I love Easter, and what's best is that it comes with a long weekend. With the weather picking up there's so many things you can do to make the most of the break.
I like to make the best of both worlds with a day trip to some of the fabulous towns, villages and countryside close to London. One of my favourite spots is Oxford. It's so much more than an ancient university town, it's also the location of the oldest botanic garden in the UK, and a 70-acre park and of course Raymond Blanc's Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons. This world-famous hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant is the perfect antidote to a day of punting, exploring and cobblestones!
For a less energetic day, I love the pretty village of Eynsford, in Kent. With many beautiful spots along the River Durant, I recommend you pack a picnic! And if you need to walk off your lunch, explore the grounds and wonderful gardens of nearby Lullingstone Castle.
Woodstock is another place I like to visit where you can really let your hair down. As well as being home to Winston Churchill's historic birthplace, Blenheim Palace, this picturesque village is crammed with artsy shops and cafes, making it worth visiting in its own right.
However, if I've been really busy recently, nothing beats a long weekend in luxurious surroundings, and there are dozens of fabulous boutique hotels in easy reach of London, offering everything from chill-out sumptuousness, to spa day extravagance! For a quick and easy getaway, my favourites include: Cowley Manor, The Grange, The Forbury and Cliveden.
Staying a bit closer to home, I'm also a huge fan of celebrating Easter with fresh, vibrant garlands and decorations. After all, there's no reason to keep decorations just for Christmas! It doesn't need to be time consuming or expensive, but it will give your home a welcoming, spring feel! I like to make it a tradition with my family every year and give the children something to look forward to. One of my particular favourites is to place a thick base of straw in a gleaming vase, then fill with bright, multi-coloured eggs. For a stunning spring time feel, I also like to put different-sized vases in clusters around my home.
Another tradition I like to do at Easter is to source some un-bloomed cherry blossom from my garden (or from the local florist!), place in a tall vase and as the blossom comes into bloom, I hang delicate painted eggs from them with brightly coloured ribbons. This is a lovely tradition to have with children, they get involved and so excited when the flowers start to push through!
And what about food! There is nothing better than a delicious Celeriac Remoulade, it's a creamy, crunchy classic this time of year! Renowned for its ugly appearance, celeriac's beauty is most definitely to be found within! This is my variation of "Celeriac Remoulade", a classic French salad which can be as simple as grated celeriac mixed with herbs and mayonnaise. I've livened it up a little, and made it even tastier, and healthier:
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Wheat Free, Gluten Free, Vegetarian
You will need:
- 50ml crème fraiche
- 1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon cornichons, roughly chopped
- 200g celeriac root, peeled and roughly grated
- 1 small apple, peeled, cored and grated
- 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- In a large bowl, mix the crème fraiche, mustard, lemon juice, capers, and chopped cornichons.
- Just before serving, add the grated celeriac and apple, and the parsley. Mix well, to blend completely with the sauce.
- Squeeze of fresh lemon, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Spoon the salad onto individual serving plates, and top with another squeeze of lemon juice, and pepper. Serve the salad as soon as possible, to prevent discoloration.
Cornichons are small pickled gherkins, usually tangy and crunchy. If you can't find them, simply use chopped pickled gherkins instead.
This salad marries wonderfully with smoked fish - the silkiness of the fish is perfectly balanced with the crunchy bite of the celeriac. For a simple yet delicious lunch, simply top any leftovers with slices of smoked fish, and serve with a handful of baby greens.
For more delicious recipes like this, my book 'The Balance Diet' is available from Amazon.