Friday 10 April 2015

Easter egg chicks, Beetroot, raspberry and feta salad, and Chocolate carrots

I was speaking to a friend who told me her mother makes the same old dishes and it is never very exciting.  My mum loves to experiment, I told her.  Why for Easter lunch we had beetroot, raspberry and feta salad.  She also had started on some chocolate carrots when I arrived on Easter Saturday.  I finished them off for her.  And I brought along some Easter egg chicks for my nieces and nephew.  It was a fun meal.  Not at all boring!

I have written about the carrot and feta nut roast I made for the family Easter lunch separately.  Instead I will share the beetroot, raspberry and feta salad.  I think my mum had eaten it in a restaurant.  It is one of those salads that should be tossed about to eat so all the flavours bounce off each other.  However I couldn't resist arranging slices of beetroot and making it a triumph of style over substance.  It looked a mess on the plate but tasted wonderful.  Sweet and salty and a little tart.

The nut roast and salad were served with a rather good cauliflower, pomegranate and rice salad, cauliflower cheese, roast potato and pumpkin and peas (and lots of meat for the carnivores).  I ate very well.

After the mains we had dessert.  My mum was quite restrained.  There were a lot of chocolate eggs and hot cross buns around after all.  So dessert was caramel tart, vanilla cheesecake with strawberries and chocolate carrots.  Lots of fuel for the kids who spent most of the day playing footy and cricket in the backyard.

The chocolate carrots were seen by my mum on the telly.  She had started them when I arrived but I was happy to help out with them while she got on with other dishes.  Mum had only managed to find smaller chocolate wafer sticks than she intended.  (The knife in the photo is like a steak knife to help you get a sense of size.)  The wafers got dipped a few times, and I was making little foil stands for them, even though the recipe said to just dip them once, lie them on baking paper to set and scrap little carrot marks on them.

The recipe suggested bagging up the 'carrots' with some crushed up biscuits to make 'dirt' and giving them as presents.  We wanted them in a dish for people to eat.  They didn't look bad without the chocolate dirt but it sounded like fun.  We made it by placing the rest of the wafers in a ziplock bag and rolling with a rolling pin.  Actually Sylvia and her cousin Ashy did it.  I wanted them to have the fun of bashing the wafers but remembered the dents in our table from crushing candy canes.

We tried to plant the carrots in the dirt in a small bowl but they would not stand up.  Then I just ended up putting them around the edge of a bowl of dirt with a few in the middle.  The kids loved them.  When they asked why carrots I told them because it was International Carrot Day on Easter Saturday.  Much talk ensued with the kids about what other international days might be celebrated.  I will spare you the scatological details but I can assure you they made me laugh.  And they loved telling me they were eating their vegies while they ate chocolate!

Even more fun was the Easter egg hunt.  You may remember last year that my dad orchestrated a colour coded egg hunt where each child had a different coloured egg.  This year he surpassed himself and had a different flavoured egg for each child and drew their names out of a hat.

The children had great fun hunting the eggs between main course and dessert.  Not only did they help each other find eggs but they also had a great time swapping eggs at the end of the hunt so each kid had a variety of eggs.  The hiding was rather tricky and two eggs were still unaccounted for at the end of the hunt.  I must remember to check if they have been found yet.  Perhaps they will be discovered by an archeologist many years from now!

But let us return to the home made chocolate goodies.  Did I mention that my mum played me a video clip of the chocolate carrots being made on the telly.  It looked far easier than it was.  The same might be said for the Easter egg chicks that Sylvia and I made for her cousins.  Both used coloured chocolate buttons, which neither my mum nor I had.

My mum did ok with colouring the white chocolate but I think I was a bit heavy handed with the food dye and the chocolate seized.  It was no longer for dipping or pouring but worked well if you wanted to play with it like playdough.  Which is what I did.  I made flat tongues of orange chocolate that I could chop into beaks and feet.  I had planned to pour the coloured chocolate onto baking paper and chopping it when just set so in a way this was easier and quicker.

Making the chicks was much easier once we had worked on the white chocolate.  The recipe called for Creme Eggs.  There were none to be found in the supermarket when I looked so we bought Cadbury's Marvellous Creations eggs because I thought they were roughly the same size and might be sturdier than other eggs (having popping candy and smarties in the chocolate).

It was only towards the end that I realised I had misunderstood the instructions and hence put the eggs on an upturned bowl.  Having the baking paper meant I didn't really need the bowl.

Sylvia helped me make the chicks so I gave up having them perfect.  However I can't blame her for all the imperfections because I didn't do a great job either.  Using melted milk chocolate and white chocolate buttons was a recipe for smudgy milk chocolate fingerprints on the eyes.  At one point I just removed some smudgy eggs before they set but I didn't manage it for others.

My other great failing was drawing on eyes with an icing pen.  I could blame the pen but I suspect my technique could do with some improvement.  I found it hard to draw a black dot on the eyes without the pen dragging black icing everywhere.  Honestly it would be easier to stick down a tiny lolly like a Junior Mint or some chopped liquorice.

I had meant to wrap each egg in cellophane to give out but they looked so cute.  So I just put them out on a plate.  Then I put them in ziplock bags when the kids were going home.  They received a lot of excited exclamations and Sylvia was very proud of her handywork.

