Tag Archives: food

When life gives you lemons… Make Tarte au Citron

It would seem that we can’t stop making pastry at the moment, so here’s another tasty treat to brighten up your week and help bring some lovely lemony sunshine!

There’s a million and one tarte au citron recipes around but I feel it’s important to remember the origins of this lovely recipe and searched round for a recipe that I hoped would be the real deal and came across this lovely Raymond Blanc recipe from his wonderful website – if a foodie Frenchman can’t get a tarte au citron recipe right then there’s simply no winning! I particularly like this recipe because of the inclusion of egg yolk in the pastry which makes it gorgeously rich and crumbly and helps to seal it from the very liquidy filling when its first poured into the case.

INGREDIENTS

SWEET PASTRY
120g unsalted butter, diced (at room temperature)
75g sifted icing sugar
250g plain flour
3 egg yolks
2 tbsps water

LEMON FILLING
5 medium free range eggs
150g caster sugar
85ml lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
2 tbsps finely grated lemon zest
150ml double cream

Mix the butter and icing sugar in a large bowl to a cream and beat in just 2 of the egg yolks (watch out for this – I chucked all 3 in and had to perform a rescue mission on one that hadn’t broken yet!). Add the flour and rub it into the mix to achieve a dry crumby texture. Once it reaches this point, very gently gather it together, gently forming it into a disc. Wrap this in clingfilm and set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes whilst making the lemon filling. When putting the pastry to rest in the clingfilm, I always place the disc between two very large pieces of clingfilm (big enough to cover the size of the tart tin you are using) as this means that to roll it out you can keep it between the clingfilm, eliminating the need for flour and ensure the pastry doesn’t dry out or become overworked.

To make the lemon filling, mix together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and zest together for a few seconds, add the cream and then whisk for a further few minutes. Then set this aside in the fridge. Wait until the 30 minutes resting time for the pastry is up and roll it out (between the clingfilm sheets!) until its pretty thin (but with no holes!). Peel off one half of the clingfilm and use the clingfilm covered pastry to gently lower the pastry onto a 24cm (91/2 inch) loose bottomed tart tin, being careful not to stretch it and gently push the pastry into the edges of the tin. I don’t own a loose bottomed tart tin, in fact my bottom was firmly in place(!), so I devised a cunning solution to remove my tart from the tin once it had cooked by folding greaseproof paper into two long strips and placing these in a cross in the tin with a bit showing at each end, as you can sort of see below:

This worked remarkably well (with a little help from Jack as four hands were best for this job!). The picture also shows the slight translucency of the pastry which is a useful sign that it’s not too thick! Prick the base of the pastry with a fork and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to help prevent it from shrinking too much when cooking. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees c/gas mark 3.

Once the pastry has rested for 30 minutes, line the case with foil and fill with baking beans. I don’t own baking beans, as much as I’d like to, so I used dried chickpeas which did the job wonderfully… As pointed out by Cat in her recent Pecan Pie post, once these have been used its best to make sure that they are kept labelled as baking beans as they’ll be rubbish to cook with!! Bake the case for 10 minutes then remove from the oven and remove the beans. Then put the case back in the oven for a further 20 minutes sans beans.

Towards the end of the 20 minutes baking time, pour the lemon filling into a saucepan and warm it very gently – this is an important step to reduce the time the tart needs in the oven (an avoid burnt pastry!). Be very careful not to let it scramble. After the 20 minutes of further baking time is up, take the case out of the oven and brush the inside of the case with the remaining beaten egg yolk, returning to the oven for 1 minute – I was skeptical about this because it doesn’t look so appetising at this point but it creates a great seal on the pastry so that when the liquidy lemony filling is poured in, the case stays good and crisp! Now turn the oven down to 140c.

Once the mixture is warm, pour into the pastry case. This is best done in the oven and done very gently as the mix should be quite liquidy. Bake this for 25 minutes only – it should be barely set when you take it out as it continues to set more during cooling. Then comes the hard part – leave it for an hour (yes a whole hour!!) before eating. I’m possibly a bit hypocritical saying this as we just couldn’t wait and had our first pieces about 20 minutes after it came out the oven but it was too soft and was perfect after a night in the fridge! Once this painful waiting period is over, dust all over with icing sugar and dive right in!

