In Italy Easter is known as Pasqua (pass-qua). Food and family is always the big thing on any Sunday in Italy so when the beeping of scooters and buzz of Ape's and the chiming of bells subsides, you know the Italians are sitting down to lunch which you can be equally sure Nonna taught Mamma to cook.
Wherever you go one a source of pride for any Mamma is to see you all cooking together! Our daughter Lily learned to bake cakes to wedding standard at Sara's elbow whilst Alex learned to carve meat and cook for lunch with his Mum and Dad (who was bought his shotgun licence by the local butcher at the age of thirteen!) who entertained for business. So, passing on skills and family traditions is just as much a part of our family life as it is in yours. This year Sara has made an Easter celebration menu so that you can cook as Squisito do and also buy the key ingredients to cook at home. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org
Now Squisito work on Sunday mornings in our shop or at Farmers Market we know that good planning and shopping in advance is the key to a successful celebration. So, here's Sara's shopping list and menu suggestions;
Squisito Antipasti Sharing Platter
Whether it's meat or vegetables, tasty morcels are what antipasti is all since it is said they should 'open the stomach' to prepare it for the following meal. We like to show off a few of our salami and preserves but what is nicer than a seasonal pesto ontop of a little toast or a homemade cicchetti (that's a "little bite" from the baccari of Venice) topped with homemade sausage. In March there's not a lot of fresh herbs about but you can usually find nettles which make good pesto and you can use dried cannellini or borlotti beans to make a tasty topping which can serve alongside roast pork. A Squisito salame platter works out at £4.00 per person - click here to see an example.
You can't beat a homemade terrine! A terrine is a dish that you can make days before since it keeps well in the fridge - which also means nice lunches during the week instead of a Coke, crisps and a chocolate bar deal. Pork makes a versatile terrine since you can marry it with so many flavours. Sweet goes with savoury so Alex's likes to add a bit of chicken liver marinated in brandy plus a bit of dried fruit and line terrine with pancetta so the terrine cuts cleanly and has plate appeal. Pair your terrine with a bit of sourdough bread toasts and a few pickles to enter gastropub Heaven.
Goat’s cheese has the ability to make a tasty salad and go one step further since the flavour of fresh goat’s cheese pairs nicely with mixed leaves and an interesting pesto. One of Sara’s most popular pesto at Farmers Market is Parsley & Lincolnshire Poacher Pesto which has a fresh and exciting flavours so different from boring supermarket imitations - perfect to impress your mum with your creativity!
An easy way of roasting lamb which is both decorative and rustic at the same time. Braising the lamb in wine at the second stage makes for succulent meat and produces rich wine gravy whilst roasting the veg together in one tray saves on the washing up and phaffing about so you can concentrate on talking to your guests!
A rib of beef is always a feast for the carnivores! Impressive, relatively easy to cook and very flavoursome since meat is tastiest on the bone and roasts best on the bone (remember that next time you think of buying a ribeye steak because you are paying the butcher to throw away the bone!) With good beef there’s no point in messing about with complicated flavours and cooking. A simple light rub with olive oil to stick the salt and pepper or celery salt and pepper mixed with a bit of mustard is more than adequate to protect the outside and give a bit of flavour to your gravy and roasted vegetables.If you are a bit bored with Yorkshire Puddings why not try making some old fashioned trenchers which are a bread base on which to serve up your beef and which soak up the meat juices and gravy?
Fiorentina Beef Ribs with Rosemary Potatoes
Beef is one meat that is most flavourful when cooked on the bone and none are more flavourful than rib or beef or short beef ribs slow cooked. Short beef ribs make an economical feast at any time of the year and are regarded by customers as one of our best comfort food recipes in the shop since they are easy, because they can be prepared days ahead to pop in the oven or slow cooker whilst you are out and ideal if you have herds of people around the table. You can also come back to Fiorentina Beef Ribs since they are just as good reheated. Alex makes his own Fiorentina Rib Rub to cure and season the ribs for slow cooking so you can use alternative cuts like chuck or silverside if like you prefer but our favourite is short ribs - impressive on the plate and great with rosemary roast potatoes, pasta or roast polenta.
If you reckon simplicity and good preparation will impress the family then this recipe is hard to beat even if it’s a bit ‘80s (probably suits Mum and Dad!) It’s also a colourful recipe you can prepare a day or so in advance and pop in the oven on the day so you can concentrate on thanking Mummy for a great job well done!
Our daughter Lily loves halloumi cheese which we all call ‘squeaky cheese’ since it has that quality when grilled. Paired with a nice chickpea salad dolled-up with roasted tomatoes you get something pretty out of the ordinary which can be made a bit in advance of serving so it’s just a case of whipping out the salad and grilling the cheese. Just remember to get you salad out of the fridge and hour or so beforehand otherwise it will just “taste of cold.” This salad is always scaleable and compiments a really nice chilled white wine like Pecorino from the Terre Chieti area or Inzolia from Sicily.
Ever popular with children of all ages belly pork with good crackling is scrumptiously nice and sticky. Buying a whole belly or middle is an economical way of having a feast and rilling the belly means you can fit a bigger piece in a small oven. A good dollop of apple sauce offsets the fat and makes excellent dipping sauce. The alternative and economical cut is shoulder of pork but you will get more meat and less crackling.
This classic Belgian casserole is a lesson in kitchen economy and proof that the cheapest and toughest cuts make the most flavoursome dinners. Whilst having an AGA maybe ruled for most out on cost a Slo-Cooker costs the same as a lightbulb to run and will have dinner for a huge tableful of people ready when you get home from work or a day out and give you a welcoming perfume that says ‘Home.’ Carbonnade is at its best if cooked ahead, cooled and then refrigerated before being reheated.
A box of chocolates always go down rather well with my Mum - especially the handmade variety - so this recipe features a handmade baked chocolate fondant with a simple-but-delicious cream pot to dip into and a handful of homemade biscuits to be naughty with some fruits of the forest. To really finish off the meal pick out some nice white side plates to serve up the fondant and see if you have some little glass pots to show of the lemon cream with maybe a couple of small leaves of mint to go with the fruits of the forest,
It's said in our house that "good cheese is a human rights issue" since there is nothing more disappointing than dull unripened generic supermarket cheese. Having seen Farmers Markets all over the country and in Italy, we've met more than a few great cheese makers but very rarely do you see their cheeses in any supermarket so one of our first priorities in our shop was a cheese counter that reflected a Farmers Market. It's said that France is a nation of cheese makers but that is increasingly so here. We like Cobbler's Nibble from Northampton, Oxford Blue, Barkham Blue and Lincolnshire Poacher just to name a few so we always plan a cheesboard that offers light and shade in both soft and blue cheeses. Ewes milk and goat's milk cheeses are sadly under-represented in England so we always feature a Pecorino from Sardinia and often a local one from people like Wobbly Bottom in Hertfordshire. A Squisito cheese platter works out about £4.00 per person.