Easter egg biscuits and Miffy

Sister number three in our family, from a very young age, adored the series of books about a small white rabbit named Miffy. The Dutch artist Dick Bruna created this character over sixty years ago. It is easy to see the appeal to small children with his clever use of primary colours and minimalist bold lines. Our sisters love of these books was so great, that we nicknamed her after that iconic straight-eared bunny.

Miffy was a sweet and sensitive child with a solid love of the ridiculous. She was a deep thinking furrowed browed tumble of light brown curls, with a smackering of tawny freckles upon the bridge of her cute button nose. One of the moments that best describe her, was when around the age of nine or ten, she decided to forgo any Christmas gifts and donate the money to Mother Teresa and the poor. (We may have teased her mercilessly about this selfless act but we were secretly all very impressed.)

These chewy coconut biscuits are a bit of festive Easter frippery and fun. Easy to make with kids, they are a colourful addition to any Easter table. Using my favourite Coconut Macaroon recipe, I threw in a dash of lemon zest which added a faint hum of citrus. Miffy visited the other day and even though we are all ‘growed up’ and life and time has altered us somewhat, she is still that same sweet, funny and tender soul. After taste testing these biscuits our Miffy gave them two very big bunny thumbs up.

EASTER EGG MACAROON BISCUITS

WHAT YOU NEED
2 egg whites
Pinch salt
1/2 cup (100g) caster sugar
1 1/4 cups (125g) desiccated coconut
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder (or pure vanilla paste or essence)
Zest of one medium sized lemon
125g mini candy coated eggs (gluten free)
40g white chocolate

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 150C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
Beat the egg whites and salt until they are stiff. Gradually beat in the sugar and fold in the remaining ingredients.
Drop 2 teaspoonfuls of the mixture about 5cm apart on the trays and using the other end of the spoon, dig a small indentation. This is where you will pour the chocolate and pop the eggs in once the biscuits are cooked and cooled.
Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. When the macaroons are dry and cooked, they will be a pale, pinky-gold. Let them cool completely.
Melt the white chocolate in a small glass bowl, either in the microwave or on a double boiler. Let the chocolate cool and thicken, then place abut 1/4 to a 1/2 tsp into the middle of each macaroon. Pop three of the Easter eggs onto each macaroon.
Store in an airtight container.

Recipe slightly adapted from Ladies, A Plate by Alexa Johnston.

Looking for other Easter food ideas?
Gluten free silverbeet, herb and polenta pie
Roasted baby carrots with cumin
Heirloom carrot autumn salad
Hot cross buns

Advertisements

Lentils, slow roasted tomatoes and goats cheese

Most of you would have heard the saying ‘you don’t make friends with salad.’ The underpinning sentiment being that salad is not worth eating. Personally, I try to avoid eating anything or anybody that I have made friends with. However, if we were ever to find ourselves in an extremely desperate survival type situation, who knows what may happen. (Having read the book ‘Alive’ based on the 1972 Andes flight disaster where sixteen survivors survived only by deciding to eat pieces of their dead friends, I have been forever haunted by the choices they made. Would I, wouldn’t I?)

Ponderings on cannibalism aside, salads these days are mega interesting and worthy of being elevated to ‘main course’ status. Yotam Ottolenghi, the British chef, cookery writer and TV presenter could easily be hailed as the ‘King Of Delicious and Fascinating Salads.’ Having been lucky enough to procure another smattering of delicious cherry tomatoes from the local Growers Markets, the idea of slow roasting them popped into my brain box. Trawling through my cookbooks I came across this salad from Ottolenghi’s book ‘Plenty’ and did a bit of re-jigging. The lentils have a toothsome nutty bite, the thyme perfumed tomatoes are unctuously sweet, the melting red wine vinegar onions and bright herbs add a zingy lift. The nuggets of goats cheese provide an extra creamy tart surprise.

Salad may not be ‘my friend’ but it is certainly a very tasty acquaintance.

