This year Yiayia’s Easter bread didn’t make it to our nest in its usual edible state. The package arrived a week in advance, however, we weren’t there to happily receive the goods. The day we were able to tear open the sealed box of goodies the bread didn’t survive the journey across the country, so unfortunately into the trash the moldy sweetness went. I didn’t want to go through all the trouble of making the bread and cutting down the recipe that called for seven pounds of flour which was bestowed by an eager-to-enlighten-us-on-the-tsoureki comrade. I was tempted for a second to try a cross bread, but even that recipe was going to take effort. It was Thursday, I had a mountain of dirty laundry begging me to toss them into the wash, and this was the day to dye Easter eggs. I have had many adventures in the kitchen and sometimes misadventures, so I dismissed any recipes requiring yeast or time for the goods to rise. Also, since we have banned GMO items and artificial coloring in our kitchen, it was an opportunity to experiment in our lab. We came up with blueberry for blue, beets for red and turmeric for yellow coloring. In an effort to conserve our precious commodity, water, I boiled the beets while boiling borlotti beans. Beet stems were later used in the sauté along with fennel, onions and lamb fat…simple ingredients to plumb up the beans with flavorful goodness. I omitted the leaves of the beets since those (especially yellow beets) are glorious sautéed and eaten on their own—I didn’t want to boil down its tender and sweet crunchy sensation. A cup of the boiled water from the beets was used for dying the eggs red along with beet powder and vinegar. Two of the beets were saved for an afternoon salad while the other two were used into a brownie mix…incredible deliciousness! Thank you Easter bunny for providing us with wonderful wholesome goodness from the farmer’s market to enjoy such marvelous treats with visiting friends for the holiday. From yonder they come hearts brimming, twinkly-eyed and thankful for the time spent together and happy to find homemade vittles. Create your nest, as a place for food, friends and a place to dream…a tiny indulgence in thoughtful cooking and voila your guests are capriciously yours forever. Make your holiday and your life in your nest by what you give and witness its symphonic beauty. Allow nature to lure you into a healthy adventure in your kitchen with her intriguing colors and I am certain the guest of your nest will leave remaining twinkly-eyed and will not bid you adieu for too long.
Monica Pope’s Black Raspberry Beet Brownies (Modified by thefolia)
*Note: In the kitchen I am notorious for not using exact measurements and eying ingredients, not ideal for baking but I seem to pull it off (sometimes.)
4 oz. Unsweetened chocolate (I used raw cacao)
8 tbsp butter (I used coconut oil)
4 small beets cooked peeled and pureed (I pureed with some molasses & coconut milk)
¾ cup black raspberry jam (I used fresh ones and since I had bought strawberries from the farmer’s market I used those instead)
2 large pasture or field raised organic eggs (I always ask what the chickens eat—soy and corn are no bueno)
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cup organic sugar (I use a combination of evaporated cane juice, coconut sugar and raw honey)
1 tsp vanilla extract (I use my homemade version)
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour (I use coconut flour, however, be warned they may taste grainier to you)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place chocolate and the coconut oil in a saucepan and heat to melt. Add the pureed beets and ¼ cup of berries of choice and sweetener of choice. Whisk until smooth and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine eggs and salt and beat the mixture until foamy. Add the vanilla whisking until fully incorporated. Add the chocolate and beat mixture and slowly mix in the flour. Continue whisking until blended into a batter. Pour the batter into a 9 x13 baking pan. Bake for 15-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out clean. Makes 18 two-inch brownies.