Hannah

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Pecan Pie

Back in Ivinghoe, tea and cake time in mid afternoon (indeed mid morning as well sometimes) is a daily ritual. However this wonderful gooey, sweet and crunchy tart also made an excellent before bed snack. You could eat it any time of the day, all times of the day. Cold with tea, hot with ice cream, if you please.

A wonderful Leon recipe (slightly adultered) from their fantastic third book Leon Baking & Puddings. The only thing we changed was using regular plain flour rather than gluten free flour.

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[Note: with rest and chilling times for the pastry, start this earlier than you’d think, it took a good few hours: despite starting early afternoon Jack and I struggled to get this ready before 6pm, so post-pub fodder it was.]

150g butter, 100g caster sugar, 1 free range egg plus 1 yolk, 270g plain flour

50g butter, 225g golden syrup, 2 tbsp caster sugar, 1 tsp cornflour, 2 large free range eggs, 200g pecan nut halves

  • Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth (preferably in a free standing mixer, or with a wooden spoon)
  • Add the egg and egg yolk and mix until fully incorporated,. Add the flour and quickly bring it together in a ball (pastry is best when handled and worked as little as possible). Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and refridgerate for at least 30 mins.
  • Butter a 23-25cm fluted flan tin. Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to about 3-5mm thick and line your tart case with it. Trim the edges and chill in the fridge for a further 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 160C.
  • Line the chilled pastry case with baking paper, and fill it with baking beans* to stop it shrinking when it’s being baked. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes then remove the baking beans. Return to the oven and bake for a further 5 mins. The pastry should be a nice blonde colour [we compared ours to the colour of Bella the golden retriever, never a better golden one you ever did see! And quite convenient as she likes lying in the kitchen grabbing cuddles between our baking stages]. Set aside to cool.
  • Put the butter and golden syrup into a medium saucepan over a low heat. When it becomes runny, taking it off the heat and whisk in the sugar.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the cornflour and eggs until smooth and then add to the saucepan.
  • Fill the baked pastry with the pecan halves. Pour the golden syrup mixture on top and fill it to just below the edge of the case. Put it into the oven, taking great care not to spill any liquid over the sides, as this might make it difficult to remove from the tin once it’s baked [we used the ol’ pour-in-the-liquid-with-the-case-on-the-oven-shelf-already technique to avoid spills].
  • Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the tart is dark golden in colour and has slightly risen in the middle. Take out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
* we never have used baking beans! Dried chickpeas or other dried beans work a treat. Just don’t forget to put them in a well labelled tub afterwards so you can use them again (and so someone doesn’t try to cook with them!).
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Jack and Catriona (+ eaten by Hannah)

Mini Jam Tarts (leftover pastry)

This recipe (barely a recipe) used left over scraps of pastry from a pecan pie that Jack and I made a few days ago – that recipe soon to follow. Instead of throwing away the excess pastry left over from lining a fluted flan tin I suggested making some mini tartlets and I’m very glad we did!

A perfect aperitif before the real pie is ready.

  • Use your left over pastry (we had sweet shortcrust but regular shortcrust would work well too) and combine back into a ball and roll out.
  • Cut circles (using a circle cutter a bit bigger than the size of holes you have in your pastry dimple tin) from the pastry, brush the tin with some melted butter and pop the  pastry circles in. Top with a small square of grease proof paper/tinfoil and then add in a few baking beans.
  • Blind bake for about 10 minutes with the beans (around 180C I think the oven was) then remove the beans and paper or foil and return to the oven for another 5 or until golden enough.
  • Put in your chosen filling. We used a strawberry jam and also a strawberry and vodka jam, along with a little blob of creme fraiche.
  • Chuck back in the oven and forget about them for a while (that’s what we did! Very approximate and botch recipe really).
  • Eat up! WARNING even when out of the oven for 10 minutes the jam will still be exceedingly hot and you will burn your tongue, even when you think you have waited long enough. Apologies. It’ll still be scrummy and you’ll wonder why you bothered going to all the effort of making an actual pie or whatever else your pastry was leftover from.

Catriona

Lemon Drizzle Cake (Jamie O’s Nan’s)

Drizzly, sticky, fizzy-lemon, tangy, tingly, gum-smacking citrus pop! This super lemon cake will cause a riot on your tongue, with cheeks stuffed, as a big childlike grin spreads across your face. Feel free to lick your plate and ask for more.

