Well, spring has well and truly arrived - the clocks going forward coincided with Mothering Sunday and a weekend full of warm sunshine. My Mother's Day involved a gloriously long lie in, a bottle of Wicked Wolf gin (Mother's Ruin, classic) and a lovely, blustery walk on the beach with my Mum. Lots of cuddles with Imogen, lots of cups of tea and rounded off with a brilliant slow roast leg of lamb.
We're trying to learn how to eat more seasonally and this week have been planning the vegetable garden and sowing lots of seeds. Spring is tricky though, we just don't have the space that things like rhubarb and asparagus need, so rely on the greengrocers having a steady supply from local producers. Rhubarb has already arrived and I'm counting down the days til local asparagus turns up too!
So here's four of the best things we've been eating and drinking lately... starting with Sunday's lunch!
1. Roast Lamb
Roast lamb for Sunday lunch is one of my favourite things and is a wonderful way to welcome spring. We buy ours from a local Somerset farmer, half an animal at a time, and it's delicious. It doesn't come labelled, so it's a slightly mad method of defrosting and trying to use my limited butchery knowledge to work out what it is I've got and how to cook it, but when in doubt it goes in the oven on low for a few hours with a spring of rosemary and a slug of red wine, and it's always amazing.
2. Filo & Asparagus Tart
Asparagus is the vegetable of spring and this super simple filo tart is a brilliant way to showcase it. We made these for an easy weekday lunch, served with salad and new potatoes. It's so simple - cut a piece of filo pastry into four, brush with oil, stack and pop into a tart tin. Beat a generous tablespoon of cream cheese together with a large egg and some fresh herbs and pour into the tin. Add a couple of spears of lightly steamed asparagus and bake for 15-20 mins.
3. Rhubarb & Grapefruit Cocktail
It's terribly un-british but I've never liked rhubarb. That was until I tried chunks of it that had been slowly poached in sugar syrup until soft and translucent, like Spring-flavoured sweets. Turns out all I needed to do was add sugar!! This cocktail is ridiculously delicious, combining the sweet rhubarb syrup with refreshing grapefruit. Yum.
All it is is 1 part vodka, 1 part rhubarb syrup, 1 part grapefruit juice. Shake together with some rosemary and pour over ice. I'll be making more of the syrup to take to my parent's for Easter, decanted into a beautiful bottle and tied with raffia, it'll make a wonderful gift.
4. Easter bark
I couldn't possibly do a blog on Spring and Easter food without mentioning chocolate! Chocolate bark is everywhere at the moment, from impressive marbled pieces of art to foody varieties with sea salt, chilli and herbs. I decided however to go down a slightly less challenging route and just go for something super simple and fun. White chocolate, melted in 4 different coloured batches, swirled together and decorated. I used mini marshmallows, tiny eggs, sprinkles, fudge pieces and gold pearls.
It was so easy and the end result was just beautiful. A few pieces wrapped in a patterned paper bag would be a great alternative to a normal Easter egg, and you can completely personalise the bark by dying the chocolate different colours or adding flavours like peppermint essence or orange zest. I have to admit this didn't last very long at all! (A nice excuse to make some more I think!)
An honourable mention has to go to hot cross buns. I was going to make some. I really was. I even bought mixed peel. Then I looked at the recipe, realised my yeast was out of date and gave up! (It looks really hard!!) I promise to try again though, when I have some yeast. And a spare 5 hours. In the meantime I'll carry on eating my body weight in the Sainsbury's bakery ones.
I hope you have a wonderful week, and I'd love to know what Spring-inspired recipes you're cooking, let me know in the comments!