Cooking for Ostara often involves the first spring greens. It's too early for most farmer's markets to open, but this is prime season for gathering mushrooms and wild greens. Poultry, rabbit, and lamb are popular meats. Eggs appear whole or mixed into many dishes; whole eggs are often dyed or otherwise decorated. Milk, cheese, and other dairy products remain popular. Pastel colors and white prevail, sometimes accented with gold or silver. For background information and ritual ideas, see our main Ostara page.
1 (9-inch) deep-dish pie crust in tin 12 slices bacon 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese 4 eggs, beaten 1 1/2 cups half-and-half 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon white sugar 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Place bacon in a large skillet, and fry over medium-high heat until crisp.
Drain on paper towels, then chop coarsely. Sprinkle bacon and cheese into pastry shell.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, salt, sugar and cayenne pepper. Pour mixture into pastry shell.
Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce heat to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C), and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean. Allow quiche to sit 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.
2 cups fresh blueberries 1/3 cup white sugar 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/2 cup flour 1/2 cup rolled oats 1/3 cup packed brown sugar 2 tablespoons ginger chips (minced crystallized ginger) 1/3 cup butter
Directions: Preheat oven to 350º.
Put the blueberries in a medium-sized glass bowl and rake the edge of a spoon through them to bruise the fruit slightly. Add 1/3 cup white sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice; stir, then set aside.
In a second bowl, combine 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup rolled oats, and 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar. Then stir in 2 tablespoons of ginger chips. Slice the butter into squares and add to the dry ingredients. Use a butter cutter to mix the contents until loose and crumbly.
Stir the blueberries and spread them in the bottom of a glass pie plate. Then sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the blueberry filling. Bake at 350º for 20-30 minutes, until topping is golden-crisp and filling is bubbly.
I used fresh blueberries this time. Frozen ones should also work.
The Ginger People brand sells ginger chips by the can or in bulk. If you can’t find that, buy ordinary dried crystallized ginger and mince it finely.
This crumble dessert was received with great enthusiasm.
This recipe was originally published in The Wordsmith's Forge on 7/23/08, then revised for reprint 6/24/11.
olive oil 1 handful of Rosemary & Olive Oil Triscuits, crushed (1/2 cup crumbs) 1/4 cup half-and-half 1 egg 1/8 of a sweet onion, diced (about 1/4 cup) several sun-dried tomatoes, diced (1/2 cup) 1 pound ground elk 1 teaspoon oregano 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper 1/2 cup ketchup 1 teaspoon oregano 1 teaspoon rosemary
Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a loaf pan with olive oil.
Put a handful of Rosemary & Olive Oil Triscuits in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin, until you have 1/2 cup of small crumbs. Pour the crumbs into a large mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup half-and-half and one egg. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes so the crumbs will soften.
Meanwhile peel the onion, cut it into sections, and dice until you have about 1/4 cup of onion bits. Put the bits in a small bowl and set aside. Dice the sun-dried tomatoes. Add them to the bowl with the onion bits.
To the large mixing bowl, add 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, and 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper. Put the ground elk into the large mixing bowl, tearing it into small pieces with your hands. Add the diced onion and sun-dried tomatoes. Mash and knead the mixture until thoroughly blended; it should be fairly smooth and stick together well. (If it’s too dry, add a little more half-and-half; if it’s too wet, add more Triscuit crumbs.) Pat the mixture into an oblong shape and lift it into the loaf pan.
Pour 1/2 cup ketchup into a small bowl. Add 1 teaspoon oregano and 1 teaspoon rosemary. Mix with pastry brush. Use half the sauce to cover the top of the meatloaf, spreading it evenly with the pastry brush.
Cook the meatloaf for 55 minutes. Remove it from the oven and brush the remaining sauce over the top. Return the meatloaf to the oven and cook for another 5 minutes. Serves 5 people.
If you can’t find Rosemary & Olive Oil Triscuits, try substituting plain Triscuits plus 1 teaspoon rosemary and 1 teaspoon olive oil.
I had 1/4 of a sweet onion left over from a previous recipe, and didn’t need to use all of it. You can add more onion if you wish. This time the onion bits didn’t cook completely, although the meat did; they were still a little crispy. Next time I’ll try sautéing them first. Some meatloaves seem to soften onions more than others, even if the onion bits are of similar size.
I used kitchen scissors to cut the sun-dried tomatoes into strips, then held them together and cut crosswise to dice. This is the first time I’ve tried cooking with sun-dried tomatoes, and I’m thrilled with the flavor and texture. I like them much better than fresh tomatoes.
The flavors in this recipe are designed to complement the robust flavor of elk meat. Other game meat such as moose or venison would probably work. It’s not optimized for beef, though you could try that if you don’t have access to game.
Use a good tomato ketchup for the base of the sauce. Avoid ones that already have a lot of spices, or that list high fructose corn syrup as the first or second ingredient; you don’t want it too complex or too sweet. I used organic ketchup, which is nice and tangy, and made a perfect carrier for the oregano and rosemary. The sauce dries to a bright sticky coating with intense flavor.
The five of us devoured the whole meatloaf, with just enough room left for dessert.
