Tag Archives: lemon curd

Trust your mother

14 Sep

You should always trust your mother; she knows best.

I know this to be true. It’s always been thus.

So why did I ignore her advice a couple of weeks ago?

We had gone home for a day at the end of August – it was a couple of days after my birthday, and I always want to see my parents around then. As a bonus it was the Gatehouse Flower Show. We used to enter flowers, and plants, and vegetables, and preserves and homebaking, and in the old kitchen at 29 Fleet Street we had a large display of winners tickets pinned to the wooden beam, proof of our successes. I haven’t even attended the Flower Show for too many years, most recently because working at Edinburgh summer Festivals meant I didn’t have the time off, and before that I was living in London and had too much of a London-head on me to make the effort. Shame on me!

And this year although we were attending, we didn’t enter anything. As Mum says, “That means we can confidently go around and say, Oh I could have won a prize in that category, without the contrary evidence of the judges’ decisions”.

I’m confident I would have won a prize in the wholemeal bread category (there were only 2 entries) and also the cheese scone category (my scones are exceptionally good). But I’m not allowed to enter all the categories – only people living locally are allowed to enter most categories, except for some random things like lemon curd (which I’m quite good at) and three hen’s eggs.  Or it might be three hens’ eggs, who knows? And I suspect the judges would never know either.

Anyway, while I was home I was telling Mum about the great apple harvest we were looking forward to this year. Mum bought me two apple trees three years ago: a Galloway Pippin and a Cambusnethan Pippin. The first year they didn’t really fruit, of course. Last year we had a couple off each tree. And this year we have an enormous harvest – the poor wee trees are quite laden down with the weight of the crop.

And here comes the advice bit.

Mum recommended I pick some of the fruit off the heaviest branches straight away, or the branches may break with the weight of fruit.

I didn’t.

The next day a wind whipped up, after weeks of relatively balmy and calm weather. The inevitable happened and the wind ripped a branch from the tree. A branch with over 30 apples on it.

We now have many jars of apple chutney, and there will be cinnamon apple jelly by the end of the weekend. They are also deliciously good with a chunk of mature cheddar.

Recipes and pictures will follow.

The most delicious blackcurrant recipe ever

9 Oct

Earlier this year we had a glut of blackcurrants.  I picked them on a Sunday in the sunshine, cutting whole branches from the bushes and then sitting in the sun on the terrace picking off the juicy black fruit.  Over 9lbs of fruit, all topped and tailed (not that they needed any topping, or was it tailing) and stored in plastic tubs in the freezer till I had more time to turn them into loveliness.

Blackcurrant harvest

This weekend was the time.  And the loveliness was Blackcurrant Ripple Icecream.  Why have I never made this before?  It’s amazing and oh so simple.  Thanks to Xanthe Clay and the BBC Good Food website for this deliciousness.  I’ve slightly altered the recipe, but literally only slightly.  You can find the original and a gorgeous picture here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/11802/blackcurrant-ripple-ice-cream

Blackcurrant ripple icecream

200g blackcurrants (if frozen, leave them out for a while to defrost)

50ml apple juice

100g golden caster sugar

600ml double cream

large tin condensed milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Put the currants and the apple juice in a large heavy-bottomed pan and gently heat
  2. Simmer for about 5 minutes and then add the sugar
  3. Heat gently again and bring back to a simmer, stirring all the while to ensure the sugar all dissolves
  4. Simmer for a further 4-5 minutes, till it gets beautifully syrupy.  Don’t be too precious about the timings here, but you don’t want to reduce this right down, just make a lovely rich sauce for the ripple
  5. Now, take it off the heat and let it cool for a while.  A long while – it needs to be properly cool.
  6. Rub the sauce through a sieve to get rid of all the pips
  7. Now, leave that to one side while you make the icecream
  8. Pour the cream into a big bowl and whisk up to soft peaks
  9. Add the condensed milk and vanilla and whisk again to soft peaks
  10. That’s pretty much it.
  11. Find a freezer proof tub to put the ice cream in.  Pour the creamy ice cream in, then the sauce… swirl it a wee bit with a palette knife, or big spoon.  Try to get into the corners, but don’t mix too much – you’re looking for a rippled, or marbled, effect not a homogeneous mixture.
  12. Freeze.. for at least a couple of hours, but preferably longer.  It will probably need to come out of the freezer for a while before you serve it as it’s quite a solid ice cream, so take it out when you start your main course.

Enjoy.  Delicious with langues du chat biscuits, or similar.  Oh, did I mention I also made the most scrumptious langues du chat this weekend? The Great British Bake Off has been inspiring me!

As an alternative, make up the ice cream mixture and fold in either shop bought or homemade lemon curd.  I don’t know why you’d buy it, it’s simple to make and so much tastier when it’s not packed full of preservatives (and when was it ever going to last 6 months in our house anyway?).  But as I was saying, this ice cream is just delicious as a lemon ripple instead of blackcurrant ripple.  Try it.  Next I’m thinking of a butterscotch ripple, but suspect it will be too sweet – you need the sharpness of the lemons or blackcurrants to cut through the soft sweetness of the condensed milk in the ice cream.

