Posts Tagged ‘lemon’

Yellow

April 23, 2010

Last night I made lemon cupcakes using this recipe.

I’m a big fan of lemons and of cupcakes, and adding the two together seemed like a wonderful idea. It also seemed like a good excuse to celebrate pale yellow, since both lemons and cupcakes are yellow, and I seriously heart pale yellow. Can you tell?

The cupcakes are delish with a beautiful texture (previous cupcake recipes I’ve tried have been a bit dry), although next time I would make them more lemony. But the yellowness of cupcakes, icing and decorations was perfectly judged :)

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My new favourite summer drink

December 4, 2009

Is homemade ginger beer. Yum!

I found this recipe months ago and have been waiting for summery weather ever since. It was surprisingly easy to make, and definitely worth the effort. I love the freedom of being able to adjust the ginger, the lemon and the sugar to my taste.

This really is the perfect drink for a summer afternoon—refreshing, tasty, and versatile. Have it on its own, or mix it into a cocktail. My favourite is the Moscow Mule, which I think is improved no end by the addition of mint leaves. And the other day a friend was telling me about an amazing drink she tried, made of red wine, ginger beer and soda water. I’ll have to have a go at that one.

Cheers! What’s your drink of choice this summer?

Pasta with broad beans, lemon and herbs

November 18, 2009

I made this quick, tasty and relatively healthy pasta for dinner last night, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Pasta is my go-to meal when I’m short on time, can’t think of anything else, or am in need of comfort food. The pasta dishes I cook the most tend to be the fast sort—if you can do everything in the time it takes the pasta to cook, then I’m all over it like a rash. You do need to spend a few extra minutes shelling the broad beans here, but after that it’s simple and speedy.

Pasta with Broad Beans, Lemon and Herbs

serves 3

250g pasta (to be honest I usually just use what looks like the right amount instead of weighing it)

250g frozen broad beans (so much easier than buying them fresh!)

75g butter

half a bunch of basil, finely chopped

1/3 of a bunch of parsley, roughly chopped (you could really use any herbs that take your fancy, or that you have lying around)

juice and zest of half a lemon

salt and freshly ground black pepper

a block of parmesan, for grating

Add your frozen broad beans to a small pot of boiling water and blanch for 2-3 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and then squeeze the bright green beans out of the tough greyish skin. Keep the beans but chuck the skins, they’re tough and nasty.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the pasta. Cook for 10-12 minutes, according to the packet directions. Meanwhile, warm the butter over a medium-low heat in a small frypan. Once melted, add the shelled broad beans and gently warm them—they shouldn’t fry.

Once the pasta is nearly cooked, add the finely chopped basil and finely grated lemon zest to the broad beans and stir around to coat in butter and heat through. Take the beans off the heat and add the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water. Put the pasta back in the saucepan and add reserved water, beans, parsley, and finely grated parmesan. Mix it all together, then serve with some extra parmesan and lemon on the side, so people can adjust the flavours to their liking. Quick and tasty!

Spring risotto with lemon and goat’s cheese

September 19, 2009

Spring has definitely and finally taken hold here—more flowers are appearing in our garden every day, and the sunny afternoons are just wonderful. I’m still apprehensive of a late cold snap (Canberra seems to be so prone to these) but am doing my best to enjoy the season while I can.

Last night, to celebrate, I made a spring risotto. The timid but sweet flavours of the new season vegetables perfectly adorn the canvas of the risotto, and are lifted by the fragrant lemon zest. Lemon zest is one of my favourite ingredients, and I must confess I seem to use much more lemon zest than lemon juice, which has led to an abundance of white, denuded lemons looking so forlorn every time I open the refrigerator. I shall have to start drinking more gin and tonic, as this is a drink which almost requires a slice of lemon—even de-zested. (As an aside, I cannot praise enough the wonderful Microplane grater and its uses as a zester. Fine and sharp is the ticket, and ensure you only ever use the yellow part of the skin, well scrubbed. The white pith will only add bitterness.)

The risotto is finished with goat’s cheese. Something salty and creamy to contrast with the freshness, to complement its sweetness, to form a completed whole. I used the last of a beautiful organic ash-covered soft goat’s cheese from Capra that I bought a few months ago at the farmer’s markets. I know that sounds dodgy, but actually it’s been sitting safely in the freezer—did you know that you can safely freeze soft goat’s cheese without damaging the flavour or texture? Neither did I, until the Capra people told me. But I have tried it and it works.

