A Festive Easter Menu

Apr 28, 2016

It’s that time of the year again, Easter is coming! Whether you’re celebrating with friends or family, I’ve put together a festive menu that is a crowd pleaser and that’s easy to make, even though it sounds and looks nothing like it.

This year I went down the not-so-traditional path. In collaboration with Strongbow, I wanted to create a simple, delicious and easy to make festive Easter lunch that pairs well with the Strongbow Red Berries apple cider. Not to stray too far from the well beaten path, there is lamb and it’s roasted to perfection with garlic and thyme. The side dish for this roast is a nice platter of vegetables and a big chopped salad, but in lieu of the usual dessert of sweet bread, I went for a finger licking good and refreshing lemon poppy seed cake with strawberry filling and vanilla buttercream. This cake looks fancy, but trust me, it’s really easy to make.

I invite you to check the recipes below and the video, I hope you find some nice ideas you’ll want to incorporate in your Easter menu this year!

Roasted Garlic & Thyme Lamb Chops 

2kg/4lb lamb chops, with bone and fat

Sea salt and freshly milled pepper, to taste

3 Tblsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 Tblsp finely chopped parsley

1 Tblsp finely chopped thyme 

Pat the lamb chops dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper and massage the seasoning in. Place a large skillet over high heat, pour one Tblsp olive oil and fry the lamb chops for 2-3 minutes on each side. You might need to do this in batches if they don’t fit in the pan all at once. Transfer the seared lamb chops to a roasting pan. with rack. 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.  In a small bowl, mix together the garlic and the herbs, the two remaining Tblsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over the lamb chops and massage well with your hands, making sure they are well covered. Pop in the oven for 15 minutes, then cover with aluminium foil and roast for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and keep the foil on for another 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a serving dish. 

Oven Roasted Veg with Garlic & Rosemary

Two sweet potatoes

½kg/1 pound white new potatoes

½kg/1 pound carrots

3 celery stalks

One fennel

One apple

One whole garlic, cut in half, lengthwise

75ml/1/3 cup olive oil

Sea salt and freshly milled pepper, to taste

5-6 Rosemary sprigs

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Wash and dry the vegetables, peel the potatoes and the carrots. Cut the sweet potatoes, new potatoes, carrots and celery in , so that they are approximately the same size. Slice the fennel. Core the apple, but do not peel it, then cut it into 2,5cm/1 in. slices. In a large roasting dish, place all the vegetables, season with salt and pepper, then pour the olive oil and toss well, so that everything is coated. Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes, tossing everything well after the first 15 minutes of baking. Then add the apple slices and the rosemary sprigs, toss again and roast for another 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter.

Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake with Strawberry Filling and Vanilla Buttercream

For the cakes:

350g/1 3/4 cups coconut sugar (or any other sugar you like)

350g/1½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature

350g all-purpose flour

6 large free-range eggs

Zest from two lemons

50g/3 Tblsp poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 180C/350F and grease three 20cm/8in. cake pans with butter and line their bottoms with parchment paper. If you only have one pan, you will bake the cakes one at a time. In your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with the aid of a hand-held mixer, beat the sugar and the butter until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour, the lemon zest, the poppy seeds, then mix just until well combined. Divide the mixture equally between the three pans and bake on the center rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes. You will know that it’s ready when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

For the syrup:

300gr/1½ cups coconut sugar (or any other sugar you like)

Zest from one lemon

Place the water and a sugar in a small saucepan set over low heat. When the sugar has dissolved and the mixture starts to bubble, remove from the heat, add the lemon zest and leave to cool until using.

For the strawberry filling

200g/7 oz. strawberry jam

500g/1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced

Heat the jam in a pan set over low heat but don’t allow for it to boil. Remove from the hob, add the strawberry slices, toss to combine and allow to cool completely.

For the Vanilla Buttercream:

226g/1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

460g/3½ cups icing sugar

Seeds scraped from one vanilla pod

4 Tblsp whole milk

With the aid of a mixer, beat the butter until light and creamy. Add the vanilla and beat again. Add the icing sugar one Tblsp at a time and beat on low speed until well incorporated. Add the milk and beat on high speed for 5 minutes, until the buttercream is light and airy. Store in the fridge until using.

To assemble:

Place the first cake on a serving dish, brush a third of the syrup all over the cake to soak, making sure to cover the edges, then spread half of the strawberry filling on top. Place the second cake on top, soak with a third of the syrup, then spread 3 Tblsp of the vanilla buttercream on top. Place the third cake on top, soak with last third of the syrup, then spread the rest of the strawberry filling on top. Cover the entire cake with remaining vanilla buttercream and place in the fridge until serving. Decorate with flowers and/or berries.

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