These recipes are grown-up versions of the food I was brought up on, which was dished up at big family events. The lemon surprise tart, in particular, is a huge favourite with me and my two sisters. It’s my mum’s version of a Robert Carrier recipe; a modern take on the puddle pudding. It puffs up like a souffle and sets with a sponge top with the surprise of this delicious curd underneath.
The only major break with family tradition is that we always have asparagus as a starter at this time of year, but I’ve gone for leeks as I think they get a rough ride. They’re cheap, delicious – but rarely the hero of a dish. Poach them first, and by the time you char them – in a frying pan, grill, barbecue – they become super sweet.
What else do I love about Easter? Hot cross buns. I have rules though: they’ve got to be a little bit scorched and you need 10 times more butter than you think you do.
Charred leeks vinaigrette with brown shrimps and grated eggs
You can char the leeks in a hot pan, griddle, barbecue or even a wood-fired oven.
4 as a starter; 2 as a supper
For the dressing
- 1 tsp English mustard
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- 4 tbsp olive oil
For the leeks
- 3 leeks, trimmed
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 100g brown shrimps, peeled
- 2 hard-boiled eggs (ones with orange yolks, such as Burford Browns, are ideal), grated
- Dill or fennel fronds
- Place the dressing ingredients in a jam jar and shake vigorously.
- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Poach the leeks for two minutes then immerse in iced water. Drain and pat dry. Cut each leek in half across and lengthways.
- Heat a griddle pan until smoking. Rub the cut surface of each leek with oil, then grill cut-side down until charred. Remove from the pan and lay two slices on each plate.
- Spoon a teaspoon of the dressing over each leek then divide the shrimps and grated egg between the plates. Add the remaining dressing, scatter with dill or fennel fronds and serve.
Roast leg of lamb with garlic, rosemary and anchovies
Classic leg of lamb roasted to a perfect pink.
For the lamb
- 5-6 cloves garlic, peeled
- 8 sprigs rosemary
- 1 x 2kg leg of lamb
- 12 anchovies, each cut in half lengthways, plus the oil from the anchovy tin
For the gravy
- 1 heaped tsp plain flour
- 1 glass white wine
- 750ml fresh chicken stock or lamb stock
- Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 8.
- Cut each clove of garlic into four or five slivers and divide the rosemary into about 24 clusters of spines.
- Set the lamb in a roasting tray and stab it with a thin, sharp knife about 1cm deep into the meatiest part of the leg. Push a halved anchovy slice deep into the incision, followed by a slice of garlic and piece of rosemary. Repeat 23 times all over the surface of the lamb. Rub with the reserved anchovy oil and season well (if you want to add more anchovies you can lay them under the lamb in the tin).
- Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes then reduce the heat to 180C/Gas 4 and cook for 1 hour and 10 minutes for the lamb to be pink. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
- To make the gravy, pour out the oil from the roasting tray until there is about two tablespoons left, being careful not to pour out any of the lamb juices.
- Place the tray over a high heat on the hob, add the flour and scrape at the bottom of the tray with a wooden spoon to pick up the meaty residue. Let the flour cook out for one minute then add the wine and mix quickly. Slowly whisk in the stock. When combined, allow to bubble slowly over a low heat. Reduce until the sauce is rich and has a good pouring consistency. Season well.
- Carve the lamb and serve with the dauphinoise potatoes, flageolet beans and gravy (saving 100ml gravy for the beans). Roasted baby carrots are also delicious with this.
Flageolets with rosemary and garlic
Confit garlic mixed through flageolet beans with a hefty slurp of lamb gravy.
6 - 8
- 250g dried flageolet beans, soaked overnight
- 85ml olive oil
- 3-4 sprigs rosemary
- 5-6 cloves garlic
- Squeeze of lemon
- 100ml lamb gravy (made as per recipe above)
- Rinse and drain the beans and place in a large saucepan. Cover with 10cm cold, unsalted water and bring to the boil then simmer on a low heat for 1 hour and 10 minutes until the beans are soft but still have a little bite.
- Meanwhile, slowly heat the oil, rosemary and garlic in a large pan until the garlic has softened and the rosemary has turned brittle. Remove the rosemary spines and mush the garlic into the oil. Add the lemon.
- Drain the beans and stir into the hot garlicky oil. When you have made the gravy, add a ladleful to the beans and bring back to the boil before serving with the lamb.
Lemon Surprise tart
Similar to a lemon Surprise pudding, but in a tart case. It can seem hard to incorporate the egg white but just whisk it and all will be fine. Serve warm with double cream.
6 - 8
For the pastry
- 225g plain flour
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 140g unsalted butter, very cold and cut into 1cm cubes
- 1 large egg mixed with 1 tbsp iced water
For the filling
- 50g butter
- 170g sugar
- 3 eggs, separated
- 35g plain flour
- 280ml whole milk
- Juice of 3 lemons plus grated zest of 2
- Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5.
- Whiz the flour in a food processor with the sugar and a good pinch of salt, just for a few seconds, to avoid having to sift the flour. Add the butter and whiz again for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Gradually add the egg and water mixture, mixing until it starts to form large clumps. Turn out onto a board and bring together into a ball, handling as little as possible. Roll out and use to line a 24cm pastry case. Leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Once rested, line the raw pastry case with crumpled greaseproof paper and fill with either ceramic baking beans or dried pulses. Bake “blind” for 25 minutes or until the pastry is cooked through but has only a little colour. Remove the beans and paper and bake for another five minutes, then remove from the oven.
- Turn the oven down to 180C/Gas 4.
- For the filling, cream together the butter, sugar and egg yolks until light and fluffy. Mix in the flour and a pinch of salt, then the milk, juice and zest.
- In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold these into the lemon mixture with a large metal spoon. Pour this into the pastry case and bake for around 45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.