Our Easter Menu – Spring Lamb & Chianti Gravy, and Super-Quick Lemon & Raspberry Cheesecake

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The other Sunday we decided to cook an early Easter meal for the four of us. It was a day when we were pottering about. The weather was great so Freddie and Sasha were kept amused outside, and meant that Adam and I could enjoy cooking together without us being too distracted, or rushed for time. Perfect, as we really do enjoy cooking together and trying new recipes and ideas out. It’s something we really must try and do more of!

As part of my #cookbook challenge, we decided to tackle a main and dessert from Jamie Oliver’s ’30 Minute Meals’- Spring Lamb (with veggies), Mint Sauce, Chianti Gravy & Steamed, Buttered Vegetables, and Quick Raspberry and Lemon Cheesecakes. I love lamb, as it really reminds me of spring time (sorry all you gambling lambs in fields!), and cooked right is just delicious. I also really associate lemon and raspberries with the start of summer, so we thought that this combo would make a great pre-Easter/ start of spring Sunday lunch. And whilst i’m adamant that Jamie’s meals take a good deal longer than 30 minutes, this is still relatively quick and easy!

Jamie’s Spring Lamb, Chianti Gravy, Mint Sauce, Vegetable Platter

You will need: 

For the lamb:

  • 1 quality 8-bone rack of lamb, fat removed
  • 1 2-piece pack quality lamb neck fillet, approximately 250g
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • white wine vinegar
  • 300 g cherry tomatoes on the vine

For the gravy:

  • 4 rashers higher-welfare smoked bacon
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
  • ½ glass red wine

For the vegetables:

  • 500 g baby new potatoes
  • 250 g baby carrots
  • 1 bunch fresh mint, stalks of
  • 1 organic chicken stock cube
  • 200 g fine beans
  • 200 g runner beans
  • ½ Savoy cabbage
  • 200 g frozen peas
  • 1 knob butter
  • ½ lemon

For the mint sauce:

  • 1 bunch fresh mint, leaves from
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon golden caster sugar


Get all your ingredients and equipment ready. Put a large frying pan and a large saucepan on a high heat. Fill and boil the kettle. Turn the oven on to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.

Halve the rack of lamb, then season with salt & pepper and add to the frying pan with a lug of olive oil.

Wash the potatoes and trim the tops of the carrots. Add everything to the large saucepan with a pinch of salt. Rip the leafy tops off the bunch of mint and put aside for the mint sauce. Make sure the band is still around the stalks, then add them to the saucepan. Just cover with boiled water and crumble in the chicken stock cube. Put the lid on.

Drizzle olive oil straight into the pack of neck fillet and season. Turn the racks of lamb then put the two neck fillets in the pan. Sear the ends of the meat and keep coming back to the pan and turning each piece so they brown all over. 

Pull the leaves off 3 sprigs of rosemary and put into a pestle & mortar with a good pinch of salt & pepper. Peel the garlic, add to the mortar, and pound really well. Turn the lamb over. Add Dijon mustard to the mortar with a good couple of lugs of olive oil and a swig of white wine vinegar. Mix well.

Make sure all sides of the lamb are seared, then use tongs to transfer all of it to a roasting tray. Pour away most of the fat in the pan, then put it back on a very low heat for the gravy. Spoon the dressing from the pestle & mortar over the lamb and put the vines of cherry tomatoes on top. Move everything around until well coated in the dressing. Sprinkle with salt, then whack on the top shelf of the oven and set the timer for 14 minutes for blushing to medium meat, slightly less for rare, and more for well done. Turn the racks over halfway through.

Finely slice the bacon and put into the frying pan.

Finely chop the reserved mint leaves and add to the unwashed pestle & mortar. Pound, then add the red wine vinegar, caster sugar, a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of cooking water from the veg pot. Muddle together with the pestle, have a taste to check the balance, and add a tiny splash of extra virgin olive oil. Take to the table with a spoon. 

Turn the heat under the bacon right up and add the leaves from the rosemary. Stir in the flour, red wine and a few ladles of cooking water.

Trim all the beans and put the runner beans through a runner bean slicer or slice at an angle, 1cm thick. Cut the Savoy cabbage half in two and click off any tatty outer leaves, then discard the stalk. Cut the cabbage into thin wedges. Add the cabbage, beans and peas to the saucepan, then stir and put the lid back on.

Turn the lamb over. If your tomatoes are colouring too much, lean the meat on top of them.

Stir in a spoonful of cooking water if needed.

When the 14 minutes are up, take your lamb out of the oven and leave it to rest for a minute.

Drain the veg in a colander, then return them to the pan. Drizzle well with extra virgin olive oil, and add a good pinch of salt & pepper and a knob of butter. Squeeze over the juice of ½ a lemon and toss well. Tip on to a large serving platter and take to the table.

Taste and correct the seasoning, then pour into a gravy boat and take to the table.

Cut the racks into individual chops and slice up the neck fillet. Pile on a platter. Move most of the cherry tomatoes to the platter on top of the lamb, mushing the rest into the cooking juices. Stir in a good lug of extra virgin olive oil, then drizzle over the platter and serve.

Quick Lemon and Raspberry Cheesecakes

You will need:

  • 50g butter
  • 50g blanched hazelnuts
  • 8 gingernut biscuits
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 heaped teaspoons good quality lemon curd
  • 1 punnet raspberries (approx 150g)
  • 250g light or low fat  cream cheese, marscapone cheese or creme fraiche
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract
  • A splash of milk
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar
  • Good quality dark chocolate for grating ( approx 70% cocoa solids


Place 4 tumblers for these cheesecakes into the freezer.

Put the butter into a medium frying pan on a high heat.

Wrap the hazelnuts and biscuits in a clean tea towel and quickly bash with a rolling pin.

Turn the heat off under the melted butter, tip in the bashed nuts and biscuits and stir.

Finely grate in the lemon zest and mix well.

Take the tumblers out of the freezer and divide the mixture between them, gently patting it down until firm.

Put 1 heaped teaspoon of lemon curd into each tumbler and top with a few raspberries.

Spoon the cream cheese, marscapone or creme fraiche into a bowl and add the vanilla paste or extract and a splash of milk.

Stir, then add the icing sugar and another splash of milk and mix really well until it looks soft and silky smooth.

Divide between the tumblers, scrape over a few gratings of dark chocolate and set aside until you are ready to serve.


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