The world is seeing an unprecedented shift where home life and what we eat is at the forefront of our minds. In the last few weeks I have found myself making more meals that will stretch further, freeze well and, like so many of us, using the weird, but wonderful ingredients that I’ve found in the back of my pantry.
I always try to search for the silver linings and right now I think it is being able to be at home and enjoy some delicious food. Some days I have found it challenging to deal with, but focusing on what I can do around me in my immediate space is helping to fill the hours. Ahead of my – now rare – trips to the supermarket, I ring up my elderly neighbours to get their shopping lists. Once shopped I leave their requests on their front doorstep so they can pick up without having to be in contact with me. There is an incredible community feeling in the air (no doubt you have experienced the same) and I do hope that continues once we’re through the other side of this.
Although the Easter weekend is over, it’s still a lovely idea to treat you and your family to a delicious roast. Instead of my usual large family get together over the Easter weekend with a range of delicious dishes, it was a small affair with my parents. Although there were less of us around the table, we decided that we should still have a good meal, albeit on a much smaller scale. We usually have lamb at Easter, however we have been finding it easier to get hold of chicken at the moment so have been experimenting with different ways to cook with what we can find in the way of fresh meat to keep mealtimes interesting.
During the time I’ve spent in the kitchen whilst self-isolating, I have created three easy ways to add delicious flavours to a traditional roast using pantry ingredients. I’m sure you will have many of these basics at home too, so during a time where we’re all being kinder to one another, I wanted to share my recipes with you.
ROAST LAMB WITH MINT, GARLIC, LEMON JUICE AND HONEY
This is a very simple way to roast lamb and is versatile enough to use for lamb steaks too. If you have fresh mint growing in your garden brilliant, otherwise dried will do.
With the fresh mint, lay two large handfuls at the base of a tray. If you are using dried mint, add two tablespoons to the top of the meat with salt and pepper. Take a garlic bulb and break it up. Use about six cloves of garlic (give them a bash to break their skins) and pop them on the bottom of the pan with the mint. Chop up an onion into chunks and add those too before placing the lamb on top. By creating a small gap under the lamb the fat will drip off and give you a great base for a gravy to go with your meal. Mix together three tablespoons of honey with one tablespoon of lemon juice and drizzle over the lamb. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper and it’s ready to cook.
PESTO, PARSLEY AND ALMOND ROAST CHICKEN
This might read like an odd mix of ingredients, but I promise you it works really well. This creation is the perfect example of using only what was already in our pantry.
In a blender add five cloves of garlic, 150g butter, 100g ground or flaked almonds, a good handful of fresh parsley (if you don’t have this, one tablespoon of dried parsley, dried oregano or even herbs de Provence will do just fine). Add a good glug of olive oil along with salt and pepper. Whiz it up then gently coat the chicken in it. Add a few flaked almonds if you have them on top for decoration or if you like a little crunch. Pop it in the oven whilst you prep your veg.
LEMON, HONEY AND HERB ROAST CHICKEN
This is a really easy way to flavour a roasted chicken. I particularly like it because it keeps the delicious citrus flavours whilst bringing out the earthy herbs. At home, we have a little rosemary and thyme plant on the kitchen window sill. Again, if you don’t have fresh herbs, dried will work just as well for this recipe. Trust me, your kitchen will smell incredible when this is cooking!
Mix together the juice of one lemon, or roughly two tablespoons of pantry bottle lemon juice, with two tablespoons of honey. Drizzle it over the chicken, give it a good rub in and wash your hands well after. If you have used a fresh lemon, pop the already squeezed wedges to the pan. Add good handfuls of the herbs, a sprinkle of salt and pepper before finally drizzling with olive oil and placing in the oven.
Easter may be over, but it’s still nice to treat yourself to some sweet treats whilst the shops are still full of our favourites. If you have some sweet-toothed fiends at home, then try some of my fun treat recipes. Not only do these taste great, getting the kids involved to make them is a creative activity and a lovely way to spend some time over the bank holiday weekend. The only tricky decision you need to make is agreeing which to make first – the Mini Egg cookie tray bake or Cadbury’s Crème Egg pancakes!