This recipe was originally published in The Wordsmith's Forge on 3/22/09, then revised for reprint 6/24/11.
4 large roasting potatoes salt pepper 1/2 cup goose fat 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Scrub the potatoes. Cut them into bite-sized chunks.
Put 1/2 cup goose fat into a small bowl. Crumble 1/2 teaspoon of dried rosemary into it. Stir to combine.
Put about half the potatoes into 8x11" baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle about half the herbed goose fat over the potatoes. Stir to coat evenly. Add the rest of the potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle on the rest of the herbed goose fat. Stir carefully, being careful not to knock pieces out of the dish.
Cook at 400ºF for one hour. Toward the end, test the potatoes with a fork. When done, they should be tender, and the top layer will be brown and crispy on the highest points.
Any type of roasting or multipurpose potato should work. I used red ones because the skins contrast nicely with the white centers.
The goose fat is what makes this recipe splendid rather than ordinary. Its reputation as a supreme cooking ingredient is well justified. If you don't have any, you can try a variation of this recipe using duck fat, chicken fat, or even cooking oil. But goose fat is so awesome that it's actually sold in jars as an ingredient in its own right, so you can find it at gourmet suppliers. I simply siphoned mine out of the "Herbal Roast Goose" that I made earlier.
Rosemary goes very well with potatoes. However, you can try other herbs such as thyme or oregano if you prefer.
This recipe was originally published in The Wordsmith's Forge on 5/1/10, then revised for reprint 6/24/11.
Herbal Roast Goose
Ingredients: 1 whole goose, about 8-9 lbs. 2 small sweet onions 1 bay leaf
For the marinade: 1 cube frozen grated ginger (thawed) 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 1/4 teaspoon mace 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
For the herbal rub: 8 juniper berries 1/2 teaspoon green peppercorns 1 teaspoon rubbed sage 1/2 teaspoon rosemary 1/2 teaspoon thyme 1/4 teaspoon Australian pink salt
For the marinade, combine in a small dish: 1 cube frozen grated ginger (thawed), 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon mace, 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, and 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar. Set aside briefly.
Unwrap the goose. Remove giblets, reserving for gravy or stock. Pull off any big hunks of fat and save those for cooking. The big flap of skin from the neck can also be cut off and put with the stock fixings. Use kitchen shears to cut off the first two wing joints and save those for stock.
Rinse the goose inside and out; pat dry. Prick the skin all over using a knife or fork, so that the fat can escape.
Use a pastry brush to spread the marinade all over the goose. Wrap the goose in plastic or put it in a big dish, and leave it in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Peel and quarter two small sweet onions; set aside briefly.
Take out the goose and rinse it briefly to get the vinegar off; don't obsess over getting every bit of spice off.
In a mortar and pestle, put 8 juniper berries and 1/2 teaspoon green peppercorns. Grind those. Then add 1 teaspoon rubbed sage, 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon Australian pink salt. Grind again, then stir to blend thoroughly. Rub this mixture all over the outside of the goose, and save a little to put inside the body cavity as well.
Stuff the onion quarters and a bay leaf into the body cavity of the goose. Close the skin flaps over the opening and secure with a toothpick or skewer. If the skin has a loop for the leg bones, poke the ends through that loop to secure the legs. Otherwise, tie the leg ends together with cotton cooking string.
Carefully lower the prepared goose onto the roasting rack, in the pan or the roasting oven. Cook for 30 minutes at 425ºF.
Reduce heat to 350ºF. Very carefully lift lid of roaster oven, tilting it away from you; or open oven and pull the pan out. Spoon or suction away the liquid fat in the bottom of the pan, reserving it for another use. Cover the roaster oven or return the goose to the regular oven. Cook the goose for a total of 15 minutes per pound (so 2 1/2 hours for 8 lbs). Remove fat every 30-60 minutes.
When done, skin should be crisp golden brown and juices should run clear. (It's okay if the meat is still pink in places.) Temperature in the thickest part of the meat should be 160ºF. Carefully transfer goose to a serving platter. Cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
To carve the goose, first slice off the wings. (Lay the wings on the platter and save them for stock; they're really tough. The onions aren't meant to be eaten, but if they're cooked through and people want them, then you can dig those out.) Next, slice off the legs and serve those. Finally, slice the breast meat and serve it. There will be a few other slivers you can pick off the carcass, if desired. If you save the carcass and other bones with any loose skin, you can get a second batch of stock from one goose!
Goose is a wonderful luxury food. It's all dark meat, and in America geese are not factory farmed but are kept as free-range livestock. The meat is chewier and richer than chicken, though similar to duck or turkey. There is a great deal of fat on a goose, which is highly valued for cooking potatoes or other foods, so save the fat. Skin, bones, and other scraps can be used for making stock. Giblets are good alone, or as gravy, or for stock.
All of the herbs for this recipe are "digestive" herbs. They aid digestion by helping the body break down fat and protein. If you have sprigs of fresh herbs, especially the rosemary or thyme, you can stuff a few into the body cavity too.
