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Paschal pleasures

11 April 2014

by Simon Walsh


DESPITE being a great feast, Easter falls behind in recipes. Perhaps its moveability influences this, and it is a little more relaxed than the demands of Christmas. These recipes help mark the liturgical calendar, but are as good at other times, too - like the perennial popularity of chocolate, and the eternal message of the resurrection itself.

Thankfully, Omelette Arnold Bennett stayed on the menu after the Savoy Hotel's recent refurb. Created for the famous novelist guest, it is a nice way to ease out of Lent whilst still keeping Friday for fish, once Easter Week is past.

200g (¼ lb) smoked haddock
300ml (½ pt) full milk
5 eggs
30g (1 oz) flour
25g (¾ oz) butter
60g (2 oz) cheddar cheese, grated

Gently simmer the haddock and milk together in a pan for ten minutes; then leave to cool. Remove the fish to a bowl, and flake it with a fork. Add the butter and flour to the milk, and bring to the boil, whisking all the time, to create a thick white sauce. Season, and turn off the heat.

Separate two of the eggs, and add the yolks to the white sauce, then stir the fish into this, too. Whisk the egg whites until thick and foamy, at the soft peak stage. Beat the three remaining eggs with seasoning, and fold in the whites. Heat one large frying pan (or two small ones) with a dash of oil, and pour in the egg mixture. When the bottom is solid (a minute or so) add the fishy white sauce mixture on top, then scatter over the cheese.

Place under a hot grill, and wait for the cheese to bubble and brown. Serve straight away with some watercress and crusty bread.

Simnel cakes began as a Mothering Sunday tradition, but are now more common at Easter, with marzipan balls standing for Jesus and the disciples. Here, it is made as individual cupcakes.

300g (11 oz) mixed fruit
2 eggs
120g (4 oz) butter, softened
120g (4 oz) soft brown sugar
2 teaspoons mixed spice
150g (5 oz) self-raising flour
1 tbsp each of milk and orange  juice
454g (1 lb) pack of yellow  marzipan

Soak the mixed fruit in the orange juice and stir. Beat together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs; fold in the flour, spice, fruit with juice, and milk. Chop one third of the marzipan into fingernail-size pieces, and mix in as well. Divide between 12 paper cases in a bun tin, and bake in a preheated oven at 180°/350°/Gas 4 for about 25 minutes, until light golden.

Roll out another third of the marzipan with icing sugar, and with a round pastry-circle make 12 circles; brush a little melted marmalade or jam over the cakes, and press the discs on top. Finally, form the remaining third into 12 balls, and place one in the centre of each cake. Brown the cakes under a hot grill, until they just colour.

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