One vegetable that I struggle to use when the warmer months arrive is potatoes. In Winter I wont hesitate in cranking up the oven and roasting some potatoes to perfection. Or creating a creamy mash to serve alongside a rich and hearty casserole. But in Summer, I tend to crave salads and lighter meals, to which potatoes do not generally lend themselves. Or do they? Feeling particularly inspired a few weeks ago, I came up with a use for the bag of potatoes that was feeling rather lonely in our pantry. Potatoes – peeled and boiled until tender – then combined with olive oil, a wee bit of yoghurt, lemon juice and zest – and lots of mint, parsley and pepper. The result being a rather tasty “side” dish to some meat we later grilled for dinner. And the herb + lemon combination worked just beautifully in keeping this dish feeling light and lovely. So it seems potatoes do have a place on our menu this Summer! What about you? Any fun Summer potato dishes you’d care to share?
Lemon, pea and ricotta pasta
Some meals, are sufficiently perfect in their simplicity. Nothing fancy, just good ingredients that work together just beautifully. Like this lemon, pea and ricotta pasta. No complex sauce, no slow cooking required. Just a pile of al dente spaghetti, tossed with peas, mint, lemon and a good amount of ricotta. A beautiful Spring dish indeed. What about you? Tried any tasty pasta combinations lately?
Lemon meringue pie
I have mentioned it once or twice before, I am sure, that Mr BBB’s favourite dessert is lemon meringue pie. So much so, that whenever a baking craving strikes me and I ask him what I should make, he will, without fail, request lemon meringue. Now, while I love to be an obliging wife, if you have ever made a lemon meringue pie from scratch, you will know that it is not a quick nor a simple dish. Rather there are a number of elements, the pastry, the lemon curd, the meringue, all of which take time. But on one fine day, not that long ago, I found myself with both the time and inclination to grant my dearest husband his dessert wish. And, conveniently, it gave this pastry rookie a chance to work on her pastry making skills, with the help of this little gadget the people at the Kitchenware Superstore were kind enough to send me. That’s right! A rolling pin with changeable thickness guides to get the pastry even and the perfect thickness (something I am terrible at judging myself!) So with my 4mm thickness guide in hand, I got to work rolling out the pastry that would form the base of our pie.… And…..voila! Perfectly even pastry – cooked until golden brown. Next, the lemon curd. I followed the Women’s Weekly recipe – and it wasn’t long before the mixture turned from runny into thick glossy curd before my very eyes. Spooned into the pre-baked crust, and refrigerated for 2 hours (remember I mentioned this recipe takes time….) Finally, the meringue. Simply egg whites and sugar, beaten until stiff peaks formed, then piled high atop the lemon curd filling. And finished by baking in a hot oven for another 5 minutes or so. Yes, it takes time. And yes, it is quite fiddly. But there really is no denying that the ol’ lemon meringue pie is one impressive dessert. And there is something just so right about the pastry / lemon curd / meringue combination. Deliciously right. What about you? Are you a pro when it comes to making and rolling pastry???
GF flourless lemon almond cake
A few weeks ago now (wow – where has the time gone?!), we hosted dinner for some friends and family – one of which was on a gluten free diet. And, remembering that it was not too long ago that I too avoided wheat, I had an abundance of recipes to choose from when it came to making an allergy-friendly dessert. One that I had been meaning to try for a while was a gluten free flourless lemon almond cake. You can find the recipe I followed here. What appealed to me about the recipe was that it appeared to be a relatively ‘light’ cake. Light in texture, and flavour, and I am pleased to report that the end result was just that. Served simply, with a sprinkle of icing sugar and some cream on the side, to let the lovely lemony flavours shine through. And shine they did! What about you? Been up to any GF baking recently?
Little and lemony
Sometimes life just calls for a little sweet treat. Especially when that sweet treat involves luscious lemon curd and pillows of meringue. aka. Mini lemon meringue pies. A few weeks ago, we had friends around for a BBQ lunch, which is always a ‘trigger’ for me to indulge in a little baking. On this occasion, I decided to experiment with making mini lemon meringue tarts, something that may feature at a certain little one’s party in a few weeks time. I cheated and used frozen shortcrust pastry, but that ended up being a mistake. The tart shells were not delicate like shortcrust pastry should be. Rather, they were almost chewy? I did, however, make the lemon curd from scratch and it was rather divine. Eggs, sugar, butter, lemon – heated and whisked until thick – Spooned into the pre-made tarts, then topped with a swirl of meringue. It was about now, that I wished I had a kitchen blow torch to brown the meringue without having to put them back into the oven. But alas, I do not (soon to be rectified), so I put the meringues into the oven for 5 minutes or so to give the tops a little colour (but not too much). The result? Adorable little tarts, albeit a tad ‘rustic’ in their appearance. I really enjoyed the meringue and lemon curd elements, but the pastry was just not right. Nonetheless, they were gobbled up by our guests and I am only too happy to experiment with another batch. A work in progress! What about you? Are you a fan of lemon meringue? I would have to say that it is a bit of a family favourite in the BBB household!
