It’s Easter Monday and as I sit here on the couch watching bad television and eating the last of my Easter-egg cookies packed with caramel-filled chocolate eggs, I know my poor body has had enough. I am not a big consumer of chocolate, but it’s the hot cross buns that get me every year. This cookie is just topping off a big weekend of buns – warm, toasted, hot cross buns with melted butter, crispy on the outside and deliciously fluffy on the inside, smelling sweetly of all-spice and currants when straight out of the grill… so good. I am very traditional when it comes to hot cross buns. For me, they must be of the original fruit and spice variety – none of this choc-chip, mocha, fruitless, eggless, wheatless business – with real butter applied immediately after toasting, for optimum meltage.
My lovely hot cross bun-filled weekend included Easter lunch at Chrissy and Phil’s, with little Benjamin in a glittery top hat at the head of the table declaring everything, ‘yummy, yummy’ (because once is not enough!). Here I was treated to another one of Philippe’s delicious roasts, with crunchy golden potatoes and my pear and walnut salad. After lunch we picked at an endless supply of chocolates, hot cross buns, Hungarian poppy seed cake and my sister’s oddly good savoury shortbread (she forgot to add sugar – a sign of definite chocolate gluttony – and instead topped her shortbread with poppy seeds, grated parmesan and sea salt, a real winner), first feeling a little energetic and then deliriously tired. Brad (now very much a part of the family in a way that is too difficult and long-winded to explain!) fell into a deep sleep on the couch, with the cat poking at his head; Benjamin donned the trench coat I bought him in Germany, went a little haywire, then went down for his nap; Phillipe and Mum’s partner, Till, watched YouTube clips and the football (switching channels between codes) simultaneously; Mum and I chatted incessantly while cleaning (which promptly ended once the sugar low kicked in); and my sister and Dad left us all to visit the newest member of her family, horse Atticus.
And so tonight, tired of feeling like I have become one big hot cross bun stuffed with Easter-egg chocolate, I decide that dinner will have to be a healthy affair.
Thankfully, my other food love, seafood, is also synonymous with Easter feasting. While this particular meal is carb-free and essentially grilled fish with vegetables, it is far from boring. A few additional yummy ingredients and you have an exotic dinner that your body may thank you for, particularly if, like me, you are feeling slightly stuffed and in need of vegetables!
2 medium barramundi fillets (or another fluffy white fish)
1/3 cup harissa paste
2-3 tablespoons natural yoghurt
lemon juice, to taste
sea salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + 2 tablespoons for frying
I bunch broccolini
2 good handfuls rocket leaves
50 g goat’s cheese
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the harissa paste, yoghurt and a dash of lemon juice. Depending on the heat factor from your harissa paste (which you should be able to find at your local supermarket), you may wish to add chilli flakes or some chopped up fresh chilli. Season the mixture and taste to ensure a good balance of flavours. Add extra lemon juice if necessary. Ensure your fish fillets are nice and dry, with skin on, then add these to the mixture, making sure each piece is well marinated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
Prepare your sides by washing and cutting the ends off the broccolini and then halving each piece lengthways. Wash and thoroughly dry the rocket. Heat a medium-sized pan and drizzle with oil once hot. Add the broccolini and toss in the oil for a minute or two, until cooked and slightly charred. Set aside.
When you can longer wait to eat your dinner, pull your fish out of the fridge and using the same pan (with a little extra oil), fry the fish skin-side down. Ensure the flame is at medium so as not to burn the yoghurty marinade. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, depending on how big the pieces are, checking sides to ensure they are cooking from the skin up. I do like to flip the fish over in the last minute. Leave the fish to rest for a minute before plating up.
To each of your dinner plates (this will serve 2), add a handful of rocket, broccolini pieces, chunks of goat’s cheese and pomegranate seeds. Be really careful with these guys. I always, always manage to squirt myself in the face with the juice and find rogue seeds in my hair and down my top. If you have more of a deft hand than I do and are less of a klutz, both quite possible, squeeze a little of the pomegranate juice over each salad as well as adding the seeds. Drizzle a little oil and vinegar over each salad and add the fish, complete with some parsley on top. Unfortunately I only had curly parsley, which I find to be less flavoursome than continental parsley. Coriander would also be good here.
I hope you have all had a wonderful Easter filled with delicious treats and family time. As always, I shall be rationing out my chocolate supply over the next few weeks until these are replenished at Easter number 2 – Greek Easter – which will thankfully be celebrated sans hot cross buns, but with its own set of food coma-inducing problems… amazing koulourakia, tsoureki, avgolemono soup and more… all at 1am on May 5th. I shall save that story for another post!