Easter Delicacies

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Easter is all about good cheer and good times and food is an important part of the celebrations.

Easter is a festival of the year which is deeply connected with its traditions related to food. Although a lot of the traditions can be traced back to Pagan rituals where they celebrate the arrival of Spring and the equinox which occurs around the same time. Celebrating Easter is mostly associated with the Christian faith. This means that the majority of these traditions have religious meanings, but some have been developed over the years as a symbol of the celebration of Easter and have acquired roots of their own.

Festive Delights

Easter, the spring festival that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ post lent- the period of fasting has a special bond with food. The soft hot cross buns that are baked with eggs, all-purpose flour, butter, sugar, milk and a hint of spices including cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon are a must on Easter day as they symbolize the new beginnings. “Also, part of the Easter celebrations menu is the Simnel cake, a light fruit-based cake that is made of ingredients including wheat flour, eggs, milk, orange or lemon zest, marzipan and spices. Lamb is a must-have dish on the Easter menu with whole roasted lamb being a top favourite. Other dishes include the roasted legs of the lamb, lamb chops and the like,” says Chef Ishijyot Surri, Executive Chef, Miniya Turk. As far as food is concerned people are not restricting themselves to the traditional dishes only but are also open to experimenting and including newer dishes. In addition to lamb and other meats, Easter meals include turkey, seafood, chicken stew and soft fugias. “No Easter meal is complete without wine. Also, while the old Easter eggs would be made of the only marzipan, today there is an array of Easter eggs right from chocolate to other flavours. In a bid to make it creative and relevant to today’s kids, Easter eggs are also available in the form of their favourite desserts like doughnuts and waffles,” adds Surri. Today theme-based celebrations are a big hit and Easter is no different. Themes like unicorn Easter eggs, chocolate pops, etc. are in huge demand.

Food Fix

During Easter, people generally look forward to a wide variety of food, especially when it comes to desserts. Some of the traditional desserts include Easter Bunny Cupcakes, Carrot Cake and Chocolate Eggs among many other delectable eateries to satiate their sweet tooth. Neeraj Tyagi, Director of Culinary, Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity avers, “Easter is considered a new crafting festival after Christmas. It is a festival of experimenting with soft and pastel shades, spring blooms and warm characters. Easter table décor and decorated eggs are some of the new trends that are gaining popularity across the world. One can embrace the uplifting shades of spring by choosing tableware and linen in pastel hues, vases overflowing with seasonal blooms and planters filled with colourful bulbs.” The relation between food and Easter started in early 5000 B.C. and continues to date with new age interpretations that make this an occasion to celebrate with friends and family.

Italian-Meat-Pie-courtesy-Chef-Ishijyot-Surri
Italian-Meat-Pie-courtesy-Chef-Ishijyot-Surri

Italian Meat Pie (Chef Ishijyot Surri, Executive Chef, courtesy Miniya Turk)

Ingredients

For Crust

  • 567 grams Flour
  • 10 grams Salt
  • 10 grams yeast
  • 30 grams sugar
  • 45 grams Dough improver
  • 118 ml olive oil
  • 350 ml cups warm water

For Filling

  • 15ml olive oil
  • 15 grams unsalted butter
  • 680 grams chicken Mince
  • Salt – to taste
  • Black pepper – to taste
  • 300 grams onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 170 grams carrot, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
  • 236 ml white wine
  • 448 grams tomato purée
  • 236 ml milk
  • Chicken stock – as required
  • 150 grams Mozzarella cheese

Instructions

To make the dough, mix and knead together all of the dough ingredients – in a mixer, until the dough is soft and smooth. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow it to rise for 1 to 2 hours, until it’s not quite doubled in bulk.

To make the filling, till the time the dough is rising. Heat the oil in pan and add the butter to it.  Sauté the onions until translucent. Add the chopped carrots, celery, and garlic. Add the white wine and heat it until the alcohol is evaporated. Add the chicken mince and cook it. Add the tomato puree along with the seasoning and let it cook until it is semi dry in texture. If the mince is too dry, add chicken stock. (This is only if the mince happens to cook until its dry.)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Have ready two 9″ pie pans.  Gently deflate the dough and divide it into four pieces. Place one of the larger pieces of dough on a lightly greased silicone rolling mat, or lightly greased work surface. Roll it into a circle that is about 16″ in diameter. Put the rolled dough sheet on the pie pan. Ensure it is tightly tucked to the pan. Bake it for 25 minutes, until they are a light golden brown. After the pie moulds are cooled down, add the filling to it. Top it with grated mozzarella cheese and gratinate it until the cheese is melted. Cut it into pieces and serve it hot.

Pasimata della Garfagnana courtesy Mercure Hyderabad KCP
Pasimata della Garfagnana courtesy Mercure Hyderabad KCP

Pasimata della Garfagnana (courtesy Chef Dipak Adhikary, Executive Chef, Mercure Hyderabad KCP)

Ingredients

  • 500 grams Refined flour
  • 3 Eggs
  • 200 grams Butter
  • 200 grams Sugar     
  • 50 grams Yeast
  • 150 grams Raisin
  • 10 grams Anise seeds powder

Method

Dissolve the yeast with warm water and knead it with a little flour. Let it rest.