Tea for two & lemon polenta biscuits
I would not necessarily call myself a ‘girly girl’. For I am far more comfortable on a mountain bike, than in an evening dress. And I’ll take a glass of red wine or a GF beer over a fancy cocktail any day. But that’s not to say I don’t like pretty things. And pretty moments. Like an impromptu tea for two when a friend drops around. And what cup of tea would be complete without a delicate biscuit to nibble on at the same time? I had seen various recipes for polenta biscuits but never tried to make them myself. So when the occasion for baking arose, and I had all the ingredients on hand… Well the biscuit gods had spoken. I converted the recipe into a gluten free version, and I must say, unlike my recent cooking fail, I was really pleased with the results. The biscuits were light, and almost shortbread-like. With just a hint of citrus from the lemon zest. A lovely addition to our tea for two, and a biscuit that I will definitely be making again! Lemon polenta biscuits (makes 16-18) – gluten free (adapted from here)
- 80g butter, softened
- 140g caster sugar
- 1 egg
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 150g gluten free plain flour
- 1tsp xanthan gum
- 50g polenta
- 1tsp granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 170C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
- Beat butter and caster sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Add the egg and lemon zest, and beat until smooth.
- Add the flour, xanthan gum and polenta, and beat until just combined. (The mixture will be quite sticky).
- Roll heaped teaspoons of the mixture into balls, and place on the trays (spaced to allow for spreading). Flatten slightly with a fork, and sprinkle with the granulated sugar.
- Bake for 13-14 minutes. Allow to cool on tray for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack.
What about you? What is your favourite type of tea? I am loving good ol’ English Breakfast at the moment.
Blueberry lemon friands
I think it will come as no surprise when I tell you that friands are one of my favourite treats to bake. The reason is three-fold. One – they only require only one mixing bowl. Two – they can be made gluten free. And three – you can really be creative and make any variety you like. On this occasion, which happened to be Mother’s Day, I decided to make a blueberry / lemon variety. For no other reason than I had blueberries in the freezer, and a couple lemons in the fruit bowl. Mixed under watchful eye of my little baking buddy…of course… And 18 minutes later… We had ourselves a plate of freshly baked friands. Light and fluffy… And a little sweeter than their blueberry muffin counterparts. But with a nice hint of tartness from the blueberries and lemon nonetheless. They are best eaten the same day, however, so be sure to gobble them up with haste! Blueberry lemon friands (GF) – makes 12
- 6 egg whites
- 150g butter, melted
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
- 2/3 cup GF plain flour, sifted
- zest and juice of one lemon
- Frozen blueberries
- Preheat oven to 180C and lightly grease a friand pan.
- Whisk egg whites in a large bowl until foamy. Add butter, almond meal, icing sugar, flour, lemon juice and lemon zest, and stir until just combined.
- Divide among friand pan, and top each with 3 to 4 blueberries.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Allow friands to stand in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool.
What about you? What is your favourite blueberry dish?
Salmon en papillote
Mr BBB and I have consciously been trying to include more fish in our diets. You know – because of the protein, omega 3s….and all that jazz. And not to mention that it just tastes good! The fact we live in a landlocked state, however, means that I am pretty cautious when it comes to buying seafood. I tend to only really buy it from the fish market (even though I know their seafood is shipped / collected from interstate too) rather than from the big 2 supermarkets. So when we happened to be in the area of the markets this week, we stopped in and bought two gorgeous fillets of salmon for our eating pleasure. And why not try a new cooking technique while we were at it. In this instance – Salmon “En papillote” – or “in paper / parchment”. A method of cooking in which the fish is put in a folded piece of baking or parchment paper along with other flavourings, and baked in the oven. The idea being that the all the juices and aromas are preserved, with the food’s steam cooking the contents. So what to cook with the salmon? A quick web search revealed this recipe, that seemed just perfect. Salmon + lemon + dill + capers = a great combination. Putting the dish together could not have been easier. Just layer… fold… And tightly roll the edges over to enclose the fish and create a parcel. Baked in the oven for 15 minutes or so, until the salmon had cooked. Served alongside some steamed broccoli and asparagus.. And we had ourselves quite a tasty and healthy meal indeed! I overcooked the salmon (oops), but it was surprisingly still moist and not dry at all. The flavours of the lemon, dill and capers had also worked their way into the salmon fillets – making it a rather delicious and flavoursome piece of fish indeed. Definitely a method of cooking that I will try again that’s for sure! What about you? Ever cooked “en papillote”?
Riding and risotto
Today started with this… And ended with this… Can’t complain really! Canberra provided a crisp yet clear Autumn day today – perfect weather for a late morning mountain bike ride. So with Charlotte fed and in the capable care of my sister in law, Mr BBB and I ducked across to the local single track trails for an hour of riding fun. Being only my second time back on the mountain bike in quite some time, we followed the same “beginner” trails as last week, but added in an extra climbing trail for a total of 12km overall. (leaving the more technical aspects of the course for another day). I was pleased to find that I felt a lot more confident on the bike, and even managed to get through a river crossing without un-clipping. Gotta celebrate the small things right???? Here’s hoping that with more and more rides, my confidence and fitness (and skills) will start to return over the next few months. Until then…..let’s talk risotto. Lemon and leek risotto to be precise. Courtesy of a recipe found in this book. It was only when I went to put the risotto together, that I realised it was an oven baked version. A perfect discovery to make – with a grizzly Charlotte making herself known. Leeks sautéed in oil and butter…. Combined with rice, lemon rind and stock, then into the oven for 25 minutes until the rice had cooked. Topped with raw prawns, then back into the oven for a further 5 minutes. And finished with lemon juice and fresh parsley. Served generously… As far as oven baked risottos go, this one was rather good. I was pleased that the rice remained quite creamy, and didn’t go gluggy – as some oven baked versions do. The flavours themselves were light and simple, yet tasty. Although you can’t really go wrong with prawns + lemon now can you!!? What about you? Do you have a favourite risotto flavour? I don’t think that I could narrow it down to one favourite. However – here are a few that have made an appearance in the BBB household:
- Spinach and goats cheese risotto
- Chicken and roasted capsicum
- Pumpkin, sundried tomato and basil (rice cooker)
- Tomato chilli prawn risotto
- Vegetable risotto cake
- Honey pumpkin risotto
- Asparagus and broad bean risotto
- Pea and chorizo risotto
Yes it seems that we rather like risotto
Lemon meringue cheesecake
Mr BBB celebrates a birthday later this week. And, as we will be away on his actual birthday, we decided to hold a birthday dinner with his family a little early. Our favourite local Thai restaurant provided the scrumptious main meal, but we headed home for dessert. For we had birthday cake awaiting us. And not just any old birthday cake…. But a cake that was inspired by Mr BBB’s favourite sweet treat – lemon meringue pie. Adapted to be gluten free, and made into a cheesecake. ie. a lemon meringue cheesecake! The base was rather easy – owing to these GF biscuits I found at our local grocery store. Crushed, and combined with melted butter. Then pressed into the base of a lined spring-form pan. Topped with the cheesecake layer – made with cream cheese, eggs, sugar and lemon rind. Baked for 1 hour, and finished with a thick layer of lemon curd (store bought….I cheated).
And set in the fridge overnight. On the day of serving, all I had to do was finish the cake with a layer of meringue. Egg whites and sugar, whisked until firm, then piped on top the cheesecake layer. Baked for a further 10 minutes until the meringue had browned slightly… And our lemon meringue birthday cheesecake was complete! Between the buttery base… The creamy cheesecake and tart lemon curd centre… And not to mention the fluffy sweet meringue…. This cake ended up being quite the lovely adaptation of an old classic. Minus the hassle of attempting GF pastry! The slices we served were certainly well received for dessert, so I am calling this baking experiment a win! Although, can you really go wrong when lemon and meringue are involved??? I think not. Lemon meringue cheesecake (GF)
- 250g GF biscuits
- 120g butter, melted
- 500g cream cheese, softened
- Rind of 1 lemon
- 3/4 cup + 1 cup caster sugar
- 2tbs lemon curd (make sure it is GF)
- 3 eggs + 4 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp cornflour
- Preheat oven to 160C. Lightly grease a round spring-form cake pan, and line base with baking paper.
- Process biscuits until they resemble fine crumbs. Add the melted butter, and pulse until combined. Press the biscuit mixture into the prepared tin, and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, beat 3 eggs and 3/4 cup caster sugar, until light and creamy.
- In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and lemon rind until smooth.
- Add the egg mixture to the cream cheese mixture, and continue to beat until smooth (do not overbeat!).
- Pour atop the biscuit base, and bake for 50 minutes. Turn off the oven, and allow to cool in the oven with the door ajar.
- Once cooled, spread the lemon curd over the surface of the cheesecake, and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
- To make the meringue – beat 4 egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add 1 cup of sugar, a little at a time, whisking until they become stiff peaks and the sugar has incorporated.
- Fold through the cornflour, and spoon the meringue into a piping bag. Pipe rounds of the meringue onto the top of the prepared cheesecake, until the surface is mostly covered.
- Place in a hot oven (220C) for 10 minutes, or until browned lightly.
- Remove and allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes before serving.