Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Easy peasy lemon squeezey

It's very easy to squeeze lemons, but what to do with them afterwards....The warm weekend (20C on our balcony!) brought the promise of late summer evenings sitting outside, enjoying good food and company. One of the things I love drinking at these times is limonchello. I made some last year which was very successful so I decided to try again, this time using this recipe. Even making half the amount, I still ended up with 8 lemons so what to do with them? I went a bit mad and decided to try all the lemon recipes I've been wanting to try for a long time. First we made a lemon tart with meringue. As I was lazy I used puff pastry for the base which was fine, but I think it would have been much nicer with a proper crust. It was still very tasty though and a good oportunity to use Barry's new favourite toy - the blowtorch.

As I really liked the filling, I decided to make some lemon curd, which is similar and can be used as a filling for pastry cases. I adapted this recipe as I was intrigued by the use of almonds. However, I didnt have any zest left, and I wasnt about to use more lemons, I just increased the amount of juice. I also reduced the amount of sugar as I often find lemon curd too sweet. The curd was great, at first I wasn't so sure about the almond powder but as we had brunch on our balcony in the sunshine it really began to grow on me. It gives a little "je ne sais quoi" to the curd, somehow it becomes more velvety and soft.

As the ground almonds I had were fairly mixed, I had to sieve them to get the fine stuff for the curd, with the rest, I made another recipe from this site for lemon fleur de sel cookies (again without zest and with slightly more juice). I was keen to try some fleur de sel de guerande that barry's uncle and aunt had kindly given to me. Tasting the dough initially, I didn't really taste so much salt but once they were baked, you would run into little salty bits. These are really nice with a cup of tea and a good book, plus they look great in my new cookie tin. This was a present from a Dutch friend from a shop in Amsterdam and they are a modern take on Delft Blue. They're very pretty and if you want, you can get your products customized for you.

Finally with the last dregs of the juice I made some blood orange marmalade which looks beautiful. Unfortunatly, when I poured it into the jars, all the skinny bits floated to the top. It still tastes good but not quite as pretty. Does anyone have any ideas/tips about this??

So a busy weekend in the kitchen but it actually wasn't so bad. All the recipes are very easy and straightforward, they dont't take much time to make (fair enought the marmalade takes long but doesn't need much attention) are all very tasty.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Crack open the champagne....or Prosecco in this case!! My second paper has just been accepted! I'm over the moon as I've been waiting for this a long long long time. The first time I sent it off was in Nov 2004 and 2.5 years later it finally happend. For me this is a pretty big deal as I'm on a one year contract at the moment and have to find my own funding for my research project some time this year. So being able to add this to my CV is a huge deal! We celebrated with a lovely bottle of Prosecco, my new favourite drink!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Thursday already....

I can't believe it's thursday already, time flies when you're having fun (or working 11 hour days). Last weekend we were meant to go skiing with my work but this trip got cancled as there has been so little snow in the mountains although this week made up for it. Instead fridaynight we enjoyed a great fondue at a very nice restaurant. It is a traditional place where a lot of quilds and studentassociations still meet. I like fondues as they are a very social and simple kind of meal. But the real surprise was dessert, I chose a lackerli mousse. These are traditional Basel biscuits that are normally quite hard and chewy so this could go either be lovely or go horribly wrong.....but it tasted great. It still had that lackerli chewiness but was nice and airy....I'll definitly go back for that again.

The next day we went to see the Vogelgryff, this is an old Basel tradition (started in the 13th century) based on the rivalry between the north and south part of the city. A raft carries a wild man, a lion and a griffin down the river, which come to the bridge and then dance around with their back towards south Basel. It was very nice, but very busy, with lots of kids so I recommend coming early to get a spot at the middle of the bridge.

Then I went to pick up my brand new ski's (early birthday present) which we went to test out on sunday. Barry, Simone and I went to Engelberg for a bit of skiing. Two hours by train later, we were on the slopes and had a fab day in the sun, although we could have done with a bit more snow. The days was also filled with hazards as you can read in this post. What Barry failed to mention is that coming off our first lift in the morning, he made it impossible for me to get out which meant I fell down the side of the lift (±3m)!!! Luckily I landed in a big pile of fluffy powder. In addition, I had to spend the whole afternoon skiing with his one bent pole. But it's worth it if he comes skiing more often!

Once back in Basel, we treated ourselves to a tropical dessert using Barry's latest Christmas present. He got a blowtorch for cooking so we made a lovely mango creme brulee based on recipe in a Malaysian dessert book I received with a blogging by post package a while ago. I liked the idea of using fruitpuree in stead of cream as still trying to be sensible with eating to much fat. The creme turned out really rich, which was nice and had a lovely crispy topping. We'll definitly be making this one again, specially as everything I cook at the moment Barry wants to blowtorch!! fire extinguisher anyone?!

Mango creme brulee (serves 6)
2 eggs
30g sugar (plus extra on top)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
250 ml mango puree

Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla essence until creamy. Add the mango puree and stir thoroughly. Pour this into molds, bake 30 min at 170C until golden on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool (they will sink quite a bit so make sure your molds are nice and full). Sprinkle some sugar on top and melt/caramalize this with the blowtorch (or place under the grill).