Lemon curd (lemon butter)

Lemon curd

If you have read any of my past posts, you will know that I love anything citrus based. Tart desserts are my favourite and I will always go for a citrus or berry dessert, rather than chocolate. I think my love of all things tart must come from my Nanna. I remember hearing tales of how, when she was a young girl,  she would get sent to the shop with the vinegar bottle to fill it up, and by the time she was home it was half empty because she had been drinking it on the way home!

So it will come as no surprise that lemon curd (or lemon butter) is a favourite of mine. Unfortunately, I find almost all of the lemon curd you can buy in shops tastes overly sweet and artificial, and doesn’t have that lovely tartness that I expect in lemon curd. So it is something that I much prefer to make myself. And with this recipe, it is easy to make at home.

I discovered this recipe a few years back when making Gary Mehigan’s Lemon Curd Mousse with Gingernut Crumble (a great dessert that I will have to make and post soon). This lemon curd  is actually made in the microwave (although you could do it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water if you prefer, however you need to stir it constantly if you cook it this way). It is a much quicker and easier than other recipes I have tried, and doesn’t need the constant stirring of the usual method. The end result is the best lemon curd I have ever made, beautifully tart with a wonderful creamy, glossy texture. The other thing I like about this recipe is that it specifies the volume of lemon juice you need. The amount of juice in lemons can vary so much, that I prefer having the volume specified in a recipe such as this where you are relying on the lemon as your main flavour. When I have tried other recipes, I  found I had to keep adding more, trying as I went, to get the right tart lemon flavour (not something I encourage you to do with raw eggs!). This recipe removes the trial and error  and I get the same result each time I make it.

Of course, if you prefer your lemon curd a bit sweeter, just add more sugar. That is the joy of making your own, you can make it just the way you like it.

Lemon curd

Click here for the recipe

My cookbook library – Pancetta, mushroom and zucchini salad

The last book I bought before my self imposed ban on buying a new cookbook until I had cooked (and posted) something from 5 of the books I own was Rena Patten’s Cooking With Quinoa: the Supergrain. I like quinoa  but had only used it in a few dishes, so I wanted to learn more ways to use it

I liked the sound of this recipe, as it was fresh and light, used ingredients that I already had and sounded delicious and filling. I also thought it would be great the next day for lunch. It was quite time consuming grilling the vegetables, as I only have a small grill pan. I think next time I’ll cook them on the bbq. But the result was flavourful and filling, with the chilli adding a hint of heat, freshness from the basil and zucchini, saltiness from the pancetta and the wonderful earthy mushrooms and nutty quinoa. For a vegetarian option, just leave out the pancetta. It was great the next day cold as well. Yum.

pancetta, mushroom and zucchini salad

Book recipe number: 3

Number of cookbooks owned: 198+

New book credit: 0.6 (2 more to go before I am allowed to buy another cookbook)

Click here for the recipe

Meat free Monday – Puy lentil salad with goat’s cheese, beetroot and dill

This post is a double up, being my second recipe from ‘My Cookbook Library’ as well as a vegetarian ‘Meat Free Monday’ dish. Jerome has decided that the ‘My Cookbook Library’ posts (cooking my way through all my cookbooks, one recipe from one book at a time) should be renamed ‘Jerome’s pick’, as he quite enjoyed being given the cookbook index (on eat your books) and getting to pick what I cooked.

The second book I chose to cook from is Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple But Classic French Recipes. I love this cookbook and related cooking series. After studying patisserie at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, Rachel started testing recipes for a cookbook in her tiny apartment with just a mini oven and two gas rings.  She also opened the smallest restaurant in Paris in her apartment, serving just two people for dinner. This is one of those rare books where when I look through it, I want to try at least every second recipe. If you want to give French food a try, I certainly recommend this book. If Rachel can cook these recipes in her tiny apartment with limited equipment, I think most of us should be able to replicate them in our own kitchens. I certainly try to remember what Rachel cooked with whenever I start complaining about my own kitchen!

This is a very light dish, and would make a nice light lunch or side salad at dinner. Dill isn’t my favourite herb, but it went quite well against the earthiness of the beetroot and lentils and the creaminess of the cheese. We had the salad as a light dinner with some crusty baguette. Simple, only a few ingredients, but they all work well together.

