Charlotte Smith-Jarvis cooks up an Easter feast using the first home-grown produce of the season

When I come home to find mud-caked carrier bags of hole-ridden parsnips, scarlet shards of rhubarb and gargantuan leeks on the doorstep from my dad’s allotment, I know two things.

One – it’s officially spring.

Two – I better come up with some darn good recipes for the above, because I’ll be seeing a lot of them over the coming weeks.

The arrival of Easter signals the beginning of the growing season and it’s a wonderful opportunity to get together with friends to enjoy the bounty and put some local colour on the table.

I come from a household of lamb loathers so it rarely cuts the mustard on special occasions. Instead we go for a big hunk of pork – usually shoulder or belly – but for a real showstopper, how about a beautiful loin on the bone?

And rather than apple sauce, why not have a go at a spiced, sweet and sour rhubarb sauce?

Here’s how.

Great British Life: Easter pork loinEaster pork loin (Image: Lucy Taylor)

Easter pork loin

Ask your butcher to prepare a loin on the bone, to clean and trim it up and to score the skin.

Drying it out completely before cooking, by leaving it uncovered on the bottom shelf in the fridge, smearing it in a little oil and giving a liberal sprinkling of salt before cooking gives the perfect crackling.

I cooked it for 45 minutes first at 200C to get the crackling going, and then for another 45 minutes at 180C. For large pieces of meat like this I really recommend getting a meat thermometer so you can always be sure it’s perfectly cooked inside.

A piece this large easily serves six to eight people with leftovers. And don’t forget to save the pan juices to make your own gravy. Pour the fat from the top of the roasting dish into a cup and put your roasting dish on the hob. Add a stock cube and scrape the sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour in a good splash of cyder and save the rest for your leeks. Put a tablespoon of cornflour in a small bowl and add enough of the pork fat to make a loose paste. Add this to the gravy pan and whisk to thicken. Top up with a pint of water and allow to boil away to the consistency you want.

Great British Life: Spiced rhubarb relishSpiced rhubarb relish (Image: Lucy Taylor)

Spiced rhubarb relish

To go with our Easter pork loin, I put together a simple rhubarb relish, which can be served warm or cold, and takes only about 20 minutes to prepare. It is absolutely delicious and I urge you to give it a go.


100g sugar

50g cider vinegar

1tbsp grated fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, chopped finely

1/2tsp cumin

1/4tsp cinnamon

1/4tsp ground cloves

400g rhubarb cut into small pieces

½ red onion, chopped into small pieces


It’s as easy as this. Chuck it all in a pan, put it on a medium to low heat, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes until the onion is softened.

Fizzy orange and ginger beer jellies with rhubarb

A light pud, and even after a belly-busting main course, you should just about be able to squeeze it in.


2 stalks rhubarb cut into 1cm pieces

2 pieces of preserved stem ginger (I used Opie’s)

50g sugar

600ml orange juice

600ml good quality ginger beer

8 leaves gelatine

For the candied rhubarb

1 stalk rhubarb sliced very thinly into pieces about 4cm long

100g sugar

50g water


Put the gelatine in a small bowl with cold water and leave to soak according to packet instructions.

Stew the rhubarb with the 50 sugar until soft and grate in the stem ginger. Put about 3tbsp into the bottom of each of your serving glasses.

Warm the orange juice in a pan. Squeeze out the gelatine and add it to the juice, stirring to dissolve. Allow the mix to cool slightly then add the ginger beer and stir.

Top up each glass with the orange mixture and put in the fridge to set (about 4-5 hours).

For the candied rhubarb put the sugar and water in a small pan and boil until the sugar is melted and has started to thicken a little (it will only just coat the back of a spoon). Add the sliced rhubarb and, using tongs, remove each piece individually, placing them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Cook in a very low oven, 100C, for about an hour. They will be dehydrated but still a bit sticky. Cool.

To serve, put a dollop of cream on each jelly and top with a few bits of candied rhubarb.

Great British Life: Flowerpot cupcakesFlowerpot cupcakes (Image: Lucy Taylor)

Flowerpot cupcakes

Makes 6-8

Silicon flowerpot cases filled with chocolate cake, topped with chocolate ‘soil’ and finished with colourful roses. What’s not to love?

Wrap the stems in foil at the bottom to stop the sap escaping into the cake (tell those eating them to look out for the foil) and only use flowers that are known to be edible to decorate your cake, even though you won’t be eating them. You may be tempted to use daffodils, but they are poisonous.


175g caster sugar

175g sunflower oil

125g plain flour

50g cocoa powder

1/2tsp baking powder

1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda

3 eggs

50g milk chocolate

8 bourbon biscuits, crushed finely

6 small roses, trimmed, with the ends wrapped in foil

6-8 small teapot silicone cases from Lakeland Limited


Pre-heat the oven to 190C.

Place the sugar and oil or butter in a large bowl and whisk with a hand whisk or in a mixer until it thickens. Add the eggs one by one and continue to whisk.

Sift in the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa and flour and then whisk again until very thick and almost moussy.

Equally distribute between the pots, filling them three quarters of the way – if you are only baking six there will be mixture left over. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until risen and set. Allow to cool.

Melt the milk chocolate and paint some on each cake. Push a rose into each then sprinkle over the chocolate biscuit soil.

READ MORE: 7 Easter biscuit recipes from across Europe