I have always loved the Easter holidays. Growing up as a Roman Catholic means the weekend is packed with churchgoing activities, but the warmer weather and a long bank (public) holiday weekend means it’s often a nice time to catch up with friends or make short trips abroad. This year, we had my in-laws over from Chicago. Audrey was delighted to have a continuous 10 days of cousin play time, but playing hosts also mean having the duty to feed both children and adults.
For many reasons, it’s nice to cook for a bigger party because there are more people to enjoy the food we make. It also helps to use up many of the food we buy more quickly, so we get to eat most of the food whilst it’s still fresh. However, it’s also more work (of course), and challenging to come up with a variety of dishes comprising a range of staples, meats and veg.
Here are a couple of foolproof dishes which we made over the Easter week which are quite straightforward to make, tasty and nutritious too. As with other health eating tips and advice, cooking at home not only offers greater control and flexibility to create dishes which suit our palate, it’s also more fun and enjoyable too – par the mounting number of dishwashing items!
Seaweed fishball soup
30g dried seaweed, rinsed
800ml boiling water
8-10 fish balls
1 egg, beaten
2 spring onions, diced
Prepare the boiling water, add the seaweed and fish balls. cook for 5-7 minutes, add the egg, mix well. Add the diced spring onion before serving.
4-6 regular portions. This is a perfect consommé to supplement a meal. The seaweed is rich in iodine and imparts umami so it doesn’t require additional flavours.
Beef two ways
This meal consists of a lasagne made the previous day and ox tail stew accompanied by a warm broccoli and avocado salad. I made the ragu sauce the night before and layered it with creme fraiche mixed with parmesan cheese which is in a separate blog post.
For the lasagna,
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, cored and diced
1 stick celery, cut lengthways and diced
500g beef mince (choose the standard 20% for more flavour – you end up using less oil)
3 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp fish sauce
300g crème fraîche
50g parmesan cheese
10 lasagne sheets
Heat oil in saucepan, add the vegetables and mince. Mix and cook well. Add tomato puree, fish sauce and water to create the sauce texture. Once cooked, leave aside. Mix the crème fraîche and parmesan cheese. Layer the lasagne in an ovenproof dish with the vegetable mix at the bottom, followed by the creamy cheese mix, then cover with a layer of lasagne sheets. Repeat until the top of ovenproof dish and finish with the cheesy mix. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the top turns golden brown. Finish with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
6-8 portions. With a side salad or veggie dish.
For the oxtail,
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced
2 spring onions, sliced
3 tomatoes, diced
6 pieces of oxtail
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 mooli, peeled and diced
1 capful rice wine
1 tbsp fish or soy sauce
Heat the oil in the deep dish pan, add the onions. When the onions turn brown, add the tomatoes and oxtail. Cook for 5-7 minutes, add the carrots, mooli and rice wine, cover with water. Cook on low heat for 3-4 hours, occasionally turning and checking it has enough water. An hour before serving, add a tbsp of fish or soy sauce to flavour.
6-8 portions. Great with rice or mashed potatoes.
Mixed vegetables bean vermicelli
I made this dish out of sheer desperation one night to bulk up our meal together with dumplings and noodles. Using a bag of frozen mixed vegetables and pre-soaked bean vermicelli, this dish was stir-fried and mixed together and seasoned with some soy sauce and sesame oil. Versatile and quick to cook.
The culmination of our Easter weekend were these grilled meats which were straight forward enough to make with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. My husband had sealed the rack of lamb before placing them in the grill. Together with mash potatoes and other grilled vegetables made a delicious Easter Sunday meal. The two spring chickens (poussin) we made for dinner together with carrots and leeks at the bottom to soak up the oils from the chicken.