Strawberries, Blueberries and Mango with a Raspberry Coulis (serves 4)
There are fruit salads and fruit salads. The basic store bought, pre-cut fruit variety is great for convenience but a standard mixture of melon, pineapple, strawberries and maybe some blueberries, all very healthy but not exciting. The fruit salads I grew up with were actually all from tinned fruit, which back in the day was quite exotic! Then they progressed to freshly cut up apples, pears, grapes and orange segments (often tough). I love combining different fruits into a more interesting combination. I was in a restaurant once and ordered fruit salad as it came drizzled with raspberry and mango coulis. The salad itself was OK but it was transformed by having the fruit sauces on top of it. It is as easy as taking a packet of frozen raspberries, de-frosting them and pureeing them with a little agave syrup/nectar in the food processor. I push the raspberry puree through a sieve to get rid of the pips.
10 oz frozen raspberries – defrosted
1 teasp. agave syrup/nectar (add more if needed, depending on your sweet tooth)
16 oz ripe strawberries – cut into small pieces
6 oz blueberries
16 0z frozen mango – defrosted
Puree defrosted raspberries and agave syrup/nectar in food processor and push resulting puree through a sieve then place in a bowl.
Combine rest of ingredients in a serving dish.
Serve on plates with raspberry spooned on top.
Avocado, cucumber, celery and scallion salad (serves 4)
A great combination with some crunch, a nice balance of flavors and pretty to look at, being all green. You could also add chicken or tuna into the mix. For a dressing I use a basic vinaigrette – red wine vinegar, olive oil and Dijon mustard – 1 tbsp. vinegar, 3 tbsp. olive oil, 1 teasp mustard. Put the mustard in first, add vinegar and stir till mixed, then add oil (best done in a jar with a lid on it so you can give it a good shake and it will emulsify). I learned this from a French friend when I lived in France – so simple and tasty and sometimes I add garlic too.
1 avocado – diced
1/2 an English cucumber – diced
2 sticks celery – diced
1 x bunch of scallions/spring onions – finely sliced
Only dice avocado just before you are going to serve the salad or it will turn brown, unless you are serving the salad with a lemon dressing. The lemon juice will prevent the avocado from discoloring.
Place all ingredients in a salad bowl and toss with dressing.
There are so many deviled eggs recipes out there, many with other ingredients added in – bacon, olives, you name it. I love deviled eggs – the traditional kind – and this is what I am taking as my contribution to a friend’s house tonight. They are easy to prepare and easy to eat. I used Colman’s mustard which is much stronger than Dijon mustard – it is somewhat of an acquired taste unless you grew up in England. Deviled eggs are good as hors d’oeuvres (or try deviled quail’s eggs), they are also good for a picnic and cater to vegetarians. These eggs were a big success and I was asked for my recipe. Extra ingredient – a sprinkling of celery salt.
6 eggs – hard boiled
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1/2 teasp. Colman’s mustard (this has mustard flour in it but it didn’t upset me)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Boil eggs until hard boiled
When cool, peel and cut in half
Mix mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper together, then add yolks and mash.
Put this mixture back into the egg and sprinkle with celery salt.
Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary Smeared All Over It
For me, Easter isn’t Easter without roast lamb (and mint sauce and redcurrant jelly). I smear a rosemary and garlic mixture all over the leg of lamb, pop it in oven, basting once in a while.
Place 3 tbsp. of rosemary leaves, 2 large cloves of garlic (chopped) and 2 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil in food processor. Smear over lamb (you may not need all of the mixture depending on the size of your leg of lamb). Pour another tbsp. of olive oil over lamb and place in oven.
Spanish Omelette Muffins (makes 6)
Finally, finally I have made a Spanish omelette that somewhat resembles the piece I ate outside in a lovely square in Madrid. I have made various attempts over the years and have always produced a bland version with no real taste. I was a little stuck for things to make as there was not much in my fridge. I mixed eggs, scallions/spring onions, garlic and cooked new potatoes together and poured 2 tbsp. of the mixture into each of the 6 muffin molds in my fantastically non-stick muffin tray (made from silicone – a brilliant investment). If you have a mini-muffin mold, the mixture will stretch to 12 muffins. The lovely thing about these little omelette muffins is that they are perfect for a picnic/lunchbox/hors d’oeuvres (especially the mini-muffins) and perfect for all ages. You can switch around the ingredients – spinach, tomato or whatever springs to mind. I made them for my book club and they were clamoring for the recipe and they are still unusual enough that people are intrigued.
Extra Virgin olive oil – for greasing muffin molds
4 x new potatoes – cut into small chunks
4 eggs – cracked and whisked
1 x bunch of scallions – finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Grease the muffin molds with olive oil.
Cook new potatoes until just tender – about 10 minutes.
Crack eggs and whisk with a fork.
Add finely chopped scallions, salt and pepper and cooked potatoes.
Pour 2 tbsp. mixture into each muffin mold and cook in oven at 350 degrees for around 15 minutes (until top is firm).
Vitamin Soup (serves 4)
Vitamin soup is packed full of vitamins – A, B9 C, E and K – and so is really good for you and is quick to make. I put broccoli, spinach and watercress together with a base of onion and my homemade chicken stock (vegetarians, substitute vegetable stock). For some reason I will only make chicken stock from the most organic chicken I can find – this one was from Whole Foods. If you are lucky enough to have a butcher near you he should know where his chickens come from. My mother, the great cook, has a butcher who rears his own cattle so he definitely knows where his stuff comes from and he hangs it for 3 weeks! She also gets her eggs from a farm which looks like a film set for Beatrix Potter. To get to the porch where the eggs are kept you have to negotiate the car around the free range chickens, ducks and geese! You pick out your eggs and hopefully you have remembered to bring your own egg box and are trusted to put your money into a jar. That was a little digression!
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion – diced
4 oz each of broccoli (cut into florets), watercress and baby spinach
3 – 4 cups chicken/vegetable stock
Place oil in cast iron casserole dish (I use Le Creuset) and season with salt and pepper.
When sizzling, add onion and cook until softened but not browned.
Add stock to onion and then add broccoli, spinach and watercress.
Bring to boil and then simmer for around 10 minutes until broccoli is ‘al dente’.
Blend in food processor and result will be delicious and a lovely color of green.
Mediterranean Vegetables (serves 4)
I like the idea of ratatouille but am not overly keen on egg plant/aubergine. So, I decided to accompany my lamb chops with a tomato, zucchini/courgette and minced garlic mixture. It was very flavorful (and you could always bulk it up with a can of cannellini beans. Add at end of cooking). Use in-season tomatoes or else you will be left with bland vegetables. Delicious with lamb, chicken, beef, fish – well anything really – and if you don’t serve alongside meat or fish the recipe is vegetarian/vegan.
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large garlic clove – minced
3 medium size zucchini/courgettes – sliced
6 oz cherry tomatoes – halved
Put seasoned olive oil and minced garlic in a large zip lock bag.
Add veg. and shake bag so veg. are covered in oil mixture.
Place veg. on a metal tray and cook in oven for around 30 minutes (turn veg. over at 15 minutes) until zucchini/courgettes are cooked through but not too tender and the tomatoes are weeping juices.
If you want to add cannellini beans, do so at this point and stir them in.