Washi tape Easter eggs

I was playing around with washi tape and boiled eggs the other day and decided that these are a pretty cute craft for kids (or big kids!) to do at Easter. Even better, they are super easy and there is no mess!

washi-eggs

If you are in to traditional Easter egg dyeing, check out this post.

Fancy making a sweet treat as well? Why not try these peanut butter rice krispie eggs?

 

Spelt, orange and date hot cross buns

I am still undecided if I really have a thing for spelt or whether I just use it because we have it…. Either way, I figure it has less gluten making it a little easier on the digestion, so it’s a win!

As baked goods go, these buns are really not too bad for you. With only a little added sugar via the maple syrup, and the spelt flour, well they’re positively healthy! (Ssshhhhh I won’t tell if you won’t)

spelt-and-date-hot-cross-buns
See that butter in the pic above? Well it’s an amazing homemade vanilla cultured butter popped in one of our cute mason jars. You can get the butter recipe here. One tip I will give you is to chill the cultured milk before whipping.

 

Spelt, orange and date hot cross buns

1 cup milk, warmed

1 tablespoon active dried yeast

1 teaspoon maple syrup

4 cups white spelt flour + extra for dusting

1 1/2 cups chopped pitted dates (fresh or dried is fine)

1/2 cup currants

2 teaspoons mixed spice

2 tablespoons finely grated orange rind

100g butter or coconut oil, melted

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons maple syrup, extra

for brushing and topping

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon water

1/4 cup white spelt flour

1/4 cup cold water

 

Combine the warm milk, yeast and maple syrup in a small bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes or until foamy.

Place the flour, dates, currants, mixed spice and orange rind in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a dough hook. Mix until well combined.

Add the yeast mixture, butter (or coconut oil), eggs and extra maple syrup. Beat with the dough hook for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. It will be a sticky dough. If you don’t have a mixer, you can knead the dough for 10 minutes on a floured surface.

Scrape the dough into a large, lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in warm place for 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for a minute or two.  Divide into 16 pieces and shape into buns. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Place the buns on the tray, leaving a little room in between for spreading. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 180°C (conventional). Combine the maple syrup and water (from brushing and topping). Brush the buns with half of this mixture.

Combine the flour and cold water (from brushing and topping) to make a paste. Spoon into a small snaplock bag and snip the corner to create a piping bag. You could obviously use a piping bag if you have one. Pipe o’s and x’s (or just the traditional crosses) onto your buns. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Brush with remaining maple water mixture. Enjoy!!

 

Makes 18

 

oOo If not serving straight away, I suggest splitting and toasting the buns before eating.

oOo If you want to have these in the morning, you can start them the day before. Once the dough has doubled in size for the first time, refrigerate overnight. Pull the dough out early and bring back to room temperature before shaping into buns and proving again.

oOo If you do make the homemade butter, it will last for 2-3 weeks in the fridge.

 

Healthier eggplant parmigiana

Okay so I am not saying this is the healthiest thing you will ever eat but it is definitely a healthier twist on the classic eggplant parmigiana, and it’s still totally delicious.

Instead of frying the eggplant I baked it, and I used a mix of light cheeses and ricotta so you still get that cheesy satisfaction without the extra calories. I also threw in some silverbeet, which adds a little bit of extra nutrition, what with leafy greens being nature’s superfood and all.

This dish is a great vegetarian main, just add a leafy salad. It’s also a lovely warm side with grilled meats and a bit of crusty bread.

healthier-eggplant-parmigiana

Healthier eggplant parmigiana

1kg eggplant, peeled, cut into 1cm slices

sea salt

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 onion (red or brown is fine), finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes

800g can diced tomatoes

1 cup tomato passata

2 teaspoons caster sugar (optional. I find it takes the sour edge off the tomatoes)

2 cups finely sliced silverbeet

3/4 cup plain flour (any will do, I used spelt)

2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs

olive oil spray

1 cup fresh basil leaves

350g low fat ricotta cheese

1 cup grated light mozzarella cheese

1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

 

Toss the eggplant with salt and place in a colander over the sink for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion, garlic and chilli for 3-5 minutes or until softened. Add the tomatoes, passata and sugar. Season to taste. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir through the silverbeet. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 220°C (fan-forced). Line two large baking trays with baking paper.

Combine the flour and mixed herbs in a bowl. Drain the eggplant on paper towel. Dip the eggplant in the flour, shake to remove any excess. Place on prepared trays. Spray with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for a further 10-12 minutes or until golden. Set aside.

Reduce oven to 180°C (fan-forced). Line a large baking dish with baking paper.

Spread 1/4 of the tomato sauce on the base of the dish. Top with 1/3 of the eggplant. Spread with another 1/4 of the sauce. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the basil and cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, finishing with cheese on top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is golden and the sauce is bubbling.

