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


Gluten free silverbeet, herb and polenta pie for Easter

Sending the Yak to the superdoopermarket/green grocers is a hit and miss thing. He is very good at buying utilitarian dried goods (think loo paper, environmentally friendly toilet cleaner in the shape of a duck or gluten free taco shells) but one has to be extremely specific when it comes to fruit and vegetables.

Point in case….I once asked for some green beans. He came back with eight, yes eight, (count them people) individual green beans. I could have created an art installation from them but finding a way to incorporate eight beans into a recipe was a tad beyond my imagination.

When pondering a vegetarian gluten free recipe as part of a shared Easter celebration, I lovingly reminisced upon the traditional spanokopita. That wonderful Greek pie consisting of silverbeet or spinach, ricotta, feta, herbs and flaky layers of pastry. Pastry that The Yak can no longer partake of. Thinking cap placed firmly atop of my noggin, I thunked. Perhaps a polenta crust atop a semi-traditional spinach pie would be quite the treat? (Or a total disaster.)

Curiosity led me to pondering the Greek connection between ground corn and food. Googlebumbling revealed that ground corn has indeed been used in Greek cooking in various ways for several hundred years. It possibly arrived in Greece, courtesy of the Turkish Ottoman Empire by way of Africa. Amongst other uses, it is sprinkled atop leafy green pies or placed underneath to soak up the juices. I have added the link to the very interesting article, after the photos in this post.

Once upon a time, I used to favour a spanokopita recipe by Matthew Evans (a former chef and food critic, now television host). It contained an abundance of herbs, leafy greens and cheese. Having lost this recipe, I now make it merely from memory. (Not the most reliable of sources.) Do not freak out at the amount of herbs in this recipe. It seems a lot but it works. Need it be said, The Yak did not do the shopping for this dish.

This pie is audaciously herbaceous. The salty hits of feta and kefalograviera (a salty Greek hard sheeps milk cheese), combined with the slightly sweet corn polenta, balance the meadowy punch in the face. But this is the kind of face punch that you happily go back for.

Sadly I missed out on the actual abundant Easter feast itself due to Kid 2 and a tummy bug. However, I did get to eat leftovers of this pie. I poured myself a glass of vino, tucked in and pretended I was on a Greek island somewhere. (In a place where stomach viruses did not exist.)

SILVERBEET, HERB AND POLENTA PIE

WHAT YOU NEED
2 tbl olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch spring onion, finely chopped
1 big bunch chopped silverbeet, trim the woody ends and use the leafy greens and some of the softer stem. (I had roughly 700g once trimmed of stalks.)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
6 Eggs, beaten
300g Ricotta
200g Feta, crumbled
1 bunch mint, chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch dill, chopped
Zest of one lemon and juice for the silverbeet
1 tsp Salt
Pepper

Polenta Crust
1.5 cups instant polenta
5 cups water
1 1/2 tbl butter
120g kefalograviera cheese (Use 1/4 cup to add to the polenta and the rest to sprinkle on top of the pie.)

HOW YOU DO IT
In a large frypan, sauté the chopped onion for a few minutes until they start to become translucent, add the chopped spring onions, sauté for one minute.
Remove the mixture from the pan into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool.
Re-heat the pan to a medium heat, add the chopped silverbeet along with a big squeeze of lemon and cook, stirring regularly until it has wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated. When it has cooled, squeeze out any remaining liquid.
Into the large bowl containing the onion mixture, add the silverbeet, nutmeg, beaten eggs, ricotta, feta, chopped herbs, lemon zest, salt and a few big grinds of black pepper, as much as you fancy. (I am not the pepper police!)
Mix well, taste and check for seasoning.
Smooth this mixture into a large oiled baking dish, I use a 3 litre rectangular Pyrex dish.
Preheat the oven to 180 C if you are cooking the dish immediately.
Polenta Crust
For the polenta. Heat the water in a medium saucepan until it just starts to boil. Using a whisk, slowly pour in the polenta, continuing to whisk. This is important as it avoids lumpy polenta.
Change to a wooden spoon, turn the heat to low and continue to cook the polenta, stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes. Add the butter and 1/4 cup of the kefalograviera, it should be of a spreadable consistency.
Remove the polenta from the heat and immediately, spread it over the silverbeet, herb and egg mixture.
Let cool for ten minutes. Sprinkle the remaining kefalograviera cheese on top, and bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown on top. (You can also place the pie in the fridge if you are cooking the next day.)
Let the pie rest for about 15-20 minutes until it has set a little bit.
Serve with a green salad, or roasted veggies.
Cooking Notes: silverbeet is also know as chard. If you cannot find Kefalograviera, use Pecorino, Parmesan or Gruyere.

