We love food like we love the South and West. And luckily the West Country is a good place to find food! With Easter on the horizon, and the sun shining outside the office window, we thought we’d share our own favourite things to eat at this time of year.
It’s nearly Pancake Day!
Shrove Tuesday always falls in February, the day before Christians start Lent. According to Christian tradition it is the last chance to indulge before forty days of abstinence.
Pip, one of our Property Managers, makes the best pancakes for us here in the office and she’s agreed to share her secret French recipe:
- 250g flour, dash oil, pinch salt, 4 eggs, pint milk
- Mix it all together and put a knob (of butter) in frying pan each time you make a pancake and make sure the butter is really hot.
Beckii in the Property Department likes to go all out with these surprisingly healthy Banoffee Pancakes:
- Add 1 level tablespoon of caster sugar, a few drops of vanilla essence and one 150g pot of natural fat-free fromage frais to your pancake mix (above) and chill before getting flipping.
- Chop up two bananas and mix with a 200g pot of Toffee Mullerlight yoghurt.
- Serve two folded pancakes on a plate, top with the banana mix and dust with cocoa powder. Delicious!
Once you’ve made it through the forty days to Easter, Good Friday is traditionally celebrated with Hot Cross Buns.
Kate works in the Marketing Department and, according to Liz in the Booking Office, her mum makes the best Hot Cross Buns. Kate got on the phone, and her mum very kindly dropped in her special recipe:
- 3lb strong white flour, 4oz echo margarine, 4oz butter, 6oz sugar, pinch of salt, 1 ½ tablespoons mixed spice, 5 eggs, 2oz fresh yeast, ½ lb currants, 3oz peel, 1 ¼ pints of milk.
- Mix all ingredients together and set aside while the dough rises. When it has doubled in size, knock it back (get rid of the air by kneading a little bit more until it is soft, smooth and elastic again). Divide the mixture into round balls and put a cross of pastry on top of each. Place them on lined or greased baking trays and allow to rise again.
- Cook for about 30 minutes at 180 degrees (time may vary in different ovens) and when cooked sugar wash (sugar dissolved in a little water) the tops of cakes. Enjoy!
Easter Sunday is, in a modern world, a time of chocolate Easter Eggs. Eggs are associated with new life and are traditionally painted bright colours of Spring.
Jacqui, one of our Property Managers, remembers ‘a family tradition for me as a child was dying boiled eggs in bright colours and wrapping them with ribbons or painting on faces – all to be served for Easter Sunday breakfast’. This is easy and fun to do, although a bit messy! Simply hard boil some eggs and leave to cool in a heavily food dyed water solution. Take them out and once dried (on thick newspaper!), tie with ribbons and serve for breakfast on Sunday morning. They should keep in the fridge for a few days.
For lunch, Jeni in the Booking Office likes Jamie Oliver’s Easter Lamb recipe which involves smothering a leg of lamb with a paste made from a large bunch of fresh garlic pounded together with a clove of garlic and seasoning, then mixed with 125ml of olive oil. Brush it over your lamb before baking, then re-baste every so often until the meat is cooked to your liking. You can then add the stock to the roasting pan afterwards to make a complementary gravy.
If you haven’t before, you could try a baked ham smothered in Apricot jam and then of course follow up with the bit everyone’s waiting for. Chocolate.
For a supersweet take on Rice Krispie cakes, Jo from the Property Department dug out her old hand-written recipe pad from when she was little to find her recipe for ‘Krackalates’:
- 3oz margarine, 3 tbsp caster sugar, 2 tbsp drinking chocolate, 3 drops vanilla essence, 3-4 oz cornflakes/krispies, 2 tbsp treacle
- Heat the margarine in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the treacle and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla essence and drinking choc. Then stir in cornflakes/krispies.
- Spoon into cases (maybe decorate with mini eggs) and leave to set. Easy peasy.
Other easy recipes that are fun for the children are biscuits cut out with seasonal shapes.
A basic recipe to be baked in a medium oven for 25mins (or until golden brown) is
- 175g/6oz plain flour, 100g/4oz butter or margarine, 50g/2oz caster sugar
- Optional flavourings: vanilla, cinnamon, fruit peel, chocolate
- Cream together the butter and sugar then stir in the sifted flour to form a dough. Roll it out on a floured surface and cut bunnies/flowers/eggs/baskets/bonnets before baking on a lined baking sheet. You can also freeze this dough before cooking it.
- Ice the biscuits in bright Spring colours.
For an impressive table centrepiece, Kate’s Mum also gave us her ‘Boiled Cake’ recipe, which Kate raves about:
- To start: ¾ lb dried mixed fruit, 1 can crushed pineapple and juice, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 1 teaspoon mixed spice, 4oz butter, 8oz sugar
- Place all above ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to the boil for 3 minutes then allow to cool. Add 2 beaten eggs, mix in 8oz of sifted self-raising flour and a pinch of salt and mix it all together.
- Place in a 2lb loaf tin and cook for 1 ¼ hours at 130 degrees or gas mark 2 – time may vary in different ovens. Once cool, decorate in an appropriate theme – marzipan bunnies, those little fluffy chicks, mini eggs etc.
If you plan ahead, you could make use of the eggshells from your pancakes with the following ideas:
When you crack your eggs, only take the narrow pointy top off, like you would a soft boiled egg. Empty the contents and wash the shell before baking them empty for five minutes. You can then fill them with any dessert filling you like before presenting them in the original eggbox – painted or plain. We like the idea of spooning chocolate mousse into them, or how about custard, or jelly?
Celebrity chef Lorraine Pascale fills the shells with melted chocolate then leaves them to set in the freezer for an hour. Once the chocolate is hard, peel off all the shell and warm the chocolate egg in your hand slightly so it is sticky then roll in edible decorations such as coloured sugar, edible glitter, cocoa powder or ground nuts. Or you could leave them in the shells (painted/decorated) and leave the peeling fun to the recipients!
If all that sounds too much like hard work, then follow Property Manager Assistant Tanya’s lead and buy Easter Eggs before personalising them with icing!
Come celebrate West Country produce and make your own Easter Feast in a West Country holiday cottage.