I’m sure you have your own special way of cooking Roast Lamb, but I thought I’d share how I’m going to make mine for Easter Sunday, in case you’re looking for some inspiration. I use a leg of lamb, drizzle it with oil, salt and pepper. I then pierce the skin with a sharp knife to make 1 inch (2.5cm) gaps and pop a quarter of a clove of garlic in each hole, accompanied by a sprig of rosemary. I also put anchovies in the holes as it really adds to the flavour. Sounds a bit odd but trust me it is delicious! Cook the leg depending on taste, I like mine medium rare. Sophie X
I was pottering around in my kitchen the other day, thinking of things to do with my kids this holiday when my friend rang and told me about this fabulous Henri Matisse exhibition happening at the Tate Modern. This landmark show explores the final chapter in his career in which he began ‘carving into colour’ and his series of spectacular cut-outs was born. Apparently the exhibition has taken 5 whole years to create and reveals how the artist managed to maintain his artistic prowess even in the twilight of his life. The exhibition represents a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see so many of the artist’s works in one place and discover Matisse’s final artistic triumph and I can’t wait to go! Book your tickets here. Sophie X
Simnel cake is one of the oldest in the book, and is traditional to eat over Easter. Originally it was eaten in the middle of lent, on ‘refreshment Sunday’ but now more people eat it over the Easter weekend. The 11 balls of marzipan on the cake are meant to represent the 12 disciples, minus Judas! It’s got a yummy fruity flavour and is even better with a lovely cup of tea. This is Annalisa from the office’s Mum’s recipe and always goes down a treat in their household! Big thank you to her for sharing this with us. Happy Easter! Sophie X
Makes one 20cm/8inch round cake.
225g/8oz plain flour
½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
175g/6oz butter, softened
175g/6oz soft light brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
350g/12oz mixed dried fruit
50g/2oz glace cherries
50g/2oz chopped candied peel
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp milk
3x225g/8oz packs marzipan
2-3 tbsp apricot jam, warmed
Mini chocolate eggs, to serve
Preheat oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Sift the flour with spices and baking powder then set aside. Grease and line a 20cm deep round cake tin.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well in between.
Gradually fold in the flour and fruit then stir in the orange juice and milk.
Spoon half the mixture into the tin and level the top. Roll out one of the packs of marzipan to a circle the same size as the tin then fit that on top of the mixture.
Cover with the remaining mixture and smooth the top. Bake in oven for about 2 ½ hours or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin then, when quite cold, remove from the tin and carefully peel off the paper.
Kneed the other two blocks of marzipan together until smooth. Reserve about a quarter and roll into 12 little balls or eggs. Roll out the remaining marzipan to a circle to fit the top of the cake.
Brush the top of the cake with warmed apricot jam and fit the marzipan disc on top pressing down lightly. Pinch round the edges to crimp and mark the top in a criss cross pattern with a knife. Press on the marzipan balls round the edge of the cake.
Preheat the grill and flash the cake under it to brown lightly. Cool again. Store in an airtight cake tin until ready to serve. Tie a pretty ribbon round the edge and pop some little chocolate eggs in the middle.
Haddock and black pudding may seem like a peculiar combination but it is a match made in heaven, completely irresistible and exquisitely simple. This is a great dish to have on Good Friday.
Makes 6 little tarts
For the filling:
450g smoked haddock, skinless and boneless
knob of butter
150g black pudding
2 egg yolks
150 ml double cream
1 ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
for the pastry:
50g suet – such as atora
100g self raising flour
2 tbsp very cold water
large pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 220C, 425 F, Gas Mark 7.
Lay the fish on a piece of foil big enough to wrap it in, dollop on a little butter and grind over some black pepper, bring up the edges and scrunch them together to seal the parcel. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Don’t worry if it looks underdone it goes back in the oven.
Cut the black pudding into thick slices and fry for 5 minutes.
Mix the eggs, cream, thyme together and season with a little salt (the fish and black pudding can be quite salty) and plenty of black pepper.
Meanwhile make the pastry by mixing all the ingredients together in a large bowl until you have a soft dough, adding a little more flour if it is sticky or water if it is too dry. Kneed for a couple of minutes until it becomes smooth and a little elastic.
Line 6 x 12cm non stick tart tins with pastry. Bake it in the oven for 5 minutes, allow to cool.
