Entertaining | An easy Easter brunch for six

Entertaining

An easy Easter brunch for six

If you're planning ahead for Easter weekend and don't fancy doing the traditional big Easter Day lunch how about a brunch instead? Here's my menu for this time of year ...

I always try and lay on some kind of fruit compote or fruit salad but it’s a bit early for berries so I’ve suggested a dried fruit compote made with redbush tea and served with rich, creamy yoghurt.

The centrepiece is a twist on a traditional kedgeree from my book Food, Wine and Friends, made with smoked salmon - a real crowd pleaser and to finish, a couple of recipes for home-made muffins which I suggest should be freshly baked by any willing helper you can rope in. Or simply buy in some croissants, re-heat them and serve them with some good breads and toast and a range of interesting jams.

You can also set up your own juice bar (see my Beginners’ guide to juicing) or make my simple St Clement’s Punch.

Menu:

Dried fruit compote with redbush tea, cinnamon and honey
Smoked salmon kedgeree
Banana and honey muffins
Bacon, onion and Cheddar muffins
St Clement's Punch

Dried fruit compote with redbush tea, cinnamon and honey

I always have South African redbush (Rooibos) tea in the cupboard. It makes a great caffeine-free alternative to ordinary tea. You can also use it to make this delicious fruit compote.
Serves 6

3 redbush teabags
400g mixed dried fruit (I’d suggest about 100g each dried apricots*, prunes and figs, 50g dried apple or pineapple and 50g raisin mix which you’ll usually find in the fruit and vegetable section of the supermarket)
1-2 tbsp runny honey
1 stick of cinnamon
4 cloves
1 thinly pared slice of orange rind
50g whole almonds
Greek yoghurt to serve

Put the teabags in a jug, pour in 700ml of boiling water, leave to infuse for 4 minutes then remove the teabags. Put the dried fruit in a saucepan and pour over the tea. Add 1 tbsp of the honey, cinnamon, cloves and orange rind, stir and bring to the boil. Simmer the fruit for 5 minutes then turn off the heat and check for sweetness, adding the remaining honey if you think it needs it. Cover the pan and leave to cool. Remove the cinnamon stick, cloves and orange rind and add the almonds. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Spoon into individual glass bowls or dishes and top with a dollop of creamy Greek yoghurt
* I would use standard rather than organic apricots for this recipe because the colour is brighter.

Smoked salmon kedgeree

Kedgeree is an Anglo-Indian dish which stems from the days of the Raj. This party version is based on a relatively new product - lightly smoked salmon which gives it a particularly luxurious flavour. If you can’t find it use organic salmon and add a little bit of smoked salmon at the end when you add the prawns.
Serves 6

3 large fresh eggs
250g undyed skinless, boneless smoked haddock or cod fillet
250g lightly smoked skinless, boneless salmon fillet or ordinary salmon fillet
3 tbsp sunflower oil or other light oil
1 medium onion (about 125-150g) peeled and finely chopped
2-3 tsp good quality mild curry powder or pilau rice seasoning
300g basmatti rice
175g cooked peeled prawns, thawed if frozen
40g soft butter
2-3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 heaped tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves and a few whole leaves for decoration
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Prick the eggs if you have an egg pricker and lower them carefully into the water and boil for 10-12 minutes depending on the size of the eggs. Drain off the water, pour cold running water over the eggs then leave to cool in cold water.
Put the smoked haddock and salmon into a larger pan and pour over just enough cold water to cover. Bring gradually to the boil then once the water is bubbling, draw the pan off the heat and cover it with a lid or a piece of foil. Leave for 5 minutes then carefully remove the fish fillets. Pour the cooking water into a jug up to the 600ml mark and set aside.
Heat the oil in another heavy duty pan or casserole and fry the onion over a moderate heat for about 6-7 minutes until starting to turn dark brown at the edges. Sprinkle in the curry powder or rice seasoning (I use 3 tsp but use 2 if you want a slightly milder flavour). Add the rice, stir again and pour in the reserved water you used for cooking the fish. Bring to the boil then turn the heat right down and cover the pan. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Meanwhile shell and quarter the eggs. Set aside six quarters and roughly chop the rest. Flake the fish being very careful to remove any remaining bones. Once the rice is cooked, fork it through and tip in the cooked fish, prawns and eggs, cover the pan and leave for 5 minutes on a very low heat. Turn off the heat, add the butter, fork through, season with the lemon juice and a little salt and pepper if you think it needs it and fork through the chopped coriander. Serve on a warm platter decorated with the quartered eggs and the remaining coriander leaves.
* You can keep the kedgeree covered in the pan for about 15-20 minutes before serving it or transfer to a very low oven and keep it for about 30-40 minutes.

