It’s Easter weekend. Normally the roads would be crammed with camper vans, tourists heading to the coast and especially this year when the weather is so exceptional. We’d be hand painting eggs and thinking of our Easter egg hunt tomorrow with friends and family. Eggs are hidden throughout the entire garden, the hiding meticulously planned and recorded by Roddy so that no chocolate gets left out for the dogs to find. This year it will just be us. Because don’t you agree, nothing should stop us from continuing with a little Easter celebration in whatever way we choose.
We are still going to plan a lovely meal, albeit with certain limitations. We’ll get the children to decorate the table with any flowers they can find in the garden. If you’re on your own, treat yourself to breakfast in bed.
Now is the time when we have to adapt and find new ways to do things and to help other people. If you have an elderly neighbour or someone you know who is struggling in your street, maybe leave a dish you have prepared on their doorstep (but stick to covid-19 restrictions and precautions), or take them a bunch of flowers if you have surplus in your garden.
Make use of the internet and the luxury of video calls. We will be sharing our meals with our two eldest daughters not with us with the phone propped up in the middle of the table, not normal at all but vital that they are included when usually they would be with us. There is no normal anymore.
I went to an all girls boarding school, looking back it was quite frankly hideous, the food was practically inedible, it was freezing cold in the winter, baths were once or twice a week. We were taught to be tough, to make do, to not complain and to always find a solution and get out the other side on top. Our school motto was “sempre fidelis” Always Faithful. The food was so awful the highlight of the day was a sugar sandwich at tea. I was in the hockey and netball teams and perhaps even better than a match victory was the tea that followed, the luxury of a chocolate biscuit!
So despite some foods being hard to come by, some ingredients lacking and let’s be honest for a lot of us in the hospitality business, the coffers being severely stretched right now, we can still prepare some great Easter food. It’s all about improvisation and being flexible.
We currently do one shop a week. We order online at our local supermarket and collect at the drive through. It is very hit and miss, because we don’t get exactly what we order. It might be in stock online but that doesn’t mean it will be available when someone makes up our order, an hour or so before our allotted pick up time. So it’s a lucky dip and we just have to hope for the best! This week no broccoli and no bananas, I ordered one tub of ice cream for the children as a treat, but that too was missing, out of stock. No flour of any sort and no loo paper. But the first French melons of the season have arrived in the store. I’m sad not to be buying these in the market from our friendly stand, where they select several in varying degrees of ripeness. But right now a melon is a melon, they are French, local and they will be a HUGE treat.
Flour seems to be the most sought after ingredient in many countries. In France I read that demand has increased 300% and I believe it’s the same in the UK too, with mills working around the clock to try and meet the demand.
If you cannot get flour then all is not lost. Try this flourless chocolate torte and just decorate with a few rose petals or any edible flour or even some fresh herbs. Serve with some fresh cream. The rich dark chocolate flavour is very intense but it’s not too sweet, in fact it’s quite decadent, just as it should be.
100 grammes / 4 ozs dark chocolate, min 70% cocoa.
110 grammes / 4.5 ozs unsalted butter
150 grammes / 5 ozs cup sugar
3 large eggs
50 grammes / 1.25 ozs cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 180C / 375F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with baking paper.
Melt the chocolate with the butter in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stirring until smooth.
Remove the bowl and put on a cool surface. Whisk in the sugar and then add the eggs and whisk well. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until combined, but don’t over whisk.
Pour into the prepared baking tin. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Then remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before turning it onto a serving plate.
One final word, just to keep you up to date, our new vegetable bed is progressing. It’s back breaking work but a lot of fun! I’ve now planted melon seeds in my mini greenhouse and this will be the melon bed this summer, I’ll keep you posted!
I’ll sign off with a short stroll around our garden, I wish you could join me, every day it gives me a good dose of serenity and it symbolises hope.
For sure it’s going to be a very different Easter for all of us, but let’s still make it special, be strong and be positive.