A bowlful of spring in the form of delicate homemade pasta with chicken, lemon, pine nuts, basil & Parmesan…

Ah, sunshine. Blue skies. Warm breezes. Finally, it feels as though spring may be peeking its head around the corner like the ugly-duckling-but-obviously-about-to-be-turned-into-a-gorgeous swan heroine of every John Hughes movie and doesn’t it feel utterly fabulous?

This Easter weekend brought among other things a bright & crisp ramble around Hampstead Heath, frozen yoghurt in the sunshine of our local green and of course, the chance to indulge in some of the most delicious & traditional Easter foods like hot cross buns toasted ’til golden then lavished with softened butter or candy coloured speckled eggs that force themselves into my unsuspecting mouth whenever I walk past them.

This time of year also lends itself to the classic roast dinner in the form of tender, softly pink lamb; delicious and seasonal, it’s a wonderful way to celebrate and enjoy some of the finest produce out there…however that’s not what happened in this kitchen over this Easter weekend.

Nope. And despite loving lamb as I do, I’m not a bit sorry because what happened instead?

This did.

Making pasta with Alex

Yes. This.

Making pasta with Alex

Fresh, delicate & dreamily elegant, this homemade angel hair pasta was brought to life by our own flour dusted fingers and then partnered with a zesty Parmesan & lemon sauce, warmly pine nuts, shredded chicken and torn basil leaves.

Sigh.

Swoon.

The creamy coloured strands were lighter than silk and pairing them with those toasty nuts and satiny emerald leaves was a combination sent straight from heaven and a welcome alternative to a roast dinner that would have been undoubtedly moreish but left us fit only for a nap post-dining.

So let’s take a step back and see how this perfect plate of spring fare came into being…

Making pasta with Alex

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Entering a breadmakers paradise at the e5 Bakehouse…

On what may well have been the hottest day of the year so far, what better way to spend 6 hours can there possibly be than baking bread in a working bakehouse where the ovens are huge, the customers hungry and the pace fast?

None obviously, so off I trotted to undertake one of J’s Christmas gifts to me (and by proxy I think, himself!) of a sourdough breadmaking class at the gorgeous e5 Bakehouse set in the arches of Hackney.

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Getting our Italian groove on with Ms. Paltrow and Mr. Oliver…

Which celebrities are at your dream dinner party? Yes, I know it’s a game as old as time and right up there with such classics as Desert Island Foods (bread, cheese, wine, chocolate, avocados) and who your Would-But-Shouldn’t is (Michael Bolton pre AND post haircut, he just makes it work) and I’m not saying your choices have to be final and committed to and laminated a la Ross Geller but indulge me and play along…

Gwyneth and Jamie might not be sat at your table in your dream scenario but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t turn your nose up at them catering your soiree. Now before you scoff and tell me that Jamie would be welcome in the kitchen but dinner from Ms. Macrobiotic sounds as much fun as a colonoscopy, let me just say this in her defense…

…ready?

Best. Brownies. Ever.

I’m not even joking – her recipe for dark and chocolatey, fudgy and oh-so-gently-coffee-laced brownies creates something that is insanely, ridiculously delicious and will have those you give them to weeping at your feet for the recipe.

And again before the scoffing starts, yes, there are unusual ingredients that you might not use all the time in her recipes but I’ve found every single one at my local supermarket and so could you. Anyway, this is not an ode to Gwyneth although I absolutely could write that because I adore her All-American-wholesome-and-glowing-with-healthiness-aura; this is me saying give the woman a chance when it comes to her cooking. You might not agree with the naming of your children after fruit and I won’t deny that she can sometimes speak before thinking but I promise you, the woman knows how to make food that is good for you and tastes wonderful. And so onto today’s kitchen experimenting…Jamie’s home-made pasta with Gwynnie’s dazzlingly fresh and light lemon Parmesan pasta.

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