An Easter Barbecue

PUBLISHED: 12:36 23 March 2011 | UPDATED: 19:04 20 February 2013

An Easter Barbecue

An Easter Barbecue

For Miranda Gardiner, Easter heralds the time for the first barbecue of the year. Here she demonstrates how to make special Easter foodie treats for all the family

For Miranda Gardiner, Easter heralds the time for the first barbecue of the year. Here she demonstrates how to make special Easter foodie treats for all the family

My three children probably look forward to Easter more than any other celebration in the year including their individual birthdays as the week leading up to it seems to be full of egg hunts and basket-making activities at school. On Easter Sunday at home in Bigbury-on-Sea, the Easter bunny does his thing, and they get a seemingly unlimited supply of more chocolate. From single-estate style gourmet eggs to straight milky candy I have a soft spot for Buttons eggs theyre all appreciated.

Breakfast gets knocked on the head on Easter Sunday, as the happiness hormones kick in and choco-mania ensues for a few hours; but a deeply savoury lunch, that marks the first barbecue of the year is something not to be missed. We grill a leg of lamb with plenty of fresh rosemary I grow a hedge of it around the barbecue area with side dishes of herby smashed baby potatoes and creamy minty peas with feta. Mini individual vanilla bean and buttermilk loaves come on a tray with the coffee, plus there is ice cream on the side is at your discretion.

This menu sounds a bit fancy, which is easy to equate with it being complicated, but the reality is that you could make and decorate the vanilla bean and buttermilk mini loaves with your children the day before.

Barbeque Lamb with Rosemary

1 Season the lamb generously with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Make cuts into the lamb and spike with plenty of fresh rosemary.

2 Start by grilling the leg over a medium-high direct heat to sear the surface. This will give the meat a crusty surface and add texture. Grill for about 15 minutes, then move to indirect grilling and cut the temperature down to a medium heat. Watch for flare-ups during the direct grilling phase.

3 The leg of lamb will need about 20 minutes per pound to cook on a low temperature. When the lamb has finished cooking, give it 10-15 minutes to rest.

4 Meanwhile you can put the baby potatoes on, and cook the peas (they can all be done together in about 10 minutes). I made this meal, slightly up-scaling the quantities for 12 people recently, and drank wine and chatted while the veggies were cooking and laid the table. Its one of the simplest but tastiest meals weve had. I like to cook the lamb slowly on a low temperature, which I find is comforting and is enjoyed by all ages. If its looking like a cold day, and spring hasnt sprung, then I might substitute cake for Jam Roly pudding!

Minty creamy pea, chard andfeta salad

The perfect partner for barbecued lamb

250g frozen peas
Small bunch of mint, torn
150ml double cream
75g feta cheese
50g pine nuts

1 Boil the peas. Meanwhile, warm a serving bowl. Drain the peas and stir through the mint leaves.

2 Tip into the serving bowl and pour the cream into the middle of the dish, leaving a pool.

3 Crumble the feta over and scatter the pine nuts.

Herby smashed baby potatoes

500g baby potatoes
2 tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp cider vinegar
Salt and pepper
Small bunch of chives, thyme, rosemary, finely chopped

1 Boil the potatoes in a large pan of salted water.

2 While they cook, in a small bowl, mix the mustard with the crushed garlic.

3 Stir in the cider vinegar and olive oil to make a dressing. Add the herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

4 Drain the potatoes when cooked. With the back of a spoon, gently crush the potatoes, to open up the inside.

5 Pour over the herby dressing and stir through until it coats all the potatoes.

Vanilla bean and buttermilk loaves

These deeply vanilla and damp buttermilk mini loaves redress the seasonal chocolate balance, but play up to the pastel theme that seems to be the language of contemporary Easter. We eat them with coffee and caramel ice cream, after our Easter lunch of barbecue lamb and minty peas. These are like the classical antithesis to the perennially popular, romantic cupcakes. Whipping up the cake mix takes a maximum of 10 minutes. Then you can let the children loose with icing and sprinkles.

Makes 10 mini loaves
250g butter, soft
250g caster sugar
4 eggs
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp vanilla paste
3 tbsp buttermilk
For the icing
250g icing sugar
1-2 tbsp boiling water
pastel sprinkles

1 Preheat the oven to 180C (Gas 4). Prepare mini loaf tin or arrange loaf cases on a baking sheet.

2 Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Stir in the vanilla paste and buttermilk. Spoon the mixture into the cases and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Leave to cool completely before icing.

3 Sift the icing sugar into a cereal bowl and add the boiling water gradually until it forms a pouring consistency. Dribble the icing across in lines and immediately sprinkle with decorations.

Panettone layer cake with ricotta and peaches

Layer cakes dont normally get my endorsement, but this is a cheat. It might even help you use up a well-meaning Panettone that has lingered in the cupboard since Christmas. This cake relies on a bought Panettone loaf that gets cut into layers and filled with an indulgent ricotta cream. If the peaches need a helping hand at this time of year, then gently fry them in a blob of butter with a sprinkling of sugar to gently caramelise.

Serves 8-10
1 900g Panettone or Pandoro cake
500g ricotta
50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
50g glac orange, finely chopped
50g roasted almonds, roughly chopped
1 tsp vanilla paste/extract
1 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp Grand Marnier
4 peaches cut into thin wedges

1 Using a serrated knife, cut the top off the panettone, trim the crust gently from the cylinder and cut into four 1cm thick slices.

2 Put the ricotta into a mixing bowl. Add the chocolate, glac orange, almonds, icing sugar, vanilla and half the Grand Marnier and stir into the ricotta. Arrange the first slice of panettone on its final serving plate, the spread of the ricotta mixture onto the first layer, then repeat until you finish with a layer of ricotta.

3 Combine the peaches with the remaining Grand Marnier and arrange a third of them on top of the cake. Serve the rest of the peaches as you serve. This cake is best eaten on the day it is made.


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