Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Candied peel

In the interests of thriftiness and deliciousness, whenever you are using just the juice or flesh of any citrus, try candying the peel. Excellent for using in cakes and buns, or as a decoration.

Peel the fruit thickly, and try to remember next time to do it before you juice them …

… because it's not so easy afterwards.

Put the peel in a pot with some water and a little baking soda, leave to soak for 20 minutes.

Drain the peel and add fresh water. Bring to the boil and cook until tender.

Drain it again, and add a syrup made from equal volumes of sugar and water. I used a cup of each. Bring to the boil, then let it cool and leave it to soak for a couple of days.

Add half as much sugar again (half a cup for me), bring it back to the boil and simmer until the peel is transparent.

My lime peel refused to go transparent no matter how long I cooked it, but the lemon peel did as expected.

Dry the peel on a rack, either in the sun or in a cool oven.

If you want you can dip the peel in the reserved syrup again and dry it a second time, but I cooked mine so long trying to get the lime peel to go transparent that my syrup was damned near solid when it cooled.

But my peel is delicious. I need to put it away so I stop picking at it. I can't make up my mind whether to chop it up small now, or to do it as I need it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Weekend Tarts

I'm going to Alec's place tonight for a pot-luck dinner and to play bridge. I'm bringing dessert, and I decided on tarte au citron with an almond pastry (because I have a lot of ground almonds that need using). The pastry recipe came from here, but I used brown sugar instead of golden caster sugar - because I didn't have golden caster sugar. I also increased the recipe by half, because I wasn't sure there'd be enough.

Last night, 300 g flour, 250 g ground almonds, 250 g brown sugar, and 300 g butter went into the food processor …

… which didn't do a terribly good job of turning them into breadcrumb-looking things.

I used my hands in the end. One egg yolk was enough to bind it, probably because brown sugar is quite moist.

I pressed dough into my big tart dish, using a glass to roll the middle flat and to get the edges nice and smooth. Smoother than my finger would have anyway:

I needn't have made extra pastry - I had loads left over. Enough for a smaller tart shell:

And some biscuits:

I used my "Brigitte Keks" biscuit cutter to make them, with "Bridge" embossed on the tops.

I'm going to stick them together with raspberry jam and take them to bridge on Thurday night for our table's supper. They used to provide tea and biscuits and ladies to prepare them, but financial pressure has left us to our own devices recently.

The tart shells went into the fridge overnight, and I baked them blind this morning after the bread came out of the oven.

I baked them for 20 minutes or so with the beans in, then another 15 or so after I removed them.

The smaller one still seemed too raw, so I left it in the cooling oven for a bit longer:

And forgot it. It's a bit more cooked than I'd like, but I tasted a crumb and it doesn't taste burnt.

The recipe for the centre of the tart comes from Margaret Fulton's Superb Restaurant Dishes. I modified it by using yoghurt instead of cream, and by using limes instead of oranges.

You need about one and a quarter cups of mixed orange and lemon juice, I used a bit less than that, mostly lemon and some lime. You need the grated zest of two lemons, I used one lemon and two limes:

Then three quarters of a cup of sugar and four eggs:

You beat the eggs, sugar, juice, and zest together well.

Then you're supposed to melt together a quarter of a cup of cream and two ounces of butter. I didn't have cream, so I used yoghurt instead. Milk would have curdled. It says to cook over a low heat - I used my big double boiler just to be on the safe side.

Once the butter's melted you add the beaten sugar, juice etc. and stir together, still over the low heat, until slightly thickened:

Then you pour the custard into the pie crust and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or so, until it's set. While it's in the oven you need to peel and segment two lemons (I used a lemon and a lime), removing all of the membranes. The easiest way to do this is to peel them with a sharp knife right down to the flesh, then you take the knife again and slice down each side of each segment:

You end up with a pile of nice peeled segments, and a couple of fan-like membraney bits:

When the custard has set, arrange the segments over the top of the tart and sprinkle lavishly with icing sugar. Then you stick the tart back in the oven under a hot grill (broiler for Americans) until the top is nicely browned.

