April 2022

If I’m going to be entirely truthful, I must admit that over the last couple of weeks there hasn’t been as much cooking going on in my kitchen as I have finally ventured abroad! I have just had a wonderful holiday in the sun and whilst I did lots of reading there wasn’t a cookbook in sight! But of course, I didn’t want you to miss out on your recipe fix for April, so at the beginning of March, I was manically cooking and writing up April’s recipes!

As Easter is on the horizon I wanted to give you a delicious lamb recipe and I think I’ve definitely accomplished the task. Menu One is ‘Butterflied Leg of Lamb’, this is a incredible recipe from Rick Stein, the herby lemon and paprika marinade really takes this roast lamb to a higher level. It extremely easy to prepare and cook – it will be on the table in just over an hour and will feed friends and family generously. It is the perfect Easter Sunday feast! Of course, just because it’s Easter and lamb is the traditional dish, it doesn’t mean you have to serve it. How about breaking the mould with a more relaxed dinner of Meatballs, Tomato Sauce and Pasta?…Menu Two, ‘Pork, Beef and Ricotta Meatballs with Tomato Sauce’ is loved by adults and children alike. It is a combination of a meatball recipe from Mary Hefferman and a classic tomato sauce recipe that I’ve been using for years. As we move into April we will hopefully see the arrival of some brighter, sunnier days, so I thought that Menu Three should reflect springtime. ‘Cod with Spring Onion Mash’, is a dish that will make a perfect midweek supper and one which I think you’ll be cooking throughout spring and summer. Finally, a vegetarian recipe from the wonderful Diana Henry, ‘ Roast Indian-Spiced Vegetables with Lime-Coriander Butter’ is another dish which I think you’ll be cooking more than once…

Also… With the Easter celebrations I think that we will be needing some up-beat tunes in our kitchens… so that gives me the perfect opportunity to share my new playlist which has some great disco beats!… Music to Cook to…MenuMusic Eighteen – listen to it here!


(Menu Mistress will be back on 12th April with a Tuesday Treat!..)

Menu One

Butterflied Lamb with Herby Lemon and Paprika Marinade (Serves 6)

Cooking a leg of lamb butterflied, off the bone, reduces the cooking time and makes it much easier to slice and serve. This recipe from Rick Stein is particularly flavoursome with a subtly spiced marinade. There is no need to marinate it for long, 30 minutes is all it needs,  and better still, it will be cooked in 30 mins! I like to serve this with ‘Concetta’s’ sliced baked potatoes and ‘Green Beans with Shallots & Sherry Vinegar’ (recipes here!). (Ask your butcher to butterfly the leg of lamb)

1 x 2.5kg leg of lamb, boned and butterflied

For the marinade:

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes

6 teaspoons chopped rosemary

6 sprigs thyme, leaves picked

1 fresh bay leaf, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce

2 tablespoons sweet smoked paprika

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon flaky sea salt

½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

  1. Mix the marinade ingredients together. Lay out the butterflied lamb, it should be an even thickness throughout – you can cover it with clingfilm and bash the surface with a rolling pin to flatten out any of the thicker sections. Rub the marinade all over the lamb and set aside in a roasting tin, skin side up, for about 30 minutes.
  2. Roast the lamb in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 160’c and roast for a further 15 minutes (this will give you pink lamb, if you prefer if less so, cook for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and rest for 15 minutes before carving into thick slices and serving with some of the meat juices.

Menu Two

Pork, Beef and Ricotta Meatballs with Tomato Sauce (Serves 6)

These meatballs are made from a combination of pork and beef, and are held together by the ricotta cheese rather than breadcrumbs, so have a lighter consistency. I have taken the recipe from Mary Heffernan’s cookbook ‘Five Mary’s Ranch Raised’. The tomato sauce is a basic one that I’ve used over the years, it is rich and garlicky. Served with spaghetti they make a crowd-pleasing dish – they should definitely be on your recipe list!…

For the Tomato Sauce:

6-9 cloves garlic, chopped

2 bay leaves

6 tablespoons olive oil

3 x 400g tins whole plum tomatoes

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and black pepper

For the Meatballs:

450g minced pork

450g minced beef

250g ricotta cheese

30g grated Parmesan cheese (plus more to serve)

