Lemons Galore

lemons

LEMONS ADD ZEST

The English name cabbage comes from the French word caboche, meaning head. It has been cultivated for over 4,000 years and domesticated for perhaps 2,500 years. The Celts brought cabbage to Europe from Asia in about 600 BC and as it grows well in cool climates, it soon became a major crop. It’s prolific and can be stored through the winter as sauerkraut, thus fending off scurvy. Interestingly, kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are the same species, altered by selective propagation.

If your children won’t eat cabbage, this delicious recipe will change their minds.

LEMON CABBAGE

Melt butter in a large saucepan on medium heat

Slice an onion and add to the saucepan

Finely slice a Savoy cabbage and add

Sprinkle over lemon juice and salt, and toss

Put the lid on to steam rather than cook. It will take only a few minutes – the vegetables need to be crisp, not limp.

GREEK POTATOES

Here’s another way lemon juice uplifts a dish. Peel potatoes and cut them lengthways. Boil them briefly in water. Before they are fully cooked, take them out, discard the water, and put the potatoes into a frying pan with olive oil, sea salt, pepper and oregano. Turn regularly to cook on each side and create a crispy brown exterior. Alternative: you can omit the boiling and put the potatoes straight into a baking tray in the oven with all the above ingredients plus a cup of water. It takes longer; don’t forget to turn the potatoes.

THEO’S LEMON CURD (LEMON CHEESE)

Aunt Theo was a dear old lady who lived in an immaculate Victorian house, full of original furniture, in Auckland. Time had been on hold for many years. Luckily, her recipes were good and traditional too.

Lemon curd can be spread on bread, scones, muffins or tarts. It’s the filling for lemon meringue pie. Note: it keeps for a month in the fridge.

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

4 tablespoons lemon juice

Lemon essence

2 oz (1/4 lb) butter

Grated rind (zest) of 1 lemon (Meyer lemons are recommended)

Beat eggs. Add sugar. Add melted butter, lemon rind, juice and essence of lemon. In a double boiler, cook until thick (30-40 minutes), stirring occasionally. Put into sterilized jars, store in the fridge and use quickly.

For orange curd, use 2 oranges with rind and juice; omit lemons. Variations: limes, tangerines, passion fruit, mangoes, berries, lemon and lime, pineapple with Malibu, orange with Cointreau, or cherry with cherry brandy.

LEMON CURD DESSERT

1 1/2 cup whipping cream

3/4 cup lemon curd to mix with cream

3/4 cup lemon curd to layer

1 box of vanilla or lemon wafers

Whip cream until soft peaks form. Add 3/4 cup lemon curd to the cream and fold in gently.

In 8” x 8” square baking dish put one-third of the cream and spread. Put a layer of wafers and cover with lemon curd. Repeat, finishing with a layer of cream. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

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New Zealand’s Favourite Cookies

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Where are they?

AFGHAN BISCUITS

These small round cookies have a blob of icing on top with a half walnut on top of that. The whole thing looks like a turban, which is probably what prompted the name.

Makes 20 small cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 1/4 cups flour

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

1 1/3 cups cornflakes

1/2 cup walnut halves, to decorate

Heat oven to 350 (180°C) and line two baking trays with wax paper.

Place butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until pale and creamy.

Sift flour and cocoa powder over creamed mixture; stir to combine.

Stir in cornflakes.

Place tablespoonfuls of mixture on baking trays.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until firm and golden brown.

Cool on wire rack.

Ice the cold biscuits with chocolate icing and a walnut half.

Chocolate Icing

Mix a cup of icing sugar with a tablespoon of cocoa and a dash of water in a saucepan on low heat; stir. Add more ingredients to get the right quantity and firm texture.

ANZAC BISCUITS

No one really knows the history of these biscuits but one story is that when Australian and New Zealand soldiers joined forces in World War I (becoming the ANZACs), someone decided to make a biscuit to celebrate.