My grill wanted to cook the edges more than the insides, so I got out my trusty $8 gas soldering iron (minus the soldering head) …

… and blow-torched the rest of it to match:

It looks quite professional, I think - I hope it tastes as good as it looks.

Then I thought I may as well do something with the slightly overcooked shell too. I decided on chocolate, mostly because I found a tin of mandarin segments in the cupboard. I got a couple of rows of a chocolate bar…

… and melted them in the double boiler with half a cup or so of milk …

… and a decent sized shake of cocoa powder:

When they were melted I added two eggs beaten with half a cup of sugar and proceeded as for the lemon tart …

… pouring most of the custard into the pastry case when it was slightly thickened …

… and decorating it with mandarin segments, before baking this time:

I continued cooking the left over custard until it was properly thick, and put it in a little jar to cool:

It's really nice on bread and butter.

And I didn't waste the lemon and lime peel either - candied peel post coming up in a few days when it's finished.


Almond pastry (modified from the BBC)

300g plain flour
250g ground almonds
250g brown sugar
300g cold butter , diced
1 egg yolk

Make the pastry by tipping all the ingredients, except the yolk, into a food processor and pulsing to the texture of breadcrumbs. I had to rub it in with my fingers.
Add the yolk, then mix until it all comes together to form a soft pastry.
The pastry will be too soft to roll out, so press it evenly into a loose-based 25cm tart tin (I used a bigger glass one) until the pastry comes up above the edges of the tin. I managed to roll out the pastry for the small tart and the biscuits.
Rest in the freezer for at least 20 mins. I left mine in the fridge overnight.
Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Line the tart case with baking parchment and baking beans, then place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 mins until the edges are starting to brown. Remove the beans and paper, then continue to cook for 10 mins until almost cooked. Leave to cool.

Tarte au citron (modified from Margaret Fulton's Superb Restaurant Dishes)

2/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup orange juice (I used slightly less lime juice)
grated zest of two lemons (I used 1 lemon and two limes)
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 oz butter
1/4 cup cream (I used yoghurt)
12 inch tart shell

Beat together the first five ingredients
Melt the butter with the cream over a low heat.
Add in the egg mixture and stir over low heat until thickened slightly. Don't let it boil.
Pour custard into cooked 12 inch tart shell and bake at 170°C until set. About 20 - 25 minutes.
Decorate the top with peeled lemon segments and sprinkle heavily with icing sugar.
Place under a hot grill (broiler) until browned. Or caramelise with a blow-torch.

You're supposed to serve it warm, but I'm taking mine elsewhere so I can't.

Chocolate mandarin tart (very heavily modified from the above lemon filling)

~80 g dark chocolate
~ 1/2 cup milk
~ 2 tbsp Dutch process cocoa
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tin mandarin segments
8 inch tart shell

Beat eggs and sugar together well.
Melt first three ingredients together in a double boiler.
Add egg mixture and stir over low heat until slightly thickened.
Pour into 8 inch tart shell and decorate with drained mandarin segments.
Bake at 170°C until set.

Chocolate spread

Excess chocolate tart filling

Continue to cook in double boiler until thickened completely. Try not to let it actually boil, but it does curdle a little. Scrape into a jar and leave until cold. Spread on bread and butter.

Bridge biscuits

Left over almond pastry scraps
Raspberry jam

Roll out all the pastry scraps and cut into circles or rectangles with cookie cutters.
Bake at 180°C until golden brown.
Cool on wire rack.

When cool, sandwich together with raspberry jam or chocolate spread.


This is my friend Stephen with the deer he shot last weekend:

It's an excellent photo, especially seeing as he took it himself using the timer. The great lighting, with the sun striking the deer's head, is pure luck he tells me. He's still sore from carrying all that meat several miles out of the bush to his car too.

He brought me some bits and pieces of meat to make salami with, and a gift of a piece of back steak. This is the salami meat:

Here it is after I spent a hour or so trimming off as much tendon, sinew, other connective tissue, and bits of beech forest as I could:

And here's the pile of trimmings that went first to the cats, and then outside to the hedgehogs:

I needed to add a good bit of pork fat, as venison is very lean. I seasoned it very simply, with just garlic and freshly ground white pepper Here are the stuffed salamis:

I decided to make pressed ones - they take a bit less time to dry, and I quite like the rectangular shape of the slices. It makes the finished product easy to identify too.

