Easter Treats

Carrot Cake

carrot cake

Carrots give carrot cake a health-halo effect…and they are perfect for an Easter bunny treat

1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrots, (4-6 medium)
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
FROSTING
12 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coconut chips,or flaked coconut,toasted

PREPARATION
To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 180°C. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Drain pineapple in a sieve set over a bowl, pressing on the solids. Reserve the drained pineapple and 1/4 cup of the juice.
Whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and the 1/4 cup pineapple juice in a large bowl until blended. Stir in pineapple, carrots and 1/4 cup coconut. Add the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until blended. Stir in the nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.
Bake the cake until the top springs back when touched lightly and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
To prepare frosting and finish cake: Beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Ingredient Notes: Whole-wheat pastry flour, lower in protein than regular whole-wheat flour, has less gluten-forming potential, making it a better choice for tender baked goods. You can find it in the natural-foods section of large super markets and natural-foods stores. Store in the freezer.
Large thin flakes of dried coconut called coconut chips make attractive garnishes. Find them in the produce section of large supermarkets
Tips: No buttermilk? You can make “sour milk”: mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk.
To toast chopped walnuts and coconut chips, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 5 minutes.

Quinoa & Pea Salad

SD8277_Scrivani

Sugar snap peas and mushrooms are combined with the fresh flavor of lemon in this pretty, healthy quinoa salad recipe. If you can make it ahead of time, do—this quinoa salad is even better the next day, after the dressing has soaked into the mushrooms and quinoa.

INGREDIENTS
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
2 cups fresh snap peas, trimmed and cut diagonally into thirds
1 1/2 cups button mushrooms, cut into quarters or eighths if large
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar or white-wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

PREPARATION
Combine water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool completely.
Combine peas, mushrooms, onion and dill in a medium bowl. Whisk vinegar, oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and maple syrup in a small bowl. Stir the dressing into the cooled quinoa until evenly dispersed. Add the quinoa to the vegetable mixture, toss and serve.
TIPS & NOTES
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare quinoa, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Cover and refrigerate the prepared salad for up to 1 day.

Kahlua & Chocolate Soufflé

chocolate-souffle-ck-1173789-l

INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons plus 2/3 cup sugar, divided
2 tablespoons Kahlua
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup white whole-wheat flour or all-purpose flour
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
8 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt

PREPARATION
Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 375°F. Coat eight 10-ounce ramekins or a 2 1/2-quart soufflé dish (or similar-size baking dish) with cooking spray. Sprinkle with enough of the 3 tablespoons sugar to generously coat the inside, tilting to evenly distribute; tap out excess. Place ramekins on a baking sheet.
Combine Kahlua and espresso powder in a small bowl, stirring until the espresso powder is dissolved. Add the remaining 2/3 cup sugar and cocoa powder; stir to combine.
Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until steaming. Melt butter and oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the hot milk and cook over medium-low heat, whisking, until the mixture is the consistency of thick batter, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in egg yolks, one at a time, until incorporated. Whisk in the Kahlua-cocoa mixture.
Clean and dry a large mixing bowl and beaters, making sure there are no traces of oil. (Any fat in your egg whites may prevent your soufflé from rising properly.) Beat egg whites in the bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add salt; gradually increase speed to high and beat until shiny and stiff, but not dry. Do not overbeat: stop when the egg whites hold their shape in the bowl and on the beater but don’t look overly dry or lumpy.
Using a rubber spatula, stir one-third of the whites into the egg-yolk mixture to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites just until evenly distributed. It’s OK if a few white streaks remain. Spoon the batter into the prepared dish(es).
Bake until puffed and firm to the touch, 20 to 24 minutes for 10-ounce soufflés, 38 to 42 minutes for a 2 1/2-quart soufflé. (Resist the temptation to take a peek until the last 5 minutes of baking—an open oven door will let in too much cool air and may interrupt the rising.) Once out of the oven, even a beautifully puffed soufflé will slowly deflate, so go directly to the table to show off its beauty, then serve it at once.

