Easter is a wonderful time to spend with our loved ones! What better way to spend it than with a hearty celebratory meal. Stuck on what to prepare for your household? You're in luck - we've put together ideas for a 3-course meal, plus snacks of course!‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎

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Starter

Pea, mint & spring onion soup with parmesan soup (bbcgoodfood.com) serves 6

Ingredients:

- 1 tbsp olive oil

- Knob butter

- ½ bunch spring onions sliced

- 1 potato diced small

- 1litre of hot vegetable stock

- 900g frozen petit pois

- ½ small bunch fresh mint

- 85g parmesan finely grated

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Method:

- Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy based pan. When foaming add spring onions and potato. Gently fry without colouring for 5 minutes.

- Stir in stock, bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until potato is tender

- Stir in peas, bring to boil again then cook for 3 minutes until they are just done.

- Remove from pan, add mint leaves and whizz soup in blender until smooth

- Heat the grill to high. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment

- Divide the grated parmesan into 6 long strips. Grill for 1 minute or until cheese has melted and is lightly golden.

- While still warm and a bit flexible, release the biscuits from the parchment with a palette knife and cool until firm

- To serve divide the soup into 6 bowls, scatter with spare mint and spring onion, serving the parmesan biscuit on the side.

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Main (meat option)

Roast Lamb studded with rosemary & garlic (bbcgoodfood.com) serves 6

Ingredients:

- Leg of lamb

- 1 garlic bulb

- 1 bunch rosemary

- 1 tbsp vegetable oil

- 2 carrots cut into chunks

- 1 onion cut into quarters

- 150 ml red wine

- 1.2 litres lamb or beef stock

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Method:

  1. Using a sharp pointed knife, make at least 30 small incisions over the leg of lamb
  2. Take 4 cloves from 1 bulb of garlic, peel and thinly slice them, then prod a slice in each incision. Next take small sprigs of rosemary and push into the incisions too.
  3. Heat oven to 190*c/170*c fan gas 5. Heat a large frying pan, add 1 tbsp vegetable oil and brown the leg of lamb all over.
  4. Scatter the carrots, onion, remaining garlic and rosemary in a large roasting tin. Pour in the wine and the beef stock, then place the browned lamb in the tin
  5. Roast for 1 hour and 45 mins. Turn the leg of lamb halfway through so by the time its cooked each side has been in the stock
  6. Serve with fresh seasonal vegetables such as leeks and butternut squash.

Main (vegan)

Vegan gnocchi with spinach and tomatoes (goodhousekeeping.com)

Ingredients:

- 500g gnocchi

- 4 handfuls of fresh spinach

- 2 Tomatoes diced

- 2 cloves garlic

- ½ cup cashews (unsalted not roasted)

- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

- 2 tsps white miso paste

- ½ tsp dijon mustard

- 1 tsp tapioca starch

- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

- Salt and pepper

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Method:

  1. Prepare the gnocchi according to packet instructions. Place the spinach in a colander and drain the gnocchi over it.
  2. Make the sauce by placing the cashews, garlic, yeast, miso, mustard, tapioca, almond milk, salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour the sauce into a large pot and heat until thickens up. Add the gnocchi, the spinach and diced tomatoes and cook for another minute. 
  4. Serve.

Dessert

Simnel cake

Bake this classic Easter simnal cake. Top with 11 balls of marzipan - said to represent 11 of Jesus’s disciples (not including Judas) or with spring flowers!

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Ingredients:

- 250g mixed dried fruit (sultantas, currents, raisins, candied mixed peel)

- 1 orange zested and juiced

- 500g marzipan

- 250g pack butter softened

- 200g light brown sugar

- 4 eggs plus 1 beaten to glaze

- 175g plain flour

- 100g ground almonds

- 1 tsp baking powder

- 1 lemon zested

- 2 tsp mixed spice

- 1 tsp vanilla extract

- 100g glace cherries halved

 - 3 tbsp apricot jam

‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎

Method:

1. Put the dried fruit, orange juice, orange zest and 2 tbsps water in a microwavable bowl and cover microwaving for 2 minutes then leave to cool completely. Alternatively heat these ingredients in a pan gently, stirring until all the liquid has been absorbed. Leave to cool

2. Heat oven to 150*c/130*c fan / gas 2.

3. Roll out a third of the marzipan using the base of a deep 20cm cake tin as he template for the circle. Leave the offcuts to one side for later.

4. Butter and line the tin with double baking parchment.

5. Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy and then add eggs, flour, almonds, baking powder, lemon zest, mixed spice, vanilla (all in one go) and mix until well combined.

6. Mix in the cooled fruit mixture and fold in the cherries.

7. Put half the cake mixture in the tin and top with the disc of marzipan then add the remaining cake mix, levelling the top with a spatula. Bake for 2 hrs. Check it’s cooked and remove from oven, allow to cool in tin for 15 minutes.