Another story says that, as the biscuits are economical to make, nourishing, and store well, families could send these biscuits in food parcels to ANZAC troops overseas. They survive rough handling and go well with the strong hot tea that was a standard ration for the soldiers, so this is possible.

The biscuits are like Scottish oatcakes and no doubt early settlers brought the recipe to New Zealand. In World War I, the biscuits were sold to help fundraise for the Red Cross and the Returned Servicemen’s Association, which seems the probable origin of the name.

½ cup (4 oz) butter

1 tablespoon golden syrup

2 tablespoons of boiling water

1 1/2 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda

1 cup of rolled oats

3/4 cup desiccated coconut

1/2 cup (4 oz) plain flour

1 cup (8 oz) of sugar

Combine all dry ingredients except soda.

Add melted butter.

Stir in soda mixed with boiling water.

Place in spoonfuls on greased tray.

Cook in moderate oven about 20 minutes. Cool.

Store in airtight container.

PIKELETS or SCOTTISH PANCAKES

1 egg

¼ cup caster sugar

1 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

Pinch salt

¾ to 1 cup milk

1 Tbsp melted butter

Oil for frying

Jam and whipped cream, to serve

In a bowl, beat egg and sugar together until thick.

Add dry ingredients alternating with milk, adding enough milk to form a smooth, thick batter. Stir in the melted butter.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add a film of oil and cook tablespoons of batter in batches, for about 2 minutes or until bubbles appear on the surface. Turn pikelets over to brown the other side. Remove to paper towels.

Serve pikelets warm, topped with jam and whipped cream.

  • The batter will thicken upon standing; if necessary, add a little extra milk to thin the mixture before frying.
  • Fry one pikelet to make sure the pan is at the right temperature to turn the pikelets golden brown.

Lady Clementine Churchill’s Coffee Cream

 

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Sir Winston and Lady Churchill

LADY CHURCHILL’S COFFEE CREAM

In the 1930s Mrs. Landemare was one of the most sought after cooks in Britain. She had cooked for Sir Winston and Lady Churchill from the early twenties doing temporary work—Scotland in the autumn, Newmarket in racing week, ball suppers, Chartwell weekend parties—but in 1939 she offered Lady Churchill her full-time services. Lady Churchill knew she would be able to make the best out of rations and that everyone in the household would be happy. She worked tirelessly throughout the war, leaving the kitchen after midnight and returning shortly after to start breakfast. She noted the difficulties in preparing decent food during the Blitz. On VE night, however, Churchill told her that he could not have managed through the war without her. Mrs. Landemare remained for fifteen years, retiring in 1954.

The domestic suite in the Cabinet War Rooms below Westminster includes a tiny, windowless bunker kitchen where Mrs. Landemare was ready to fricassée a chicken, even with the Nazis at the door. Luckily they never arrived; instead she cooked for the Churchills in their flat above the Cabinet War Rooms, known as the No 10 annexe, or at No 10 itself, a quarter of a mile away. “One thing that tested her a lot,” recalls Churchill’s daughter, Mary Soames, “was when my father, to show that it was ‘business as usual,’ sometimes decided to use the dining room at No 10 instead of the annexe. So Mrs. Landemare would have to transfer from one kitchen to another and be driven round in the duty car with the covered dishes wrapped in shawls to keep them warm, clasped tightly on her lap.”

The night of October 14, 1940, was even worse. During an air raid, Churchill chivvied Mrs. Landemare out of the No 10 kitchen and into an air-raid shelter. Three minutes later the kitchen was, Churchill wrote, “a heap of black dust and rubble.”

On view to the public, the bunker kitchen at the Cabinet War Rooms contains waffle irons, pastry cutters, jelly moulds, and copper saucepans but no mechanical whisks or gadgetry, because Mrs. Landemare scorned such “modern” devices.

Churchill’s domestic suite with the bunker kitchen is at the Cabinet War Rooms, Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London SW1 (020-7930 6961); open daily 9.30am-6pm.

