For centuries, Easter was the time when people feasted. It signified the end of Lent, Spring fruit and vegetables were coming through, and all sorts of goodies were in season.
Easter Sunday Lunch
Traditionally, this would have been lamb – but as a joint is heavy, and dangerous if you have to lift a heavy joint out of a very hot oven, why not have Salmon instead? Delicious, easy to cook and very healthy!
The very best salmon is Wild Salmon, caught with a rod in one of the many special rivers in Britain. If you are lucky enough to know a keen fisherman who offers you a fresh-caught salmon – grab it quickly! Otherwise, go to a good fishmonger, or the fish counter of your local supermarket, and ask for the best farmed salmon.
Price is probably the best indicator of quality. Avoid cheap farmed salmon, as inevitably it means the fish are raised in crowded pens, with little room to swim around. The less fish in a pen the more expensive it is to rear and the brttr for the fish’s health.
Saumon en papilotte (Salmon in a parcel)
You will need 1 salmon filet or steak (thick slice) 4 – 6 ozs per person
As soon as you get the salmon home, try and start this recipe. Once you have done the preparation, you can put it in the freezer, ready to be brought out on Easter Sunday. Unlike meat, fish goes off quickly, hence the reason for freezing before this happens.
You will need a piece of baking paper or tinfoil (about 12″ x 18″) per fillet, in which to wrap the salmon and veg. – so it makes a parcel looking like a Cornish pasty. Have ready 18 x 15-inch pieces of parchment paper or tinfoil – 1 per fillet.
Fold the long side in half and cut into a heart-shape. The parchment paper should be large enough to contain one portion of fish and vegetables folded in half. Brush each piece of parchment paper with vegetable oil or melted butter
Then place the salmon on the buttered paper, add a knob of butter and include any of the following:that you like –
- small amount of onion (spring or any mild kind you like)
- 2 – 3 Asparagus spears
- grated carrots
- part-cooked green beans
- lemon slices
- parsley or dill
- and a tablespoon of white wine per fillet (or use water or vegetable stock
Fold the other half of the paper over the fish and vegetables. Starting at one corner, tightly crimp the edges of the paper to seal it tightly, so it makes a neat parcel. Place parcels in the freezer, ready to bring out early on Easter Sunday
When you need to cook
Preheat oven to 400 – 450°F. (225-250C)
Place the pouches (papillote) on a baking sheet in very hot oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. When baked, the parchment paper should puff up and brown slightly.
Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Transfer the envelope to a plate. Carefully cut open and serve.
Or you can add to the drama and serve everyone their own parcel – makes for great fun as they cut it open! And this saves on washing up!
Serve with new potatoes with sprigs of mint.
For non-fish eaters, what about Cauliflower Cheese – Another seasonal recipe (suitable for vegetarians. There are lots of recipes on YouTube – I liked this one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g43KnP9J4Xo
But do add the breadcrumbs if you like a good crunch!
- 1 pint double cream
- 8 ozs single cream
- 10 ozs caster or icing sugar
- 3 tablespoons grated lemon zest (it’s a bore to do but gives a wonderful flavour)
- 5 egg yolks
- 6 – 8 ozs freshly squeezed lemon juice (sorry, it has to be fresh, not bottled)
Put double cream, sugar and lemon zest in a saucepan, gently bring to simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved (about 5 mins). Remove from heat and let it rest for 10 mins.
Beat egg yolks in a separate bowl, Add the mixture in pan to eggs in bowl slowly and gently, then pour back into saucepan (doing it this way so it doesn’t curdle). Stir over low heat until mixture thickens (about 10 mins) then cool, cover and leave in fridge overnight.
Next day, stir in lemon juice, and freeze in a covered container until you need it. Take out of freezer a few minutes before you need to eat (time depends on how hot the day!)
Decorate with swirls of cream / crystallised violets or flowers / miniature easter eggs.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s worthwhile searching out ‘local’ greengrocers that have started online deliveries during lockdown. In London, I use farm-direct.com, with an easy-to-navigate website, and a delivery area that is spreading across London. Every week I get a chatty email telling me what is seasonal (cob nuts, English grown figs and other goodies that appear for a few weeks), they have a tie-up with a sustainable fisherman, with info about what is going to be landed this week, and one can even choose to have Organic or ordinary fruit and veg. It’s the nearest thing I know to wandering around a French market, but from one’s chair.
I like the idea of supporting British farmers – you never know when we are really going to need them, so it’s best to encourage them to grow more of what we want.
This article first appeared on Scope (the Disability Charity)’s website.