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 3, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before folding in egg whites. Equipment: Eight 10-ounce ramekins or a 2 1/2-quart soufflé dish
Tips: White whole-wheat flour, made from a special variety of white wheat, is light in color and flavor but has the same nutritional properties as regular whole-wheat flour. It is available at large supermarkets and natural-foods stores and online at bobsredmill.com or kingarthurflour.com. Store it in the freezer.
Room-temperature egg whites will gain more volume when beaten and help your soufflé rise. To bring eggs to room temperature before separating the yolks from the whites, set the eggs out on the counter for 15 minutes or submerge (in the shell) in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot) water for 5 minutes.
For the fluffiest soufflé, the egg whites must be completely free of any traces of yolk. Separate the eggs one at a time before adding the white to the mixing bowl; if there are any specks of yolk in the white, throw away the white, clean the bowl with soap and water and start over.

Poached Salmon with Fresh Herb Salad

salomn

Gently cooking salmon in a savory broth keeps the fish moist and tender. Serve it warm or chilled with the salad of fresh herbs.

INGREDIENTS
600gm salmon fillet, skinned and cut into 4 portions
1 teaspoon plus a pinch of salt, divided
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups water
10 whole black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup thinly sliced shallot
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon, divided

PREPARATION
Season salmon with 1 teaspoon salt. Bring wine, water, peppercorns and crushed red pepper to a simmer in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat so the liquid is steaming, but not bubbling. Place the salmon in the steaming liquid (the fillets will fit tightly) and cook very gently until just cooked through, 6 to 10 minutes. Remove the salmon from the liquid.
Toss mint and parsley leaves, shallot, oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a medium bowl. Season with a pinch of salt.
Drizzle the salmon with the remaining lemon juice and serve with the salad.
TIPS & NOTES
Make Ahead Tip: Poach salmon (Step 1) and refrigerate in poaching liquid for up to 1 day. Drain; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Hot Cross Buns

hcb

Easter isn’t Easter without Hot Cross Buns, but these are made from wholemeal spelt, oats, muscatel, honey, cinnamon and vanilla. This is not the light fluff style of hot cross bun you may be used to in the supermarkets made from white flour and refined sugar. This version is full of fibre and the oats give it a wonderful chewy density that marries perfectly with the cinnamon and vanilla. For those who are gluten free, check out gluten free version, made from almonds and scented with orange, vanilla, cinnamon and honey with a light sprinkle of sun-dried cranberry and organic dark chocolate.

220g whole meal spelt or whole-wheat flour
50 g rolled oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried yeast
125 ml (1/2 cup milk) your choice of dairy, almond, rice, oat, soy
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract or 1/2 of paste
60 ml (1/4 cup) macadamia nut oil or olive oil
1 free range / organic egg, lightly beaten
80 g muscatels or raisins
50 g currants
Mix the wholemeal flour, oats, cinnamon, yeast and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl.
Warm the milk, vanilla and honey just a little until just slightly warm, then pour into the mixing bowl along with the egg and oil.
Mix the dough for about 6 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Add the dried fruits and mix through.
Cover the bowl with a clean cloth or glad wrap and leave the dough to double in size in a warm place for about 1 hour.
Knock back the dough and tip in onto your working bench.
Kneed a little then shape into 10 rolls.
Cover lightly and allow to rise for another 30 minutes or until double in size.
Preheat your oven to 160 C.
Bake for 20 minutes until golden.
Cool then if you like pipe a cross made from either white or dark chocolate on top.

Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns

300 g (3 cups) ground almonds
pinch sea salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda (baking soda)
1/4 cup macadamia nut oil or light flavoured olive oil
2 good tablespoons honey
zest from 1 orange
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 free range / organic eggs
pinch cinnamon
80 g dried cranberries or cherries
50 g organic dark chocolate 85% + extra for crosses if you like.
Preheat oven to 160 C.
Combine all the ingredients and mix well, this includes the dried cherries and dark chocolate.
Scoop or spoon out 14 small portions onto a baking tray – I like to use a small ice cream scoop.
Bake for 20 – 30 minutes or until golden.
Remove and cool.
Drizzle dark chocolate crosses on top if you like.