In 1958, she published “Recipes from No. 10: Some Practical Recipes for Discerning Cooks,” with a foreword by Clementine Churchill: “Mrs. Landemare’s food was delicious. She is an inspired and intuitive cook, and it is I who encouraged her to write this book.” So she got as near to the kitchen as her desk and pen.

 

COFFEE CREAM

4 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1 cup whipping cream

4 tablespoons strong black coffee

1 packet gelatine

Shredded, toasted almonds

Dissolve gelatine in coffee in a glass jug standing in saucepan of hot water.

Beat yolks with sugar in a basin standing in hot water until creamy and thick. Add gelatine and coffee mixture. Remove bowl from water and continue beating until cold. Whip whites of eggs. Whip cream. Add alternately to cooled mixture.

Turn out into cut-glass serving dish. Chill. Before serving, sprinkle with toasted almonds.

 Don’t forget to toast Mrs. Landemare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Fudge Cake – forget the other stuff

This brilliant cake recipe was given to me by my sister. I have loved her ever since. It is our standard family birthday cake. That’s not my sister up there, they’re just trading cacao beans ready for someone’s birthday cake.

They say:

“There is no doubt that chocolate beats kissing hands down when it comes to providing a long-lasting body and brain buzz; a buzz that, in many cases, lasted four times as long as the most passionate kiss.” Heartbeats go from 60 to 140 beats per minute, according to a study carried out by Dr. David Lewis of Mind Lab. No wonder the Aztecs thought cacao beans were valuable as currency. A turkey was worth 100 beans and an avocado was a bargain at three beans. Taxes were paid in cacao beans. This is powerful stuff.

Two-thirds of the chocolate people eat today comes from West Africa. The variety of tree is Forastero and originated in the Amazon Basin. In Central America, cacao has been grown and processed for over three millennia but wasn’t available in Europe until the 1500s when it was introduced by the Spanish. The drink was an expensive delicacy for a century until plantations were established in Mesoamerica with an African workforce.

The first chocolate house opened in London in 1657. In 1689, Dr. Hans Sloane invented a milk chocolate drink that was used by apothecaries and later sold to the Cadbury brothers in 1897. The Industrial Revolution stimulated the invention of machines to process chocolate, which made it more accessible. In 1847, Joseph Fry & Son discovered how to make solid chocolate and the chocolate bar was born.

Call it what you like, xocolatl contains alkaloids such as theobromine and phenylethylamine, which affect the body, fight fatigue, raise serotonin levels and even lower blood pressure; dark chocolate may benefit circulation. It may fight cancer, stimulate the brain and reduce coughing. But do we need these reasons to eat it? The most reliable way of absorbing chocolate is by mouth. This cake will increase your heartbeat and give you a buzz you won’t regret.

CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE

1/2 cup (4 oz) butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla essence

2/3 cup cocoa

1/2 cup water

2 tsp. vinegar

1 cup milk

1 3/4 cup flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

pinch of salt

In a medium or large bowl, melt butter in microwave. Add sugar, eggs, vanilla and beat. In a small bowl, blend cocoa and water. Add to creamed mixture. In 1-cup glass jug, add vinegar to milk to sour. In large glass jug, add flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture with sour milk. Pour into two greased and floured 8-inch (20-centimetre) round cake tins or 9 x 13” (23 x 33 cm) pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool slightly before turning out onto wire rack. Ice with Chocolate Vienna Icing.

CHOCOLATE VIENNA ICING

1/2 cup butter (4 oz)

3 Tbsp. cocoa

3 Tbsp. water

2 1/2 cups icing sugar

1 tsp. vanilla essence

In a medium bowl, melt 1/2 cup butter until creamy. In a small bowl, blend 3 Tbsp. cocoa with 3 Tbsp. water until smooth. Add 2 1/2 cups icing sugar to butter alternately with cocoa mixture. Optional: vanilla essence.