It’s spring, Easter will soon be here and is traditionally associated with lamb, and local Mayo lamb is tastier than most.
Herb crusted rack of lamb
This smart-looking roast is easier than it sounds and the herbs give a freshness to the rich lamb.
2 x 6-bone racks of local lamb,
2 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tbsp chopped basil
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Preheat the oven to 200C. Season the lamb with salt and pepper, heat a large frying pan and add the oil. When it is hot, add the lamb and seal on all sides. In a bowl mix the breadcrumbs and herbs and set aside.
Brush the lamb with mustard and then cover with the herb crumbs. Place the lamb in the oven for 12-14 minutes, or until cooked to your liking. Then remove and set aside to rest for at least five minutes before carving. To serve, carve the racks of lamb. Serve with gravy, and maybe garlic potatoes and green vegetables.
Hot cross buns
Hot cross buns, which are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, are steeped in superstition. Sharing one of these sticky, fruity treats is meant to cement friendships, which is as good an excuse as any to bake a batch. The classic hot cross buns are easy to make, packed with flavour and irresistible when smothered with butter.
For the buns
300ml/10fl oz whole milk
500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour
75g/2½oz caster sugar
1 tsp salt
7g sachet fast-action yeast
1 free-range egg, beaten
80g/3oz mixed peel
1 apple, cored and chopped
2 oranges, zest only
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Sunflower oil, for greasing the bowl
For the cross
75g/2½oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
For the glaze
3 tbsp apricot jam
Bring the milk to the boil and then remove from the heat and leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, butter and egg together in a bowl, then slowly add the warmed milk until it forms a soft, sticky, dough. Add the sultanas, mixed peel, chopped apple, orange zest and cinnamon, then tip out of the bowl on to a lightly floured surface.
Knead the dough by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heel of the other hand, and then folding it back on itself. Repeat for five minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise for approximately one hour, or until doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 12 even pieces, and roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured surface. Arrange the buns on a baking tray lined with parchment, leaving enough space so that the buns just touch when they rise and expand. Set aside to prove for another hour.
Heat the oven to 220C. For the cross, mix the flour with about five tablespoons of water in small bowl, adding the water one tablespoon at a time, so that you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, or until golden-brown.
Gently heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve to get rid of any chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool. Gently rip the buns apart to serve. Simple and delicious.
Next week I hope to share my St Patrick's Day lamb recipe along with a beautiful Irish dessert, so talk to you then.