Divide the ingredients available, except the butter, anise and raisins, into three parts.

To the yeast, after the first night of rest, you will have to add: 1 egg, the first part of flour and sugar. Knead ad hoc, after which you will have to leave your yeast at rest for about 2 hours. Add the second part, knead and let it rise for another 2 hours. Finally, mix the third part of the ingredients, also adding the melted butter, the anise and the raisins.

Mix well, placing a pan of about 30 cm in diameter on the parchment paper, continue to rest your dough for another 2 hours. Bake the dough at 180 ° for about 1 hour. Let it cool and serve with vinsanto (dessert wine).                                                 

Easter Creme Brule courtesy Four Points by Sheraton Navi Mumbai
Easter Creme Brule courtesy Four Points by Sheraton Navi Mumbai

Crème Brule Easter Eggs (Courtesy Executive Chef Merajuddin Ansari of Four Points by Sheraton Navi Mumbai)

Ingredients

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
  • 600ml thickened cream
  • 3 vanilla beans, split, seeds scraped
  • 1/2 cup (75g) icing sugar, sifted

Method

Carefully remove the top of each egg using a serrated knife. Separate the egg from the yolk by passing through your fingers. (The egg whites will keep frozen for up to 1 month.) Wash out eggshells and dry carefully with paper towel. Return to the egg carton. Place yolks in a bowl with caster sugar and beat until pale with electric beaters (try to not incorporate too much air into the mixture).

Bring cream and vanilla pods and seeds to just below boiling point in a pan over medium-high heat. Pour hot cream over the eggs, whisking constantly until combined. Wash out pan, then return custard mixture to very low heat (a simmer pad is ideal for this step). Cook, stirring constantly, for 8-10 minutes until custard is thick and coats the back of a spoon (watch very carefully towards the end or the custard may scramble).

Strain into a jug, discarding vanilla pods, then pour into eggshells, filling to top. Use the remaining custard to fill four to six 100ml ramekins. (If not using eggshells, fill eight 100ml ramekins with the custard mixture.) Chill overnight.

Just before serving, sprinkle Brule with icing sugar. Transfer eggs to egg cups, then use a kitchen blowtorch to caramelise tops until crisp and golden. (For ramekins, you can use a blowtorch or place under a hot grill for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn the sugar.)

Nut and Bowls- Recipe - Vegan Coconut Bounty Chocolate Recipe
Nut and Bowls- Recipe – Vegan Coconut Bounty Chocolate Recipe

Vegan Coconut Bounty Chocolate Recipe (courtesy Nikkhil Joshhi, Head Chef of Nut & Bowls Café)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (160g) – Dried (Desiccated) Coconut
  • ¼ cup + 1 tbsp (45ml) – Coconut Oil
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp (90ml) – Coconut Cream
  • ½ cup (60g) – Powdered (Icing) Sugar
  • 10.5oz (300g) – Vegan Dark Chocolate

Method

Add the dried coconut, coconut oil, coconut cream and powdered sugar in the blender to form a mixture. Shape the small amount of the coconut mixture into balls. Place the coconut balls on a baking tray covered with parchment paper and let it freeze for 15 to 30 minutes.

While the bounty balls are freezing, prepare the chocolate. Melt the Vegan Dark chocolate in the microwave. Then cover each ball with melted chocolate by simply dipping in it. Allow the vegan bounty ball to freeze for about 15 minutes and then it is ready to serve.

Goat Cheese Savory Waffle (courtesy Neeraj Tyagi, Director of Culinary, Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity)
Goat Cheese Savory Waffle (courtesy Neeraj Tyagi, Director of Culinary, Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity)

Goat Cheese Savory Waffle (courtesy Neeraj Tyagi, Director of Culinary, Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity)

Ingredients

  • Milk Nestle 410 grams
  • Butter  85 grams
  • Castor Sugar 5 grams
  • Salt 6 grams
  • Yeast 10 grams
  • Refined Flour 250 grams
  • Fresh Cream 60 grams
  • Baking Soda 1 grams
  • Milk for Yeast 25 grams
  • Activated Charcoal Powder 1 Tablespoon        

Method:

In a small pot over medium heat, combine milk and butter until melted and hot but not simmering. Stir in sugar and salt; remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm temperature.

In a large bowl, combine milk and yeast. Let it stand until foamy for about 5 minutes. Add warm milk mixture to yeast and stir. Whisk in the flour, add activated charcoal powder and cover with plastic wrap and let the mixture stand until doubled in volume for 2 to 3 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. Post completion of the stipulated time fold in the cream and baking soda into the waffle batter. Using a pastry brush or paper towel, lightly coat iron with melted butter. Cook waffles (using about 270gm batter per waffle) until crisp. Butter the iron in between batches as needed. Serve waffles immediately as they are ready or keep them warm in a 200-degree oven until ready to serve.

This story first appeared in Deccan Chronicle & Asian Age dated April 11, 2020 here:

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