I am sending the Easter egg chicks to Choclette at Tin and Thyme for We Should Cocoa.  The theme is No Bake.  I am sending the chocolate carrots to Kat at Baking Explorer (and Stuart at CakeyBoi) for Treat Petite.  This month the theme is Hello Spring.  And finally I am sending the salad to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays and Karen at Lavender and Lovage for Cooking with Herbs.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Gwyneth's Apple Muffins and the rainy school holidays
Two year ago: Couscous salad and reflections on the week
Three years ago: PPN Holiday cooking - Nut Roast and Pasta Napoletana
Four years ago: PPN Carrot Pesto Pasta Bake
Five years ago: Butterscotch Bounty from Ricki
Six years ago: Wholemeal Chocolate Cake
Seven years ago: Posh chocolate orange biscuits

Beetroot, raspberry and feta salad
From my mum

250g cooked and peeled baby beetroot (vacuum sealed)
125g raspberries
50g creamy feta
1-3 tsp mint leaves
caramelised balsamic vinegar

Thinly slice wedges of beetroot and arrange on serving plate.  Arrange raspberries and crumble feta over beetroot.  Scatter with mint leaves.  Drizzle with vinegar and serve.

White chocolate carrots
From Better Homes and Gardens

Chocolate wafer sticks
White chocolate buttons
Orange and green food colouring

Melt some white chocolate and colour orange with some drops of food colouring.  Place above a small saucepan of hot water to keep the chocolate warm and melted.  Spoon melted chocolate over three quarters of wafers.  Place on baking paper to set.

NOTES: If desired dip again once set.  I found that the chocolate was rather thick and swirling the sticks against the side of the bowl ensured not too much chocolate on it and left rather carroty horizontal lines.  I also found it better to cool the chocolate with the uncoated part of the wafers stuck upside in a little pocket made in a piece of foil.  They didn't take long to be set enough to be able to place on baking paper so that that they were still round.

Melt some white chocolate and colour green with drops of food colouring.  Place above hot water as with orange chocolate.  Dip remaining ends of wafers in green chocolate (or spoon chocolate over it) and set in either foil pockets or on baking paper.

NOTES: the chocolate was quite thick and I found it good to use a spoon to drizzle chocolate over ends and then scrape it off so there were vertical lines like carrot tops.

Easter egg chicks
From A Mummy Too

Medium Easter eggs
Milk chocolate melts
White chocolate melts
Orange chocolate melts or yellow and red food colouring
Icing pen

If you don't have orange melts, mix some white chocolate with red and yellow food colouring to make orange chocolate.  Cut triangles out of the white chocolate.  (Mine seized which made it easy to mould but if yours behaves then you may need to spread it on baking paper and let it mostly set before chopping.)

Melt a handful of the milk chocolate melts.  Place the bowl over hot water to keep it melted.  
Place a piece of baking paper on a tray. Dab a blob of chocolate on the paper.  Place an egg in the blob.  Arrange two orange melts or triangles in the melted chocolate at the base and hold the egg until the chocolate firms up.

Dab some melted chocolate on two white melts and arrange on the eggs towards the top like eyes.  Hold until the chocolate holds it there.  Repeat with two milk chocolate melts and arrange as wings on the side, a triangle between the white chocolate eyes to be the beak and a triangle at the top to be the comb.

Draw black dots on the eyes with an icing pen.

Leave chicks so the chocolate sets firmly before sharing with your friends and family.

On the Stereo:
Chants, Hymns and Dances: Gurdjieff and Tsabropoulos


  1. I want the chicks and the carrots! How incredibly cute...and as you say, a very long way from being boring :-)

  2. Now we know where you get your creativity from! I'm with Kari - those chicks and carrots are brilliant!

  3. What a colourful and fun table of food! Looks like you had a great Easter! You and Sylvia did a great job with the chicks.......

  4. So clever! Love the chicks and carrots :)

  5. I love this blog post, its so heart warming and inspiring - what a lot of fun. Loving the carrots.

  6. What an awesome, fun bunch of food there! And I loved the bit about your dad going one up this year and having a different flavour for each child-- makes me laugh because I can imagine my dad doing that but having sat down and planned it out with paper and pen and being and being all proud on the day!

    1. Thanks Faye - my dad loves the planning - the day before Easter he had sorted the eggs and had them in little bowls up high on the book shelf in his study. Then there was the drama of hiding the eggs and pulling names out of a hat. Makes me wonder why we never had easter egg hunts as a kid - he would have loved it - but easter egg hunts were only something I read in books as a child.

  7. I'm trying to get my head around that salad combo. I can see it working but I've never tried anything like it!

    1. Thanks Lorraine - the components had to be combined for it to work otherwise the raspberries tasted weird - a raspberry vinaigrette would also work here.

  8. Such a unique combination of flavors in the salad and I think it looks stunning on the plate. Thanks for sharing it with Souper Sundays this week.

    BTW--your Easter treats are adorable. I am especially adoring those cute carrots in their bowl of 'dirt.' ;-)

  9. It's always a pleasure to read you posts, Johanna. The chicks look adorable. And your elegant beetroot salad is quiet intriguing. I'll give it a try once raspberry season starts here.

  10. Those chicks are so cute Johanna, as are the carrots. They look rather fiddly to make so I'm very impressed. As for that beetroot salad, it sounds intriguing and looks spectacular. The photo of the four dishes together is really quite stunning. Thanks for joining in with We Should Cocoa :)


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