A traditional Easter Sunday lunch with a continental twist

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This past weekend I woke up the fact that Easter is just over a week away; an early Easter always catches me out, especially as this year spring has regressed back to winter and snow is currently covering my spring flowers in the garden. However, I am always ready to embrace all our traditional British feasts and festivals, whatever the weather, and I am currently refining my Easter Luncheon menu. I love to plan meals ahead of time – sitting down with a pile of my favourite cookbooks and “bookmarking” possible contenders for a special meal, it’s all part of the warmth and excitement of “breaking bread” with family and friends.

Easter is always a special time for me, as it heralds the re-birth of the year ahead and is just as important as Christmas; the house is filled with flowers and branches of an old “pussy willow” tree are decorated with hand-painted eggs, just like a Christmas tree, but an Easter Tree instead. It’s a time of hope, flowers, chocolate, birds, buds, eggs and little fluffy bunnies with baskets, of course!

Ham in Hay on the Table

For Easter Lunch this year I have decided to serve ham – I usually serve “spoon lamb” an old French recipe called “Gigot a La Cuillère”, where the lamb is cooked for up to seven hours and the meat becomes so tender that the joint that can be carved with a spoon, hence its name. It’s always a hit with my family, but I want a change this year, so when I saw Sarah Raven’s recipe for “Ham in Hay with Parsley Sauce” in the spring chapter of her wonderful book, “Food for Friends and Family”,I knew my search for the main course dish was over.

I have pored over this book since I received it last year; I am a seasonal cook, so any book that is divided into chapters based on the seasons of the year, has my undivided attention. Sarah says that the recipe is based on a traditional Luxembourg dish, and is excellent thing to cook when you're feeding lots of people, c’est parfait, it’s the perfect recipe!

Ham in Hay cookingHam in Hay Recipe

As well as the Ham in Hay for luncheon, I am also planning to serve a traditional Easter afternoon tea, with Pace Eggs, Hot Cross Buns, Sandwiches, Scones and some little Victoria Lemon Daisy Cakes.

Little Victoria Lemon Daisy Cakes,

It’s a time to sit down and share fresh seasonal food with family and to indulge in a little festive baking too. I always serve pace eggs over Eastertide, these traditional marbled eggs are fun and easy to do with the children and I remember my mum showing me how to make them, sat at the old kitchen table with dozens of fresh eggs, piles of onion skins and string all around us!

The name Pace is thought to derive from the French word for Easter, “Pâques”, and in some parts of the UK, mainly Lancashire in the North West, these eggs are rolled down a hill with the winner being the owner of the egg which goes the furthest and has the least cracks or breaks in it. Steamed potatoes and carrots are my chosen accompaniments for the ham in hay, as per Sarah’s serving suggestion in her book, and I am decanting a pot of home-made raspberry jam to serve with my traditional fruit scones, the recipe which I share below; but, strawberry jam or even cherry jam would also be perfect to dollop on top, generously of course.

Any left-overs of the sweet hay infused ham will be used for dainty tea-time sandwiches, with fresh salad and home-made salad dressing, a weakness if mine! I also plan to make a big pot of tea, which will be a refreshing change to the excesses of wine at lunch time. There are many things that the British do well; gardening, flower arranging, baked and steamed puddings, roast dinners, queuing, weather watching, bird watching,  picnics and of course making and serving afternoon tea. It’s a tradition that I am happy to follow, as often as I can, waistbands withstanding!

Tulips to decorate the home at Easter

The Easter house will be decked with fresh flowers, tulips are my choice this year, and I am serving all the meals on a treasured blue and white dinner service. There is something very comforting about taking out special china, reserved for high days and holidays, and even though my older pieces are not suitable for the dish washer I actually enjoy hand washing the worn and elegant china after a meal, as my grandmother did before me, as one tea service (Indian Tree) was hers and I inherited it. The table will be simply dressed with crisp white damask linen and proper serviettes will be used in place of paper napkins!

I have it all planned, even down to what cruet set I will use, and what jug will be used for the tulips……..it’s a well-worn path, and one that I’m always happy to follow every year; the seasons pass and like a safety net they provide food and happiness for me to share with loved ones. Happy Easter to you all and I leave you with my traditional Rich Fruit Scones recipe, which, I hope you will enjoy as much as we do, and maybe you will serve them for your Easter Sunday Tea this year.

Eat these hot, split & spread with fresh churned butter, fresh cream and homemade jam... Afternoon Easter Tea with KarenRich Fruit Scone - Recipe Card

Afternoon Easter Tea

Thanks for reading!