Banana and honey breakfast muffins

Makes about 12 small or 6 larger muffins

50g unsalted butter
2 tbsp clear honey (about 55g)
1 heaped tbsp natural unsweetened yoghurt
About 60ml milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 level tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 medium-ripe banana (yellow rather than green or speckled with black)
Unrefined caster sugar for topping

You’ll need 1 x 12 hole small muffin or tartlet tins and some small paper cases
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5. Line the hollows in the tin with the paper cases. Gently heat the butter in a pan with the honey. Set aside and cool slightly. Put the yoghurt in a measuring jug and mix in enough milk to bring it to just over the 100ml mark. Stir in the vanilla extract. Sieve the flour into a bowl with the baking powder, cinnamon and salt and hollow out a dip in the centre. Pour the honey and butter mixture, beaten egg and yoghurt and milk into the flour and mix in lightly and swiftly with a large metal spoon to get a rough batter. (Don’t overmix - it doesn’t have to be completely smooth). Peel the banana, slice it thinly into the batter and fold in lightly so that all the slices are coated. Spoon the batter into the muffin cases and sprinkle each with a little caster sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes or until fully risen and well browned. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack and eat as soon as cool enough to handle.

Bacon, onion and cheddar muffins

Makes about 12 small muffins or 6 larger ones

1 tbsp sunflower or other cooking oil
75g cubed pancetta or bacon lardons
1 small onion (about 75g), peeled and finely chopped
50g butter
1 heaped tbsp natural unsweetened yoghurt
About 60ml milk
150g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 level tsp salt
15g finely grated parmesan cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
40g coarsely grated mature cheddar cheese

You’ll need 1 x 12 hole small muffin or tartlet tins and some small paper cases

Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5. Line the hollows in the tin with the paper cases. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and fry the pancetta or lardons for a couple of minutes until they start to brown. Add the onion, stir and cook over a low to moderate heat for another 5 minutes until the onion is soft then set aside to cool. Gently melt the butter in another pan and leave to cool. Put the yoghurt in a measuring jug and mix in enough milk to bring it to just over the 100ml mark. . Sieve the flour into a bowl with the baking powder and salt. Add the parmesan and hollow out a dip in the centre. Pour the beaten eggs, melted butter and yoghurt and milk into the flour and mix lightly and swiftly with a large metal spoon to get a rough batter. (Don’t overmix - it doesn’t have to be completely smooth). Fold in the bacon and onions. Spoon the batter into the muffin cases and sprinkle each with a little grated cheddar. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until fully risen and well browned. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack and eat as soon as cool enough to handle.

St Clement’s Punch

A fresh, zesty citrus-based punch that’s packed with vitamin C. It obviously tastes best if you squeeze the fruit yourself but bought freshly squeezed juice is fine if you’re short of time
Serves 4-6

250ml freshly squeezed orange juice (about 4 oranges)
150ml freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice (1-2 grapefruit)
250ml chilled lemon refresher or traditional lemonade
1 tbsp Grand Marnier (optional)
Slices of orange and lemon to decorate

Simply pour the orange and lemon juice into a jug and top up with the lemon refresher and stir well. Add the Grand Marnier if using, stir again then add a few slices of orange and lemon to the jug and serve

What to drink
I think bubbly is by far the best wine by far for a brunch - champagne if you feel like splashing out but a good sparkling wine is perfectly good. I’d choose a blanc de blancs or sparkling chardonnay at this time of day - or an Italian prosecco. You can also, of course, make my low - or no-alcohol punch - and some fresh juices.

The photo which is not of my version of the salmon kedgeree but another one is © Martin Turzak - Fotolia.com. No reason why you can't add a few shell-on prawns though.

Got other ideas? Do email your favourite pairings to us at greatmatches@matchingfoodandwine.com. To subscribe to our free monthly newsletter and be eligible to enter our fabulous prize draws click here or to get notice of posts as soon as they're published click here.

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