 

Serves 6-8 as a side or 4-6 as a main

 

Lemon and rosemary soda

After my successes with rosewater ginger beer and turmeric and orange ginger beer I thought I would try a ginger-free soda and see how that went. Happily, it went well!

This lemon soda is not as fizzy as the ginger beer, I believe this is because the acid in the lemon juice may dull the effects of the yeast, but it is tangy and refreshing and the rosemary adds just a little interest without being overwhelming. As always, I’m sure it would be delicious with a splash of gin or even tequila!

rosemary-lemon-soda
In this pic: Milk bottles, jute twine and yellow heart straws.

Lemon and rosemary soda

1/4 cup finely grated lemon rind (around 4 lemons worth)

1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves

3/4 cup raw caster sugar

4 1/2 cups water

1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

You will also need a clean  plastic 1.25 litre bottle. I just cleaned out a used soda water bottle.

 

Place the lemon rind, rosemary, sugar and 1/2 cup of the water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside until cold, at least 1 hour. Strain the syrup into a jug, pressing on the lemon rind and rosemary to release all of the liquid. Using a funnel, pour the syrup into the clean bottle. Add the yeast, lemon juice and remaining water. Seal and shake to combine. Set aside at room temperature for up to 7 days, until lightly carbonated. This will vary greatly depending on the temperature over this time and the age of the yeast etc. The best way to check is to just open the top every day and see if there is enough fizz. Once fizzy, store in the fridge for up to two weeks. Don’t leave it at room temperature once it has become fizzy as it may explode if too much carbonation builds up.

Makes 1.25 litres

 

oOo This would be so lovely at a baby shower or high tea as a non-alcoholic option. You could theme the bottle to suit the event, perhaps a pretty blue ribbon around the bottle and blue straw if she’s having a boy or a floral straw and a fragrant lemon leaf around the bottle for a garden tea party.

 

 

Indulgent cakes cookbook

Oh my goodness this book is divine! I can only claim a few of the recipes as mine but I highly recommend that you check it out.  The flavour combinations are so inspirational and I can see myself making every one of them. Plus the styling is out of this world. It makes you want to lick the pages…..

Australian Women’s Weekly has kindly let me share one of my recipes from the book with you – a Flourless Chocolate Beetroot Cake – so be sure to scroll down and check it out.

INDULGENT-CAKES

earl-grey-meringue
Earl grey meringue with syrup-soaked figs

coconut-and-berry-tres-leches-cake
Coconut and berry tres leches cake

flourless-chocolate-beetroot-cake
Flourless chocolate beetroot cake (recipe below)

 

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE BEETROOT CAKE

prep + cook time 2 hours (+ refrigeration & cooling)  serves 12

 

300g (9 1/2 ounces) beetroot (beets), peeled, cut in 3cm (11/4-inch) pieces

350g (11 ounces) dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped

185g (6 ounces) butter, chopped

6 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup (220g) firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup (100g) ground hazelnuts

1 teaspoon dutch-processed cocoa

candied beetroot

1 1/2 cups (330g) caster (superfine) sugar

1 cup (250ml) water

2 small beetroot (beets) (200g), peeled, sliced thinly

1 tablespoon lemon juice

sweetened crème fraîche

1 1/2 cups (360g) crème fraîche

2 tablespoons icing (confectioners’) sugar, sifted

1  teaspoon vanilla extract

 

1. Cook beetroot in a small saucepan of boiling water for 45 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Process beetroot and reserved liquid until smooth. You should have 1 cup beetroot puree.

2. Preheat oven to 160°C/325°F. Grease a 22cm (9-inch) springform pan; line base and side with baking paper.

3. Stir chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth.

4. Whisk eggs, extract, sugar and ground hazelnuts in a large bowl until combined. Add chocolate mixture and beetroot puree; whisk to combine. Pour mixture into pan; cover with foil.

5. Bake cake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until cooked around the edge with a slight wobble in the centre. Lift up edge of foil to release steam. Refrigerate cake for at least 3 hours or overnight.

6. Make candied beetroot, then sweetened crème fraîche.

7. Place cake on a platter; dust cake edges with cocoa. Spread top of cake with sweetened crème fraîche. Top with candied beetroot and drizzle with reserved syrup.

 

Candied beetroot: Stir sugar and the water in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. Add beetroot; cook for 20 minutes or until beetroot slices become slightly translucent and syrup thickens. Using two forks, transfer beetroot from syrup to a baking-paper-lined oven tray to cool. Reserve 1 cup of the syrup; stir in juice.

 

Sweetened crème fraiche: Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl until soft peaks form.

 

TIP: Use a mandoline or V-slicer to slice the beetroot into thin rounds for candying. They are available from kitchen stores and Asian supermarkets.

Do-ahead: The cake and candied beetroot can be made a day ahead. Store separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

 

 

Indulgent cakes is available from all good bookstores now.

 

Photographer: William Meppem

Food stylist: Sophia Young

Recipe developer: The above recipes are by me, but many other talented people wrote yummy recipes for the book also.