Happy Hallow-Easter!?!

As another holiday is upon us, we are again reminded of the awkward seasonality of euro-centric holidays for those of us in the depths of the southern hemisphere. Fasting for lent during the peak of harvest season makes about as much sense as Christmas roasts and egg nog in 40 degree heat. And forget about locally sourcing your Halloween pumpkins in the middle of spring!

A quick trawl for Easter recipe inspiration brings lamb, dried fruit cakes and other springtime staples which need very little in the way of fresh fruit and vegetables – while we’re drowning in peak tomato and more capsicums than you can throw a stick at. Bring on the Easter paella!

Our notions of antipodean holiday eating are upside down, as most of these traditions date back not just to the advent of the Judeo-Christian era but way back to pagan festivals celebrating what was abundant and seasonal at that time of year, in that place.

It’s also no coincidence that two well known religious fasting periods coincide with the hungry gaps in their places of origin – Lent in mid-Spring for Catholic Europe and Ramadan in the dry, late summer in the Middle East. How much easier must it have been to stomach a fasting period (excuse pun) when there wasn’t very much around anyway!

So, here’s to throwing the rule book out on holiday traditions, at least when it comes to food. Except cocoa. It’s got to be in season somewhere, right??

Chocolate Beetroot Mousse Cake

Just like peas and carrots – beetroot seems to be a perfect friend to chocolate in baked treats. It gives an earthy depth of flavour. This recipe is courtesy of Riverford Organic Farmers in the UK…serves 8

Ingredients

  • 250g beetroot, pre-cooked
  • 400g good dark chocolate, broken into pieces (or just gather left overs and well hidden eggs from your Easter hunt)
  • 175g unsalted butter, diced
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 25g ground almonds
  • A few drops vanilla essence
Method 

Step 1: Blitz the cooked beetroot in a food processor until smooth.

Step 2: Melt the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.

Step 3: Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light, pale and voluminous. This will take 4-5 minutes. Add the ground almonds, vanilla essence and puréed beetroot and stir to combine. Fold in the chocolate mixture.

Step 4: Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Using a metal slotted spoon, very gently fold in, keeping as much air in the mixture as possible.

Step 5: Bake at 180c for 40-45 minutes, until the mixture has risen well, and still has a bit of a bounce to it when pressed.