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I made this at home in Ivinghoe for my lemon cake loving family, before I disappear back to Edinburgh taking my food love with me. Despite using the frankly terrible oven we have and catching the edges of the cake slightly, this was a great success.

From Jamie Oliver’s Cook With Jamie, adapted.

(Note: this recipe will only be as good as your ingredients. As always for cakes I used free range organic eggs, ideally they would have been from the local hen lady but supermarket best sufficed. And of course absolutely the best lemons you can get hold of, unwaxed as you are using the rind. I managed with a four-pack of unwaxed lemons from Waitrose, making up the extra bit of juice needed for the syrup with a splash of water.)

115g unsalted butter, softened
115g caster sugar
4 large free-range or organic eggs
180g ground almonds
30g poppy seeds (I didn’t have any poppy seeds so used lavender instead, about 25g)
zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
125g self-raising flour, sifted

For the lemon syrup
100g caster sugar
90g lemon juice (I used more zest as well as that was another whole lemon and seemed a shame to waste it)

For the lemon icing
225g icing sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin with greaseproof paper.

Beat the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until light and creamy. Add the eggs one by one, beating each one in well. Fold in the ground almonds, poppy seeds or lavender, the lemon zest and juice and the sifted flour. Spoon the mix into the prepared cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until lightly golden. Check with a skewer. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. Heat the sugar, lemon juice and zest in a pan for a few minutes so the sugar dissolves a bit. Prick lots of holes in the top of the cake with a cocktail stick or fork and pour your syrup over while the cake is still hot from the oven. Let it sit and get juicy.

To make your icing, combine the sifted icing sugar with the lemon zest and juice, stirring until smooth. I did not quite need as much liquid as was in the whole lemon, so don’t add it all at once. When your cake is about cool, put it on a serving plate and pour the icing carefully on to the middle of the cake, letting it drizzle down the sides.

 

Perfect for tea time and family, and for sitting in the garden in snatches of sun between the April showers.

Catriona

Sunshine food – Quesadillas

Quesadillas are something which I like to eat when I fancy a bit of sunshine –  I love them because they’re bursting with fresh and healthy ingredients and taste phenomenal for it. They’re also excellent barbecue fare for vegetarians. This is a recipe that I picked up from the excellent Otto Lenghi book ‘Plenty’ a few years ago and have written to my memory, making it time and time again.

INGREDIENTS
(makes 8 quesadillas – sometimes less depending on how generously you fill them!)

1 pack of corn tortillas (the brand ‘Discovery’ do these in the UK – I always find they have them in Waitrose and make special trips to stock up on these!) – however, normal flour based ones will do the job too though if there is a corn tortilla deficit

SALSA
2 ripe avocados
5 large ripe tomatoes (or lots of little ones, though these make the salsa a bit sweeter)
Half a red onion
3 spring onions (or thereabouts)
Juice of 1 lime
Crushed clove of garlic
1 fresh red chilli (finely diced)
pinch of salt
1 bunch of fresh coriander
2 tbsps cider/white wine vinegar

BEAN PASTE
1 tin of black beans (or equivalent in soaked weight)
1 bunch of fresh coriander (I often use  just one between the salsa and bean paste and add a little more ground coriander as my student budget prefers this)
1 tsp ground coriander
half a tsp ground cumin
quarter tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt
Juice of a lime

GARNISHES
Soured cream (enough for a blob in each tortilla)
Grated cheddar (enough for a sprinkling on each tortilla)
Chopped jalapeno peppers  – also for sprinkling in the tortillas (the kind that come in vinegar in jars)

Chop the ends off the red onion, peel and then cut in half down the centre. Very finely slice this half to get neat little semi-circle slithers of onion. Place these in a large bowl (everything else will also go in here eventually) and mix with the vinegar. Then dice and slice all of the other salsa ingredients, finely chopping the leaves and stalks of the coriander and put these all in the bowl too. This is probably the most time consuming bit of the dish but well worth it!

For the bean paste, put all of the bean paste ingredients in a food processor and blend to form a lovely tasty paste.

Put a griddle pan (or failing that, a frying pan) on a good high heat whilst assembling the first 2 (unless you get several pans on the go, these cook 2 at a time). To assemble, put the tortilla on a plate, take a spoonful of the bean paste and spread it on the tortilla, leaving a good cm or two round the edge. Dollop some soured cream (or creme fraiche) in the middle of this in a little circle and then put a spoonful or two of salsa on. It’s best to go easy with the salsa otherwise it all ends up on the griddle pan which is rather upsetting. I find it’s generally better to serve it up with an extra spoonful of the stuff than overfill it and risk loosing it between the cavernous ridges of the griddle pan.

