Easter: Football, family and Welsh lamb

So we traveled up to the North West for Easter and in this part of the world – as I’m sure is the case in many others – the season is all about family, football, chocolate and Welsh lamb.

Image of Easter place settings with rabits and chicks

I am always given the job of setting the table

Football is particularly in focus this year for my family as Liverpool Football Club have edged up the league, with the chance of winning for the first time in my living memory. In my family LFC is like blood. The sound of the male voice choir of football fans chanting – on radio and TV –  was the soundtrack to family weekends for years. Everything stopped for the match today. And even I, who can barely name significant players from the line-up and never catch a game,  paid attention (I think they call us glory supporters?).

Then family came over and lamb was on the menu. Jamie Oliver’s ‘Best Roast Leg of Lamb with garlic and rosemary with hassleback potatoes (the only way to do potatoes in my view). Only yesterday we were admiring all the lambs frolicking in the  hills (always amazes me how many sheep there actually are here in Wales). Bit awkward.

And afterwards was of course desert – a combination of chocolate puddings and Easter eggs so calorific it could have been on Renee Zellweger’s meal plan to put the weight on for Bridget Jones the movie (have always thought that sounded like an amazing work project). But we’ll deal with that and the rest of real life in the morning.

Until then, here are some beautiful reminders we are now into spring…..

Happy Easter x

Cherry blossom is everywhere. So beautiful.

Cherry blossom is everywhere. So beautiful.

 

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Brownie Points

I consider myself a fairly modest individual but if anyone asks ‘what are you good at?’, I normally answer ‘thinking of the worst case scenario possible’ or ‘making brownies’. We’ll save catastrophic thinking for another post (always fun), and stick today with making brownies, which even for a cynic like me tends to have a bang on amazing outcome.

My chocolate nemesis

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

This is not my recipe. It belongs to the lovely and legendary cook Jo Pratt. I am a little obsessed with our Jo. I have two of her cookbooks ‘In the Mood for Food’ and ‘In the mood for Entertaining‘.

Image of Jo Pratt's 'In the mood for food' and 'In the mood for entertaining' books

I have been known to read Jo Pratt before bed as a treat

The thing about Jo is she really does put you in the mood for cooking. Opening up the pages of her recipe books triggers ‘Easy Like Sunday morning’ on full blast in my mind.  Her food is different but not difficult. Elegant and tasteful, but in no way pretentious.

I imagine her to be the opposite of those mothers of more middle class friends who used to terrify me in the 90s with their ‘Parmigiano-Reggiano and pancetta tagliatelle’. Instead you’d feel at total ease to say, ‘what is parmigiano Jo?’ and she’d probably chuckle and say ‘oh just nice cheese’.

So without getting into any more fantasy conversations with Jo (as it is starting to sound rather weird), whether you want a fried jam sandwich or a delicate apricot chicken tagine, Jo is your woman. But my favourites are her chocolate brownies. These are really simple to make, but I’ve not found anyone who hasn’t liked them yet.

Ingredients  – (one thing to point out is Jo makes them with chocolate and walnuts or chili – but I like to make them plain)

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 200g dark chocolate –  Jo says use 70% cocoa solids, but I tend to use one pack of milk and one pack of dark cooking chocolate as this gives it a particularly toffee like consistency
  • 3 large eggs
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 125g plain flour
  • a pinch of salt

In Jo’s words here: “Preheat the oven to 180ºC/fan 160ºC/gas 4. Grease and line an approximately 20 by 30cm rectangular baking tin, 3 to 4cm deep, with greaseproof or parchment paper. Melt the butter and chocolate either in a bowl over a pan of simmering water or gently in the microwave. With an electric hand whisk, beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract until they are lovely and thick and creamy. Mix in the melted chocolate and butter. Finally stir in the flour, salt, cherries and walnuts. Pour into the baking tin and cook for about 25 minutes until the top is cracking and the centre is just set. Leave to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes before cutting into squares.

Nom nom nom x