Easter Entertaining Y'all!
Whilst it is arguably the hero of the piece, Easter weekend doesn’t have to be all about the chocolate you know. Whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs, Easter is all about new life; new beginnings, a new season, new growth and new hope. However that sits in your psyche, it’s all undeniably centred upon joy and celebration - and I am seriously down with that.
So in the spirit of that, if you’re marking the ocassion with a meal of some description, I have your starter and dessert covered, with two fun and healthy little recipes. These babies combine the colour and tone of the season with the right about of playful whimsy to appeal to the kids. Give them a go and let me know how you get on.
I made theses dishes for the Gaby Roslin show on BBC Radio London a week or so ago and they went down a treat. The photos I took weren’t of great quality so I’ve used these from the wonderful Wholesome Chef website instead, just so you can see what it should look like.
Edible Veggie Patch with Marmite Soil
Raw Veggies to Include:
Sugar snap peas
Baby carrots, skin on & washed
Fresh basil sprigs
1 x 2-3 day old ciabatta loaf
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp Marmite
1 cup natural yoghurt
100g dolce latte / soft blue cheese
2 x tsp chopped fresh chives
First tackle the soil - which can be made two days in advance and kept in an air tight container. Pre-heat the oven to 100C / 212F and crumble the stale ciabatta loaf into a food processor to make a semi-fine crumb.
Meanwhile melt the butter and Marmite over a medium-low heat on the stove and then turn off the heat. Add the ciabatta crumbs and mix until evenly combined and coated.
Lay the mixture onto a baking tray and put on the bottom shelf of the low heat oven for around 30-40 minutes, checking and mixing regularly.
Remove from the oven and set aside until completely cool. At this point the crumb should take on a soil like texture and appearance. Decant into an air tight container until ready to use.
In a bowl, combine the yoghurt, crumble in the blue cheese and add the chopped fresh chives. Season with cracked black pepper to taste (it shouldn’t need salt due to the blue cheese, but a squeeze of fresh lemon may help to balance the acidity/saltiness).
Spoon into a little ramekin and set aside.
Take a nice serving dish and arrange your Marmite soil. I like to use an enamel roasting tray, but be creative - an old planter box, cleaned and lined with baking paper would look wonderful. Alternatively you could serve little individual gardens in ceramic pots.
When you have sufficiently covered the bottom of the container arrange your washed and prepared crudites in little lines to resemble a vegetable patch in the springtime.
Serve with the cheese & chive dip on the side. The idea here is to dip in the cheese first then back in the soil for a creamy, crunchy taste and texture sensation. It’s delicious and a guaranteed way to get kids to enjoy vegetables.
Gluten Free Carrot Cake Plant Pots
Ingredients (basic recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s carrot cake)
Butter for greasing
225g gluten free self raising flour
2 x large eggs
125g brown sugar (soft not course)
125ml sunflower oil
1 1/2 tsps of ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 x apple
1 x orange, zest & juice
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5 and grease a springform cake tin (the size and shape of which doesn’t matter as we’ll be crumbling the finished product). Line the tin with greaseproof paper and set aside.
Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the sugar and oil, mixing to combine. Sieve in the flour and the spices at this point (add an optional pinch of mixed spice here for a richer flavour). Mix until evening combined.
Peel & grate the carrots and apple, then add to the mixture along with the juice and zest of one orange. This makes for a really moist and textured cake.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake on the middle shelf for around 30 minutes, until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Leave to cook before breaking into a chunky crumb with your hands.
Get yourself some terracotta gardening pots (about the size of a standard mug) and line with foil to stop things falling through the drainage holes.
Fill up with your crumbed carrot cake and top with a jolly sprig of mint and a little chocolate bunny.
Eat with a spoon and a childlike smile on your face.