Once the salsa is on, sprinkle on some cheese and jalapenos then fold the tortilla gently in half  and put it on the hot griddle. Turn the griddle down to a medium heat so you don’t set the whole thing on fire and wait until the edges start turning the tiniest bit browned then flip the tortilla carefully and repeat (a few minutes on each side). If using a griddle this should result in lovely dark griddle lines across the tortillas.

I find that two of these alone is a good substantial lunch and one/two of these with a rice salad or some home made oven chips  is a substantial dinner.

Hannah

Moules

For Jack, Hannah and I, Moules are reminiscent of holidays spent on the Ile de Ré. Alongside Andy’s chilli and lime prawns, bought fresh from the market that morning, this is a staple  lunch time meal before heading to the beach.

Jack made Moules for himself and I a month or so back, maybe yearning warmer weather, classic flavours and outdoor cooking whilst we were hunkering down to a typical February in Edinburgh evening, avoiding the rain and dreary cold. It was also inspired by recent visits to the Mussel Inn on Rose Street in Edinburgh, of which the menu is largely a selection of mussels, oysters and fish, good bread and good frites. A firm favourite, cheap enough for students, too.

Simplest of soul foods, this crock of mussels was just cooked with shallots and garlic, then steamed in its juices with a sauce of white wine, cream and lots of parsley. Served with great hunks of bread on the side, this is fast, beautiful food.

Catriona

Yoga Re-fuel

Pure Yoga Fuel

After an intense led primary series class of Ashtanga yoga this morning, I was hungry, even after the big bowl of porridge I ate only 3 hours earlier. Since starting a regular morning practice of Mysore Style Ashtanga last week,  I have noticed a big increase in my appetite, and I am only too pleased to be gobbling down more and more food! A quick march home to ravage the cupboards and fruit bowl: I had one thing on my mind, a power smoothie.  Perfectly for my pre- or post-yoga practice, this is fuel in the simplest form. Bananas, honey and raisins for quick-release energy, oats for the slow-release to keep me going ’til dinner later (slow-cooker stew, watch this space!) and to bring it all together lots of yoghurt and milk. I’ve made this kind of oaty, banana, yogurt mash-up before, inspired by the fantastic Leon cookbook (number one, the original).

Breakfast Power Smoothie, page 141

‘Everything in there has a job: the oats provide a slow-release carb to keep you powering through til lunch, the bananas are loaded with potassium and other goodies to keep you strong, the honey gives it a touch of sweetness and the dairy pulls the whole thing together.

[Yeh, as I said.]

MAKES ENOUGH FOR 4

3 big handfuls of oats; 1 really big or two small bananas, fair trade; ; 2 tbsp clear honey; 250ml Greek yoghurt; 300ml whole milk; (+ any seasonal berries, eg strawberries in summer, blackberries in autumn)

Everything goes into the blender with a few cubes of ice. Whizz until smooth but not a total puree. That’s it.’

Mine was not this accurate in quantities, and had a few extra goodies – tahini, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, raisins – I was possibly feeling the influence of my yoga teacher Susan’s raw food diet. Know as Wee Yogi, she keeps a food diary. My additions are only in the spirit of her raw food love of all things nutty and seedy, but it is a vegan diet as well as raw, so I’ve poo-pooed the no dairy with a double helping of smooth creamy white stuff – the raw foodies at Bristo Yoga School have not got me yet! Here we go:

Makes a pint glass full.

2 small bananas

a sprinkling of raisins (I would have far preferred to use dried figs but I finished them yesterday)

a small handful of sunflower and pumpkin seed mix

about 10 walnut halves

1 large tbsp of dark tahini

200ml approx Greek yoghurt

a few big splooshes of milk

a small handful of oats

a little drop of Scottish set honey

Blitz.

The tahini gave an almost peanut butter taste and thickness, and if I indeed had peanut butter I would have added a spoonful of that too. I did not add ice cubes but I think that would have been good, thanks Leon. More milk would make a more drinkable smoothie too, I could almost eat mine with a spoon but was not complaining.

Catriona