Thursday, 23 July 2015

Oranges and Lemons

Image result for oranges and lemons pictures

How many recipes call for a squeeze of lemon? Looking back through the blog archive, I was hard pressed (or even hard squeezed) to decide which ones to choose for this week's theme.
In the end, I've opted for some which make the most of seasonal veg and produce ie. courgettes, fresh fish, salads- oh, and a jar of marmalade which I needed to use up!

Lemon and courgettes are a flavour combination made in heaven. My first recipe uses finely sliced courgettes, garlic,  lemon juice and rind- and not a lot else.

Lemon and Pepper Courgettes

Slice your courgettes into ribbons using a vegetable peeler.
Heat some olive oil in a frying pan or wok and add a crushed clove of garlic. Swirl the garlic around a bit in the oil, but don't let it brown.
Pile in the courgettes and stir fry quickly.

Lemon and Pepper Courgettes

Add the juice and rind of 1 lemon and let the mix bubble and steam for a minute or two.
Season with sea salt and black pepper and serve.

This is just as good if you serve it cold the next day with a little vinaigrette as part of a salad.

One of my favourite lemon-y courgette recipes is a Courgette and Pesto Cake (which I have featured on the blog before and also on the Guardian website). Here it is again if you missed it:

Courgette and Pesto Cake

This savoury cake makes a delightful supper or starter with it's vibrant green colour and blend of lemon, basil, courgette and parmesan flavours.
150g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 courgettes
2 tbsp green pesto
juice of half a lemon
2 eggs
200ml natural yoghurt
100ml olive oil
100g grated Parmesan or Pecorino
1 tsp each salt and ground pepper
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees
2. Sift together the flour and the baking powder and salt
3. Add the eggs, yoghurt and olive oil and beat well
4. Wash and grate the courgettes using a coarse grater or food processor.
5. Wrap in a clean J cloth or tea towel and squeeze hard to remove all excess liquid
6. Add the courgettes, lemon, pesto and cheese to the cake mix and beat well.
7. Pour into a buttered and lined loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes until golden and when a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. (Cover with aluminium foil for the last 10 minutes if it is browning too quickly.)
8. Cool on a wire rack and serve warm.

Courgette and Pesto Cake
Final lemon recipe for today is:

Lemon and Chive Mayo Hollandaise.

Now, you may not realize but mayonnaise and Hollandaise are sister sauces. One is capricious and has a taste of luxury, the other is more reliable and forgiving.
You can change the Cinderella sister (mayonnaise) into her classier sibling with the simple addition of melted butter and some lemon juice.
Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering hot water (don't let the bowl touch the water).
Put two tablespoons of good quality mayonnaise into the bowl and add the juice of half a lemon.
Melt 50g of butter in a jug ( 30 seconds in the microwave should do it) and pour it into the mayo in a steady stream, whisking as you go.
Add some chopped chives and hey presto! the sauce is ready.

Lemon and Chive Mayo Hollandaise Sauce
I served it with trout fillets - but it was excellent the next day too, mixed with cold new potatoes for a potato salad.
Now for the oranges.
The idea for this citrussy theme came to me after I accidentally bought a jar of extra thick cut bitter orange marmalade. Nobody liked it- and it was nigh on impossible to spread on toast because of the thickness of the peel.
I couldn't throw it away though, could I, dear reader? What would you think of me? Instead I made:

Sticky Seville Marmalade Cake

175g soft unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs
175g self raising flour
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp chunky orange marmalade
2 tbsp milk
(for the glaze)
2 tbsp chunky marmalade
100g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease and line a 20cm baking tin.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
Add the beaten eggs gradually, along with a tablespoon of flour.
Sift in the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.
Now add the marmalade, mix well and pour into the tin.
Bake for 50 minutes until risen and firm.
Turn out when cool.

Warm the remaining marmalade and pour over the cooled cake.

Now mix the icing sugar with 2 tbsp warm water and mix well. Pour this over the cake. The chunks of marmalade will stand up through the sugar glaze.

Sticky Seville Marmalade Cake

Serve warmed with cream.

Sometimes you hit on flavours which are a bit 'out there' but seem to work. I'm not talking snail ice cream or garlic fudge- but orange, fennel and olives work together well (trust me- I'm not a chef!)