A Cheergerm creation

http://www.dianekochilas.com/when-greeks-do-corn/

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kefalograviera


Eggy bread and cooking with Kid 1

The only tenuous connection between this post and Easter is the use of the word ‘egg.’ Of course, one cannot live on chocolate alone (although Kid 1 would give it a good try.) At some point during the Easter celebrations, it is good to put something else apart from chocolate into your gob.

Kid 1 had been requesting a cooking lesson on what we call in our family ‘eggy bread.’ The naming of this bready treat harks from the Yaks’s British heritage. It is more commonly known as French Toast or in Frenchy speak ‘Pain Perdue.’ Whatever you call it, the process of soaking an enriched egg and butter bread in a creamy sweet egg wash and frying it up, makes a wonderful breakfast or in this case ‘breakfast for dinner’.

Enriched bread such as brioche or challah, will give you the best result. An even better result is achieved if the bread is one day old. You are looking for a crispy golden exterior and creamy soft interior. Kid 1 and I had a lovely time in the kitchen and both munchkins greatly enjoyed the puffy golden sweet, finished product. Next time, Kid 1 wants to make the brioche himself, grow chickens to make the eggs and farm our own cows for the milk and cream. Maybe we can just start with the brioche?

EGGY BREAD/FRENCH TOAST/PAIN PERDU

WHAT YOU NEED
3 thick (3cm or so) slices of brioche (or a similar bread such as challah, it is better if the bread is a day old.)
3 eggs
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup milk
1 tbl caster sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla essence
2 tbl butter
2 tbl oil
Maple syrup to serve

HOW YOU DO IT
Beat the eggs, cream, milk, sugar and vanilla in a large jug or medium size bowl.
Pour the egg mixture into a dish that will fit the brioche slices in side by side.
Place the bread in the dish and soak in the egg mixture for 5 minutes.
Turn the bread over onto the other side and soak for another for 5 minutes. Preheat the large non-stick frypan to a medium heat whilst the bread is soaking.
Add the butter and oil to the frypan and once the butter has melted, cook the bread for about 6 minutes each side until puffy and golden brown.
It can be kept in a warm oven for ten minutes or so until ready to eat.
Before serving you can dust the eggy bread in icing sugar but as this was for my kids and they go nuts with maple syrup, I didn’t.
Drizzle generously with maple syrup.
Serves 2 people.

Cooking Notes: To serve 4, simply double the recipe. If you would like to make a savoury version, leave out the sugar and vanilla. It is delicious served with crispy bacon and a sauce of some kind. (A relish, tomato sauce or hot sauce, whatever takes your fancy.)

A Cheergerm creation


Roasted baby carrots with cumin for Easter

Upon smelling a new perfume I was given for my birthday, Kid 1 made the following comment.

Kid 1: It smells like melted Easter eggs.

I am not sure whether to be displeased or not. I envisage myself swanning around attracting small chocolate-loving children and perhaps even the E.B. (Easter Bunny) himself. Not sure if that’s what the perfumier was aiming for when creating this parfum. ‘Eau de Chocolate Easter Egg.’ Give it a whirl, it’s all the rage in the Easter circles.

If you are looking for side dishes to accompany your Easter feast this coming weekend, please consider this wee recipe idea. Calling anything ‘baby’ that you are about to devour and consume has always creeped me out a bit. However, there is no escaping the fact that young veggies are usually the most tender and sweet. Let alone, super cute. Just like a real life human baby! Rest assured, only vegetable babies were harmed in the making of this dish. (That’s OK, right? Told you the whole thing is just, well, odd.)

These carrots were sweet with lovely undertones of the earthy cumin. Tender and juicy, I am positive that all, including the Easter Bunny, will love them.

ROASTED BABY CARROTS WITH CUMIN

WHAT YOU NEED
1 bunch baby carrots
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbl butter, unsalted
Salt
Pepper
2 tbl white wine

WHAT YOU DO
Preheat oven to 180C.
Scrub or lightly peel the carrots.
Place in a foil package, add the cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Dob the butter over the carrots, add the wine and close the foil package.
Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until tender.
Try it with https://cheergerm.com/2015/03/08/a-cheergerm-gluten-free-roasted-vegetable-lasagna/ or https://cheergerm.com/2015/01/02/millefeuilles-aux-tomates-et-lentilles-and-a-lady-crush/ or https://cheergerm.com/2014/11/09/a-side-of-herb-polenta-bake-and-an-aside/

A Cheergerm Creation