With the weather now turning decidedly springy and the nights a little bit longer, I think it’s the right time to lighten up a little! Get out the patio furniture and the barbecue, buy yourself a nice bouquet of spring flowers to brighten up the house and start practicing those Easter recipes now while you still can as Easter will be here before you know it! Oh and don’t forget tomorrow is Mother’s Day, so why not make one of these beautiful cakes from Good housekeeping for your mum? She’ll love it!
If you’re looking for a special meal for Saturday night ‘date night’ after the kids go to bed, how about a Spanish feast? My favourite Spanish restaurant in London is, and has been for years, Barrafina. They are now in a couple locations but I like the raw, real Spanishness of the SoHo location, where, rather than booking a table, you queue at a narrow bar that runs down one side of the restaurant whilst munching on Padrón peppers (delicious cooked in olive oil until they blister and sprinkled with sea salt) and pan con tomate whilst sipping a glass of La Gitana sherry! Once seats are available, guests perch on stools at another bar where you can see the fresh ingredients and watch all the cooking action! I like to start with the tuna tartar with avocado and then move onto some razor clams. I’ll quite often also order the morcilla with piquillo peppers and maybe the tortilla espanola. I like it when the middle is still a bit gooey so try not to overcook it! If you still have room, the traditional end to this meal is a cup of strong Spanish coffee and a slice of Santiago tart. Unfortunately if you want to cook the genuine Barrafina recipes you will need to buy their cookbook (I highly recommend you do, it’s brilliant!), but I’ve found similar recipes for you to try. Buen provecho!
If you’re cooking for Easter, why not perfect some of these recipes this weekend so you’re ready for the big day? Perhaps you would like to try your hand at making homemade hot cross buns? If you do, you can use them to make this hot cross bun cake from Good Housekeeping magazine (or you can use shop bought buns). Or perhaps you would like to do something unexpected like this beautiful pink rhubarb pavlova.
Good Housekeeping Magazine also has a whole list of Easter treats (I especially like the spring chickens and the cotton tail candy cookies – how cute are they?!). And they also have some lovely Easter decorating ideas.
If you’re looking for some recipes to cook during the week, one of my all time favourite weekday dinners is this tuna pesto pasta. It is the simplest thing ever to make, takes twenty minutes max and is delicious! You can use either good quality pesto from a jar or make your own. I like to make a big batch of pesto and freeze it in individual portions so I always have some ready to use, but honestly, in this recipe, shop bought pesto is almost as good. The best part is, the kids will love it too! Winner!
To make the pesto (serves 4-6), blend until smooth:
• 2 bunches basil with stalks, chopped
• 1/4 cup almonds, pine nuts or cashews
• juice and zest of one lemon
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• handful of grated Parmesan
• salt and pepper to taste
For the tuna pesto pasta:
- 75-100g spaghetti or penne per person
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 can of pole & line caught tuna per person
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Extra Parmesan for topping
To make tuna pesto pasta, cook 75-100g per person dried spaghetti (or another pasta shape of your choice), according to the instructions on the packet. Drain, retaining a small amount of pasta cooking liquid. Add enough pesto to thoroughly coat the pasta, a splash of pasta cooking water and 1/2 can of good quality pole and line caught tuna per person. Add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and the zest and juice of one lemon and give it a good stir. Cook until warmed through over medium heat. Season with pepper and sprinkle with more Parmesan, if desired.
Another one of my favourite pesto pasta recipes is Delicious Magazine’s pasta with herb and almond pesto and king prawns. This fresh herb and almond pesto is made with tarragon and dill and this really sets it apart. And Delicious Magazine’s leek and pea dumpling curry is an easy way to bring a little bit of springtime into your weeknight meals.
I also recommend BBC Goodfood’s grilled mackerel with soy, lime and ginger. It’s delicious and definitely quick enough for a weeknight! I like to swap the red peppers for red chillies and sprinkle mine with a generous handful of coriander. I also pan fry my mackerel for a super crispy skin!
Hope you have a great weekend and coming week!