Easter eating

Easter represents a much-needed break for many. A shack up the river or over on Yorkes. Camping in the Flinders. Rugged up beach walks.

If you’re not one of the lucky, it’s an opportunity for stress-free entertaining, casual but tasty eating making the best of the autumn produce around.

I’m starting to think about Easter menus and dishes.

What would be on your shopping list?

Leg of lamb? Whole chicken. Seafood for Good Friday?

Rhubarb and new stone fruits such as plumbs? Oranges?

These Nigel Slater Easter recipes, while designed with the northern hemisphere’s Spring season in mind, got me thinking.

I think they’re transferable – sort of trans-seasonal – as they’re not too summery yet.

I’ve also discovered this young American chef, Amy Thielen; her cooking show and book are called Heartland Table. I like the sound of this recipe, Greens with Spiced Butter and Ricotta (although I think I might short-cut with good shop bought ricotta).

I usually make Honey and Orange Madeleines with chocolate sauce (thanks to chef Karen Martini) at some stage over the Easter weekend. Do you have favourites or traditions for your Easter cooking? Please share.

This weekend, I’m road-testing a new recipe for Easter – a plumb and almond tart made with polenta pastry. If it works, I’ll share it.

Honey and Orange Madeleines with chocolate sauce. Source: goodfood.com.au

Meat-free Monday: Sesame pastry cases with onion and pumpkin

This recipe is from nutritionist Janella Purcell, when she was on the LifestyleFood show, Good Chef, Bad Chef, with (MasterChef Australia's) Gary Mehigan in 2009. Monsieur D made them and they became a favourite – they could be an appetiser, entrée or main if served with a salad.

Sesame pastry cases with onion and pumpkin (pictured borrowed from muppyat.blogspot.com)

Sesame pastry cases with onion and pumpkin (pictured borrowed from muppyat.blogspot.com)


2 1/2 cups spelt flour
 (wholemeal will do)

1 cup toasted sesame seeds

1 cup sesame oil
 (we used only half a cup because it made the pastry less oily)

1 1/2 cups boiling water

2 tbls tamari
 (for pastry cases)

1 onion, finley sliced

500ml vegetable stock

1 tbls ginger juice

1 tsp tamari
 (for onions)

1 cup japanese (nap) pumpkin, cubed and steamed
 (any pumpkin will do)

1 packet of silken tofu

2 tbls shiro miso paste

1 tsp umeboshi or white wine vinegar


For the cases, combine the dry ingredients and blend the wet ingredients separately. Mix together slowly then knead for a couple of minutes. It should be quite oily and elastic. Let pastry sit for 30 minutes under a dry cloth. Roll out pastry to 1cm thick, (you may need a little flour on the bench) then using a biscuit cutter fit into individual non stick muffin cases. Our recipe says to take at 180C for 10 minutes, our oven is fan-forced (I noticed she also suggests 200C for 15 minutes). The cases will harden once they cool.

Meanwhile, prepare your filling – put the onions in a pot with the stock, ginger juice and tamari. Bring to the boil then drop to a simmer until the liquid is evaporated. Meanwhile, blend your pumpkin together with the tofu and vinegar.

To assemble, put a little miso paste on the bottom of each case *** this is optional, I suggest trying out the miso, we left it out after the first time these were made because it was just too salty for our tastes. Fill the cases half way up with the onion mixture. Finally dollop each case with some of the pumpkin puree.

For presentation, you could sprinkle a few toasted sesame seeds on the top, or a few chopped herbs, such as coriander for colour.

Voila. Enjoy.

Meat-free Mondays: Black Pepper Mushrooms

This recipe comes from the Qantas inflight magazine, November 2008 edition, and unfortunately the tear sheet doesn’t show whom it should be attributed to.

Beef fillet was used in the original but Monsieur D substituted mushrooms (white and/or brown, Swiss: whatever was available) and it soon became a signature dish in Chez Wayville.

Being a stir-fry, I don’t think the quantities of ingredients such as oyster and soy, kecap manis (Indonesian syrupy soy) matter – it’s about personal taste. Start with less, you can always add more but you can’t take away.

As the original recipe also says, this dish relies on the freshness of the peppercorns, so buy them in small amounts regularly and crush them. This goes well with or without rice and a side dish of steamed greens. Serves 2


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Meat-free Mondays: Eggplant Brinjal

This Indian recipe owes attribution to chef Ben O’Donoghue who originally cooked this on The Best in Australia, on Foxtel's Lifestyle Food channel.

It’s normally a side dish to go with Ben’s harissa-crusted leg of lamb cooked tandoor-style but on a Meat-Free Monday it’s the hero dish. It could be served with any kind of greens, bok choy, beans or broccoli, for example, and a bit of rice.

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Meat-free Mondays

Rustic Tortilla Soup

Mexican is so on-trend at present so this should go down a treat.

This should probably be credited to Jamie Oliver; my clipping is ripped from an English newspaper and doesn’t show who the chef is but it sounds like Jamie. It uses tortilla chips the way the French use croutons. The chips are meant to slightly soften in the soup by serving.

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