My cookbook Friends, Food, Family has an entire Weekend Entertaining section because it’s one of my favourite ways to bring people together. My suggestions for Easter lunch are all taken from recipes in the book, with one twist. That being said, these are all fairly simple ideas, even if you don’t have a copy – perish the thought!
Roast leg of lamb is, of course, the traditional Easter Sunday lunch, and I see no reason to deviate from tradition. My version is the one that originated in Gascony, and is cooked simply with slivers of garlic poked into about ten-twelve slits in the skin, and a paste of butter and anchovies rubbed into the skin. The fishiness disappears and all that is left is an umami-rich taste, which makes for extraordinarily good gravy.
With the lamb, I like to serve both my foolproof extra crispy roast potatoes for the guests and new potatoes for me – Jersey Royals, because sadly I am low GI at the moment as I have to lose weight before an upcoming general anaesthetic – with mint, smashed peas with more fresh mint, and delicious creamy cauliflower puree.
The courgettes I spiralize into thin ribbons, and then flash fry with lemon juice and a few chilli flakes. This stops them going soggy – I find plain steamed courgettes in batons or rounds very dull to eat, boring to look at, and almost acrid on the palette.
Cooking them this way gives a lovely crunchy and soft texture simultaneously. If you haven’t been sucked into the spiralizer cult, then you could try slicing them very finely lengthwise on a mandolin, and then slicing down into ribbons that way.
The vegetarian option that floats my boat at the moment is the cauliflower and quinoa burgers from the book served two to a stack as thick cakes instead of sandwiched between brioche rolls, with a baked Portabello mushroom on top, homemade mushroom gravy over all, and a liberal scattering of chopped flat leaf parsley scattered around.
(I developed the mushroom gravy for my book because a plate of vegetables for Sunday lunch is absolutely fine as a vegetarian option, so long as there is a delicious sauce or gravy to go with it.)
I think a traditional pud is the way forward at Easter. Trifle for choice, my blackberry and apple version, with edible pansies and fresh blackberries to decorate it.
Then a lovely slab of oozy cheese (above is a Brie de Melun, which has a wonderful salty tang) to finish: I like to choose just one generous piece, and serve it with grapes, Carr’s Water Biscuits (nicer than oatcakes or bread with a soft cheese), and a chutney or membrillo.
All recipes are contained within Friends, Food, Family