Or, if you want to make Blackcurrant Cordial, or an alcoholic Blackcurrant Liqueur, then take a look at how I do it here.

 

Lemon kisses

11 Sep

It’s Autumn. It has to be – it’s Sunday and we lit the fire mid morning and just hung around and read the papers.

The Sunday Times is our paper of choice; well it’s his paper of choice and I really don’t mind.  I love AA Gill‘s writing and generally read most of the main paper, the news review section and one or two of the features in the magazine.

So far today all I’ve managed is the main paper, until I got too cross about the article on obesity – GPs are offering people gastric band surgery, and the mayor of somewhere or other says that poor people can only afford junk food.  A gastric band should not and must not be seen as an easy solution to obesity – sensible eating and taking more exercise have to come first.  And anyone who believes that junk food is cheaper than fresh food should actually look at what they are eating, and what they could eat if they cooked from scratch.  Fresh veg is not an expensive option, and I don’t believe that junk food is cheaper than a pot of homemade soup.

I’ve been overweight all my life, despite eating relatively healthily (if you believe that relatively low fat, fresh food is healthy).  I live a pretty sedentary life and haven’t exercised for years, literally years.  I’m not proud of this.

I have never thought that a gastric band could be the answer, but have tried weight watchers and other calorie based diets in the past.  Nothing has felt easy for me and the weight has always crept back on.  It’s hard to keep it off when cooking and baking are such enjoyable and key activities in my life.

In July this year I saw a nutritionist.  She asked me thousands of questions, and ‘prescribed’ a low carb diet for me.  No carbs for breakfast, and low carbs for the rest of the day – concentrate on proteins and green veg; avoid white processed carbs, and avoid fruit juice.  In fact avoid most fruit, especially bananas.  I’ve not had a glass of fruit juice or a banana since.  And so far I’ve lost 11lbs and feel healthier than I have in years.  And I’ve never felt hungry, or struggled to know what to eat.

Now, I’m not suggesting that all obese people try this – but it works for me.  I have a metabolism that copes well with this regime.  From day one I haven’t craved a carb, and the best thing about this eating regime is that there are just whole aisles in the supermarket that I just walk past.  Why walk down the bread aisle if I’m not going to eat processed carbs?  In fact, apart from household stuff, I pretty much just go to the meat/fish/dairy and veg aisles and leave all the others.  I’m discovering some interesting new flavour combinations, and now know that I don’t need pasta or rice or potatoes or bread to bulk out a meal for me to feel satisfied.

One disadvantage is that it is not a cheap way of eating as protein rich meals tend to be more expensive than carb rich meals.  Swapping my porridge for scrambled eggs for breakfast may help my weight-loss, but does not help the bank balance.

However, I’m buying more sensibly and not throwing out as much food as I used to, so perhaps it’s balancing out.

Anyway, you might be wondering why this is called lemon kisses if it’s all just about obesity.  I warn you, lemon kisses are not going to help in any diet, whether you are low fat, low carb, low calorie.  It’s got them all.  But oh, they are so light and buttery.  And lemony.

Autumn Sundays aren’t just for getting cross at the papers. They also need to involve lots of good kitchen time – yesterday I made some sweet gherkin pickle (so easy and so delicious) and today is all about the baking.  And knitting.  More on the knitting soon.

But back to the lemon kisses.

I first made them back at the beginning of the year, and then promptly forgot where I’d put the recipe.  So, I googled today, and here they are, courtesy of the BBC Good Food website.  A batch is in the oven right now.

Lemon kisses

200g butter, at room temperature (or warmer if your kitchen is as cold as mine)

140g caster sugar

1 egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla extract

zest of 1 lemon

280g plain flour

And for the filling and icing:

1/2 jar lemon curd (preferably home made – go on, it really is deliciously simple to make and who hasn’t got 30 minutes to make a jar of lemony loveliness?)

zest of 1 lemon

juice of 1 lemon

140g icing sugar

Oven 180C, GM6

  1. Mix the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, egg yolk and lemon zest with a wooden spoon in a large bowl
  2. Add the flour and mix together – you may struggle to get it all to bind with the spoon, so tip it out and lightly knead it together with your hands
  3. Roll out (I do it in two batches) on a lightly floured surface and cut into cute little biscuit shapes
  4. Place on baking trays and pop in the fridge for about 30 mins
  5. Bake for 8-12 minutes till golden. Cool on a wire rack
  6. When cool, spread half the biscuits with a little lemon curd, and sandwich each with a second biscuit
  7. Mix the lemon juice and icing sugar, and drizzle over the biscuits; sprinkle with lemon zest.  Leave to set on a wire rack
  8. Eat. In moderation.
One of my favourite easy puddings is a pretendie lemon ripple ice cream, made with a couple of scoops of nice vanilla ice cream (not too sweet a brand) and some lemon curd swirled through it as it’s served.  Serve with lemon kisses.  I guess you could go mad and do a lemony knickerbocker glory with ice cream, fresh cream, lemon curd and lemon kisses. Perhaps even some crumbled lemon kisses over the top of the glory as decoration? Over to you – just remember that eating a knickerbocker glory every day is probably not the best way to get a portion of your five a day.  You heard it here first.

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

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