With the first Bank Holiday of the year just around the corner, we can’t think of a better excuse to gather loved ones together for a long weekend of fun, merriment and, quite frankly, a jolly good feast. The beginning of Spring also serves up an array of fabulous fresh new-season ingredients that are perfect for inspiring your Easter menu. Here are ways to enjoy three of them: watercress, beetroot and venison.
Entrée: Hot smoked salmon and watercress tart
(Recipe and image originally published on Feasting Feeder.)
April is the official start of watercress season and what better way to enjoy the first harvest than combining it with some salmon for a light and healthy starter. Not only is it tasty, watercress is full of iron and is celebrated for its cancer-preventing and immunity-boosting properties. We love to cut the tart up and serve on our Long Oak Sharing Board, garnished with a few sprigs of vibrant watercress for colour.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
275g plain flour
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
2 tbsp parmesan, grated
2 egg yolks
150g hot-smoked salmon fillets
150ml double cream
50g watercress, chopped
- In a food processor, add the plain flour, butter, mustard and parmesan and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add in the egg yolk and then a little cold water, if the mixture is too crumbly.
- On a floured surface, roll the pastry until it is £1-coin thickness and line a large round, or rectangular, fluted tart tin. Trim the excess pastry so it is flush to the top of the tin. Cover with cling film and chill for 30 minutes, or until firm.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6. Once the pastry is firm, line with baking paper, fill with baking beans and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the baking beans and paper and bake for a further 10 minutes, or until lightly golden.
- To prepare the salmon, place in an oven-proof dish, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20-35 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily. Remove from oven and wait until the fish is cool enough to handle.
- While the pastry cooks, combine the eggs with the double cream, watercress and lots of seasoning. Once the pastry is cooked, flake the hot-smoked salmon and lay it into the pastry case. Pour the egg mixture over the top and then bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the egg is set. Remove and allow to cool slightly before removing from the tin. Serve warm or cold with salad.
Main: Roast venison with warm lentil, squash and puha salad
(Recipe and image originally published on Stuff.)
Lamb may be the customary go-to meat for Easter, but why not try switching it up this year with new-season venison instead. It’s often thought of as a big, hearty choice, but it can also be served light and fresh, especially when accompanied with seasonal vegetables. Serve it on our large Carving Board for a show-stopping Sunday lunch centrepiece.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
100ml sweet sherry (or red wine)
30ml sherry vinegar (or good-quality red wine vinegar)
600g leg or backstrap venison
1 gem squash (or other squash variety), halved, deseeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1⁄2 lemon
1⁄2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1⁄2 tsp ground cumin seeds
1⁄4 tsp smoked paprika
100g Puy lentils
2 tbs butter, plus a couple of knobs for the glaze
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
100g puha (or use baby spinach)
3 tbs freshly chopped flat-leafed parsley leaves
- Chop the bay leaf, thyme and rosemary, and mix with the sherry and vinegar to form a marinade. Cover the venison with the marinade and leave to marinate at room temperature for about an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas 7. Rub the squash halves with salt, one tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice, ground coriander, ground cumin and paprika. Roast for about 25 minutes or until charred and tender. Allow the squash to cool then use a spoon to scrape out the flesh. Set the squash aside and reduce the oven to 190°C/gas 5.
- Put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then simmer over medium heat, until the lentils are tender but still have a bit of bite. Drain and season the lentils with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Set a frying pan over medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, add two cloves of chopped garlic. When the garlic starts to brown, add the whole cumin seeds and stir while they cook for 15-20 seconds and until the garlic becomes crispy.
- Pour the garlic, cumin and butter over the lentils and gently coat them. Keep the lentils warm, adding a little hot water, or stock, if they become dry.
- Remove the venison from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and generously season the venison with salt. Set a heavy-based cast iron, or griddle pan, over high heat and add the remaining one tablespoon of oil. Sear the venison on both sides to get a caramelised crust then transfer the meat to the 190°C/gas 5 oven. Roast for around three minutes, remove from the oven, cover with foil and set aside to rest for five minutes.
- Combine the squash, puha, lentils and parsley. Check the seasoning and add salt, pepper and more lemon juice if necessary.
- To serve, mix the venison juices from the pan and the remaining marinade in a hot pan, and cook to reduce the liquid by half. Remove from the heat and whisk a knob of butter into the juices. When it’s completely melted, add another small knob and keep whisking. The juices will thicken up to form a silky sauce to cling to the meat. Slice the venison against the grain, aiming for 1cm slices, and glaze with the sauce. Serve alongside the warm lentil, squash and puha salad.
Dessert: Chocolate and beetroot cake
(Recipe and image originally published on Delicious.)
It wouldn’t be Easter without eating your own weight in chocolate. For a seasonal and healthy twist on a traditional cake, this Jamie Oliver recipe features delicious beetroot to produce a fabulously sweet and moist bake. Serve on our elegant Artisan Stoneware Plates and keep leftovers for afternoon tea the next day.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes
350g beetroots, scrubbed
200g dark chocolate, melted, plus extra shaved to serve
3 eggs, separated
3cm piece of ginger, finely grated
165ml olive oil
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
150g plain flour
2 tbs cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp each ground allspice and cinnamon
1 tsp salt flakes
For dark chocolate icing
250g unsalted butter, softened
270g icing sugar
175g dark chocolate, melted
200g dark chocolate
200ml double cream
115g golden syrup
- Cook the beetroot in a large saucepan of boiling water for 40 minutes, or until tender. Drain and cool slightly then, wearing gloves, peel skin from beetroot.
- Place beetroot in a food processor and whiz until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool slightly.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Grease and line a 22cm x 10cm (1.5L capacity) loaf pan with baking paper.
- Add the chocolate, egg yolks, ginger, honey, oil, vanilla seeds and orange zest and juice to the cooled beetroot, and whisk to combine. Fold in flour, polenta, cocoa, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon and one teaspoon of salt flakes.
- Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks form, then fold into the beetroot mixture until just combined. Pour batter into pan and bake for one hour or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- For the icing, using a stand mixer, beat butter until pale, scraping down the sides with a spatula. Sift in icing sugar and beat for one minute or until combined. Add chocolate and beat for two minutes, or until glossy.
- Make the drizzle by simmering all ingredients in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring until thick and glossy. Cool slightly.
- Use a palette knife to spread the icing over the cake. Spoon over the drizzle, allowing it to run down the sides of the cake. Then scatter over extra shaved chocolate to serve.