The Pagan Goddess and the Cannelloni of Spring

Sunday 27/3/2005

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Diary and Notes

Not being of the Christian faith I don't celebrate Easter as a religious fesitval - but as an Englishman, I believe it is my duty to make an effort to celebrate the coming of spring, as would have my pagan ancestors, and of course have a goodly nosh up in the process. (It's a sort of 'any excuse for a party' philosophy which has served me in good stead these many years).

Into evidence for my defense, I shall offer the word Easter itself, which derives from the pagan goddess, Éastre, who's festival was celebrated at the vernal equinox. I am not a pagan either, so wont be offering up slaughtered lambs nor cavorting naked in the woods to bring about a good growing season, but I don't see why this should prevent me from drinking some wine with a few friends and eating a tasty meal.

It is also traditional to have roast lamb on Easter Sunday, but I am waiting for payday and lamb is too expensive (roll on Tuesday when the banks open again, payday arrives and I shall be solvent again) so I had to make do with what was in my cupboards.

So today wasn't a very traditional English Easter dinner at all - in fact it was an Italian meal and not a traditional Easter one at that (the Italians have lamb on Easter Sunday as well). It was however a damn fine dinner and my chums did not complain (except one who took the olives out of her salad - shame, shame on you).

So let's all celebrate the coming of spring in our own multifaith way - and let's hope for a good growing season and a sunny holiday for all.

Cake Blog

Easter Bread Pudding: A bit like the pain perdu of yesterday in some respects, but I had some left over hot cross buns and they were going stale and I don't like to waste food.


  • Prawn Salad

  • Cannelloni
  • Focaccia alla Rosmarino

  • Easter Bread Pudding


    150g Frozen Prawns
    1/3 Iceberg Lettuce
    12 Cherry Tomatoes
    15 Black Olives
    Tbsp Pickled Capers
    2 Tbsp Wine Vinegar
    6 Tbsp Olive Oil
    1/4 tsp Fennel Seeds
    1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
    1/4 tsp Sugar
    Flat Leaf Parsley
    Salt & Pepper
    250g Lean Minced Beef
    1 Onion
    2 Rashers Bacon
    100g Salami
    2 Cloves Garlic
    Olive Oil
    Can Plum Tomatoes
    250ml Red Wine
    1/2 tsp Sugar
    tsp Italian Seasoning
    12 Cannelloni
    250g Strong Cheddar Cheese
    Tbsp Plain Flour
    50g Butter
    250ml Milk
    1/4 tsp Nutmeg
    250g Bread Flour
    tsp Dried Yeast
    1/4 tsp Salt
    150ml Warm water
    Tbsp Dried Rosemary
    2 Tbsp Olive Oil
    Easter Bread Pudding
    3 Hot Cross Buns (stale)
    9 Dried Figs
    9 Dried Dates
    3 Tbsp Honey
    100 ml Milk
    1 Egg


  • Salad: Boil the prawns in water for a few minutes and let them cool. Make a dressing by steeping the fennel seeds in the vinegar for 1/2 an hour, then adding a little sugar, salt and pepper, oregano and oil. Mince the capers and add to the dressing. Shred the lettuce, chop the tomatoes and slice the olives. Arrange on a plate with the prawns and drizzle on some dressing.
  • Cannelloni: Make the stuffing first - dice the onion and mince the garlic. Sweat in a little oil until soft then add the bacon and fry a little more. Next add the minced beef and brown. Next add the finely chopped salami and the wine. Simmer for 5 minutes then add the tomatoes and seasoning. Add a little water and leave to simmer gently for at least 2 hours. Sieve the sauce to seperate the meat from the liquid and stuff the cannelloni with the meat. Pour over the liquid and bake for 10 minutes. While the cannelloni is baking make a cheese bechemel sauce with the rest of the ingredients, when the sauce is thickened pour over the cannelloni and bake for a further 1/2 an hour.
  • Focaccia: Dissolve the yeast in a little warm water along with the dried rosemary. (If you have fresh rosemary you can bake this on top of the focaccia with the oil, as is traditional, but with dried rosemary this method is better.) Put the flour in a bowl and add a little salt and a little olive oil. Pour in the yeast mix and a little more water then knead to make a dough. Cover and leave to rise. When the dough has risen to double volume, knead again, then on a floured surface press and stretch into a round pizza. Don't roll out using a pin but knead it outwards with your fingers, this should create the traditional dimpled look, which gives the texture. Drizzle a little more oil over and a little coarse salt and bake until brown in a fairly hot oven.
  • Easter Bread Pudding: Chop the figs and dates and soak in the milk for 1/2 an hour to plump up. Slice the stale buns and layer in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle the fruit over the buns then whisk the egg into the milk. Pour over the buns then drizzle over the honey. Bake for half an hour then add a little more honey before serving.


    *All quantities are very approximate and for three people