Easter musings

Spring blossom

It’s Easter Monday as I write this and I am looking back on an unexpectedly sunny + relaxing break.

We kicked off the 4 day break on Thursday evening with dinner at our friends’ house in Fulham, followed by a spot of househunting in East Sussex + walk in Petworth Park with the hounds + shopping at Cowdray Park farmshop on Friday, then a long and relaxed brunch with friends on Saturday. Yesterday was about catching up on the weekend papers, a visit to the gym then a night in front of the fire.

Not bad!

The bruch menu read as follows:

champagne

***

orange juice or vegetable juice

coffee

***

eggs Benedict, Florentine or Royal (I let every choose their favourite and then prepared to order which worked fine)

ricotta hot cakes with spiced plum compote or lemon + sugar

Easter muffins

poached rhubarb,  fromage frais + homemade granola pots

I planned to take a picture of the table which looked really fab (if I say so myself) with a white linen tablecloth, purple napkins, bunch of daffodils in a purple vase, coloured glassware + mini Smarties eggs strewn over the table.  And then promptly forgot!

Italian Easter sweetmeats from Salvino

Friends arrived at 11am and left at 4pm; although none of the guests had met before, conversation flowed and we discussed music festivals, (luxury) camping, town v country living amongst other things. I still can’t get over the fact that a wellknown (British) chef and a wellknown (American) filmstar, who I thought were both straighter than straight, apparently are not.

My Mum will be disappointed!

One of our friends brought along some delicious pistachio biscuits (baked that morning) which were a beautiful tender green and had the most amazing, intense taste of pistachio and (if I rember correctly) rosewater. Must remember to ask for the recipe: they would work really well with ice cream or served after dinner with a strong espresso.

I also received a bottle of olive oil from Fattoria La Vialla, an organic and biodynamically managed estate in Tuscany along with a bar of Original Beans single origin chocolate, more chocolates and champagne!

Here’s the recipe for the Easter muffins. As with all muffin recipes, don’t overmix or the muffins will be heavy. A light hand is what’s needed!

Easter muffins with dried fruit & marzipan

Makes 12

You will need:

250g marzipan

150g unsalted butter, melted

300ml milk

100g Fairtrade golden caster sugar

4 large eggs

350g plain flour

2 tbsp baking powder

2 tbsp mixed spice

100g dried cranberries

100g golden raisins

demerara sugar for sprinkling

+

2 x 6 hole muffin tins lined with paper muffin cases

This is what you do:

1. pre-heat the oven to 200C, gasmark 6.

2. chop 150g of the marzipan into small pieces

3. chop the remaining marzipan into 24 strips, each about 5cm long; you may find you can cut neat slices from the block of marzipan, which you then cut into narrow strips. Alternatively, roll out the marzipan with a rolling pin and cut into thin strips.

4. melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat or in the microwave.

5. in a large mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, milk and melted butter until combined

6. sift the flour, baking powder, mixed spice and pinch of salt on to the mixture

7. with a large plastic spatula or metal spoon, strir the flour into the butter mixture along with the dried fruit + marzipan – until just combined!

8. divide the mixture over the 12 muffin cases (I use a sauce ladle for this)

9. lie two strips of marzipan over each muffin to make a cross and sprinkle over a little demerara sugar

10. bake in the centre of the oven for 18-20 mins or until the muffins are well risen and firm to the touch

11. leave in the tin for 5 mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool

I realise I should have posted this recipe a week ago but you may still want to have a go at making these delicious muffins, which I think will go down well at any time of year – not just at Easter.

Let me know if you do make them and what you think of the recipe.

Best,

Monique

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