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This week's seasonal recommendation

 

What to cook for Easter?

Sun, 9 April, 2017

I keep my fingers crossed that the gorgeous weather we're having in England at the moment lasts into the Easter weekends - but it seems it's not to be. 'Reasonable weather' is the best we can hope for: how insipid does that sound?

So probably not an Easter Sunday lunch al fresco, with the proper outdoor chocolate egg hunt. Either way, we should have some jolly cheerful food.

Lamb is traditional for the Easter Sunday - and I never know if we can count on the new season British lamb or are they going to fob us off with New Zealand import - not that I have anything against New Zealand, au contraire, as a lot of global billionaires buying property there would agree. Leg or shoulder? Roasted leg of lamb should be pink and succulent and the shoulder goes in the oven on Friday morning. That's a joke, but slow and low cooking will save you washing knives - the diners won't need them.

Ham is another option, and ham or gammon shanks, or hocks, may have confusing monikers but cost appealingly little. And you know what? I've seen new potatoes in the market; the best in the world Jersey Royals. It's an early start to the season so make the best of them. How about poaching them in oil with lemon and thyme? No, it isn't a ridiculous idea and no, it's not a waste of a nice potato. Just give it a go.

And so we come to the main part of the programme: Easter baking. Simnel cake is the traditional English cake for Easter or Mothering Sunday, and I have both the butter cake as well as the yeast dough recipe version. Both with marzipan!

Sedgemoor biscuits are a traditional Easter bake from Somerset and I love anything West Country. They are worth making several times a year to be honest, not just for Easter.

Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! By now you should have baked a dozen - or at least eaten a few. This recipe makes completely the best HCBs of all.

And finally - not for the faint hearted. Colomba Pasquale, Easter Dove is the traditional Italian bread, whose sisters Panettone and Pandoro turn up at Christmas.  It should be baked in the dove-shaped (or so they say) case and it's fickle like anything. A real challenge - but if it turns out well it makes it worth all the efforts. Happy Easter!

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