I am certain I am not the only one welcoming in the long Easter weekend with open arms. The first of the spring bank holidays is one to be savoured, marking the beginning of the season of homegrown blooms, feasting outside and those longer, light filled evenings allowing you to stay for 'just one more' in the local pub garden. Easter Sunday holds religious sentiment with me also, it is truly a day to be celebrated with a joyful Easter service, the traditional lamb roast lunch and family.
We have been spoilt this spring with dazzling displays of narcissi, tulips and blossom in the last few weeks. My love affair with blossom season has been well and truly indulged this year, and the winding country roads and river banks of Buckinghamshire have not disappointed me once. I decided to capture as much of this fleeting bloom on its branch as I could (pop over to Instagram to take a look) preferring to photograph it on mass as opposed to mixed in with other seasonal blooms to highlight its simple and ethereal beauty. It has had me dreaming up ideas for an apple orchard shoot, catching the cerise buds as they are just about to spring open, and I have been up to my usual tricks peering over hedges and pulling up in country lanes in search of the perfect spot.
I am stepping into the Easter weekend with another food related post, using the meringue recipe from one of my favourite cooks Sophie Dahl. I believe it is the perfect pudding following a heavy roast lunch; light-as-air meringues dressed with a generous spoonful of tart lemon curd and topped with the satisfying crunch of hazelnuts. I am not a huge lover of cream but for those that are, a final lick of single cream as you serve would probably go down a treat. Top with whatever you have to hand, whether that be edible flowers from the garden or a curl of lemon rind if you are feeling fancy. The benefit here of a lighter pudding means more space for the mid afternoon Easter egg gorge too...
A simple lemon meringue pudding... serves 6
6 large egg whites
340g caster sugar
1 pinch of salt
4 unwaxed lemons, zest and juice
200g caster sugar
100g butter, cut into small chunks
3 eggs, plus one extra egg yolk
1. Preheat the oven to 140c/gas 1 and line a large baking tray with baking parchment paper. 2. In a very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until they reach firm peaks.
3. Gradually mix in the sugar and whisk well until the mixture is a thick spool of white (this usually takes about 8 minutes or so)
4. Spoon the mixture into individual nests on to the baking tray, leaving a generous gap between the. Bake for one hour.
5. Whilst the meringues cook, make the lemon curd. Put the lemon zest and juice, the sugar and the butter into a heatproof bowl. Sit the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, stirring the mixture every now and again until all of the butter has melted.
6. Lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolk and stir them into the lemon mixture. Whisk until all of the ingredients are well combined, then leave to cook for 10-13 minutes, stirring every now and again, until the mixture is creamy and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
7. Remove the lemon curd from the heat and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally as it cools. Once cooled, spoon the lemon curd into sterilised jars and seal.
8. When ready, assemble the meringues with a generous spoon of lemon curd on top and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped hazelnuts and as many edible flowers as you can get away with.
I hope you have a wonderful Easter bank holiday weekend with loved ones, taking time to slow down and savour every minute of this beautiful springtime. Following a relaxed few days, I will be visiting lovely British flower growers in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire next week to chat through exactly what will be available to my lovely brides, and I cannot wait to see what is in bloom already. There is also the allotment to be tended, venue visits to be completed and flower plans to be finalised before the summer season gets into full swing...