Sunday 4 December 2016

Rachel Allen's recipes for Easter Leftovers

When today's feasting is finished, Rachel Allen has recipes for using your leftover lamb and any chocolate you can find. Photography by Tony Gavin

Rachel Allen

Published 06/04/2015 | 02:30

Rachel Allen can't resist spring lamb. Photo: Tony Gavin
Rachel Allen can't resist spring lamb. Photo: Tony Gavin
Lamb broth with haricot beans

My sister (being four years older than me), has always been the organised one. She used to call a 'conference' each year, a few days after Easter Sunday. We'd have a meeting in her bedroom to decide what we were going to bake with our leftover Easter eggs. We'd scheme about the different chocolate cakes or buns we were going to make, pooling our resources to find out what we could really achieve. I haven't changed much. I always try and find creative ways to use leftovers, whether they're from Easter eggs or from a succulent roast of sweet spring lamb.

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This year, we'll be having lamb again for Easter Sunday. I just can't resist that first lamb of the season, so sweet and mild. Though they're small this time of year, I hope there'll still be some leftovers. This lamb broth, opposite, is a really divine recipe that seems the perfect way to use any excess meat. It's quite a simple dish to put together, but so nourishing and comforting. The parsley pesto recipe is fabulous and well worth making, but the broth would, of course, work with whatever pesto you have in your fridge, or even just some chopped parsley and a good drizzle of olive oil.

Using leftover chocolate is perhaps more useful to consider - I can rest assured that there'll be lots in our house! These two chocolate recipes, opposite, are very good for melting down any hodgepodge of different chocolates that you've collected from around the place.

Chocolate mendiants are almost effortless to make but, with the right toppings, they can be quite impressive and quite delicious. Essentially, they're just chocolate disks, but with a sprinkling of chilli flakes and salt, or even gold leaf and crystallised ginger, you can have a dramatic dinner party dessert - or after-school snack.

The chocolate biscuit cake recipe is a great post-Easter treat. You could use digestives, but I do think it's good with a more intriguing biscuit such as ginger nuts. Of course, this recipe is just a guideline, you could add in any nuts, dried fruit or even chocolate-bar pieces that you'd like to!

Lamb Broth with Haricot Beans

Lamb broth with haricot beans
Lamb broth with haricot beans

Serves 4.

You will need:

120g (4oz) dried haricot beans, soaked in cold water overnight; or 1 x 400g (14oz) tin of cooked, drained beans, (retain the liquid)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion medium, about 200g (7oz) finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 stalks of celery, about 150g (5oz) chopped, 1cm (about ½in) dice

2 medium carrots, about 250g (9oz), peeled and chopped, 1cm (about ½in) dice

175g (6oz) leftover cooked lamb, sliced into pieces ½-2cm (less than ¼in-about 1in)

550ml (20fl oz) chicken or lamb stock

200ml (7fl oz) reserved bean cooking liquid

1 tablespoon parsley pesto (see below)

First, if you're using dried haricot beans, cook them. Drain off the soaking water then place the haricot beans in a pot, cover them with fresh cold water, bring up to the boil and cook until soft - about 45-60 minutes. When they're cooked, they should be completely tender with no bite. Drain the beans, but save 200ml (7fl oz) of the cooking liquid.

Put a large saucepan on a medium heat and add the olive oil. Tip in the finely chopped onion and the finely chopped garlic, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook for five minutes, covered, on a low heat until soft. Add the diced celery and the diced carrots and cook for 7-10 minutes until they are just soft. Add in the sliced leftover lamb, the haricot beans, the chicken stock or the lamb stock, whichever you're using, and the reserved bean cooking liquid, or the reserved liquid from the tin of beans, whichever you're using, and simmer for 15 minutes until all the flavours have mingled. Season to taste with more salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve in warm bowls with a drizzle of the parsley pesto - see the recipe below - over the top.

Parsley pesto

Fills a 200ml (7fl oz) jar.

You will need:

1 clove of garlic, crushed

Salt

25g (1oz) pine nuts

50g (2oz) parsley leaves, chopped

25g (1oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

100ml (3½fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for the top

If you have a large pestle and mortar, first add the crushed garlic clove with a pinch of salt and pound it until smooth. Next, add the pine nuts and pound until they are coarsely crushed. Then, add the chopped parsley leaves and pound together with the pine nuts and garlic until you have a coarse paste. Lightly mix in the freshly grated Parmesan cheese using the pestle, followed by all of the extra-virgin olive oil. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Alternatively, if you'd like to use a food processor, put the the crushed garlic, the pine nuts, the chopped parsley leaves and the freshly grated Parmesan cheese into the food processor and whizz up until coarse. Add the extra-virgin olive oil and a good pinch of salt and taste, adding more salt if necessary.

Pour the pesto into a sterilised jar and cover with 1cm (½in) of extra-virgin olive oil and store it in the fridge, where it will keep for up to three months.

Mendiants

Makes 20.

You will need:

100g (3½oz) dark, milk or white chocolate, roughly broken in to small pieces, or chopped

Place the dark, milk or white chocolate, whichever you're using, in a heatproof bowl and place the bowl over a saucepan of water on a low heat. Bring the water to a simmer, then take it off the heat and let the chocolate melt in the bowl, stirring it from time to time.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Carefully drop a teaspoon of liquid chocolate on the paper, it will spread out slightly to form a round disc. Repeat for all the remaining chocolate. Then carefully, while the chocolate is still liquid, add any of a variety of toppings - see the list at the end of this recipe for inspiration.

Put the tray of mendiants somewhere cool to set, then carefully lift them off the paper and serve.

If you're making these in advance - which you can, up to a few days - make sure to store them somewhere cool, but preferably not the fridge, as they will 'sweat'.

Toppings to try:

Dried fruit such as dried cranberries, raisins, sultanas, or candied peel; chopped crystallised ginger; nuts such as whole (or chopped) almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts, pecans; a pinch of dried chilli flakes; a pinch of ground cinnamon or ginger; sea salt flakes; a little gold leaf!

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Makes 16 slices.

You will need:

150g (5oz) good-quality dark chocolate, chopped

150g (5oz) butter

2 large tablespoons golden syrup

225g (8oz) semi-sweet biscuits, such as digestives, crushed (you can do this in a bowl using your hands, or put them in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin)

25g (1oz) hazelnuts or almonds, toasted and chopped (optional)

First, melt the chopped dark chocolate with the butter and the golden syrup in a large bowl that is sitting over a saucepan of simmering water on a low heat.

Stir in the crushed biscuits and the chopped toasted hazelnuts or almonds, whichever you're using, if you're using them, until everything is well-blended. Spread into a 23cm (9in) diameter round cake tin or a 20cm (8in) square tin, lined with greaseproof or parchment paper.

Refrigerate the cake for a couple of hours until it is well set, or pop it into the freezer for 45 minutes.

Cut into 16 pieces to serve.

Rachel's tip

Parsley is an alternative to the basil used traditionally in pesto. You could also try adding a spoonful of marjoram leaves, or even replacing the parsley with rocket leaves, for rocket pesto

Rachel recommends

The last few years have seen a real resurgence in tea shops around the country. I love dropping into a tea shop for a piece of cake and a cup of tea. If you're thinking about opening your own tea shop, it's worth getting all the help and advice you can. The Ballymaloe Cookery School is running a course this month to teach you to do just that. They'll cover everything you'll need to know, from the business premises and costs, to staff and marketing, while teaching all sorts of different recipes for cakes, biscuits, scones, salads and much more.

'Start your own Cafe or Tea shop' runs from Monday, April 13, to Friday, April 17.

See cookingisfun.ie

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