The tasty treats at Easter go far beyond chocolate eggs and sweets

Hot cross buns
Hot cross buns

One of the things I love about Easter is the abundance of food traditions. Hot cross buns, Simnel cake, lamb, eggs, chocolate and Pax cakes are some of the indulgent foods signifying the end of the Lenten period.

The religious significance of three of the foods also has a particular resonance at this time of year. Hot Cross buns, are really lovely spicy yeast buns with a cross laid over the top. Simnel cake is a rich fruit cake with a topping of marzipan and is decorated with 11 almond paste balls representing the 11 apostles and excluding Judas who betrayed Jesus. Pax or peace cakes are little wholewheat pancakes traditionally handed out on Palm Sunday as a sign of peace and friendship.

It all makes for a contemplative time, with spring almost here, the harsh winter almost at an end (hopefully...) and lambing season with its new life in full swing.

This week I’m sharing the recipes for a three course Easter lunch, celebrating all that’s good about this time of year food wise.

Eggs play a pivotal part in the starter dish. The gentle smoky, spiciness of Chorizo combined with local leeks are the perfect base for the pert eggs. Enveloped in cream, topped with cheese and baked, this is real crowd pleaser to kick start any meal. You can have the individual dishes ready to cook and stored in the fridge.

For main course roast chicken takes the starring role. Buy a free range local chicken from your butcher for best results. The recipe here calls for the chicken to be soaked in a cider brine which doesn’t just add flavour but reduces shrinkage when cooked. The bird is then basted in a classic, simple Carolina barbecue sauce – moist chicken with a delicious sweet and sour coating. Rather than the usual functional vegetables, I’m mixing it up with a grilled corn and cabbage slaw. Grilling cabbage brings out a natural earthy sweetness. A few baked potatoes on the side and you’ll feel like you’re in rural Charleston!

Eggs and chocolate are synonymous with Easter and the finale to this meal is a raspberry ruffle meringue – billowy chocolate and coconut whipped egg whites, crisp on the outside, chewy in the middle, topped with chocolate ganache and raspberries.

A couple of hours break after this and you can get tucked into the Easter eggs.

Happy Easter!