8. Turn onto wire rack and allow to cool fully.

9. Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam. Roll out half the remaining marzipan and cut another disc of marzipan, place it on top of the cake and crimp its edges. Brush beaten egg over the marzipan. Roll the remaining marzipan into 11 equal balls, arrange on top of the cake in a circle near the outer edge. Brush with beaten egg. Put under a hot grill for a minute or two until it just starts to caramelise.

10. Add a spring coloured ribbon around the cake, it will keep for up to a week in a sealed tin.

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Cornflake Nest Cakes

These are great to make with children as other than melting the chocolate, there’s no cooking involved!

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Ingredients:

- 75g cornflakes, rice crispies or 85g shredded wheat

- 200g milk chocolate

- 2x 100g bags of chocolate mini eggs

- Cupcake cases

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Method:

1. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in the microwave or put in a small heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. (Adults do this part)

2. Put the cereal in a large mixing bowl and pour the melted chocolate over it.

3. Mix well until combined and the cereal is coated with chocolate.

4. Spoon the mixture into the cup cake cases (should fill about 12) and press to compact with the back of a teaspoon, make a slight dip in the middle of each.

5. Place 3 chocolate mini eggs in the middle of each and chill in the fridge for around 2 hours until set.

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Hot cross buns (bbcgoodfood.com - Paul Hollywood)

Hot cross buns are an absolute tradition at Easter! Although traditionally made with dried fruit, you can now get ones made with chocolate chip, salted caramel, and orange to name a few! We’ve stuck with the traditional recipe, so the only decision will be to toast or not?

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Ingredients:

- 300ml full fat milk & extra 2 tbsps

- 50g butter

- 500g strong bread flour

- 1tsp salt

- 75g caster sugar

- 1 tbsp sunflower

- 7g sachet fast action or easy blendyeast

- 1 egg beaten

-75g sultanas

- 50g mixed peel

- Zest 1 orange

- 1 apple peeled cored and finely chopped

- 1 tsp cinnamon

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For the cross:

- 75g plain flour plus extra for dusting

‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎

For the glaze:

-3 tbsps apricot Jam

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Method:

1. Bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and add 50g butter, leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature.

2. Put 500g strong bread flour, 1 tsp salt, 75g caster sugar and 7g sachet fast action or easy blend yeast into a bowl.

3. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixature then add one beaten egg.

4. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough.

5. Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heel of the other hand, then folding it back on itself.

6. Repeat for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a slightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size and finger pressed into it leaves a dent.

7. With the dough still in the bowl, tip in 75g sultanas, 50g mixed peel, zest of 1 orange, chopped apple, 1 tsp ground cinnamon. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is evenly distributed. Leave to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size, again cover a previously.

8. Divide dough into 15 pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured surface.

9. Arrange the buns on one or two baking trays lined with parchment, leaving enough space for dough to expand.

10. Cover but don’t wrap with more oiled cling film or a clean tea towel and set aside to prove for 1 hour.

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Method for the cross:

1. Heat oven to 220*c/200*c fan/gas 7. Mix 75g plain flour with about 5 tbsp. water to make the paste for the cross - add the water 1 tbsp at a time, so you add just enough for a thick paste.

2. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle and pipe a line across each bun, then repeat in the opposite direct to create crosses. Bake for 20 minutes on the middle shelf until golden brown.

3. Gently heat the apricot jam to melt then sieve to get rid of any chunks. While jam is still warm brush over warm buns and leave to cool.

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Gluten free & lactose free Hot Cross Buns (freefromfairy.com)

Ingredients:

- 290g plain gluten free flour

- 210g gluten free potato starch

- 2tsp psyllium powder

- 7g easy bake yeast

- 1tsp salt

- 1 ½ tsp mixed spice

- 1 medium egg

- 40g rice syrup

- 250ml unsweetened diary free milk plus extra for brushing

- 30g coconut oil melted

- 1 orange zest

- Optional 40g chocolate chunks minimum 70% cacao or 40g dried fruit

- 2 tbsp gluten free flower plus 2 tbsp water for crosses.

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Method:

1. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Place milk and syrup in a glass measuring jug and heat on full power for 30 seconds in a microwave.

3. Add milk and syrup to dry ingredients along with the egg, melted coconut oil and orange zest.

4. Stir well until it comes together into a dough then knead until smooth.

5. If using chocolate chunks or dried fruit add now and knead evenly through mixture.

6. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces and roll into balls.

7. Place each bun on a lined baking tray leaving some space between them to allow them to rise.

8. Boil the kettle and pour boiling water into another baking tray approx. 1cm deep

9. Place the tray with the boiling water into the bottom of your oven then place your buns on the shelf above and close door

10. Once an hour is up remove the buns from the oven and turn it up to 220*c/180*cfan/gas mark 5

11. Brush the buns with diary free milk then mix 2 tbsp flour with 2 tbsp water to create a paste and either pipe or drizzle paste into a cross shape over buns

12. Once oven has reached correct temperature place buns in the oven (the tray of water still in bottom of oven) and bake for 20 minutes.

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