Buon appetito! Easter food with a flavour of the Med
PUBLISHED: 10:45 24 March 2015 | UPDATED: 10:45 24 March 2015
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis prepares an Italian style two-course family feast for the Easter holidays
With egg hunts to plan and days walking in the spring countryside on the horizon, who wants to be stuck in the kitchen all weekend preparing Easter lunch?
For a flavoursome meal for family or friends, try this simple Italian-style two-course menu, which serves four with leftovers.
Rolled breast of lamb stuffed with wild garlic, lemon and pine nuts
Breast of lamb is such good value. The piece I used cost just £5 from my local butcher and while it looks scraggy, when prepared correctly and cooked slowly, it becomes a melt-in-the mouth delicacy.
For the lamb
4kg lamb breast, bone and sinew removed by the butcher (keep these)
125g wild garlic (or spinah with 2 crushed cloves garlic)
3tbsps chopped pine nuts
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
For the wild garlic pesto
2 handfuls wild garlic or spinach with 2 chopped garlic cloves
1/2tsp dried rosemary
2tbsps pine nuts
Salt and pepper
Juice of half a lemon
Pre-heat the oven to 140C.
Season the lamb all over and ensure all the sinew has been taken away by the butcher.
Wilt down your wild garlic, or chopped garlic and spinach, and mix with the lemon zest, some seasoning and the pine nuts. Spread over the lamb on the flesh side, not the skin side.
Roll the lamb tightly and tie with butcher’s string to secure. Place in a hot frying pan and colour all over, then remove to a roasting tray and cover. Cook for four hours.
When cooked, set aside to rest and make gravy with the pan juices and your reserved lamb bones.
To make the pesto put the wild garlic, or spinach and garlic, in a food processor with the rosemary, pine nuts, some seasoning, lemon juice and a little oil. Blitz, adding oil bit-by-bit until it reaches the consistency you desire.
Oregano and Shipcord roasties
I often add oregano to roast potatoes. It lifts their flavour and makes them more interesting. Suffolk Shipcord cheese is one of my favourites and I often use it in place of Parmesan, especially in risotto.
3 medium peeled potatoes per person (I used local Fairfields spuds)
100g grated Shipcord cheese
When your lamb is cooked remove it and turn the oven up to 220C. Put a few tablespoons of rapeseed oil in a roasting tin and put this in the oven.
Boil your potatoes for 10 minutes, then drain and rough them up a bit in the pan.
Place the potatoes in the tin of oil, roll to coat them, and roast for 40 minutes. After the time is up sprinkle over the oregano and cheese and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Serve.
Kale braised with wine, raisins and olives
Salads containing raisins are popular in Sicilian cookery. I’ve used them with tasty olives from The Greek Olive Company in a kale dish that’s both sweet and savoury. It even wins over people in our house who say they don’t like kale.
250g bag kale (tough stalks removed)
A few tablespoons of Norfolk Mead
2 tbsps raisins
2 tsps stoned black olives, chopped
1 onion, fiely chopped
Olive oil, seasoning
In a large saucepan heat a little olive oil. Add the onion and cook on a low heat until soft. Add the kale and pour in the wine. Place on a lid and cook until the kale is softened. Stir in the olives and raisins and serve.
Honey wine and lemon gateau
There’s an aromatic cake in Italy called torta al vino. Typically studded with tiny grapes and perfumed with wine and lemon, it tastes of sunshine-filled holidays. I’ve used Broadland Fruit and Country Wine’s Norfolk Mead, which is perfect for cakes and puddings, giving them a delicate honey flavour.
450g self-raising flour
2tsps level baking powder
200g caster sugar
4 large eggs
Zest of one lemon
320mls Broadland Fruit and Country Wine Norfolk Mead
1 jar Fruits of Suffolk lemon curd
For the meringues
110g caster sugar
2 egg whites
Green food colouring gel
For the syllabub
125g pot Marybelle double cream
4tbsps Norfolk Mead
2tbsps icing sugar
Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line three 20cm round cake tins. For the cake beat the sugar into the butter until smooth. Gradually add the eggs one by one and beat.
Sift in the flour and baking powder and blend in. Add the lemon zest and wine and mix to combine.
Equally split between your tins and bake for 15 minutes until risen and spongy to touch. Remove and cool.
The day before, or while the cakes are cooling, make the meringues. Grease a large baking sheet. In a very clean bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks then whisk in two tablespoons of the sugar. Sprinkle the rest over the top and fold in – this prevents the meringue from weeping later. Finally fold in a few drops of food colouring and fold to combine.
Pipe the mixture into rounds the size of 5p pieces and bake at 130C for around 40 minutes until dried out.
To make the syllabub beat the cream with the wine and icing sugar until it forms stiff peaks.
Layer the sponge with syllabub and lemon curd.
Pipe the remaining curd on top and dot with meringues then dress with edible flowers – try unsprayed rose petals, geraniums or nasturtiums.
Note: I’ve dressed mine with daffodils and gypsophila because there weren’t any edible flowers in season at the time I was baking. Don’t use these in your cake as they are poisonous.