For the Easter holidays this past weekend, James’ sister and her family asked us to house-sit for 3 nights. They own 2 border collies, 1 cat, lots of chicken, duck, geese, 2 alpacas, pigs, and 3 ponies so I was beyond excited to spend the weekend in the countryside! And because they have a huge, fully equipt kitchen I was very excited to get to cook in a kitchen with windows and so much counter space.
Our kitchen in London is big for a 1-bed flat, but it’s definitely not the same as a kitchen in a big family home. So, I thought it would be nice to invite James’ parents and grandparents over for Easter Lunch since they cook for us everytime we visit. Once the time and date were confirmed, I did panic a bit after I realised I’d be cooking for his family so I started my research on Pinterest to decide what I would be cooking for them.
In America, it is more traditional to have ham for Easter dinner so that was my first choice for the main protein but I had never cooked a big chunk of ham so I wasn’t completely comfortable with the idea. I knew I’d be cooking a roast dinner since it is quite traditional here in England to serve a roast for a family gathering but I wanted it to be special and not so predictable. And after hours of “Pinteresting” (yes it’s a thing I do😅) to find the right amount of sides with different varieties of vegetables, I decided on what I would be cooking on Easter Sunday. The menu was:
- Deviled eggs
- Goat cheese rolled in seasonal herbs with crackers
- Challah bread and butter
- Roast rump
- Duchess potato
- Green beans tossed in garlic and walnuts
- Baked cauliflower in a broccoli cheese sauce
- Red wine and apple braised red cabbage
- Asparagus tart
- Steamed carrots
- Lemon surprise cake with strawberries and blueberries
I have to say that this wasn’t my original menu as I was also going to do a sweet pea soup as a part of the appetiser but I took it out last minute when I was getting a bit stressed. I also wasn’t planning on doing a big dessert because James’ Nanny had offered to bring a trifle but she couldn’t make it so I decided to bake a cake as it was a special occasion. Now that I’ve written down everything I made, damn, that was a lot of food I cooked! But thankfully, everything went smoothly, tasting great if I do say so myself.
So, I thought I’d share the recipes I used to pull off my first Easter lunch/dinner! My photography skills are poor so I do apologise in advance for the crooked photos with not so good lighting!🙈
For the deviled eggs, I used the recipe from YouTuber/food blogger Chef John. I have been following him since I first got into cooking and his recipes are always so delicious so I knew I couldn’t go wrong using his recipe. Here is the link to his recipe: http://foodwishes.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/recipe-666-deviled-eggs-damn-these-were.html I made a few changes to his recipe by garnishing with fresh dill instead of candied peppers, used lemon juice instead of vinegar, and left out the sriracha. I had only made deviled eggs once but this recipe was super easy to make and tasted great too.
Next, for the goat cheese and crackers, I stole the idea from Entertaining with Beth who is also a YouTuber/food blogger. She is a home cook who loves entertaining and is the person who inspired/introduced me to love entertaining as well. The recipe can be found here: http://kincommunity.tumblr.com/post/46022017776/beths-easter-sunday-lunch The original recipe uses fresh dill, parsley, and chives but I didn’t have any chives on hand so I just used fresh dill and parsley. And because the crackers and the cheese is on the savoury side, I thought it would be a nice touch to add a bit of different texture and sweetness through some grapes. I have to say that I am not a big fan of goat cheese but this was really tasty! The texture and flavour combinations were all on point! I also let the goat cheese come up to room temperature before serving, so it was much easier to spread on the crackers.
And before moving on to the main course, we all had a slice (or two!) of some homemade Challah bread. Challah bread is a Jewish eggy sweet bread that always looks very impressive due to its braid. For this bread, I found a random recipe on food.com that had a lot of great reviews so I thought I would follow this recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/famous-challah-90765 It turned out to look very impressive because I made my Challah bread a 6-braid Challah instead of the less-impressive 3-braid Challah but I forgot to put salt in the flour mixture before forming the dough so I had to try to knead in the salt once I had already formed the dough. Because of that, the bread was under-salted (as expected) and wasn’t as tasty as I hoped for. The blandness was easily covered with a bit of salted butter so I wasn’t very happy with the end result, tastewise. But other than that, the texture was nice and fluffy like any normal yeast-based bread so I would definitely make it again, making sure to add the salt before forming the dough!
Before moving on to the main course, let’s talk about the dessert as I think the main course will have to be introduced in the next blog post.
I usually don’t bake big cakes because it takes time and is a threat to my sweet-tooth, but I thought why not! It’s Easter! With any desserts I make this time of year, I love to incorporate some sort of fresh fruit to all the desserts I make. So I decided to bake a lemon cake with fresh fruit. Because there wasn’t much all-purpose flour but a lot of self-raising flour in the kitchen, I baked a cake with self-raising flour for the first time and it made my life a lot easier! I found a recipe on AllRecipes with a few ingredients and a lot of great reviews so I decided to give it a go with this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/17398/grandmas-moist-cake/?internalSource=amp&referringContentType=amp%20recipe&clickId=amp_directions
I added the juice from a lemon and a lime to add a bit of citrusy flavour to the cake batter itself and also made a simple syrup using citrus juice instead of water that I brushed on each layer of the cake for extra flavour and moistness. For the filling/cheat frosting, I whipped up a tub of heavy cream till stiff peaks then added half a tub of cream cheese for added stability with some sugar and lemon zest. Since the cake was on the sweeter side, I only added about 3-4 tablespoons of sugar to the filling. I came up with this frosting a few years ago because it requires way less sugar, fat, and effort than a normal buttercream frosting and it also keeps very well at room temperature for a few days.
Because the cake was going to be 4 layers and quite heavy, I made holes in the center of the two middle layers of the cake to fill with some fresh blueberries to make it a surprise cake. I also didn’t coat the exterior of the cake with my cheat frosting to keep it a bit lighter. I then made a white chocolate ganache to cover the top layer of the cake. For some reason, the ganache was too thin and got soaked into the cake so I covered the top layer with fresh strawberries. I’m so glad I added the strawberries because the tall layered cake definitely needed extra freshness in the form of fruit.
So that is it for now, since I don’t want this post to get too long and boring! I will share the recipes that I used for the main course in my next post (hopefully tomorrow). Till then!