So here's what my spare shower looks like right now:

That's two pork salamis, a hare salami, and three venison salamis, left to right. The pork and hare are moulding up nicely and smelling good. Won't be too long before I can try them.

Cooking with Emily

While the family was visiting Emily and I did quite a bit of cooking together, and Em finally got to do some dishes:

Doing dishes is one of those things that you do when you are getting big, and getting big is very important to Emily - probably because she is very small for four-and-a-half (she's standing on a stool in these photos). She takes all "getting big" activities very seriously, and did an excellent job of the dishes.

She also made gingerbread cookies with me:

I had quite a bit of gingerbread man mixture left over from Christmas in the freezer, so I made gingerbread men for the party, and Em made tiny teddies and stars and various other things from the scraps.

She did all her own rolling out and stamping, and truth to tell did a better job than my fourteen year old niece Isabel did at Christmas!

She put the paper cups in the muffin tray when we made butterfly cakes:

And added most of the ingredients to the mixer, very carefully:

Then of course she got to lick all the spoons and bowls afterwards:

The butterflly cakes were made when Mummy and Daddy had gone to the theatre, both kids had had their baths, and Caitlin was in bed. That's why Em's wearing her PJs.

Here's a photo of Em and Caitlin eating macaroni cheese:

We made that too. My Kenwood mixer has a pasta extruding attachment, and chopping off macaroni as it was being squeezed out was lots and lots of fun. My hands were busy though so I couldn't take a photo. Both kids ate good big platefuls of it too, so it was a success all round. That thing Caity's wearing round her neck is a teatowel. Her mother forgot to bring enough bibs - teatowels are just as good.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Shocking pink, at that. I've finally got around to wearing these shoes I bought a couple of months ago at No1 Shoes.

They were originally $30 and I wasn't prepared to pay that - after all, how often could I possibly wear them? I waited until there was a 30% off deal going then raced in and got them. They're quite funky, and I have nothing except black to wear with them. Except for some shocking pink lipstick. I think I need some chunky psychedelic plastic beads.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


My friend Stephen has been out hunting again. This time he brought around a heap of hare hind legs to turn into an experimental salami, and some goat backstraps as a gift. Stephen doesn't like the gamey flavour of the back legs of the hares he shoots but he doesn't like to waste the meat. He had this idea that salami might be more palatable than anything else. I have my doubts, I think they'd be better in a nice rich bacony-mushroomy casserole, but we'll see how the salami turns out. They're just flavoured with garlic and black pepper, and we had to add a good bit of pork fat as the hare is extremely lean. We made three, one of them being for me. Here it is hanging in the spare shower alongside a couple of new pork salamis:

Hare back leg muscles have lots of myoglobin, hence the extremely dark colour - it almost looks like black pudding. The pork sausages were made from some pork leg that was on special last week. I put garlic, cayenne, allspice and cumin in them. I need to get more smoked paprika, so far that's my favourite flavouring, but I've run out.

I removed a hunk of the pork leg meat before mincing the rest for salami and cured it in some salt and brown sugar along with a goat backstrap in preparation for smoking:

I rubbed the pork with a mixture of paprika and cayenne after curing overnight, but left the goat plain:

Here are the finished products after smoking at ~90°C for two hours:

They're quite delicious.

While I was setting up the smoker I discovered I'd had a bit of a freezer disaster. The freezer door wasn't shut properly! That would explain why I've been using so much electricity over the last week or so. One of the things that had nearly defrosted was a hunk of corned silverside I'd bought when it was really cheap. I thought I may as well have a bash at turning it into pastrami seeing as the smoker was going. I finished defrosting it and rubbed it all over with ground black pepper then put it in the smoker for about four hours.

It looks OK, no?

It may be a bit peppery, but it's OK. Next time I'll plan ahead and make a tastier sort of rub.