Archive | February, 2011

Lemons, beetroot and cheese

13 Feb

Some of my favourite flavours, and such is the stuff of the perfect Valentine’s feast.

I call it a feast, but actually it’s a series of feasts really.

Yesterday (Saturday) we indulged in some exquisite stilton from Mellis the cheesemonger (a special trip into the west end of Glasgow specifically to buy Valentines cheese!). We had it with freshly baked rolls, sliced relatively thinly like a wee loaf.

For lunch today I made a warm beetroot and goats cheese tart.  And later we’ll be having more beetroot, lightly pickled in a sweet vinegar, with salmon and fresh linguine.

Afterwards we’ll have vanilla panna cotta, which looks delicious, but the coffee gelee on top seems to be liquid coffee, and not a gelee at all.  And for real afters there’ll be a cheeseboard.  Yum.

Lemons.  Where do the lemons come into all of this?

I made a batch of Lemon Kisses – in an assortment of heart, flower and helicopter shapes.  The helicopters will of course be the most popular.  And, I prefer biscuits on their own, not squidged together with cream or icing, or whatever. But the recipe calls for squidging them together with Lemon Curd, so I’ve just made a batch of Lemon Curd, one of my favourtie things to make, and absolute favourite flavours.  I love that sharp lemoniness.  I must experiment with lime and orange curds in the coming months.  Blood oranges are in season right now (and I have three in the fruit bowl ) – I suspect they would make a pretty spectacular curd.

Large jar of lemon curd - store in fridge

Lemon curd

Makes one relatively small jar

60g unsalted butter
130g caster sugar
Zest and juice of 1½ large unwaxed lemons
2 large eggs, beaten

  1. Chop the butter into a heavy-based saucepan.
  2. Add the sugar, lemon juice and zest
  3. Warm over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves
  4. Pour the beaten eggs into the pan, stirring rapidly as you pour
  5. Keep stirring over a low heat until the mixture thickens.  This will take 5-10 minutes.
  6. Once it is thickened, pour into a sterilised jar.  DO NOT allow it to boil as it will curdle.
  7. Once cool, seal the jar and keep in the fridge.
  8. Use within 4 weeks.

Delicious on hot buttered toast, stirred into yoghurt, sandwiching biscuits or sponge cakes.

Beetroot and goats cheese jalousie

Earthy beetroot and horseradish, goaty goats cheese all encased in buttery flaky puffy pastry

  • 1 1/2 medium beetroot, cooked
  • a few slices of goats cheese
  • 2 Tbs yoghurt / creme fraiche
  • 3 tsp grated horseradish
  • 1pkt all butter puff pastry

Grease a baking tray. 

  1. Cut a third of the pastry and roll out into an oblong.  Cook in a GM 7 oven for 10 minutes.
  2. Grate the beetroot and mix with the yoghurt or creme fraiche and horseradish. Season
  3. Cut into the pastry base, squishing down the pastry in the middle, creating a ‘wall’ round the edge and an oblong hole in the middle.
  4. Place the beetroot mixture into the hole in the pastry
  5. Put slices of goats cheese on top
  6. Roll the remainder of the pastry into a larger oblong.  Cut slashes into this pastry, to create diagonals on the pastry lid
  7. Brush the edges of the pastry base with beaten egg
  8. Carefully place the pastry lid over the top of the tart (do this by carefully rolling the whole lid round the rolling pin and then unrolling it back on top of the tart base)
  9. Brush the pastry lid with egg wash
  10. Bake in the hot oven for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry is risen and cooked
  11. Eat while warm, served with a watercress salad

The lemon kisses recipe will follow.  Eventually

World Book Night

2 Feb

On World Book Night, 1 million books will be given away free of charge.  And I have been chosen to give away 48 of them.  The book I’m giving away is Stuart – A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters.

I first read Stuart in the summer of 2006.  I don’t know precisely when I read every book I’ve read, but I can place this one exactly – I had read it shortly before I joined the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August 2006.  In that first year working for the Book Fest I managed to get to 4 or 5 events, and the most memorable was one with Alexanders Masters talking about Stuart.  Even having read the book beforehand, I was quite blown away with the force of the emotion of that first chapter.  And hearing Alexander Masters talk about Stuart, about the man, about writing about him, about his relationship with him, and about his all too real sense of loss and grief was utterly heart-breaking.

Find out more about Stuart here

I now have the opportunity to share Stuart with the rest of the world.  Well, not quite the whole world, but I’m hoping to distribute my 48 copies widely. So far it’ll be travelling to Australia, Ireland and Cornwall through me.  I’m sure I can do better than that, and also get it to South Africa, and maybe America.  And hey, surely I can do Germany/Switzerland too.  And maybe India.

Anyway – World Book Night is worth supporting. Some great publishers are promoting reading by giving away 1 million books.  I’m proud to be helping them.

click here to find out more about World Book Night

Throw it in the oven chicken dinner

1 Feb

I know this isn’t a terribly catchy title, but trust me it’s the easiest dinner to throw together.

Cut some potatoes into wedges. Put them in a layer in an oven proof dish.  The dish needs to be big enough that all the tatties sit in a layer with some space around them.Otherwise it won’t cook properly.

Cut an onion into wedges and throw them in and around the potatoes.  Add some slivers of garlic. Add red peppers if you have them.  Or you might want some other root vegetables.

Sprinkle with herbs of your choice – thyme would be nice.  A bay leaf snuck in between some veg would work.  I used a sprinkle of dried italian herbs tonight.

Cut a lemon into wedges, squeeze the juice over the veg, and then chuck the lemons into the dish.  Or zest them if you want, that would be nice.

Drizzle with olive oil.  I used harissa olive oil tonight – it’s just ordinary olive oil that’s had dried harrissa spice soaking in the bottle for a while.  Spicy and tasty.

Smoosh it up a bit if you feel like it.  Not if you don’t.

Place a chicken quarter, or thighs, or breasts, or whatever pieces you want over the top.  I then drizzled with some runnyhoney and more lemon juice.

Is this sounding complicated? I promise you it’s not.

Throw the whole lot in a hot oven (about 200C) for about 45 mins.  Or until it’s ready.

I served it with savoy cabbage.  I love those fresh tasty greens.

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