Easter eggstravaganza

Okay, so I don’t even know why I decided to cook so much food this weekend, considering I knew that I would be eating one or two teeny weeny bits of chocolate egg … but I did, and in between bouts of Easter egg gorging (the less said, the better), the following made reasonably balanced meals.

Smoked haddock with leek risottoGood Friday smoked haddock with leek risotto

2 undyed smoked haddock fillets (skinned), a handful of cherry tomatoes, enough arborio rice for 2 people, 3 leeks, some butter and olive oil, a spoonful of lazy garlic, approx 2 pints of chicken stock (made with 2 x oxo cubes in this instance, although fresh or fish stock would be better), parmesan cheese (approx half a small wedge)

Soften a chopped onion, sliced leeks and some garlic in olive oil and a little butter in a large saucepan for a few minutes until translucent and then add the risotto rice, coat in the oil and slowly add chicken stock, stirring all the while. It takes around 20 minutes, so after around 10 minutes when it’s starting to look like it is getting there, pop the haddock and tomatoes into a baking tray and cook in a medium oven (180) for 10 minutes. The fish should become firm to touch and the tomatoes should be getting ready to pop. By now your risotto should be ready, so chuck in a good handful of parmesan, spoon onto plates and add some more grated parmesan for good measure, and lay the fish and tomatoes on top. Some wilted spinach would be nice if you have any … or some parsley.

Chicken pascaleAnnette’s chicken pascale for Saturday night dinner for two

2 chicken breasts, a pack of streaky bacon, 2 skinned sausages, 3 courgettes, 1 red pepper, 2 red onions, a handful of cherry tomatoes, a spoon of lazy garlic, a shake of thyme, salt and pepper, a splash of olive oil.

My friend in Ireland keeps talking about this chicken dish she gets from her local butcher – stuffed chicken breast wrapped in bacon. I am not sure there is anything not to like in that combination (things cannot fail to be improved by the application of bacon and/or cheese), and I knew Andrew would love it. However, the original Irish version comes in a mushroom sauce (bleurgh) so I had to think of something else to add some moisture. The result is probably my new favourite dinner.

Roughly chop red onion, courgette and peppers and mix with garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and a few cherry tomatoes. Slice open a chicken breast 2/3 of the way through and stuff with some sausage meat (approx 1 small sausage’s worth), then wrap in streaky bacon. Your Hulk-sized chicken breast should lay on top of the veg, and should be cooked for around 45 minutes, 200 degrees. Turn once, and give the veg a shake any time it looks like it might be catching. Serve with some crusty bread to mop up the juices.

Sunday mega meal

Onion Tarte TatinOnion tart tatin

Approx 6-8 red onions, a splash of olive oil, a spoon of lazy garlic, some thyme, a couple of splashes of balsamic vinegar, half a slab of puff pastry, pine nuts, soft goats cheese, basil leaves

Sautee the onions, garlic and thyme in olive oil until softened, then add some balsamic vinegar and some sugar if the onions need it. Top with the rolled pastry and bake in the oven at around 170 for 20 minutes until the pastry is cooked. Leave for a few minutes to cool slightly and then turn out onto a place and top with pine nuts, soft goats cheese and torn garlic. Could serve 6 as a starter of 4 with salad for a light lunch, so we greedy pigs have piles of leftovers. Then we had …

Lamb shank stewLamb shank stew

2 lamb shanks, 2 white onions, a tin of tomatoes, a packet of lardons, a couple of spoons of lazy garlic, some worcestershire sauce, some tomato paste, a good glug or three of port, as many carrots as you need to get rid of, a couple of leeks

Brown the shanks all over in some oil (not olive, as I discovered that makes everything nasty and smoky for hours), and then remove and fry the onions, garlic and lardons in the same oil (unless you burnt it like me). Then add the port to the pan and let it bubble away for a few minutes, and add all the other ingredients. Pop the shanks back in and slow cook in an oven at 160 degrees for 2-3 hours. The meat should then be falling off the bone. Ideally, leave it until the next day to reheat and eat.

Jam roly polyJam roly poly and custard

I used Nigella’s recipe from the BBC website because I really didn’t fancy steaming a pudding, and I had never actually made a roly poly before. It’s extremely simple to make, although mine ended up looking a right mess when it was cooked – I think I may have rolled the pastry slightly too thin, and the jam was a bit too warm when I spread it onto the pastry. I used vegetarian suet which came out fine – I would use it again for dumplings etc. The roly poly had a nice crunchy top and gooey inside.

I made custard using 4 egg yolks whisked up with 25g caster sugar and 2 teaspoons of cornflour. Onto this I poured hot milk (1 pint of whole milk and a splash of cream) and some vanilla bean paste. Then slowly heated it until it thickens, although the cornflour didn’t thicken it as much as I expected …

Now is it any wonder that along with my 1.2kg Easter Egg (from these chaps, courtesy of Andrew), I feel like I have put on a stone since the weekend?!

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