Easter Feasting

What I love most about Easter is the fact that I can gather all my family for an indulgent meal without going through the frenzy one experiences at Christmas. Easter, with its promise of better weather, manages to inspire a sense of celebration sprinkled with spring flowers. The giving and receiving of chocolate eggs lends a simplicity to the day leaving everyone relaxed and appreciative of each others company. This is surely worth celebrating, even for the most sceptical non-believers.

Lamb is traditionally served at Easter because of its symbolic relation to the Easter story, but also coincides with the natural breeding cycle of sheep producing spring lamb during the Easter period. We are more fortunate than many parts of Britain, except of course Wales, to have such excellent lamb reared here in Sussex! South Downs lamb has a sweet, succulent flavour, very similar to that of Welsh lamb. Here is a recipe from one of my traditional Easter menu’s that is not only a joy to make but also a luxury to eat.

Rosemary & Dijon Rack of Lamb with Aubergine Relish

Serves 4

2 medium-size best ends of lamb, eight chops per piece and Frenched (ie. the rib ends cleaned and trimmed)

1 large stalk of rosemary

2 tsp Dijon mustard

light olive oil for searing the lamb.

For the Relish:

2 large aubergines, diced large and salted

4 medium red onions

4 red peppers, diced small

2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

4 tbsp light olive oil

250ml red wine vinegar

400g granulated sugar

1 tbsp smoked paprika

salt & pepper

2 tbsp finely chopped mint

To prepare the lamb, rub a tsp of mustard into the fat side of each best end and coat the whole area evenly. Press the chopped rosemary into the mustard and place the meat in the fridge until you are ready to cook it.

Now to make the relish: Peel and chop the onions into large dice. Fry the onion with the ginger and garlic  in 2 tbsp of olive oil until the onion turns transparent. Add the diced pepper and cook for two minutes. Now add the vinegar, sugar and paprika and cook until the mixture becomes caramelised. Put the aubergine pieces in a clean tea towel and squeeze out all the juices, using a firm grip. Fry them in the remaining oil until evenly browned all over. Mix the aubergine in with the onion mixture, season and stir well. Leave to cool. When cool, stir in the chopped mint.

Preheat the oven to 220C, 425F. Place the lamb in a roasting tin and roast for 10-20 minutes, depending on hoe you like your lamb. Remove the lamb from the oven and leave to rest fr five minutes. Put a spoonful of the aubergine relish on each plate and cut each rack of lamb in half, sit each piece on top of the relish and serve with homemade mint jelly.

Enjoy and Happy Easter!


Think Green

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, we thought it would be fitting to share one of our favourite recipes for the occasion!

Beef and Guinness pie:
750g chuck steak – walnut size chunks
1 large onion, sliced
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
1/2 pt beef stock (homemade if possible)
1 bottle of Guinness
pinch of dried sage
1 bayleaf
piece of mace
1 Tbls of 00 flour
Pastry: 250g of 00 plain flour
110g cold butter – cubed
110g cold lard – cubed
4 Tbls of icy cold water
Brown the beef, this means actually browning it, not just searing it because you need to create a good dark colour to your stew.  So make sure your pan is hot and do small batches so as not to lower the pan heat.  Remove – to a casserole dish.
Sear the onions and carrot, add to the casserole dish.
Deglaze your pan by adding a spoonful of stock and scraping the base of pan until it is ‘clean’.  The liquid will have mostly evaporated, add the flour and stir into the juices in the pan, brown and then slowly add the remaining stock, followed by half of the beer.  Pour this over the meat and add more beer to just cover the beef and vegetables.
Season well – I mean really well and taste it.  Add the herbs and mace.  Stir well and cook in the covered casserole dish in a moderate oven for 11/2 hours or until the meat is tender and falls off a fork when prodded.
Make the pastry:
Put cubed fats and flour and pulse in a food processor until it has turned to crumbs.  Add the water and pulse until it forms lumps.  Turn onto a floured table and lightly knead into a ball, cover and rest for 20 mins.
Roll the pastry into the shape of your pie dish.
Fill the pie dish with the meat filling, cover with your pastry lid and crimp the edges.  Use your left over pieces of pastry to cut out a pastry shamrock to decorate the pie.  Egg wash the pastry and bake in the oven180º- 190º for 30 mins or until the pastry is golden brown.  Use a temperature probe to test the heat at the centre of the pie, it should be 75º or over.
Serve with a pint of ice cold Guinness and some creamy mash.