Thursday, 14 June 2007

Early Summer Muses

We have really had some lovely weather here recently. Our garden is full to bursting with colour and scent and sound. The other day I saw a hawk down on the grass by the feeder. I believe it had caught a mouse. Two magpies were settled very nearby just waiting for him to slip up and their chance to steal his prize. We have had jackdaws come calling recently along with a pair of crows and the other night I perchanced to look out the window and saw a the lovely sight of an adult woodpecker feeding it's baby on the top of our shed roof. I don't imagine it is often one gets to share a sight like that.

I heard a bit of a fuss a few nights ago and looked out to see a fox in the garden, which might explain why the two baby bunnies we had been enjoying nightly have suddenly dissappeared.

As Todd and I are getting ready to go on Holidays tommorrow and I had a bunch of lemons I needed to use up I thought this week I would make some lovely Lemon Curd. Lemon Curd is something I have always loved and I could just dig in and eat it with a spoon as a pudding all by itself. The wonderful thing about Lemon Curd though, is it's versatility and ability to go with other things, my favourite flavour to pair it up with being ginger and so, without further adieu I bring to you my Lemon Curd Culinary Creations.

*Lemon Curd*
Makes 3 cups

This freshly made lemon curd is delicious and I use it a lot! It’s wonderfully delicious spread on bread, scones or muffins. Use it to fill lovely little tart shells, or sandwich it between the layers of a wonderful Victorian sponge. It’s so versatile I don’t think you’ll have any problems at all using it all up! (I could eat it by the spoonful)

1 TBS finely grated lemon zest plus
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
¾ cup unsalted sweet butter, plus
2 TBS unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Whisk the zest, lemon juice, sugar, eggs and a pinch of salt together in a medium sized, heavy bottomed saucepan.
Add the butter all at once and cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly. Cook only until the curd is thick enough to hold the marks of the whisk when you pass it through and the first bubbles appear on it’s surface. This will take from ten to fifteen minutes.
Immediately pour the curd through a fine meshed sieve into a bowl. Cover the surface with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap directly onto it so that a skin doesn’t form. Chill, covered in the fridge until you are ready to use it. This keeps, covered and refrigerated for at least one week.

Here’s another delicious idea for using up some of it up.

*Little Ginger Lemon Cakes*
Serves 4

I love these little cakes. Crisp and spicy ginger cookies sandwiched together with the tart and mellow flavour of a lemon curd flavoured whipped cream, these little babies are a delight both to make and to eat! I have put quantities here for four, but it is easily multiplied and divided. It's a quick way to put a lovely dessert on the table for a whole crowd of people!

1 cup of double cream
¼ cup of lemon curd
1 package of thin crisp ginger biscuits, such as Anna’s (my personal favourite)
Powdered sugar for garnish

Whisk the double cream until it holds soft peaks and then gently fold in the lemon curd.
Place one ginger biscuit on each of four plates. Spread with some of the whipped cream and lemon mixture. Top with another ginger biscuit and repeat at least 2 more times. Dust the tops with powdered sugar and serve.
PS - My good friend Nic has a lovely recipe for Lemon Curd Biscuits on her page here: Cherrapeno (they look good enough to eat!)

and we have cake!

*Blueberry Gingerbread*
Serves 12

This is an unusual version of gingerbread in that it is studded with lovely pockets of blueberry. Who knew the two things would go together so well! This is really moist and delicious and only gets better every day!

½ cup sunflower or canola oil
1 cup sugar (caster* or granulated)
½ tsp salt
3 TBS mild molasses (or equal parts of golden syrup and dark treacle)
1 large egg
2 cups plain flour
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup buttermilk
2 TBS Demerara sugar for sprinkling on top

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*C. Lightly grease and flour a deep 9 inch cake tin and set aside.
Beat together the oil, 1 cup of sugar, salt and molasses with an electric mixer. Beat in the egg, mixing it in well.
Sift together the flour, spices, and baking soda. Remove 2 TBS of the mixture and dredge the berries in this.
Add the remaining flour to the beaten mixture, alternately with the buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Fold in the blueberries and remaining flour.
Spread in the prepared pan. Smooth the top and sprinkle the Demerara sugar evenly over top.
Bake for approximately 50 to 60 minutes, or until well risen and the top springs back when gently touched with your fingertips. a toothpick inserted in the centre should come out fairly clean.
Set on a rack to cool. Cut into wedges to serve, either warm with butter of with some whipped cream on top. OR…you can do like I do and split the slices in half and dollop some lovely lemon curd in the middle and then put them back together.
*I use caster sugar most of the time in my baking because it seems to cream a lot easier and blend in better. You don’t get any granular texture. It’s not necessary to use caster but I think, personally, that it is better.