Easter biscuits (with massive disclaimer)

Easter biscuits should contain currants – you know that and I know that but on occasion we have to make adjustments.  Some of my family balk at the idea of any cooked dried fruit.  Christmas cake is a no no, as is Christmas pudding or mince pies.  My festive season could consist of a pud for one if I didn’t take the alternative route and quietly sit and demolish a Christmas cake on my own over the holidays.  That, as ever, is another story.

I remember Easter biscuits as a child and couldn’t countenance this weekend without some.  It would be like forgetting chocolate or eschewing the Easter bunny.  So as ever, I fiddle with the recipe and come up with these.   You could argue that these are simply lemon biscuits but I like to add a pinch of spice and glaze to give them their Easter vibe.  Whatever you wish to call them they are an absolutely cracker with a cup of tea, to give as a present in little bags and perfect to offer to any weekend guests you may be seeing (outside obviously) and in particular for those dried fruit phobes who won’t be tucking into the Hot Cross Buns with me.

This is an easy and reliable biscuit dough that rolls out with cracking or crumbling into a hundred pieces.  At other times of year you can serve these as a crisp biscuit on the side of a posset (Lemon posset, March 2014) or fool (Blackcurrant Fool, February 2019).  Try swapping the lemon for orange zest which is fabulous with melted chocolate trickled randomly over them (forego the glaze in this case).   This amount makes about 30 – 40 depending on the size of your cutter.

Easter Biscuits

Do of course add currants when mixing the dough if my omission concerns you, 50-60g would probably be about right but add more if you like.   I don’t use the mixed spice if making these with orange zest.

100g soft butter

80g caster sugar plus a little extra for sprinkling

A good pinch of salt

Zest of one large or two small lemons

1/4 teaspoon mixed spice

200g plain flour

1 medium egg, separated

Preheat the oven to 200.  Mix the butter, sugar and salt until combined.  Add the zest, spice and egg yolk, mix again then add the flour.  This should come together into a ball but add a drop of milk if you need to.  Roll out on a floured surface and cut out – I use a fluted cutter but it is up to you, egg shapes or bunnies are equally welcome.  Chill if you have time before cooking, it helps retain the cut shape.  Whisk the egg white until frothy and then brush over the biscuits, sprinkle with the extra sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.  Cool on a wire rack where they will crisp up further.

Loving leftovers (and bashed potatoes with two sauces)

I was recently having one of those chats with a friend about what was for supper that night.  When I said we were having the leftover sauce from a beef stew my friend was truly incredulous.  We were, she suggested, having gravy for dinner.  That I would plonk a salad on the table alongside it only compounded her astonishment and dismay.  It wasn’t as mad or bad as it sounds.

A few days earlier I had cooked a piece of beef very slowly with finely chopped carrots, onions and celery – a sea of red wine and an abundance of herbs, thyme, rosemary, bay and parsley.  After we had eaten the meltingly soft beef (both for Sunday lunch and two lots of leftovers packed lunches) I was left with a lot of the cooking liquor bolstered by the soft vegetables and herbs.  That it had languished in the fridge for two days made only more full of deep, savoury flavour.  I heated it, added a splash of cream and a handful of chopped fresh parsley and served it with spaghetti.  It was glorious, not only delicious but with the added purr-factor of knowing that one piece of beef had gone so far.

I have always cooked like this -eeking out a dish if it can be reincarnated at a later date.  Whilst I try not to keep pointless little pots in the fridge containing one potato I certainly always have a though on the next meal when cooking the current one.  That and trying to come up with something from a seemingly empty fridge is a challenge I have long relished.  So it was earlier this week.  Trying to use everything up before my weekly shop I was faced with various herbs and a pile of potatoes.   A riff on roast vegetables is a regular in my kitchen and with a sauce or two to jazz it up invariably goes down well and lends itself perfectly to leftover lunches the next day although on this occasion there was none left which was both good and bad….

Roast baby potatoes with herbed yogurt and green herb sauce

Here I used the chives I had with the yogurt in a take on the classic chive and sour cream dip – always a winner with potatoes.  The herb sauce here was a combination of mint, coriander and parsley but my Fresh Herb Sauce (July 2013) would be perfect here.  Use whichever soft herbs you have, a combination of just two of those mentioned will still be delicious.  Incidentally I will be offering a mint/parsley version of this sauce alongside our Easter roast lamb this weekend.

New or baby potatoes, as many as you have, I used about 600g

A handful of parsley

A handful of mint

A handful of coriander

Juice of half a lemon

A splash of white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

4 tablespoons olive oil plus 1 more for the potatoes

Approx 150ml yogurt

A handle of chives, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 200.  Boil the potatoes in salted water for just 10 minutes until a pointed knife will pierce one with little resistance.  Drain the potatoes and put into a roasting tin, roll around with a tablespoon of oil and a sprinkling of salt. Push down on each potato to just break the skin and squash them a little.  Roast for around 20 minutes until bronzed and crisping at the edges.  Meanwhile mix the yogurt and chives in a bowl with a splash of water to loosen and a pinch of salt.  Put the parsley, mint, coriander, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, 4 tablespoons of oil plus some salt into a jug and using a stick blender whizz until combined into a sauce.  Serve the potatoes topped with both sauces.  This was was a really good supper for 3 along with a green salad but you could always have it as your potatoes alongside a roast chicken or anything really.