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07 April 2012

Seasonal Spring Produce

La Bonne EtapHappy Easter! I love this time of year (sorry if I am making you puke with my positivity!) because I can literally feel the blanket of Winter depression lifting. The sun warms and soothes pale and pasty skin, the winter knits can be stored away and the food markets come alive with the vibrantly coloured fruit and vegetables now in season. It inspired me to cook up a lunch for a girlfriend and I decided it was too good not to share... So here it is!

Gertie's Spring Inspired Lunch:

Spring Lamb

The best lamb I've ever had, in fact the best meal I've ever had, was prepared by Jany Gleize at La Bonne Etape in the hills of Provence. They serve lamb from Sisteron, probably the most famous lamb in France...


1 shoulder of lamb (preferably from Sisteron)
12 cloves of garlic
200 ml of lamb stock
30 g of sliced truffles
50 ml sweet wine (Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, if you can find it)
30 ml brandy (Marc de Châteauneuf du Pape, which you most probably will not be able to find)
100 ml olive oil
20 g butter
salt and pepper


  1. Brown the two sides of the shoulder of lamb in a very hot pan with melted butter.
  2. Put into a hot oven and make sure it doesn't burn! Baste often. Cook for 7-10 minutes. Remove and let it rest.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the sliced truffles and cook for a few minutes. Add the brandy and sweet wine and let reduce slightly. Add the stock and let reduce.
  4. Before slicing the lamb on the bone in front of your guests, pour over the truffle sauce and let it infuse for 10-12 minutes.
  5. Serve with a mixed salad, hasselback potatoes (see below) and an AOC Côteaux de Pierrevert.

Hasselback Potatoes

I can't get enough of this Swedish version of roast potatoes, each one is left whole and with skin on (no hours with the potato peeler - bliss!) and is cut into thin slices across almost right through, but not quite, and then roasted in buttery oil; as they cook, the potatoes fan out, like slightly fleshy crisps with their bottoms still attached.

I use the French pompadour new potatoes but you can use any really (charlotte’s are good), as long as they’re not too big.


18 medium oval-shaped potatoes, about 125g each, or 36 new potatoes, approx. 60g each
45g butter
5 tablespoons olive oil
Maldon salt


Serves: 6.
  1. If you're using the larger potatoes, preheat the oven to 210°C/gas mark 7; for roasting new potatoes, preheat to 200°C/gas mark 6. Put each potato, in turn, in the bowl of a wooden spoon, like you would carry an egg in an egg-and-spoon race, and cut across at about 3mm intervals.
  2. When you've cut them all, put the baking tin on the hob with the butter and oil and heat up till sizzling. Turn the potatoes well, putting them in upside down (ie, cut side down) first, then the right side up, and spoon the fat over them.
  3. Sprinkle each potato well with salt and put in the oven: cook the large potatoes for about an hour and 10 minutes, testing to see whether the flesh is soft (you may need another 10 minutes for this); 40 minutes should be fine for the new potatoes.
  4. Transfer to a warmed plate, and serve.


An Aussie friend of mine gave me her grandma’s ’pav’ recipe. It's super easy, a people-pleaser and perfect for an Easter barbecue.


3 large fresh egg whites
6 oz (175 g) caster sugar
For the topping:
10 fl oz (275 ml) whipping or double cream, whipped
12 oz (350 g) mixed red fruits, already prepared


  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 2, 300°F (150°C)
  2. You will need a lightly oiled baking sheet, lined with baking parchment.
  3. Place the egg whites in a large clean bowl and have the sugar measured and ready. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and you can turn the bowl upside down without them sliding out. Then start to whisk in the sugar, approximately 1 oz (25 g) at a time, whisking after each addition until all the sugar is in. Now take a metal tablespoon and spoon the meringue mixture on to the prepared baking sheet, forming a circle about 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. Spoon extra mixture around the edges so that you build up walls of meringue and there is a hollow in the middle, like a nest.
  4. Now place the baking sheet in the oven, immediately turn down the heat to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C) and leave it to cook for 1 hour.
  5. Then turn the heat off but leave the Pavlova inside the oven until it's completely cold. You can actually make the meringue the night before you need it. Just leave it in the cold oven until you need it.
  6. To serve the Pavlova, lift it from the baking sheet, peel off the paper and place it on a serving dish. Then just before serving, spread the whipped cream on top, arrange the fruit on top of the cream and dust with a little sifted icing sugar. Serve cut into wedges.

Hot Cross Buns

I wish I could bake like James Martin but I can't! This however, is THE best recipe I've ever found for hot cross buns. They are so good! Give them a whirl!


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