|Our Easter table|
One of the best things about bringing two cultures together in a marriage is that sometimes, you get to share special days and events in different ways with a beautiful melding of traditions and memories. In the case of Easter, for us, sometimes we get to celebrate it twice!!
On the eve of Greek Orthodox Easter events, which will be celebrated this weekend, I am busy learning new traditions of dying red eggs and making traditional breads and biscuits. Later tonight, we will be joining family, friends and the local Greek community in carrying lighted candles through the streets following an epitaph decorated with flowers and incense. Tomorrow at midnight, we will take lighted candles from the Church home to make a cross above the door, but not before sharing a traditional soup around the table with family. I will write more of the Greek Easter traditions in part two of this post - but for now I thought I would share with you a few highlights from Easter, celebrated last weekend with my family.
|A fig and olive tree - a gift for my parents which was a nice change from the usual chocolate overload|
After a week of stunningly beautiful weather in Sydney, we woke on Easter Sunday to a shroud of grey clouds and sprinkling rain. So much for that long lunch I had envisioned for a sunny corner in the garden. While the grass may have been dampened - our spirits were not. Our Easter table was set up and laid out with lots of bright colours, on the back deck. Looking at the silver lining in every cloud, I was happy to think that the slightly cooler weather was more inclined to an afternoon of feasting. Too hot and all you want is a salad and a lie down in the shade. Our Easter menu went as such.....
|A beautiful table cloth with images taken from the Cinque Terra in Italy, bright blooms, Lagioule cutlery and olive twigs|
A glass of bubbly French champagne was the perfect accompaniment to our starter. The lovely mild aniseed flavours of the fennel soup blended beautifully with the sweetness of the crab, with just a hint of spice and citrus.
|Fennel soup cups with myer lemon & harissa potted crab|
2 tbs olive oil
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 large fennel bulbs, finely chopped
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 large potato, finely chopped
1 litre of vegetable stock
2 tbs creme fraiche
1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy based pan and fry the onion, celery, fennel and potato over a medium heat until all the vegetables have softened.
2. Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil, reduced the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Remove soup for the heat and using a hand blender, blitz the soup until smooth.
4. Stir through creme fraiche and serve hot in little espresso cups (will serve 8 - 10 depending on the size of your cups).
Next we moved onto Mr K's perfectly roasted meats and a buffet of two classic French vegetable dishes and a divine salad of heirloom tomatoes, freshly selected from the excellent Ramsgate Organic Foodies Market. To accompany this feast we had a light yoghurt, garlic and tannini sauce along with plump juicy lemons to squeeze on or dollop alongside the meats and it was all washed down with two flavourful red wines from South Australia and a little number of Puglia in Italy.
|A French classic - Pommes boulangere|
|Another French Classic - leeks al la Greque|
|Heirloom tomatoes with garlic and caper crumbs|
1 punnet of small mixed heirloom tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
3 large heirloom or truss tomatoes, sliced
2 slices of rustic bread, blitzed into bread crumbs
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbs thyme, leaves plucked and finely chopped
red wine vinegar and olive oil to drizzle
handful of capers
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Mix bread crumbs, thyme, garlic cloves and salt and pepper to taste.
2. Spread out the crumbs on a lined baking sheet and bake in the oven until golden. Remove and allow to cool.
3. Arrange your tomatoes on a serving platter and drizzle with red wine vinegar and olive oil to taste.
4. Sprinkle with capers and breadcrumbs and serve.
After a few hours of good conversation, a little walk and another sip of red we moved onto the dessert extravaganza. Excellent autumn quinces - at their best - were slowly poached with an array of spices and served lovingly alongside some rich dark chocolate puddings, which were also scented with beautiful notes of cardamon and splashes of green pistachios. We had to stop at that point for another hour or two of good conversation and another splash of red before moving onto a glorious cheese platter. A rich creamy brie from France, a pungent blue, a sharp cheddar and a tangy, salty goat's cheese were a perfect match with fresh figs and spicy pear chutney.
|Puddings straight from the oven|
|Date, cardamon and dark chocolate puddings with poached spiced quince and creme fraiche. Add a dark chocolate button to the centre of each pudding while hot for an extra chocolate hit.|
Poached spiced quince
4 large quince, peeled, quartered and cored - make sure you keep the peel and cores.
3 and 1/2 cups caster sugar
6 cups water
3 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
3 bay leaves
handful of black peppercorns
one lemon, halved
1. Add the quince, peels and cores and all the ingredients to a heavy based pan and bring to the boil.
2. Cover with baking paper and a lid, allow to simmer for 3- 4 hours or until soft.
3. Remove fruit, strain syrup and serve quince slices with creme fraiche and chocolate puddings.
|The bounty of beautiful cheeses, figs and pear chutney to finish|
All in all we had a wonderful day - our autumn feast was punctuated with tales from the past and happy memories of family, who, not so long ago were once seated at the table with us. We raised our glass to the future - impending travel plans and blossoming romances. I can't wait to do it all again this weekend!!!