Braised Fennel with Orange and Olives

When I first had this braised fennel dish (at a barbecue) I was amazed by the combinations of flavours- salty, fruity and aniseed-y all at the same time. Wonderful with fish (served here with barbecued trout) or lamb chops.
2 bulbs of fennel
20 cl of orange juice
1 tablespoon of pitted green olives, chopped
1 onion finely chopped
1 clove of garlic
olive oil and a knob of butter for frying
Soften the onion and garlic in the oil and add the finely sliced bulbs of fennel.
Add the butter and stir in.
Pour over the orange juice, cover and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed and the fennel is tender (about 20 minutes on a low heat). Just before serving, add the chopped olives and season to taste.
This dish works well in the slow cooker too.

Final orange dish is a simple

Orange Vinaigrette

 juice of 1 orange
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bottle or jar- shake well to emulsify.
Delicious with a carrot salad or with a plain green salad.
Good as a warm sauce for a chicken salad too.

Orange vinaigrette sauce

One last point- do use good quality ingredients, as fresh as you can- but check where they come from!

Bless you!

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Just Six Eggs

I know I've blogged on this subject before- but if a thing's worth doing, it's probably worth doing again and this time I have come up with a few more cracking ways to use up a box of eggs.

My dear Mum used to say, if you have half a dozen eggs in the fridge you always have a meal. And not just one. I've got three here for you.

First of all, I'm going mad and using up three of the little chaps in a quiche. I know I make a lot of quiches but this time it's a Trout and Watercress Quiche, which feels quite special.

Bake a 20 cm pastry case blind or use a pre-prepared one for simplicity.

Let the pastry case cool down if need be, and meanwhile chop half a bag of washed watercress* quite coarsely. Take one trout fillet and cook it in the microwave for 1 minute in a microwaveable dish covered with cling film. (If you don't have a microwave - pan fry it quickly or poach until it is translucent.)

Spread the watercress over the base of the patry case, flake the cooked trout flesh (discarding the skin) over the watercress and add a thin layer of grated Emmental or strong cheddar cheese.
Beat the 3 eggs with some salt and pepper in a measuring jug and bring the level up to 500ml with some milk.
Carefully pour into the quiche shell ( it should just fit) and bake at 180 degrees until firm and golden.
Scrummy hot, cold or warm.

Trout and Watercress Quiche
*You can use up the remainder of the bag of watercress in a Salad Bag Soup.

The next recipe is one I've adapted from a recipe book by cute Italian Gino d'Acampo. When I saw it, it struck me immediately as a genius way of using up leftover Spaghetti Bolognaise. I have some leftover sauce, but no spaghetti, so decided to use up a bit of tagliatelle I had in the storecupboard as there was such a small amount in the bag, it wouldn't make a whole portion by itself. Did it work? Well reader, it was good- so the recipe uses up whatever little bits of pasta you might have.

Just a few ingredients
This might not look like much ot make a meal for two - but the diminutive chef obviously knows how to make a little go a long way- and with the addition of some grated cheese ( Emmental, Cheddar, Parmesan or Pecorino- whatever you like) and a sliced tomato, we had a scrumptious supper.

Cook the pasta until it is al dente and mix it into your pan of leftover meat sauce:

Mix the pasta and the sauce
Beat the eggs with a splash of milk and a handful of grated cheese and pour into the pan with the pasta and sauce, top with some more cheese and a sliced tomato:

Add the eggs, cheese and a sliced tomato
Bake for 20 minutes or so in the oven at 180 degrees until set and golden. (Make sure your pan is ovenproof, or transfer it to a baking dish and smooth it level before baking):

Golden frittata
Serve it straight from the pan or turn it out onto a plate. 

Finally, I'm using the last egg in a Chef's Salad.

If you have never heard of this recipe, a Chef's Salad is basically the ultimate leftover salad dish- made from whatever the chef has left over in the fridge. No frills.
Traditionally, it is supposed to contain hard boiled egg, some kind of cold meat, grated cheese, salad leaves, tomatoes and cucumber- plus whatever else you want to put in there. I like sweetcorn and some garlicky croutons* to give it crunch. Dress the whole lot with a lemony vinaigrette, or salad cream (if you must).

* For croutons and other bready ideas go to:

Chef's Salad
If you want to see more egg-citing recipes from the blog you can follow this link: