30 March 2011

Lemon Lime Meringue Pie

This is a short and sweet post as I sit in an Amsterdam hotel room before heading out for dinner, oddly there is a plethora of Argentinian restaurants, they are everywhere!  My second night at home and a little bit of a kitchen take over and the need to make something sweet.  One of Dad's favourites is Lemon Meringue Pie and I had just read this and love the idea of a biscuit rather than pastry crust.  So I took both as a signs that I should try my hand at some sort of lemon meringue pie.  I also have never made meringue and thought it was about time I did, living in NZ it is only appropriate that I should be able to make our national dessert, pavlova.


I love limes, they do add a little tropicana, and I do prefer tarter when it comes to any sort of lemon in dessert so this morphed from a lemon meringue pie in to a lemon lime meringue pie.  My favourite biscuits for any type of biscuit crumb are McVities Digestives, but feel free to use what you prefer.  I am thinking that a mixture of the digestives with a few ginger snaps thrown in would work a treat.  To add a little zing to the crust I added a good dose of both lemon and lime zest.  I also cooked it a little longer than most as I like my meringue a little more cooked with a good golden crunch to it.


Lemon Lime Meringue Pie

Ingredients

Serves 6-8

2 cups, approx 10-12 digestive biscuits
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lime
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp butter, melted

For the lemon filling

1/3 cup corn flour
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
Juice and zest of 3 limes....1 cup of juice all together
3/4 cup water
Pinch salt
25g butter, cut in to pieces

For the meringue

4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup caster sugar

Directions

Pre heat the oven to 180C / 375F

For the crust

Place the digestives, zests and cinnamon in to a food processor and whiz until you have a fine crumb.  Add the melted butter and whiz again.  It will have the consistency of slightly damp sand.
Press the biscuit mixture in to a flan or pie dish, over the bottom and up the sides to create a crust.  Place in the pre heated oven for 10 minutes until golden.  Remove and allow to cool completely.


For the lemon filling

Place the corn flour, egg yolks, lemon and lime juice, lemon and lime zest, salt in a medium saucepan over a medium heat and mix them all together to combine.   Add the water and whisk until all the ingredients are well combined together.  Stir constantly with a wooden spoon to ensure a smooth consistency until the mixture comes to a boil.  Boil for just a moment and keep stirring.

Remove the lemon lime mixture from the heat and add the butter.  Whisk until the butter is completely melted and you have a smooth, silky consistency.  Pour the mixture in to the cooled biscuit crust and allow it to cool.

For the meringue

Whip together the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a bowl with an electric mixer until they are frothy.  Continue to whip and slowly add the sugar.  Beat until you have a thick glossy mixture and stiff peaks.

Pour the meringue over the lemon lime mixture.  Make sure that the meringue completely covers the lemon and lime mixture and that it goes right up to the edge of the crust. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until meringue is golden.



We prefer our lemon meringue pie hot, so there was no waiting around for anything too cool.  Serve with some cream or ice cream for a light, cirtusy dessert.  The biscuit base is a much lighter than a pastry crust and I like the texture, slightly crisp with the lemon and lime zest livening things up and the cinnamon adding just a hint of sweet warmth.  The pie filling was tart and full of citrus zing all topped of by the sweet meringue, just a little chewy on the outside and mallowy light inside.  With a good dollop of cream, very, very good.




Enjoy! And for more sweet treats check out the sweet treat linky party at Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

27 March 2011

Spinach, Rocket, Watercress and Walnut Pesto and a Little Spring Lamb

I finally arrived in Scotland...to sunshine.  Spring really has sprung, daffodils and crocus venturing forth all over the place.  I had a good drive up from Lancashire, which I think I fell a little bit in love with.  Rolling hills, the quaintest little villages, great cheese and the most gorgeous northern accents.  And most importantly precious time spent with a dear, dear friend.



The wonderful view from Suzannah's place

That is, a good drive once I managed to get going the right way on the M6.  Driving a manual and on unfamiliar roads, motorways that all look the same, and even with GPS I managed to go round the same roundabout twice and end up back where I started before finally remembering to use the clutch to change gears and take the 5th exit off the roundabout all at the same time. Even with GPS no sense of directions whatsoever. The third time is indeed a charm and I was thankful to be going the right way and finally on my way home.

Lovely Lancashire
I was missing my kitchen so it was time to take over my Mum's for a little culinary therapy.  In the spirit of spring I was in the mood for lamb and some peppery pesto.  And not any old lamb but lamb from the Isle of Mull. Glengorm Castle to be precise, a picturesque fairy tale looking castle that was the destination for out annual Easter holidays when I was a child.  A week of morning trips down to Tobermory, long walks, ploughman's lunches at the pub and decorating eggs to do the annual Easter egg rolling...I think that is what is happening in the pic below. This is the most delicious lamb, tender and so full of flavour, helped along by the fact that the lamb cutlets come full fat intact.  Excuse the photography...but these are way before digital and thankfully my photo taking skills have somewhat improved!


Spinach, Rocket, Watercress and Walnut Pesto

Ingredients

Makes approx 2 cups

2 cups, loosely packed spinach
2 cups, loosely packed rocket
2 cups, loosely packed watercress...or you could use any mixture of the 3.
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of half a lemon
3/4 cup Parmesan
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups walnuts
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil



Directions

In the bowl of a food processor place the spinach, rocket, watercress, garlic, zest and lemon juice, Parmesan, salt and pepper.  Pulse for a moment or 2 to combine, not too much, you want to leave a little texture.  Add the walnuts and pulse again, continue to pulse and drizzle in the olive oil.



Taste and season again if need be.

For the lamb cutlets, simply season with a little salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Grill, or BBQ if the weather permits, the lamb for a few minutes each side.  I like mine on the pinker side of pink but just add a few minutes if you prefer medium to well done.  Allow the lamb to rest for 5-10 minutes.  Serve with a good dollop of pesto for a light spring supper.




The lamb was tender and tasty and I do love getting my finger messy. There is something so satisfying about chewing every last little bit of lamb off the bone and fingers to lick clean.  The lemon adds a light freshness to the pesto, the walnuts lend a little creamy nuttiness and the rocket and watercress join the party with a welcome peppery kick.  Any leftover pesto would be quite delicious stirred through some pasta with a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Enjoy!

23 March 2011

London Eats - St John Restaurant

You will be thinking by now that pretty much all I did in London was eat and you would be about right.  I was very tempted to make a return trip to Ottolenghi but with so much in offer and so little time I decided to expand my horizons.  St John Restaurant has always been on the list of restaurants I have wanted to pay a visit to.  The chef is Fergus Henderson, he of Nose to Tail fame and also his use of offal and making use of the whole animal.  He really is a bit of a pioneer in bringing the likes of trotters, tripe, faggots and chitterlings back to the table.


The restaurant is in East London and is a simple but elegant setting, pared back and understated just like the food.  High ceilings, white walls, white table cloths, simple light fittings...no ostentatious displays here, and I liked it, a lot.

To start it had to be the roasted bone marrow and parsley salad, the only main stay on the menu, everything else changing daily.  It is an impressive dish arriving with the bone marrow standing proud and to attention.  I also love dishes that come with accoutrement and this comes with a little thingy to gouge out all that delicious marrow.  The parsley salad flecked with capers and a little onion is fresh and sharp against the rich marrow bone.  To assemble smear the bone marrow over the grilled sourdough bread, top with the salad and some salt.   Slightly chewy grilled sourdough, rich bone marrow, fresh parsley, sharp little capers, a clean bite of onion and a good sprinkle of salt...only one word really, delicious.





Next up was pigeon and beetroot with some new potatoes on the side.  Crispy skin revealing perfectly cooked pigeon breast, rare, tender and meaty.  I have never had pigeon before and it was tender, almost silky in texture, a little like duck so not overly gamey. On the side beetroot with watercress...the peppery watercress playing nicely with the sweet beetroot.  With some new potatoes simply boiled and dressed with a little parsley and butter a meal that allowed each of the flavours to stand out.


Just couldn't pass on dessert, and I am on holiday.  I was very tempted by Marmalade Ice Cream but I had seen the Bitter Chocolate Cream and Brandy Snaps and could go past the bitter chocolate.  The cream was indulgent and decadent just as chocolate cream should be, the texture of a thick clotted cream.  It was full of that dark bitter chocolate flavour that I love.  The brandy snaps light and crisp against the rich, smooth chocolate.  On the side some poached prunes, there fruitiness cutting through the rich and the sweet.  Yes that was one very, very good dessert.  And to finish things off a coffee, and it didn't disappoint either. 



So if you are in East London pop in to St John's for a taste of good, honest British food at its very best.

Couldn't resist adding this little snippet.


21 March 2011

London Eats - Ottolenghi

Top of my list for eating in London was Ottolenghi.  An avid fan since getting Plenty...the most amazing vegetarian cook book ever, seriously any one that has it will most likely tell you the same thing.  It is like the holy grail for the most tantalising and inspiring vegetarian dishes so I apologise in advance for all the gushing!  So on Tuesday, post a little retail therapy along Oxford St and Regent St it was off to catch up with a friend for a spot of lunch at the Ottolenghi flagship store in Angel Islington.


I am hoping that all the walking I am doing is off setting all the eating...my feet are certainly feeling it coming from driving everywhere Auckland.  By Wednesday I resorted to trainers, seriously anyone that knows me knows that trainers are for the gym only!  But oh did my feet appreciate it.  

I actually missed Ottolenghi first time passing by on the opposite side of the road....for anyone unfamiliar with Angel the street numbers do not go up in evens and odds, they go 1, 2, 3, 4....so I just kept walking hoping to find number 287 and was somewhat surprised when the numbers stopped in the 240s!  Thank goodness for Google and my iPhone and with a little back tracking I reached my mecca.  You can't book for lunch but things were shuffling along pretty quickly and it only gave me time to peruse the amazing looking salads and the positive bounty of tantalising sweet treats.




I opted for the salads....they all sounded so incredibly appealing (gushing I know but I did warn you.)...roasted aubergine with tahini and yoghurt sauce, chilli, basil and almonds, saffron roasted cauliflower with sultanas, green olives, pine nuts, lemon and parsley, giant butter beans in a spicy tomato sauce with feta and mint. 


I opted for the roasted butternut squash with cardamom and lemon yoghurt, coriander and pistachios, mixed green beans with quinoa, pomegranate seeds, tarragon and chard, baked fennel wedges with fresh oregano,  fried breadcrumbs and Parmesan crumb and roasted potatoes with smoked paprika, chilli, rosemary and garlic.

There was also the option to add some fish or meat...on offer on Tuesday seared fillet of beef with sour cream, grain mustard, horseradish and rocket or char grilled salmon with celeriac, capers and tarragon remoulade plus tuna, chicken and lamb options too, so need for the carnivores to go hungry.


The stand out for me was the squash.  Roasted, sweet, fragrant zesty yoghurt, fresh aromatic coriander and a little nutty crunch from the pistachios.  We will definitely be attempting to replicate this one at home.  The mixed green beans was fresh and full of textures.  The crispness of the beans, a little fruity crunch from the pomegranate seeds and comfortingly nutty quinoa.  The fennel was slightly sweet and the fresh oregano and Parmesan crumb the perfect sharp, slight lemony foil.  I am a huge fan of smoked paprika and potatoes, so I was always going to love the potatoes...I would even have like just a tad more of the smoked paprika, but then I am on the love side of that love hate relationship.  All complemented by a quite delicious glass of Proseco, I wish I had taken the name of it as it really was a lovely little tipple.




