Maybe it’s because here in New Zealand everyone is primed for the last big holiday before winter, ready for an adventure or an expedition, and definitely ready to be sociable. I know I am.
Sometimes Easter delivers an Indian summer holiday. Then, with the golden weather holding, there will be swims and picnics, rituals of planting trees and the last water adventures – swimming or waterskiing, fishing or diving for some seafood.
Other years the weather turns to cold, fires are lit, red wine opened, books and games and puzzles are brought out and everyone rugs up.
Regardless of the weather, Easter is about feasting and hunting for chocolate eggs, long lazy breakfasts and dinners around the fire.
I always make Festive Gubana for breakfast on Easter Sunday – it’s a fabulous recipe, which features in my first TV series and book of The Free Range Cook. With its special Italian filling of fruit mince and chocolate, it has become a special-occasion recipe that symbolises Easter in our house. The rich, buttery dough base is very versatile – add spices and dried fruit (and chocolate if you dare!) and it makes a good base for hot cross buns.
Or if you have some leftover hot cross buns, another great breakfast idea is to use them as the basis of a delicious Easter French Toast. The spices add an extra dimension of flavour to this family favourite.
I also like it that tradition dictates that there will be fish on Friday night and lamb on Sunday.
For Friday night fish, my Lemon Fish Pie is one of those terrific “meal in one” recipes that you can double or treble as needed to feed a crowd. Partner it with a crisp green salad and a glass of chilled pinot gris and you have the perfect Good Friday dinner.
If you’re looking for a change from the traditional roast lamb this for Easter Sunday, check out my Roasted Lamb with Caper Aioli – click the video icon at the top of the recipe to see me making it. Using a boneless lamb roast means it takes a fraction of the time to cook (only about 25 minutes if you like it medium rare) – always a bonus when you’re on holiday!
And of course for dessert it’s gotta be chocolate – and my Velvet Chocolate Mousse fits the bill perfectly. It’s the easiest recipe imaginable, works every time and can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to two days before serving.
Happy Easter everyone.