Posts Tagged: easter

Apr 11

Easter eggs


It was always a breakfast to remember when I was growing up. We never
did a big breakfast at Christmas like some do, a few croissants maybe.
Birthdays the same – beautiful fresh orange juice, homemade jams.

Easter Sunday is always special. Somehow the soft boiled egg
is transformed into a celebration, accompanied by soldiers, generously
spread with butter. Some would add a lick of marmite, others anchovy
paste – rather grown up and maybe, if you’ll excuse the pun, over-egging
the cake.

I’m a purist – soft-boiled so the white is just set, the yolk runny
and golden. I peel the top – I don’t cut it as some do. I don’t know why –
maybe it’s the ceremony of it all. Anticipation. With each dunk or scoop
of the spoon I add more sea salt and pepper though so that each
mouthful is generously seasoned – eggs just cry
out for it.

The toast, too, is important. It must be white, but country
bread, not the sliced supermarket stuff. And the actual level of
toasting – I like a degree of variance in my soldiers, some very dark
and others ghostly pale – the perfect blend of textures and flavours.

So – although all your effort may go into a beautiful leg of lamb
studded with its traditional friends of garlic, anchovy and rosemary,
spare a thought for breakfast – and enjoy a perfect, runny, soft, dippy

Mar 10

A traditional Easter – Simnel cake


I’m a big fan of the new simple style of cooking that seems to have been adopted across the board – long gone are the sauces with twenty ingredients that take days to make, the mousses set in aspic and the flamboyantly decorated dishes I see in old family photos.

Somehow everything has become less complex; what we cook has become more about the quality and heritage of what we source and the way we marry flavours in a more down to earth, robust style. There are classic combinations that have been in use in the kitchen for decades, even hundreds of years, but it is the paring back of these things that is shaping what we serve at the dinner table more than ever.

The traditional roast leg of lamb we might have had a few years back has now become a slow-braised shoulder; we still, however, serve it with its bedfellows of either a home made mint sauce, Shrewsbury, or redcurrant jelly. I might now though, as with last year, add a spoonful of so to the gravy for a hint of sweetness.

Some things can’t be messed with though. You can’t better a roast potato, one of the finest culinary inventions in my book. Another great tradition that must not be forgotten is Simnel cake, the moreish, dark fruit cake enriched with marzipan. This recipe comes from one of my favourite London gastropubs, The Coach and Horses in Farringdon.

Click here to read the recipe for The Coach and Horses Easter Simnel cake

Apr 09

Easter eats: indulge in a tranquil taste of spring


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In my house Easter Sunday has an agenda followed for many years. Church for those who choose, a brisk walk on what is usually a fairly chilly day (although this year it may be different as Easter falls so late), and a delicious, leisurely lunch.

Over the years I have switched roles, from witness to the spectacle to creator, edging into the kitchen earlier and earlier each Easter. It’s somewhere I could stay, contentedly pottering about, all day. We cook on an Aga at my mother’s, which is at times great fun and at others, a bit of a pain. When it’s all systems go it tends to slow down a bit, right at the critical veg-boiling, gravy-making moment, but the low, steady heat of the bottom oven makes the most spectacular red cabbage.

And our Easter menu? A good shoulder of lamb, some crunchy, roast potatoes and white sprouting broccoli, the tips of which act as  perfect sponges to soak up a gravy made with a spoonful of quince jelly. It’s a calm affair – as it should be on such a day

Apr 09

Getting arty with eggs this Easter



Egg-painting is a great thing to do with the children over Easter. They make fantastic table decorations for Sunday lunch and will keep the kids occupied for hours.

If you’ve decided to go down the ‘blowing’ route, the fun begins right away. Don’t forget to save the contents to use in a cake or pud!

Wash and dry a needle or pin. Carefully puncture a small hole in the small end of the egg. Make a larger hole at the other end and pop the egg yolk. Placing the egg over a bowl, blow through the small hole until all the egg is gone. Give it a rinse and then leave it to dry.

To make a natural paint combine an egg yolk with half a teaspoon of water then divide the mixture between several pots, adding a different food colouring to each. That’s it, you’re ready to go…

Painting the upper half one colour, then pop the egg into an egg box to dry for a few minutes before painting the bottom half.

For all-over colour use food dye, natural dye or water-based felt pens. Add colouring drop by drop until you reach the desired colour before submerging eggs for a few minutes then removing and drying them.

For extra embellishment try sticking on small pasta shapes, like minestrone, or dried lentils and beans. A little help from mum to glue them on will probably be necessary! Another approach is to cut out stencils or patterns on paper and use this to paint shapes on to the egg. When each ‘masterpiece’ is finished, apply a coating of clear nail varnish to protect it.

If you’re using hard-boiled eggs – which are often easier for children to handle as they are less fragile – they can later be added to a special Sunday salad.

Stick to natural dyes – things like beetroot, carrots or coffee – boiling them with water until you’ve got the desired colour. Once the ‘dye’ is cool immerse your eggs in it, shell on. Remove and polish them with a dry cloth and oil – or decorate with edible paints available from cooking shops.

To dye eggs various colours, cover up sections of the eggs with masking tape. After the first dip, remove some of the tape and repeat to get different coloured strips on your eggs.

If you’re really pushing the boat out, good cook shops sell edible transfers, powders and gold leaf – all of which would make fantastic additions.
The key thing is not to use any marker pens or anything toxic, as this will leach through the shell and make the eggs inedible.

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