½ onion, finely chopped

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I use Schwartz)

½ teaspoon ground fennel

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Chopped fresh basil leaves to garnish

Spaghetti to serve (gluten-free if required)

  1. For the tomato sauce, place the oil in a large, deep-sided frying pan over a medium-high heat, lightly brown the garlic with the bay leaves. Add the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar, bring to a simmer, lightly crushing them with the back of a spoon. Simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Put aside whilst you make the meatballs.
  2. To make the meatballs, place the pork, beef, ricotta, Parmesan, onion, egg, Italian seasoning, ground fennel, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix gently with your hands until combined. Shape into meatballs, you should make about 28, each about 2 inches in diameter.
  3. Lightly oil a baking sheet and space the meatballs evenly on it. Place in a preheated oven, 220’c fan, for 20 minutes, until well browned on one side and cooked through.
  4. Loosen the meatballs from the baking tray into the tomato sauce. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook over a medium heat for about 20 minutes, gently moving the meatballs around occasionally.
  5. Serve with spaghetti and garnish with the chopped basil and more grated Parmesan.

Menu Three

Butter Roasted Cod with Spring Onion Mash (Serves 4)

This recipe has wonderful light, bright flavours. It’s a recipe that I picked up many years ago from Silvana Franco’s cookbook, ‘Family Food’. It’s an easy dish which is perfect for a family midweek supper… and like me, I think you’ll be cooking it more than once!

1 kg floury potatoes (such as Maris Piper), peeled and cubed

4 skinless cod fillet pieces (around 150g each)

Large knob of butter, plus extra to grease

Grated zest and juice of 1 lime

1 bunch of spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Cook the potatoes in a large pan of boiling, salted water until tender (15-20 minutes).
  2. Meanwhile, cut out 4 rectangles of greaseproof paper, just large enough for each piece of fish. Lightly butter each piece of paper and place on a large baking tray. Place the fish on the paper and dot with butter. Sprinkle the lime zest over and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake the fish in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 6-8 minutes until just cooked.
  4. Drain the potatoes and roughly mash (they don’t have to be smooth), then stir in the spring onions, olive oil and lime juice (to taste). Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Divide the mash between four plates and gently ease the fish off the paper and slide on top of the mash. Serve immediately.

Menu Four

Roast Indian-Spiced Vegetables with Lime-Coriander Butter (Serves 4)

This recipe is from the cookbook ‘From Oven to Table’ by Diana Henry, and as she says herself, ‘it is the simplest, loveliest dish; beautiful’. It’s the lime-coriander butter, with its zingy, chilli-infused flavour, that really brings this dish of subtly spiced, roasted vegetables to life. It doesn’t need anything else on the side except a spoonful of natural yoghurt and, perhaps, a dollop of your favourite Indian chutney…

For the Vegetables:

300g small, waxy potatoes (such as Charlotte), scrubbed and quartered

3 medium-small ready-cooked beetroot, halved

6 long slim carrots, halved (or 3 large carrots, quartered)

1 medium-large cauliflower, about 1kg broken into florets, with the leaves

3 parsnips, halved lengthways

3 cloves garlic, finely grated

5 tablespoons groundnut oil

Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

¾ teaspoon ground turmeric

Natural yoghurt and chutney to serve

For the Butter:

75g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 red chilli, chopped (or ½ teaspoon chilli flakes)

2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves

Finely grated zest of 1 lime, plus a squeeze of lime juice

  1. First of all, get out your largest roasting tin, about 38-36cm (or use a couple of smaller tins). Place in a preheated oven, 210’c fan, to heat up.
  2. Put all the vegetables in a very large bowl, add the garlic, oil and seasoning.
  3. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry frying pan for about a minute or two, until you can smell the spices. Put these spices in a mortar with the turmeric and pound together. Add the spices to the vegetables, turning everything over in the oil.
  4. Take the hot tins out of the oven and add the vegetables to them. Roast for 25 minutes tossing the vegetables halfway through.
  5. Meanwhile, mash the butter with the chilli, coriander, lime zest and juice.
  6. When the vegetables are ready put knobs of the butter all over the top and allow it to melt. Serve with the natural yoghurt and chutney on the side.

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