We might all be stuck in lockdown but a special celebration is still in order with these Easter recipes.
We are in the middle of Easter, and today I feel the need for celebration. This is entirely justified by the joy and hope that Easter brings us.
For the majority of people, this special Easter weekend will be spent in a locked down state, or shared with those in our bubble, and Easter this year, like last year, will not be the gathering of family and friends that it usually is.
Yet celebration is still in order, for Easter itself as well as for the approach of a more relaxed lockdown, hopefully easing into a full return to more normal living, all thanks to the vaccines.
So, what to eat?
Indulgence is the key, and I suggest anything at all which appeals to you, at the same time avoiding anything which necessitates last-minute kitchen activity.
Convenience is the required ingredient for any successful celebration feast!
We will be having roast pork loin, with a shallot, prune and Madeira accompaniment.
With the pork we will have mashed Rooster potatoes, very well hand-whisked with butter, milk and seasoned with salt, black pepper and nutmeg.
We will have sliced sugarsnap peas stir-fried briefly, with garlic and diced ginger and a dash of toasted sesame oil and a couple of tablespoons of soya sauce.
We will also have cauliflower, broken into florets and brushed with olive oil, roasted in a hot oven for 35-40 minutes.
When buying the pork loin, choose the best quality pork you can – raised in Scotland – and choose a slightly larger piece because then you can have it cold for lunch or supper on Monday.
I cut the meat from the bone, but roast it on the bone, which helps prevent shrinkage at the same time as giving more flavour.
For pud, I’ll make one of my favourites, lemon cream rice, with rhubarb and orange compote.
It combines two flavours which I love – vanilla and lemon.
It is a delicious accompaniment to all fruits, as in this case rhubarb flavoured with orange as it cooks on the stove, or as the summer goes on, with soft fruits such as strawberries or raspberries.
Roast pork loin with shallot prunes and Madeira
- 2kg piece of pork loin, or bigger, if you like
For the sauce:
- 6 large shallots, each skinned and halved lengthways
- 2 tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil – I use Cullisse rapeseed oils
- 50g butter
- 1 tsp salt, about 15 grinds of black pepper
- 1 rounded tbsp flour
- 6 soft prunes, chopped
- 150ml Madeira
- 600ml vegetable or chicken stock
- Make the sauce the day before. Put the oil and butter into a wide shallow pan and heat till the butter has melted into the oil.
- Season with salt and black pepper and add the halved shallots to the pan.
Shake, to coat each half of shallot with buttery oil.
- Cook with the pan half covered, and shaking it from time to time, till the shallots are completely softened – this will take 30-35 minutes. They should be collapsed and just turning colour.
- Beware having the heat too high and the shallots burning. When they are soft you stick a knife into them, stir in the flour, cook for a minute, then add the Madeira and stock, and the chopped prunes, stir till the sauce bubbles.
- Taste, and add more salt and pepper if you think it is needed. Cool and store in the fridge, covered, till the following day.
- For the pork loin: With a very sharp knife, cut the pork meat from the bones, holding the blade of the knife close to the bones, or ask your butcher to do this for you! Replace the meat on the bones.
- Hopefully the skin will still be on the meat, to make delicious crunchy crackling.
Score the skin in lines about 1cm apart, using a very sharp knife. Rub the skin with salt and grind black pepper liberally over it.
- Roast the loin of pork in a hot oven, 200C/180C Fan/400F, Gas Mark 6 for 25 minutes per 450g.
- Take it out of the oven 30 mins before serving, on to a heated plate, and loosely cover with foil to help retain heat. Slice before serving.
- Reheat the sauce and serve, spooned beside each helping of sliced roast pork loin with a strip of crackling.
Lemon rice cream
- 50g round grained pudding rice
- 750ml full fat milk
- 75g caster sugar
- 1 vanilla pod, sliced in half lengthways.
- Finely grated rind of two lemons.
- 450mls double cream, whipped, but not too stiffly.
- Put the rice, sugar and milk and split vanilla pod into a saucepan over moderate heat.
- Stir from time to time, and cook gently till the milk is slowly absorbed by the rice, which tenderises as it cooks. This should take about 45 minutes and cannot be hurried.
- Tip the contents of the pan into a bowl, and leave to cool.
- Lift out the vanilla pod out and scrape the contents, the tiny sticky seeds, back into the rice.
- Discard the vanilla pod.
- Wash and dry the lemons before finely grating their entire rinds into the rice.
Lastly, fold the whipped cream into the lemony vanilla rice, and scrape the rice into a serving bowl, or if you prefer, divide between individual glasses.
For the rhubarb and orange compote:
- 1 kg rhubarb, weighed when the stalks are trimmed at either end and chopped.
- 120g soft brown sugar
- Finely grated rind of two oranges plus their juice.
- Put the chunks of rhubarb into an ovenproof dish with the soft brown sugar.
- Wash and dry the oranges, then finely grate the rinds.
- Add the rinds and juice to the dish.
- Cover the dish with baking parchment and bake in a moderate oven – 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 25-30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Serve along with the lemon rice cream.
More in this series…