Friday, July 27, 2012

luscious lemon curd

Lemon curd (also known as lemon honey) is so easy to make that if you haven’t made it before, you should really give it a go.  It can be cooked in a saucepan, but this microwave method is super quick and easy.

Although, I have lemon trees at home, they won’t be winning any beauty competitions with their gnarled, imperfect skins.  Their appearance kind of makes it difficult sometimes to get good-looking zest - and we all want good looking zest don’t we?  Well, yes we do in lemon curd, otherwise we get flecks of green and black in the jar, which ain’t so pretty.  So when a bag of unblemished lemons came into my being, I knew right away I would be making lemon curd and preserved lemons. I was assured the lemons were organic (really? They looked so perfect?).  

For a long time I only purchased lemon curd at craft fairs where little old ladies had probably been making it for years. Since I discovered it’s simple to make, I’ve been making it at home. This recipe comes from a grandmother, a former colleague, and is just delicious.

There are lots of things you can do with lemon curd.  The most temptingly obvious is spooning it direct into one’s mouth. In fact, it’s quite likely you’ll eat the whole jar.  I thought I was the only one with this weak trait, but a colleague told me she’d been doing the very same thing. 

Assuming you resist the temptation, try spreading it on toast, bagels, or fill sweet pastry tarts with it.  It’s divine swirled through vanilla ice cream or as a filling in sponges, muffins and cupcakes. I dolloped a teaspoonful on a slice of lemon, banana and sultana cake to lift its’ slightly dry texture.   Or just package up the jars pretty and give as a gift – the recipient will love you forever.

Next time, I’ll be writing about the lemon louise slice I made using the lemon curd.

lemon curd

6 eggs, well beaten
125g (¼ lb) butter, cut in chunks
500g (1lb) sugar
Grated rind of 2 lemons
Juice of 3 lemons, strained

Wash and sterilize about 4 or 5 glass jars (how many you will need depends on the size of the jars – I tend to use smaller ones).  I sterilize by washing the jars and lids in hot, soapy water, then rinse the jars while still wet and put them (without the lids) in the microwave for one minute.  Use boiling water from a kettle to pour over the lids to sterilize.

Place all the ingredients in a large microwaveable jug and stir.  Heat the mixture for 30 seconds in the microwave and stir again.  It will start off looking lumpy but should be smooth once heated and combined.  Continue microwaving in 30-second bursts, stirring in between, until the mixture has reached the correct consistency. You should be able to coat the back of a spoon with the curd.  Don’t overcook as it will set too hard.

Use the jug to pour the lemon curd into jars.  Leave to cool, then seal. 

The recipe was given to me in imperial measurements so I have added metric measures.  

Friday, July 13, 2012


Brioche and Jelly

I was right about the brioche, it was a perfect match for the Christine Ferber Gew├╝rztraminer & Rose Petal jelly (see last etcetera post). 

On a trip to the city, I stopped off at local artisan bakery, Albert’s Kitchen in Pukekohe.  Although I hadn’t recalled seeing brioche there before I decided to try anyway.  My decision was pure serendipity and, it turned out, most timely. The store had only introduced brioche loaves that very day. Four or five full plaited loaves loomed large on the counter.  My only thought was how was I going to eat it all!  I was assured a loaf could be frozen so left very happy.

Next day I had a breakfast that turned into an occasion, albeit a solitary one as no-one else was home. Or to put another way, did I deliberately wait until I was alone?

I couldn’t wait to open the jar.  This one was going to be eaten now. 

With one enthusiastic twist, it was done. I barely had to lean forward to inhale the aroma – there it was, a divine perfumed scent assailed my olfactory senses.  I was in heaven after just one whiff.   Had I not been able to eat the jelly, just inhaling it would suffice.  Do you ever, as I seem to do, keep sniffing the heady scent of roses or fresh coffee and you can’t get enough, so you keep on sniffing, inhaling deeper each time?  That was how it was. 

The jelly easily surpasses any jelly or jam I have ever tasted or, for that matter, made.  Pure heaven on a spoon.  I sliced some brioche from the loaf and lightly toasted and buttered them. Then I dropped pretty teaspoonfuls of beautiful, clear jelly on each slice.  I could go on but I’m sure you get the picture.

That evening, after declining a taste, I asked Bill to just take a sniff of the open jar.  He did so.  Obviously encouraged, he said he’d try a spoonful.   His comment?  “You shouldn’t have done that”.  I’ve now hidden the jar.  I didn’t really need anyone to confirm how exquisite it was.

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

maple banana porridge

Right now in the winter months, I’ve been giving the muesli a break and am fuelling up with porridge in the mornings.  Creamy and warming, it’s quick and easy to make in the microwave and, of course, very nutritious.  If I’ve got a little extra time, I make this maple banana porridge, adapted from one made in a pot by Bill Granger.  This microwave version cuts down on the amount of sugar used (Bill uses brown sugar and maple syrup) but sugar lovin’ me still loves it.

Slicing the banana thinly ensures it almost dissolves into the porridge. 

Serve with milk and a little cream and of course maple syrup. 

Bill Granger serves buttered apples with his version, making it the most wonderful dish.  I save that for when I’ve got plenty of time.

maple banana porridge

For one serving (I prefer a smallish serving so feel free to adjust amounts)

¼ cup rolled porridge oats
½ banana, thinly sliced
1/3 cup water
¼ cup milk
a wee pinch of salt

to serve
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp cream

Place the porridge oats, banana, water, milk and salt in a microwaveable dish (for extra convenience use your cereal bowl if it is suitable for the microwave and is deep enough for porridge not to spill over).  Stir and microwave on high for one minute.

Remove from the microwave and stir again.  Return to the microwave for another 30 second blast.  Remove and stir.   Microwave a further 30 seconds (keep an eye on it and hit the stop button if it starts to overflow).  The porridge should have cooked and be fairly creamy at this point.  If not, microwave for a further 20 seconds or so until it has reached a consistency to your liking. 

Transfer to a serving bowl (warmed would be good).  Drizzle with one teaspoon of maple syrup and a little cream and serve with milk.