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Fun food for April Fool’s Day

The first day of April: of course, it’s time for all sorts of foolery – including recipes that play tricks.

Throughout history there have been recipes created to deal with food shortages during wartime and depressions.

Later, at the opposite end of the spectrum, when too much food became a problem, recipes were developed to reduce fat and calories for the weight conscious. These creations must be rich and creamy in taste, belying their meagre calorie count and actual ingredients.

These surprises will all say “April Fool’s” in various ways but the taster will be none the wiser because each is foolishly delicious!

Rhubarb Fool

A fool is a light mousse-like dessert made from a fruit purée, strained and folded into whipped cream. The English love their “fools.” The original one is made from a purée of gooseberries but any tangy fruit purée works well.  Spring rhubarb produces a tantalizing pink version, a perfect finish after a heavy meal.

Here sweetened condensed milk helps the rhubarb thicken to mousse-like consistency. Fools are very pretty served in stemmed glassware, such as wine glasses.

4 cups (1 L) fresh or frozen rhubarb,
cut in 1 inch (2.5 cm) lengths

1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (125 mL) water

1 can (300 mL) sweetened
condensed milk

1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream

In a stainless steel saucepan over medium high heat, combine rhubarb, sugar and water; cook, stirring, until rhubarb is very soft, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly and puree in a food processor with sweetened condensed milk. Cool completely. Tip: To chill quickly, put the rhubarb mixture over a bowl of ice and stir until chilled. Meanwhile, whip cream until stiff peaks form. Fold cooled rhubarb into whipped cream and spoon into serving dishes. Cover and refrigerate an hour before serving or make a day ahead. Makes four to six servings.

Wacky Cake

Also called “war cake,” this eggless and butter-free cake was a result of having to make do with limited ingredients. Originally, it would have been made with lard or bacon drippings. However the recipe evolved as time went on and food supplies improved.

I remember my mother making this cake as a child and loving its spicy taste and moist texture. She would often substitute candied cherries, pineapple and candied ginger for some or all of the raisins.

You can make a cheap version of fruit cake in minutes with this old- timer! Easy to prepare, it is sure to be as popular now as it was then.

1 cup (250 mL) water

1 ½ cups (375 mL) raisins (or your favourite dried fruit)

1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar

1/2 cup (125 mL) shortening or softened butter

1 tsp (5 mL) each, ground cinnamon and nutmeg

1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground cloves

1 ½ cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour

1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda

Sifted icing sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line eight-inch square cake pan with parchment paper.

In a stainless steel saucepan, combine water, raisins, brown sugar, shortening, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves over medium high heat. Bring to boil; remove from heat and cool to lukewarm.

In separate bowl, stir together flour and baking soda. When raisin mixture is lukewarm, stir flour mixture into raisins and stir until well combined. Spoon batter into prepared pan; bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool on rack. Sprinkle with icing sugar before slicing and serving.

Cream of Carrot Soup

Bugs Bunny’s favourite, this rich creamy soup has no cream and virtually no fat. It is a dieter’s dream come true, rich only in flavour and nutrients – fibre, vitamins A and C, and calcium. Guess what the “magic” ingredient is?

6 large carrots, peeled and chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 celery stalk chopped

1 bay leaf

4 cups (1 L) chicken stock

1 tbsp (15 mL) grated orange rind

2 tsp (10 mL) curry powder

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt, black pepper

1 can (398 mL) evaporated milk

In large stainless steel saucepan or Dutch oven, combine carrots, onion, celery, bay leaf, chicken stock, orange rind, curry powder, salt and pepper over medium high heat. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer covered until very tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Purée soup with evaporated milk in batches using a blender. Taste, add more salt, pepper or curry powder, and add milk if soup is too thick. Serve hot or cold with a dollop of yogurt and an orange slice. Makes six to eight servings.

 

Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer  -  janmainskitchen@yahoo.ca

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