LENTILS, SLOW ROASTED TOMATOES AND GOATS CHEESE

WHAT YOU NEED
1 small red Red onion, very finely sliced
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
250g lentils (I used a french style fine green lentil from Mount Zero, Ottolenghi used castelluccio lentils or you could use French puy. The lentils need to hold their shape once cooked.)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 tbl parsley, chopped
1 tbl oregano, chopped (note, Ottolenghi’s recipe used 3tbsp chervil or parsley, 3 tbsp chopped chives, 4 tbsp chopped dill but I didn’t have these so just made do with what I had)
80g goats cheese (or Gorgonzola, or feta)
Black pepper

Slow roasted tomatoes
400g mixed cherry tomatoes, washed
2 tbl olive oil
1 tbl caramelised balsamic vinegar
8 sprigs of thyme
Extra sea salt

HOW YOU DO IT
Start by making the slow roasted tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 100C. Place the cherry tomatoes and thyme sprigs onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with some salt and gently toss to coat. Roast for one hour, turning once or twice in that time.
Remove the tomatoes from the oven, discard the thyme and allow them to cool.
Meanwhile, place the red onion in a medium bowl, pour over the red wine vinegar and sprinkle with the salt. Stir, then leave the onions to soften.
Place the lentils in a pan of boiling water (the water should come three centimetres above the lentils) and cook for 20-30 minutes or until tender.
Drain the lentils in a sieve and whilst still warm, add them to the sliced red onion. Next, add the extra virgin olive oil, garlic and some black pepper. Stir to mix and leave aside to cool down.
Once cool, add the herbs and gently mix together. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
To serve, pile up the lentils on a large plate or bowl, integrating the goats cheese and tomatoes as you build up the pile. Drizzle the tomato cooking juices on top and serve.

A slight variation on a Yotam Otteolenghi recipe from ‘Plenty’ published by Edbury Press, 2010


Tomato, fennel and goats cheese salad

Inspiration, not unlike perspiration, happens unexpectedly and far more pleasantly. Whilst trawling our local Growers Markets, I happened upon some bulbs of baby fennel and trays of sunny yellow and dark red to the point of black, cherry tomatoes. The bloke on the stall informed me that the dark reds were named Black Russians. This romantic moniker instantly transported me to long gone days of Tsars, bejewelled Faberge eggs and Rasputin. All set against a backdrop of snow covered mulit-coloured Russian Orthodox churches. A far cry from the humid heat and slick sweat that was slowly rolling down between my shoulder blades. (Of course Tsarinas don’t perspire they gently ‘glow’ but I doubt that the Russian royalty of that era went veggie shopping under a blazing hot Aussie sun either.)

This unseasonably warm weather calls for salads and lots of ’em. My fridge coughed up a jar of the lovely marinated Meredith goats cheese feta. And so it was. Crunchy, finely sliced aniseed fennel, the sweet tartness of tomatoes, the creamy goaty tang of the cheese and the herbal zing of mint. Perfect for a bloody hot day and a dish fit for a Tsar or perhaps even a mad monk.

TOMATO, FENNEL AND FETA SALAD

WHAT YOU NEED
250g cherry tomatoes, I used a mix Black Russian and yellow
1 baby fennel bulb (or half a normal size bulb)
Juice of half a medium size lemon
3 tbl extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to season
50g goats cheese (if you don’t have or like goats cheese, a creamy feta cheese would be a great substitute)
1 tbl fresh chopped mint

HOW YOU DO IT
Wash the tomatoes, de-stalk and slice them in two.
Wash the fennel bulb, slice in half and take out the hard core in the middle. Using a mandolin, slice into fine slices. (The fennel that is, not your fingers.)
Place the tomatoes and sliced fennel on a platter or in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and add the lemon juice and olive oil.
Toss together and let this sit for 15 to 30 minutes to absorb the flavours.
Crumble the feta over the salad, scatter the mint and et voila!
Serves 2 very hungry people, could serve 4 alongside a lot of other dishes. I had it with a lemon pepper pork schnitzel. It was the bomb.

A Cheergerm take on a number of similar salad recipes