Let’s celebrate Easter. Taking a break, enjoying the end of summer and feasting with friends should set us up for the cooler weather to come.
My local region is celebrating with a huge foodie festival including: culinary gems showcasing their skills at cooking classes; unique dinners including a progressive one; a Taste Asian walking tour; a free foodie movie night; and among others, a wine and food evening. If you’re interested in a taste of the Waikato then check out these events at www.waikatofoodinc.com
Easter is a time when traditional treats take pride of place on the menu. Hot Cross Buns, chocolate Easter eggs and rabbits and lamb are enjoyed worldwide but how they are presented can make all the difference. Barbecued lamb is our family fave but a butterflied roast doused in a minty pesto is also a winner
The hot cross bun has not always been associated with Easter. Its origin lies in pagan traditions of ancient cultures with the cross representing the four quarters of the moon. Later the Christian church adopted the bun and gave new meaning to the cross. And although hot cross buns are normally enjoyed hot with lashings of butter you may want to turn the traditional into something contemporary. See the fruity number following.
FRUITY HOT CROSS BUN STACK
These yummy buns make a divine dessert but can also be served at brunch.
1 cup kiwi berries
pulp of 3-4 passionfruit
1-2 tablespoons honey or sugar
4 brioche hot cross buns
125g crème fraiche
1 cup each: raspberries, blackberries
Top and tail the kiwi berries and halve. Combine the passionfruit pulp with the honey.
Halve the buns and lightly toast. Spread the cut sides generously with crème fraiche.
Top the base halves with the berries. Drizzle with the passionfruit pulp and cover with the top halves.
Excellent served with extra crème fraiche and passionfruit pulp on the side. Serves 4.
ROASTED LAMB WITH MINT & BASIL PESTO
Pesto: 1 clove garlic, chopped
3/4 cup lightly packed mint leaves
1/2 cup lightly packed basil leaves
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Lamb: 780g butterflied leg of lamb
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the garlic, herbs, pine nuts and parmesan in a blender with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Pulse until finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the remaining oil to make a paste. Remove to a bowl and stir in the lemon juice.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C.
Score the lamb and place in a roasting dish. Rub about 1/3 of the pesto into the lamb pressing it into the scoring. Sprinkle with black pepper. Cover the remaining pesto and refrigerate.
Roast the lamb for 30 minutes per 500g. Remove, tent with foil and drape with a heavy towel. Rest for 15 minutes before carving. Dollop with the remaining pesto. Serves 6.
BANANA & PASSIONFRUIT CAKE
A super seasonal cake to serve at Easter.
Cake: 3 medium bananas, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs
125g butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 tablespoons passionfruit pulp
1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
3/4 teaspoon each: baking soda, ground cinnamon
Filling: 1 cup cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar
4 tablespoons passionfruit pulp
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 20cm cake pan. Line the base with baking paper.
Place the bananas in a food processor with the caster sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla. Process, until smooth. Scrape into a bowl. Stir in the passionfruit pulp.
Sift the flour, baking soda and cinnamon. Fold into the banana mixture. Do not over-mix.
Tip into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes then remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. When cold, halve horizontally through the centre using a sharp, serrated knife.
To prepare the filling, whip the cream and icing sugar together until thick. Fold in 2 tablespoons of the passionfruit pulp. Spread on the base half of the cake. Drizzle with the remaining passionfruit. Top with the remaining half cake. Great dusted liberally with icing sugar. Serves about 8.