yet. But if you want to celebrate “the green,” this is a good weekend to do it.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are happening all over Bucks County. The Green Parrot in Newtown will be holding their 4th Annual Newtown Irish Festival beginning on this Friday and continuing all the way through Monday (who said St. Patty’s Day is only one day?). The Pineville Tavern will have special Irish menu items and live music over the weekend, as will Triumph Brewing Company on Saturday at their 2014 Irish Fest.

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