Beetroot and goats cheese salad with lentils

Book recipe number: 2

Number of cookbooks owned: 198+ (198 now logged in my eat your books library, however there were quite a few that weren’t in their database that I now have to count)

New book credit: 0.4 (3 more to go before I am allowed to buy another cookbook)

Click here for the recipe

Hummingbird cakes with coconut crust

I am a fan of pineapple as an ingredient in both sweet and savoury dishes. I’m not ashamed to admit that my favourite pizza topping is simply ham, cheese and pineapple, and any sweet and sour dish has to have pineapple in it for me.

So when I saw this recipe, I instantly wanted to try it. Added to that, my freezer is starting to fill up again with overripe bananas, so it was a great way to use up a few of those. The recipe also uses oil instead of butter, which I prefer as I find cakes cooked with oil are always moist without any buttery aftertaste.

I liked the idea of the coconut crust on top. However, it made the cakes a bit too sweet for me. Next time I think I will put only a very small amount on top to retain the texture element, but reduce the sweetness.  Although on tasting these again the next day, they tasted less sweet so it may have just been because they were a bit warm, and I prefered these the day after cooking. This is a very moist cake, due to the bananas, pineapple and oil, with a caramel sweetness from the brown sugar both in the cupcakes as well as on top and a hint of spice from the ginger and cinnamon. There wasn’t quite enough pineapple evident in the final cake for me, so I may add some pineapple pieces next time rather than just crushed pineapple.

Hummingbird cake with coconut crust

Click here for the recipe

My cookbook library and The Hairy Dieter’s Lamb Tagine

As I’ve mentioned a few times before, I own quite a few cookbooks and continue to buy more (I can’t resist a good cookbook on sale). However, when you have more than a few cookbooks, it can be difficult remembering where certain recipes you wanted to try are, and therefore get the most out of your books.

So I recently signed up to the website Eat Your Books to give it a try. Eat Your Books is a website that indexes cookbooks and allows you to create a catalogue (your bookshelf) of the books you have and then search them through an on-line database. It doesn’t actually give you the recipe, you need to go to your book for that, but it does give you the ingredients in the recipe.

So far I have added 149 books to my ‘bookshelf’, with a few books that I couldn’t enter (they were quite old ones) and I haven’t finished adding them all yet. I’ve found so far that only half of my books have been indexed, but I do have quite a few older and Australian books, so that may account for it. Most of my newer books were already indexed. The site allows you to “member index” one book at a time, so I have started adding one of my books already. The site also catalogues magazines, blogs and other on-line recipes.

This got me thinking about making better use of (and even rediscovering) my books. As a result, I have decided  to cook at least one recipe from one of my books every one to two weeks, and try to work my way through all my books (this will take a while to get through).  I also am not going to buy a new cookbook until I have cooked something from at least five books that I already own.

When I decided this, I had The Hairy Dieters book in my bag, so I have started with that book. I know I’ve cooked a dish from their book before, but this is a new ‘challenge’ and I have to start somewhere.

The slow cooking makes the lamb lovely and tender, and the chickpeas develop an almost creamy texture. The spices added just the right amount (for me at least) of heat. Definitely a dish I will be cooking again.

Book recipe number: 1

Number of cookbooks owned: 149+ (still counting)

Lamb Tagine

Click here for the recipe

The Hairy Dieters’ Chicken Korma

My threshold for hot/spicy food is very low, so when we do eat Indian food a korma is usually my dish of choice. Unfortunately, a creamy korma isn’t the best choice if you are trying to watch what you eat. So my interest was sparked by a recipe in the Hairy Biker’s latest book and TV show The Hairy Dieters’ : How to Love Food and Lose Weight for a chicken korma that was less than 300 calories per portion (without rice). As I’ve said on this blog before, I really like finding healthier alternatives to favourite foods/dishes rather than cutting them out altogether. That way I don’t feel like I’m missing out.

I’ve cooked this twice now and have been happy with the results both times.  It doesn’t feel like a light/diet version of something. It still has the creamy texture and rich taste of a korma from the blended cooked onion mix and the very small amount of cream added at the end. So now I can enjoy my korma at home without the guilt.

I like to add some steamed green beans at the end, as I feel the dish needs some added vegetables. I also prefer to cook this with chicken thigh fillets, though the original recipe was for chicken breasts. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. That is mostly the spices. The actual recipe itself is, in my opinion, quite easy to cook. Next time I think I’ll try it just with a variety of different vegetables.

Chicken korma

Click here for the recipe