Anyway, here’s how my risotto turned out. And now, on to the recipe.

spring risotto

Spring Risotto with Lemon and Goat’s Cheese

1.5 L vegetable stock

olive oil

1/2 a head of celery, diced

one medium brown onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely diced

400g arborio rice

250 mL white wine

one bunch asparagus

2 handfuls frozen shelled broad beans

half a bunch of chopped continental parsley

zest and juice of one lemon

a good knob of butter

a handful of grated parmesan

freshly ground black pepper

about 150g soft goat’s cheese

Put your stock in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based pan on a medium to low heat. Add the celery, onion and garlic and sweat gently with the lid on, without colouring, until soft and slightly translucent.

Bump up the heat on the vegetables to medium and add the rice. Keep stirring until it starts to crackle, don’t let it stick. Pour in the wine and allow it the rice to completely absorb it, then turn the heat back down to medium-low and add a few ladlefuls of the hot stock. Put the lid on the pan but keep it ajar, while you prepare the spring vegetables. Check the risotto frequently to ensure it’s not sticking, and add more stock as the rice absorbs it—you want it to stay fairly moist.

Blanch the broad beans in boiling water for a couple of minutes or until they float. Drain and rinse in cold water, then squeeze the soft green beans out of their tough skins, discarding the skins. Snap the woody ends off your asparagus and cut off the tips, reserving. Slice the asparagus at an angle into pieces about 0.7 cm thick.

When the rice is about 5 minutes away from cooked, add the sliced asparagus, half the lemon juice, and more stock if necessary. When the rice is almost done, add the asparagus tips and broad beans to warm through, and the lemon zest. At this stage you may need to top up the stock—a risotto should dollop, not be stodgy. Turn off the heat and add the parsley, butter, parmesan and a good helping of black pepper. Put the lid back on and let it all melt and ooze together for a minute or so, then taste and add more lemon juice, pepper, or some salt, whatever you think it needs. Serve topped with crumbled goat’s cheese. A mouthful of Spring!

Brown sugar, lemon and saffron muffins

May 14, 2009

muffins

It’s so nice when improvisation in the kitchen works out. So often it goes terribly wrong, but last night I was inspired (by being hungry, or by my pantry, or by the purple baking fairy, I’m not sure which) to make a new flavour of muffins, and the results were quite pleasing really. They turned out so well, I thought I’d share the recipe! That way you can make them too, and I won’t forget what I did.

I decided that brown sugar and lemon would make a nice combination in a muffin, and as I was getting ingredients out of the pantry it occurred to me that some sort of spice would go well too. Vanilla seemed too predictable, and cumin too savoury…then I saw the saffron. Cha-ching!

What I ended up doing was adding the saffron and some lemon juice to my standard muffin mix, then making a paste out of brown sugar and more lemon juice, and kind of swirling it through the mix just before I poured it into the cases. And they turned out really well! I’d probably add more lemon juice next time (I quite like lemon, and it wasn’t strong enough for me), and also some lemon zest–my lemon had already been zested for another dish so I had none left. The saffron came through a lot stronger than I expected too, so if you’re not used to this flavour maybe try reducing the amount.

Brown Sugar, Lemon and Saffron Muffins

2 1/4 cups plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarb soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/3 cup brown sugar

150mL greek yoghurt

150mL milk

2 eggs

125g butter, melted

zest and juice of 1 lemon

pinch of saffron threads (~1/4 tsp)

Because this recipe has a lot of acidic (yoghurt, lemon juice) and a lot of basic (baking powder, baking soda) ingredients, it’s important to work quickly otherwise the chemical reaction will happen in the bowl instead of in the oven, and your muffins won’t rise.

Preheat oven to 190°C. Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarb, and salt in a large bowl with 2/3 cup of the brown sugar. Warm 20mL of the milk in a small cup and allow the saffron threads to soak in the warmed milk for at least 5 minutes. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining milk and the yoghurt. Add the melted butter, eggs, half the lemon juice, the lemon zest, and the saffron milk (I didn’t bother to strain it as I think it’s nice to come across a few saffron threads). Whisk it all together.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining brown sugar and lemon juice to make a paste about the consistency of melted chocolate. You don’t want it too thick–it won’t swirl through easily–and not too thin, or it’ll just melt into the mixture.

Now the action: make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the eggy milky mixture. Working quickly, mix until just combined but not perfect–it’s better to err on the side of lumps, because if you mix too much your muffins will be tough. Pour over the brown sugar paste and mix briefly with a butterknife or the side of a spoon, until just marbled. Quickly pour into the prepared tray, and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or so. Makes about 14 regular-sized muffins.

Fragrant but comforting. Just the perfect thing for a winter night, with a cup of tea or a glass of wine. If you do try them, I’d love to hear how they turn out, and any changes you made. Here’s to successful improvisation!