Sunday 22 April 2018

Hosting Easter this year? Five top tips for a perfect day

Easter is a time that brings together friends and family, often over a celebratory meal. If you are hosting the big event this year and need some inspiration to channel your inner Nigella, follow these easy hacks and you’ll be the perfect host this weekend.

The perfect roast

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Roast lamb
 

Easter wouldn’t be complete without a magnificent roast joint on the table. Lamb has traditionally been served at Easter time because it’s wonderfully seasonal, and you can’t beat Irish-reared lamb. All of Aldi’s lamb is 100% Bord Bia approved and sourced from Irish farmers, guaranteeing meat that is quality assured and locally produced. 

If you are going for rustic, home-style cooking a leg of lamb is the ideal cut. To keep the meat moist, ensure you baste it several times through the cooking process- this means you avoid the meat drying out which can leave you with unappetisingly tough lamb. This is a simple, tasty recipe with a great basting method. The marmalade adds a tart sweetness which pairs well with a traditional mint sauce to serve.

If you are looking for a lamb dish that’s slightly more elegant, why not try a roast rack of lamb? This is one of those recipes that looks as impressive as it tastes- if you wrap each of the bones in foil you will avoid them darkening during the cooking process.

Blooming beautiful flowers

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Tulips
 

Easter wouldn’t be complete with some beautiful fresh flowers that hail the beginning of a new season. Daffodils are, of course, a perennial favourite at this time of year and are certainly a harbinger of warmer days.

For chic DIY table settings, write the name of each guest on a slip of coloured card, then attach the card to the neck of a small glass bottle with some ribbon or twine. Place three to four daffodils or tulips in each bottle and dot them along the table so guests know which seat to take. Given that Aldi is the largest Irish retailer of fresh flowers, you are certain to find the perfect blooms from their wide range of springtime blooms.

Wining and dining

After all that cooking, you want to make sure you have the perfect wine to pair with your food. With so many varieties it can be overwhelming choosing the right tipple, but with a few insider tips you’ll be your own sommelier come Easter Sunday.

Seafood pairs particularly well with a fruity bubbly wine and the clink of flutes raised to say ‘cheers’ is always a welcome start to a special occasion. For an enticing alternative to prosecco or Champagne, Crémant de Loire Blanc de Noirs (€11.99) is perfect paired with shellfish.

If you are serving roast lamb, a full-bodied red like The Fire Tree Sicilian Riserva (€9) is ideal, or else a cab sav works well with meat. Finca la Pampa Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignon (€12.99) is brimming with notes of berry, mint and vanilla. If your menu features spice, a crisp dry white like a Pinot Gris works well. Lot Series Ashwood Estate Gisborne Pinot Gris (€8.99) is a New Zealand offering and is the perfect foil for intense, fiery food.

Egg-cellent treats for all

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Exquisite Imperial Egg
 

Chances are this weekend you’ll have plenty of guests dropping by, or maybe you will be visiting a few different households. Whichever the case, Easter eggs make a beautiful gift for friends and family. However, one egg doesn’t necessarily fit all anymore.

With dietary requirements becoming increasingly more common, lots of people cannot eat products such as dairy or sugar. Luckily, Aldi has an extensive range of chocolate eggs that cater to all different needs. Before the weekend, double check if any guests or friends have any dietary requirements so you are stocked up with the appropriate treats. From gluten free eggs, to Belgian Chocolate eggs that are sugar free, and Moo dairy free eggs, you’ll be certain you are gifting chocolate everybody can enjoy.

Easter eggs come in all shapes, sizes and prices, but you needn’t shell out huge amounts for quality, beautifully made eggs. Aldi’s Exquisite Imperial Egg is almost too beautiful to eat- the opulently engraved egg has been hand-decorated with gold lustre and an elegant dark chocolate seal. This 265g egg is absolutely stunning- and only €11.99.

Desserts to die for

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Ombre cake
 

An Easter meal isn’t complete without a wow-factor dessert. With so much cooking to do, you want a failsafe recipe that can be prepared easily but that looks spectacular when you set it down on the table. This Ombré Easter Cake fits the bill; the cascading shades of cream and chocolate look amazing, but are actually constructed simply by three stacked cakes covered in a thin layer of butter cream. The three cakes have the same base recipe, so you simply make one batch of batter, divide it into three and then add differing amounts of cocoa to each cake to achieve the ombré effect.

Ingredients

• 9 Medium Eggs

• 510g Caster Sugar

• 510g Self Raising Flour

• 510g Unsalted Butter, softened

• 2 tsp Vanilla Extract

• 3 tbsp Cocoa Powder

• 2-3 tbsp Milk, if needed to thin batter

For the buttercream

• 1kg The Pantry Icing Sugar

• 500g Unsalted Butter, softened

• 1-2 tbsp Milk

• 3-4 tsp Cocoa Power

To decorate

• Mini Eggs Choceur Truffles

• Large Choceur Chocolate Bunny

• Small Choceur Chocolate Bunny

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350˚F/Gas Mark 5 and grease 3 x 18cm cake tins and line with greaseproof paper.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Then, gradually add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is combined before adding another.

Next, stir in the vanilla extract and then fold the flour into the mix until completely combined. If the cake batter is too thick, add 2-3 tbsp of milk.

Pour 1/3 of the cake mix into one of the sandwich tins. If you want to be precise, you can do this on your scales to ensure there is the same amount in each tin (about 700g).

Add 1 tbsp of cocoa powder into the remaining cake mix and combine. Then pour the next 1/3 into the second cake tin. Next add the final tbsp of cocoa powder to the mix and pour into the final tin.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until a cocktail stick comes out clean, then turn the cakes out of the tins and leave until completely cool.

When the cakes have cooled, make the buttercream by beating the butter, icing sugar and milk together using an electric mixer until light, smooth and fluffy.

Begin by placing the chocolate sponge on a cake turntable, place a spoonful of the buttercream on the cake and use a pallet knife to smooth to the edge. Then place the second cake on top, repeat with the buttercream and top with the vanilla cake.

Ensure the cake is level and then place some buttercream on the top and gradually smooth down the sides to cover the cake in a thin coating of the buttercream. Leave the cake in the fridge for half an hour and then you will have a smooth crumb-free surface to decorate.

Place a couple of spoonfuls of the buttercream into 3 small bowls then mix cocoa powder into them to create a range of shades. For example, 2 tsp in the first bowl, 1 tsp in the second and so on.

Then, using a piping bag, pipe a row or two of the darkest frosting around the bottom of the cake followed by the next two shades (this should take you about 2/3 up the cake). Next, pipe the plain buttercream around the rest of the cake and on the top and holding a pallet knife slowly spin the cake using the turntable to smooth the icing together, wiping any excess off the pallet knife to create the ombré effect.

Finally, smooth the top of the cake and then use the remaining buttercream to pipe on the top and decorate with mini eggs and chocolate bunnies.

So there you have it- all it takes is a bit of planning and you’ll be able to pull off the perfect Easter dinner party like a pro. Importantly, throwing a dinner party shouldn’t mean you spend a lot of money. Aldi offers incredible quality at an incredible price and is a one stop shop for all your Easter shopping. Whether it is flowers, food, drink or gifts you’ll find everything you need under the one roof.

Sponsored by: AA

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