Flake the fish and chop the black pudding into chunks, divide them evenly between the tins. Pour over the cream and egg mixture.
Bake for 10 minutes, no more
Serve with a lovely crunchy salad.
Cook the filling on a simmering plate, I use a large cast iron or ceramic casserole dish. If it is cooking too fast put a copper coin under the pan to reduce the heat. Bake the pie on the grid shelf on the lowest set of runners, in the roasting oven.
It’s National Gardening Week this week so find your scruffiest pair of jeans, put on those gardening gloves and start gardening! I’m offering 15% off all my gardening range from my online shop, simply enter GWEEK into the discount code box. I love these crocheted vegetables designed and created by the amazing Jung Jung in Japan. Have a look at her website for more amazing images. Sophie X
This week on www.sophieconran.com, we are having a super exiting Easter Egg Hunt, whereby if you find the painted egg embedded in one of the products, you will win £30 to spend on the website! See if you can find it on the website, and then enter your details by clicking on the picture below. Good luck! Sophie X
These Crispy Spinach and Mint Cigars are my son Felix’s absolute favourite. He has made a special request to have them over the weekend so I thought I would share them with you all! They are taken from my ‘Pies’ book and are so easy and fun to make. They are delicious nibbles for a Spring-time dinner party or to have over the Easter weekend. They are loosely based on Greek street food and are best served straight from the oven.
MAKES 24 CIGARS
250g (9oz) feta (see tip)
200g (7oz) spinach
1 large handful each fresh dill, coriander and basil
2 large handfuls fresh mint
½ tsp nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g (7oz) filo pastry cut into 20 x 15 cm rectangles
50g (2oz) melted butter, for brushing the pastry
Preheat the oven to 220 °C (425°F) Gas 7). Put everything (except the filo pastry and butter) into a blender and whiz until it becomes a thick paste. Brush both sides of the filo pastry rectangles with the melted butter.
To make a cigar, plop a soup spoonful of the green paste onto the centre of one end of a filo rectangle. Roll it over a couple of times and then fold in the sides. Keep rolling the pastry until you have a cigar shape. Place it on a baking sheet covered with greaseproof paper. Repeat the process with the rest of the filo pastry rectangles. Place them in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until they are golden.
These cigars are perfect as a starter with aubergine salad, houmous, tzatziki and pitta bread.
Tip: Barrel- aged feta is best as it’s creamier and less salty
I had a brilliant time at Selvedge Fair last Friday, which took place in Chelsea Town Hall on the Kings Road. The exhibition is a feast for the eyes to anyone who appreciates the intricacy of fabrics and colours, and this year was no exception. It is stuffed to the rafters with all sorts of goodies, like rugs from far off lands, gorgeous antique textiles, hand made toys and not forgetting threads in every size and colour you possibly want! It really is a designer’s paradise and is a very inspiring place to visit. Have a look at some of these gorgeous pictures I took, aren’t the baby shoes adorable?! Sophie X
I still can’t believe Easter is less than a fortnight away! Just like Christmas, I love decorating my house and having the family around for some delicious food and of courses masses of chocolate! I’m planning on getting out into the garden and giving it some much needed TLC. A really fun thing I do to decorate my house is gather some branches from the garden, preferably covered in blossom, put them in a big vase and hang little crochet baskets of eggs from the branches. It looks so charming, like a Christmas tree but for Easter! Setting my table for Easter brings me a lot of joy and I always make sure there are masses of gorgeous Spring flowers on the table. Traditionally we have a really good Welsh leg of lamb, which I stuff with rosemary and garlic, and roast to perfection! I’ll be sharing a few of my favourite Easter recipes next week, that I’m sure your family and friends will love. I’ve also selected a few of my favourite goodies from my online shop, which I will be using for the Easter weekend. I’m offering a discount on my Easter picks, simply enter BUNNY1 in the discount code box on my online shop to receive 10% off! Click here to see what they are! Sophie X
Affogato is the most dreamy pudding. All you need is a single shot of espresso and pour it over a large scoop of vanilla ice cream. It is delicious served with amaretti biscuits, either on the side or crumbled over. This would be even more perfect after a delicious Sunday roast. Maybe if you’ve been to the London Coffee Festival this week you will have bought your own coffee beans to make the espresso with! Enjoy! Sophie X