Filling and satisfying but I just couldn't go past a little sweet treats.  So many delights to choose from...fruit tarts, huge meringues, crumbles, cheesecakes.  I decided upon the chocolate raspberry cup.  It was so moist, so chocolatey and in the middle gooey raspberry.  Topped with sour cream, fresh raspberry and a little green fleck of pistachio it was a somewhat perfect dessert.  And to top it all off Ottolenghi even do good coffee, and by that I mean good coffee by our exacting Kiwi standards.



All in all amazing, I do love it when something you have longed for, or looked forward to so much lives up to, exceeds even, expectations.  So if you are in London I can only highly recommend that you take a wee trip up to Angel and check out Ottolenghi.

Enjoy!

19 March 2011

London Eats - Jamie's Italian

Well it has most certainly been a week of good eating.  So much choice, it is hard to even know where to begin.  A friend working in Canary Wharf suggested Jamie's Italian for our lunch time catch up on Monday.  A fan of Italian and Jamie it all sounded good to me.  We arrived for an early lunch as they don't take bookings for 2, and it does start to fill up quickly.  

Jamie's Italian, Canary Wharf E14


To start nachos, but not as you know them.  These were little ravioli parcels filled with four cheeses, deep fried, sprinkled with Parmesan with a little arrabiata sauce on the side.  Golden, crispy, cheesy little morsels dipped in to the spicy arrabiata is a great way to whet the appetite.  Along with those some plump, creamy Sicilian olives.



For the main event it had to be pasta.  I was seriously tempted by the Wild Truffle Tagliatelle and the Rabbit Ragu Papperdelle.  The former simple, elegant and luxurious all at the same time with shaved black truffles tossed with butter, Parmesan and nutmeg.  The latter slow braised rabbit with mascarpone, lemon and crunchy herby breadcrumbs.  Believe it or not the sun was actually shining so in the mood for something lighter than the rabbit and thinking I will attempt a truffle type concoction at home with all the truffle paraphernalia in the pantry.  The Mushroom Panzerotti won by a nose over the black truffles.  Half moons filled with brown cap and porcini mushrooms, ricotta and Parmesan.  All topped off with a little crispy fried sage and gremolata.


The pasta was full of rich, earthy mushroom flavour and texture, all brightened with the gremolata.  The sage providing a lovely little savoury green crunch. On the side some crispy polenta chips with rosemary salt and Parmesan.  These were terribly moreish, golden and crispy with the fragrant rosemary salt and a sharp hit from the Parmesan.  Very easy to just keep having just one more.


Being on holiday only fitting to have dessert and we opted for the tiramisu. The Italian classic and one of my favourite desserts.  Jamie's comes with orange mascarpone and chocolate.  Just as well we were sharing as it was rich and filling. I would have liked it a little lighter, but I did like the addition of the orange. 


The only let down is the coffee, which was OK. We are so spoilt in NZ when it comes to coffee and drinking long blacks you just become very particular when it comes to your daily caffeine fix. So I wouldn't let my picky coffee habits put you off in the slightest.

It was a great lunch...fresh, flavourful food with friendly, knowledgeable service. And of course not to forget great company, when is it not good to catch up with a girlfriend, good food and a little vino?  

There is an extensive menu, ample options of bread and antipasti which come served on large wooden platters that are placed on top of cans of tomatoes. For those not wanting pasta there are plenty of alternatives. The South Coast Fritto Misto with zesty Italian tartare sauce and lemon and the Fish Baked in Bag with clams, mussels, smashed fennel, chilli and anchovy sounded particularly tempting.

I also thought it was pretty good value for 3 courses, wine and coffee coming in at £55.00.  So if you are in the vicinity of Canary Wharf and craving some Italian I would definitely pop in to Jamie's.


Enjoy!