Monday, September 21, 2009

Little Ostara Lemon Tarts

With spring in the air and time on my hands, I decided to cook something for Ostara. A recipe for little lemon tarts recently caught my eye so I decided to use this as a base for some Ostara themed treaties. Here's how it happened...

Firstly, I gathered the ingredients for the tart base:
* Cooking spray OR 1 tablespoon of oil
* 2 cups plain flour plus a little extra for kneading
* Pinch salt
* 125g butter - chopped
* 2 teaspoons castor sugar
* 1 teaspoon lemon rind - grated
* 1 egg yolk
* 3 tablespoons iced water

Next was the ingredients for the filling (yum!):
* 125g creamed cheese - softened
* 1/2 cup castor sugar
* 2 egg yolks
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice
* 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
* Food colouring and items to decorate (optional)

To make the tart bases:

* Sift flour and salt into a bowl
* Rub in butter
* Add sugar, lemon rind, egg yolk and water
* Mix with a knife

* Knead gently on a lightly floured surface

* Cover in cling wrap and place in fridge for 10 minutes
* Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
* Grease two 12-cup patty tins (the recipe I was working off called for "shallow cup" patty tins but as I didn't have any of those I used normal ones and just pushed the bases a little higher up the sides)

Then on to the filling:
* In a separate bowl, add cream cheese, sugar and egg yolk
* Mix with electric mixer until smooth and thickened
* Add lemon juice and condensed milk
* Beat with electric mixer until well combined
* Separate into bowls and add food colouring as desired

Then back to the base:
* Roll out a portion of the base dough between two sheets of baking paper until approx. 3mm thick
* Cut the dough using a 7cm fluted round cookie-cutter

* Carefully place each round into a patty cup, pressing down gently into shape
* Lightly prick each round three times with a fork

* Bake for 10 minutes or until just starting to turn golden
* Remove from over and allow to cool slightly

Now put it all together:
* Spoon the filling into each of the cases
* Bake for 5 minutes or until set

* Allow to cook before removing from patty tins
* Decorate using skittles, smarties, piped icing, sprinkles etc to look like flowers and the bright colours of spring


Ostara is one of the Wiccan sabbats celebrating the spring equinox, which is then midpoint between the winter and summer solstices. This is the time where balance is restored and the world starts to bloom into life. Spring has finally arrived! In the southern hemisphere, Ostara occurs between 21 and 23 September each year. Other names for this sabbat include:

* Alban Eiler (Druidic)
* Bacchanalia
* Eostre’s Day
* Lady Day
* Spring Equinox
* Vernal Equinox

The themes for this celebration are balance, birth, creation, new life, butterflies, eggs, fertility, light overtaking the darkness, rebirth, transformation and the God and Goddess in their youthful phases.

In pagan mythology, this is the time when Persephone returns from the underworld to be with her mother, Demeter, and all of the earth blooms in celebration and renewed care and nurture. It is a season of play and joy, as the renewal of the Earth is readily apparent. This is the time to plant, and to begin new projects, a fertile time when ideas and plans start to grow. Rituals at this time celebrate the young God and Goddess, the restoration of plants and animals after the cold of winter.

Traditional foods associated with Ostara are:

* Dairy foods
* Eggs (especially hard-boiled)
* Honey
* Honey cake
* Leafy green vegetables
* Milkshakes and milk punch
* Nuts
* Seeds (such as pumpkin and sunflower)
* Spring fruits
* Sprouts
* Waffles

All pastel colours are in favour at Ostara, particularly light blues, greens, pinks and yellows.

Traditional Ostara herbs, plants and flowers are:

* All spring flowers
* Crocus
* Daffodil
* Ginger
* Gorse
* Honeysuckle
* Iris
* Irish Moss
* Jasmine
* Jonquils
* Narcissus
* Olive
* Peony
* Rose
* Strawberry
* Violet
* Woodruff

Incense popular at Ostara include:

* Any type of floral fragrances
* Jasmine
* Rose
* Sage
* Strawberry
* Violet

Gemstones associated with the time of Ostara include:

* Amethyst
* Aquamarine
* Moonstone
* Red Jasper
* Rose Quartz