Easter


Easter is based in three traditional religious faiths - Pagan, Hebrew and Christian.

Pagan tradition states that the name Easter is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring and Fertility called Ostara or Eostre to whom the month of April is dedicated. Easter can also coincide with the vernal equinox or The Festival of Spring in March, another Pagan tradition symbolising the rebirth of nature following winter. Such examples could be trees beginning to get their leaves, flowers blooming, birds returning from their migrations, etc.

Easter may also be derived from the Hebrew "pesach" (Passover), when the angel of death "passed over" the dwellings of the Israelites and spared their first-born.

In Christian religion, Easter is also a major celebration, marking as it does the crucifixion of Christ, on what has become known as Good Friday, and his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

The Easter tradition of rolling eggs symbolizes the rolling away of the rock from Jesus's tomb. Other Easter traditions, including Easter bunnies and Easter eggs are believed to be derived from Pagan culture where the egg and hare were both symbols of fertility and new life.

Natural Dyes

If you are a nature nut, or just looking to try something different, natural egg-dyeing is exactly the technique for you. Most natural ingredients that you can think of (that has a bright colour that will release in hot water) will work well. When using natural dyes, it is a good idea to use distilled water, as most chemicals, such as chlorine, make it harder to dye you eggs.

Working with natural dyes may take longer than working with the store-bought kind, depending on how bright you want the colour of your eggs to be. In order to get the natural dyes to stain the eggs a dark color, you will need to let the eggs sit in the dyes overnight in the refrigerator. If you let the eggs sit in the natural dyes for only a few hours, they will turn out a pastel colour!!

Colour Colour Sources
Purple sliced beets; grape juice concentrate
Yellow ground safflower; or ground turmeric
Blue canned blueberries (with syrup)
Red canned cherries (with syrup)


Food-Colouring Dyes

If you prefer to make egg dye an easier way from scratch, dyes made with food coloring simple and are another fun way. To make food-coloring dye: Drip (liquid, paste or gel) food coloring into bowls of water, and stir until the water reaches your desired hue. Combining different colors to make more colour choices! For example, combining red and blue to make purple, blue and yellow to make orange, and may other combinations. Place the hard-cooked eggs into the coloured water and let them sit until the eggs reach the colour you like. Remove the eggs from the dye and let them air-dry.


I'd like to take a moment to thank Tammy Weisberger, an Allrecipes staff writer for having these and more great egg dye ideas listed on Allrecipes.com These ideas for Natural Egg Dye came from her. Wonderful ideas Tammy!! Thanks.

British Hot Cross Buns: a specialty from Great Britain

Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 cups Warm Water
1/3 c Granulated Sugar
1/4 cup Melted Butter
2 pkts dried yeast
2 Eggs, beaten
1 tsp Salt
1 cup Raisins or part currants
1 1/2 cup Icing Sugar
1/2 cup Mixed Candied Peel
2 tbs Milk
1/2 tsp Grated Nutmeg
2 tsp Cinnamon

Hot Cross Buns Glaze:
2 tb Water
3 tb granulated Sugar
2 tb Milk

Stir ingredients together in a small saucepan [medium heat] until sugar is dissolved.

Instructions:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, lemon rind, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in warm water and butter, then beaten eggs. Using a wooden spoon, vigorously stir dough until smooth and elastic. Stir in raisins and candied peel. Scrape down sides of bowl, cover with a clean dry towel and let stand for 10 minutes.

Grease 24 medium to large-sized muffin cups and spoon in batter -- no more than 2/3 full. Brush tops with melted butter. Cover and let rise in a warm place until almost double, about 20 - 30 minutes. Bake in an oven preheated to 375 for about 20 minutes or until tops are browned. Let cool on wire racks until warm, about 10 - 15 minutes. Brush buns with glaze. Combine icing sugar with milk until smooth; place in a frosting bag or spoon on top of buns to make crosses. Makes 24 buns.


Flaounces (Easter Cheesecake)

Ingredients:

1 lb plain flour
1 packet yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tsps sugar
2 tbsps olive oil
Filling:

8 oz cheddar cheese
4 oz halloumi or mozzarella
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
tbsp crushed dried mint
4 eggs, lightly beaten

To Finish:
1 egg, beaten
sesame seeds

Instructions:

Make the dough by sifting the flour into a large bowl. Stir in the yeast, salt and sugar. Add the oil and enough water to make a firm dough. Knead for at least 5 mins. Put into a polythene bag and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour.

Make filling. Coarsely grate the cheeses, add flour, and baking powder then gradually stir in the mint and beaten eggs until you have a stiffish paste. Preheat the oven to 230 C. Divide the dough into egg size peices and roll into 4 " discs. Put a generous tbsp of filling in the centre of each disc and spread slightly. Pull the dough up at 4 points to make a square. Press the corners together to seal and leave to rise. Just before baking, brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle some sesame seeds over. Bake for 12-15 mins until the cheese filling has puffed up and the pastry is golden. Serve warm or cold. Makes 12 small cheesecakes.


Carrot Cake and Frosting


3 eggs
1 1/4 cups corn oil
1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple in natural syrup
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3 cups grated carrots (about 4 carrots)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, oil and brown sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, sift the baking soda, cinnamon, salt and flour, then gradually add it to the egg mixture; do not over mix. Add the pineapple and syrup, coconut, walnuts and carrots, and beat well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Invert onto a cooling rack and cool completely. Serves 12 to 14.


Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 1/2 to 3 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Green food coloring

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Makes 3 1/2 cups.


Creamy Vanilla Frosting

In medium bowl, beat 1/3 cup softened butter or margarine. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract; beat well. Add 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar alternately with 1/4 cup milk, beating to spreading consistency. About 2 cups frosting.

* NOTE: To tint coconut, combine several drops desired color food color with 3/4 teaspoon water; add to 1-1/2 cups coconut.
Stir until evenly tinted


Glazed Ham

1 10-12 lb uncooked ham
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 cups apricot jelly
16 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1-1/4 pounds drained pineapple slices
2 teaspoons dry mustard
Toothpicks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place ham on a rack in a shallow roasting pan and bake until a meat thermometer registers 130 degrees F (about 3 hours). Score 1/4 inch deep cuts around the outside of the ham in a diamond pattern. Combine apricot jelly, cloves, mustard and vinegar in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until the jelly has melted. Spread mixture around the outside of the ham. Stud ham with the whole cloves. Attach pineapple rings to ham with toothpicks. Return ham to oven, baste occasionally with remaining apricot sauce, and bake until meat thermometer registers 160 degrees F. Remove ham from oven. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.