FROM hot cross buns to chocolate recipes for children, people around the world will be baking and cooking traditional dishes this Easter. It’s The Weekend turned to Caerleon chef Emma Evans for some culinary ideas.
MANY of us think of hot cross buns when it comes to traditional Easter foods but Emma Evans, co-founder of The Secret Supper Clwb and one half of the Welsh team that reached the final of Sky Living’s ‘My Kitchen Rules’ competition, offers her ideas for an Easter Sunday dinner and cooking with the kids.
The mum-of-three, who was brought up in the hospitality business and is passionate about cooking and offers personal chef experiences and dining events, says a lamb dish is the perfect choice for Easter.
Mrs Evans has given the lamb dinner, traditionally eaten on Easter Sunday, a twist by creating a recipe of spiced lamb two ways with braised lentils.
She said: “I was inspired by spring and the bright colours when I devised the recipe.”
“This dish features aubergine, tomato puree and red peppers bringing in colour and flavour for the spring.”
“It is a show-stopping dish and perfect if you are having a dinner party and nice to serve for the family.”
Mrs Evans, who also runs the Healthy Food Delivery Box which offers home cooked meals delivered to your door, said it does take a bit of preparation and forward planning.
“While it looks quite long I have broken it down into sections and it is relatively straight forward.”
Sweet cakes are also served around the world at Easter. Mrs Evans says one desert that is popular with her children is Easter egg brownies.
“They are great to make with the kids but it’s wise to have some extra Cadbury’s eggs to hand as you find they tend to eat them while cooking.”
“It’s a great activity to do together on Good Friday in the morning. Set aside two hours for it and you can even wrap them in cellophane as a gift for family members.”
Spiced lamb two ways with braised lentils
For the individual lamb stacks:
1kg shoulder of lamb, boneless
salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 bay leaves
3 onions, peeled and diced
1 head of garlic cut in half
1 cinnamon stick
50ml olive oil
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1tbs tomato puree
Pinch of sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
200ml red wine
2 red peppers
160ml natural yoghurt
2 large egg yolks
Small pack of (75g) soft goats cheese
freshly grated nutmeg
2 litres fresh lamb stock
2 tbsp harissa paste
coriander leaves to decorate
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Select a deep casserole dish that will allow the shoulder of lamb to be covered with the liquid.
Rub salt and pepper generously over the boneless shoulder of lamb. Place the lamb skin side up in the casserole dish, add bay leaves, garlic, onion, cinnamon, red wine, vinegar, stock, tomatoes and harissa paste.
Make sure the lamb is fully submerged in the liquid, cover with foil and place in the oven for at least three hours or until the meat is meltingly tender and falling apart.
Carefully remove the lamb from the oven and leave it to cool for about 30 minutes. Leave the cooking liquor to cool off for an hour or so, this lets the fat settle on the top and it is much easier to spoon off.
Flake the lamb into a large bowl with your fingers when it is still warm, leaving out the skin and any large bits of fat. Set aside.
Once the fat is skimmed from the cooking liquor, pour it into a large pan and bring up to a boil and reduce by half. It should be looking a lot thicker by now.
Pick out the cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Pop out the garlic cloves which should be soft and mushy.
Pour half of the liquid with some of the onions and garlic into the lamb and stir well to coat. Set aside.
Heat a griddle pan on the cooker until very hot. Slice the aubergines into 1cm thick slices, lay them on a baking tray, season on both sides and brush them with olive oil.
Griddle the aubergines until they have the griddle lines on both sides, then using a round cutter the same size as the ramekin, cut them into circles. Set aside until needed.
Place the peppers onto the griddle to char. Remove the skins and cut into quarters.
In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks and yoghurt and goats cheese together and season with pepper and a grating of fresh nutmeg.
Grease six large ramekins. Start with the pepper and line the bottom of the ramekin. Now spoon in the lamb mixture, pressing firmly into place.
Now add a round of aubergine, then spoon in the meat mixture. Finish with a slice of aubergine on top. Cover with cling and keep refrigerated until needed.
For the lentils:
400g green lentils
200mls chicken stock (approx)
1 tsp harissa
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
salt & pepper
Rinse the lentils several times. Cover with cold chicken stock and bring to the boil.
Add the remaining ingredients to the lentils. Simmer until just done - approx 30 minutes.
Drain, do not rinse. Stir through some of the remaining cooking liquor from the lamb shoulder. Season. Set aside until needed.
For the courgettes:
2 large courgettes
Slice the courgettes lengthways, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with a little garlic salt and griddle on both sides to give neat char grill lines. Set aside.
For the yogurt and cucumber tzatiki:
250g greek yogurt
Squeeze of lemon juice
Chopped mint leaves
Deseed the cucumber and finely dice. Mix together all the ingredients. Keep in the fridge.
For the rack of lamb:
2 x 6 bone lamb racks, trimmed and scored
1 tsp cumin
1tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
Salt and pepper
Coat the lamb in the oil, Rub all the marinade ingredients into the lamb. Leave to marinade for an hour.
When ready to serve, heat a large pan, sear the lamb on both sides. Then place into the oven for 10 minutes for rare, 13 minutes for medium or 15 to 18 minutes for well done. Remove, baste with the juices and allow to rest for 10 minutes in a warm place.
To Serve: Half an hour before service, cover the ramekins with foil and place into a hot oven (180). Cook until piping hot in the centre. Cook off the racks, after resting for 10 minutes, slice into cutlets.
Reheat the remaining cooking liquor, making sure it reduces so it’s really thick and glossy, check for seasoning.
Heat through the courgette on a baking tray in the oven. Heat through the lentils in a wide sauté pan, being careful not to catch and burn. It may help to loosen with a few drops of boiling water. Heat the white sauce, stirring to make sure it doesn’t boil and split.
To assemble the dish:
Place a courgette just off centre of the plate, top with the tzatiki. Spoon the lentils to the right of the courgette. Run a knife around the ramekin and turn out the stack onto the plate to the left of the courgette.
Top with the white sauce. Place the lamb cutlets onto the side of the stack and drizzle with the reduction. Decorate with the coriander leaves and a dab of harissa.
Easter Egg Brownies
200g dark chocolate broken into small pieces - 70 per cent cocoa solids
180g butter cubed
300g soft brown sugar
50g plain flour
50g rice flour
3 Cadbury's Creme Eggs, stored in the fridge
Line a 20cm brownie tin with parchment paper. Pre heat oven to 140.
Bring a saucepan of water to a slow simmer and place a glass bowl on top, making sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the dish. Put the butter and chocolate into the bowl and leave to melt, ( about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
While the chocolate is melting, whisk the sugar and eggs together until light and fluffy. Pour the egg mixture over the chocolate and stir in well.
Sieve the flours into the mixture and stir gently to combine.
Pour the mixture into the lined tin and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Take the creme eggs from the fridge, unwrap and using a sharp knife cut in half.
After 15 minutes, take the brownies out of the oven and gently push the egg halves into place on the brownie slab.
Put back into the oven for a further 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.