Monday, 25 April 2011

Happy Easter

Christian I am not, but give me a 4 day weekend in celebration of Jesus coming back to life and I’ll celebrate with the best of them. This year I threw a dinner party on Easter Sunday. 9 diners, lots of food and lots of wine. Given it was a Sunday and I hadn’t had a proper roast dinner in a while I decided to do a typical, full on Sunday roast. No starters this time, just a huge array of meats, veggies and potatoes.

Roast leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary
Can you believe that until Easter Sunday I had never cooked a joint of lamb? Crazy as it’s my favourite meat. I went to W Bunting and Son and picked up a huge 2.1kg leg of lamb for about £18. It was enormous and far too big for my roasting dish, which meant that I had to send Gav out for a new one.  Of course, I completely forgot that EVERYTHING is shut on Easter Sunday (I forget every year) and we eventually ended up borrowing one from one of the guests.

I used this Mike Robinson recipe for guidance. First off I made a garlic and rosemary butter by mixing about 4 stalks of fresh rosemary (finely chopped) and 3 cloves of garlic (grated) into about 30g of salted butter.  I then seasoned it. I made some incisions in the lamb and pushed bits of the butter mixture into each hole and smeared the rest over butter over the meat. After leaving the lamb out for about an hour, (so that it could get to room temperature), I cooked it, covered in foil, for half an hour at 200C.  Once the half hour was up, I removed the foil and cooked it for a further hour.  I then let it rest for half an hour before serving.

Wow – minimal effort!  It was a little more on the done side of medium which was a bit of a disappointment as the recipe had said that the timing would produce a medium meat. However, it was still very tender and tasty. It went down well and there was more than enough for us all.

Cold Ham
As I feared not having enough food (as if!) I cooked a Ham Hock the day before and served this cold and sliced. Click here for an old blogpost of the recipe I used. I just skipped the sauce.

Cauliflower Cheese
As a couple of veggies were joining us, I made a huge cauliflower cheese which I thought they could dig into and the meat eaters could have as a side. I did consider making something with tofu or getting some veggie sausages, but I figured out that as long as I kept all the sides vegetarian then there would be plenty and the caulie cheese would provide the protein.

First up I made a cheese sauce. I heated up a pint of milk, along with 40g butter and 40g plain flour whilst stirring continuously. Once it thickened up, I stirred in about 150g of extra mature cheddar cheese, ¼ tsp of nutmeg and ½ tsp of Dijon mustard. It wasn’t quite as thick as I wanted it, but I’d run out of cheese so I added some corn flour. I then poured the sauce over a large dish of two heads of cooked cauliflower and cooked it at 200C for half an hour. The sauce still wasn’t quite as thick as I would have liked but as I’d used extra mature cheddar it was cheesy enough.

I washed two big bags of spinach, put it into a big pan along with 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped) some salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and about 100mls boiling water.  I then just let this cook away on a low heat for about 10 minutes. 

Broccoli and carrots
Chopped and boiled.

I never boil potatoes for mash now. I bake them whole for about an hour in a hot oven, scoop the innards out and mash with some butter and seasoning. I generally make it ahead and just warm it up in the microwave. This mash is tasty and has a good texture; so much better than the stuff made with boiled potatoes.

Roast Potatoes
I boil chopped potatoes for 10 mins, heat up sunflower oil in a roasting dish, add the potatoes along with some chopped garlic (about 4/5 cloves) and some dried rosemary (about a tsp). I then roast them for about an hour at 200C, spooning the oil over them every 15 mins or so. I love roast potatoes and I do love my roast potatoes!  They are quite possibly the best bit of a Sunday dinner!

Stuffing & gravy
I am ashamed to say that these were shop bought. Firstly because I wanted them to be veggie and secondly because I don’t really have the room to deal with making gravy just as I’m serving everything up.

Dessert – Chocolate Fudge Cake
I used a recipe from 1 Mix, 100 Cakes which I bought from M&S.  It seems that they have now stopped selling it, but you could buy it from Amazon. However I don’t recommend it. Recipes call for all ingredients to be dumped together in a bowl and beaten. This isn’t good and results in a heavy cake. So I use the recipes, as guidance for the ingredients, but ignore a lot of the method!

I left some unsalted butter out to get to room temperature and warmed 55g of dark chocolate in a pan and set it aside.  I then creamed 175g of the butter with 175g dark muscovado sugar. I use my hands to do this as I find it’s the quickest and easiest way. I then whisked up 3 eggs and added this to the mix. I used the whisk to mix the eggs in. I then added 175g of sifted plain flour with a tbsp of flour along with 2 tbsp of milk and 1 tsp vanilla extract. I continued to use the whisk to mix everything up.

Next I added the melted chocolate and mixed that in. I then spooned everything into a greased and floured 9 inch round silicone baking ‘pan’, smoothed it over and cooked it for 50 minutes. Once cooked I left it to cool and then got on with making the frosting. The frosting is just 100g of dark chocolate and 55g unsalted butter heated together with 175g icing sugar, 1 tbsp milk and 1 tsp vanilla extract then mixed in.

Once the cake had cooled I sliced it in half spread half of the frosting on top of the bottom layer, placed the other layer on top and then spread the rest of the frosting over. This with double cream also went down well. We then consumed far too much wine, played some cards and got told off by a neighbour. Good night then.

Guests went home with Toy Story eggs.

All Seasons at Castle Market was selling them – 4 for £1!

What did you get up to?

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