Frozen grated ginger is an oddity I often have on hand. Whenever we get fresh ginger root for a recipe, I grate all of it in a spice grinder and measure off the necessary amount. All the leftover ginger pulp gets packed into an ice cube tray and frozen, then the cubes go in a baggie until I need them. They're less hot than fresh ginger root, so if you use fresh, you only need maybe a quarter or a half teaspoon.
Fancy salts can add a lot to a recipe. If you don't have the Australian pink salt, which has a delicate mineral edge, you can use all sea salt. If you don't have sea salt, plain table salt is okay.
Green peppercorns have a more leafy flavor than black peppercorns, so they blend nicely with herbs. If you don't have green peppercorns, use black ones.
If you're worried about over-browning the goose, you can cover it with a tent of aluminum foil at the beginning or end of cooking.
This recipe was originally created for an Ostara Feast, early in spring, because ducks, geese, and chickens are associated with that holiday. Goose is also served at New Year, Midwinter/Christmas, and Michaelmas (Sept. 29). The side dishes help dress it up for each occasion -- salads and eggs in spring, squash and root vegetables in winter, or apples and stuffing in autumn.
This recipe was originally published in The Wordsmith's Forge on 3/20/10, then revised for reprint 6/24/11.
1 cup 2% milk 2 cups half-n-half 3/4 cup sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pour 1 cup 2% milk into a large bowl. Add 3/4 cup sugar and whisk until dissolved. Whisk in 2 cups half-n-half. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and whisk thoroughly.
Turn ice cream machine ON. Pour milk mixture into ice cream machine and freeze for 25 minutes.
I discovered this excellent ice milk recipe by accident: I needed to make vanilla ice cream, and thought I had some cream and whole milk left. I didn’t, so I used what I had. The result tastes like the best ice milk bar or ice milk sandwich filling. If you like a lighter frozen dessert than heavy ice cream, try this.
This is also excellent with coconut flakes sprinkled over it.
This recipe was originally published in The Wordsmith's Forge on 10/23/08, then revised for reprint 6/24/11.
This is more of an algorithm than a specific recipe. It's ideal for Ostara celebrations in a solitary or small-group context, especially if people have different dietary needs or tastes.
Tools: Use a small nonstick skillet with sloped sides, and a plastic spatula with a fine edge. These make it easier to fold the omelette.
Heat: Turn the heat on so the skillet will be hot before you add the eggs. It should be hot enough that the egg mixture sizzles and starts to cook immediately, but not so hot that the egg layer promptly forms a huge bubble in the middle. On my stove, pointing the dial marker at “Low” is ideal.
Lubricant: Use about a tablespoon of ghee, also known as clarified butter, available in ethnic or international stores. It is better for you, and MUCH more heat-tolerant than ordinary butter or margarine, so it won’t burn. Ghee is a crucial ingredient in a perfect omelette – nothing else performs as well.
Eggs: In a small bowl, scramble together 1-3 eggs. Most people like a 2-egg omelette; vary according to appetite. Farm-fresh or organic eggs tend to have better color, texture, flavor, and nutrients than ordinary commercial eggs.
Milk: Add 1-3 teaspoons of milk. It makes the eggs blend better and improves flavor. Skim or other lite milk will save calories; whole milk, half-and-half, or cream make for a heavier and richer omelette. I typically use half-and-half, sparingly. Once the eggs are scrambled, mix in the milk. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet. If it doesn’t spread evenly, tilt the skillet gently to fill out the circle.
Spices: Salt and pepper to taste. White pepper doesn’t make dark flecks in the eggs, if you care about that. Sage, oregano, sweet marjoram, thyme, cilantro, or parsley are also good. Add just a pinch or a spinkle of spices to the top of the egg circle.
Cheese: Any kind of cheese that melts easily will work in an omelette. Swiss, cheddar, and mozzarella are excellent. Flavored herbal cheeses are also nice. Use 1-2 singles or about 1/8 cup of shredded cheese. If you’re carving cheese off a block, make thin slices or shavings so they’ll melt. If you want chunks of cheese, cut thicker slices from a block and dice them before starting the eggs. Add the cheese when the egg layer is mostly cooked but still wet on top.
Filling: Many types of vegetables (cooked or raw) and meat work in an omelette. Peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes are good vegetables. Chicken, turkey, sausage bits, bacon bits, beef chips, diced ham, etc. are good meats. (This is a great way to use leftovers.) Slice, dice, or chop them – and heat them if they were cold -- before starting the eggs. Store filling ingredients in small bowls within reach of the skillet. Add about 1/8 to 1/4 cup of filling when the egg layer is cooked and the cheese is melting. Spread filling from the middle of the egg circle towards one edge.
Folding: With the spatula, carefully lift the empty edge of the egg circle. The underside should be light brown. Fold over the filling, press gently, and hold for a few seconds to allow the filling and cheese to meld. Turn the heat OFF. Let the omelette sit for about a minute. Check the underside; it should be a slightly deeper brown. Hold a plate close to the skillet, slide the spatula all the way under the omelette, and quickly transfer the omelette to the plate.
This was originally published in The Wordsmith's Forge on 1/22/09, then revised for reprint 6/24/11.