A Pre Christmas Dinner.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a Pre Christmas Dinner chez Nous. Amazingly all were available and so to plan our meal. We decided to visit Smithfield, the London Meat market. but one has to go early, so off we trotted and were there at about 5.30 in the morning, but even so some of the traders had already left for the day. But what fun, oodles to choose from and the traders that were still there, all to a man ( and woman) were jolly.

A couple of these photos were taken in Mexico City, but meat markets seem to be the same world wide.

We thought that we would have a fillet of beef, something of a luxury, not usually cooked just for 2, and maybe not something that the kids could afford to serve. We also bought a 6 Kilo boned Turkey crown, for son who was doing his wonderful Turkey breast for Christmas day. A 6 Kilo Turkey breast is a tad on the large side, and so it was cut into 2 and frozen.

What else to have ? Well, I love Scallops and know that some of the others do as well. Right that takes care of starters, sautéed scallops with crisp pancetta and some Panko covered shrimp on a bed of leaves! Ah stop! Son in Law, allergic to shell fish, right, plan b) for him it is baked goats cheese on sourdough toast with the yummy deep pink ice cream that is Beetroot ice cream.
Onto the main event. Well roast beef, with a rich sauce, made with onions, port, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce and blackcurrant jelly, UMM! along with baked potato skins filled with cheese mash, braised red cabbage, French beans. Ah Ah, maybe not every wants beef, so another plan b came into force, a Salmon Coulibiac ( a kind of Salmon Wellington) was also made, along with a beurre blanc sauce, and maybe something else should be an alternative, YES! Biriyani Rice, chop an assortment of vegetables, cook the rice, sauté it in wok along along with curry spices, add the vegetables, umm umm the smell is Devine.


Right, so now we can move onto dessert.
What to make? Well, Miss Tess, her dad and himself all love crumble, actually Miss Tess makes a pretty mean crumble herself ( she is 8) . So crumble it is, apple and raspberry in individual ramekins. Next Master Alfie Just loves Meringues, and so it is going to be a raspberry Pavlova with him in mind. And the rest, well Molton Chocolate Pots with stem ginger ice cream. And that should do it!


Whilst I busied myself in the kitchen, himself set the table ( it is his job and knows exactly what to do and how to do it, it might seem pretty easy but I can be kind of OCD when it comes to table settings) and after that being at a loose end he wrapped the presents. We were being conservative this year and a mere 7 hours later he had finished. We always put cryptic clues on our gifts and this was exacerbated by himself deciding to  to write them languages other than English, so constant trips to computer and bablefish !
All duly arrived, dinner was served. I am pretty sure everyone knows how to make a crumble mix, BUT although I am not a crumble eater, I choose to make my crumble topping separately from the actual filling and put the filling on wen itself is ready. This way I can make multiples of the mix as it freezes well, and is ready for future use.
My Crumble Mix
12 oz ( 340 grams) plain flour
4oz (113 grams) brown sugar you can use more if you have a sweet tooth
8oz ( 225 grams)unsalted butter
very simply if you have a food processor, put the flour and sugar into the processor and then add the COLD butter which has been cut into chunks. Switch on the machine and when the clonking stops ( in just a few seconds) it is ready!! How easy is that. You can add then if you like some ground almonds or chopped nuts to the mix.
Spread out onto a baking tray and bake 180C/350F/Gas 4.for about 20 mins or so, occasionally giving it a stir so that it all cooks evenly. Leave to cool and then can be used straight away or frozen. To assemble the crumble, either use fresh or frozen fruit, cook the fruit first and then top with the crumble mix and bake until hot. Can be made for a more formal occasion in ramekins rather than one big crumble. When I make it for himself, I usually make one large one and then when cold cut it into portions, and freeze, so that it is there ready for his late night snack !!

Still in Iceland

The Blue Lagoon

It seems that Iceland is the ” Must Go To” place this year, has always been on my list but we somehow never got there, until now. Recently himself declared” I know what our Christmas present will be, a trip to Iceland,” and so we went.

On our second night there we wandered over the frozen lake ( not actually on the lake, but on the road which crossed it) to DILL. On Trip Advisor, it is rated as the best restaurant in Iceland and is the only one with a Michelin star.( Did the inspectors really go all that way to review just one restaurant?) Again on Trip Advisor, it is rated as being expensive, of course this is very subjective, but a 7 course tasting menu, came at a cost of £92, which at Londons prices, is fairly reasonable. The cost of the wine pairings however cost another £79, which obviously pushes up the price of a night out. Then again, it is not obligatory to take the wine pairings and also one has to remember that in Iceland alcohol is very heavily taxed. With a population of only 330,00, money for social services, education etc, has to come from somewhere.

Dill is a small restaurant, with maybe sixteen or eighteen covers. reservations are for either 6.30, or 9.30. For us 6.30 is a tad too early, whereas 9.30 too late, but we took the 9.30 and then were able to push it forward a little.

It is housed in an old Barn and is connected to a bar and a Pizza restaurant as well. Apparently it is possible to order some of the dishes that are served in Dill, in the Pizza restaurant. (# 1 Daughter, the willowy Blond, was there recently with her three little ones and this is what they did)

Dill prides itself on fresh local ingredients, simplicity and taste. But I have to say we were a bit underwhelmed. Simplicity, it was not and taste was on the bland side. Simplicity? when we were told that the rhubarb, on one of the dishes, had ben cooked for 45 days, not 44 and not 46, BUT 45 ! I would surmise that, it is not simplicity.

These were the various Amuse Bouche, all of which are very attractive, set upon leaves they found and pine needles and crispy chicken skin. The most disappointing was the local bread, which was actually hanging from the rafters and the SKYR butter.

Skyr is Icelands answer to Yoghurt, and is very similar to the German Quark a cross between yoghurt and sour cream is the closest I can think of.

The second picture is Turnips, which have been dried, whilst the third is Reindeer, which had been shot by the chef. The fifth is Artic Char on Cabbage, the char having been dried was in fact quite salty ( and I am someone who like salt!) The lamb dish was very nice and it came with heart and liver ( which I passed along to himself). The best part of the meal however was the bottom right, it says, brown butter, celeriac and pine oil. The crumb, which I assume was the browned butter, reminded me very much of Speculoos, a Belgian biscuit. The other dessert, the purple one above was made with dill oil, blueberries and whey that had been marinated for 5 months.

The next night I insisted that we try one of the many Fish and Chip shops that abound in Reykjavik, and went to the Icelandic Fish and Chip shop. Unfortunately, again I would not recommend it. I am a self confessed connoisseur of Fish and Chips, an absolute fan and if this were to be my last meal request, then it would have to be Fish and Chips. The fish has to be in Batter, crisp and dry and the chips have to be also CRSIP, not a soggy mess. The RAC club on Pall Mall do a very good rendition of Fish and Chips. Himself is not so keen, but there has to be alternatives but sadly it was also not great.

So, obviously I had fish and chips, the choice of fish was Cod, Tusk ( is cod like and of the Ling family) or Ling ( Ling is a deep water fish a cross between Cod and Conger Eel) I chose the Cod.Himself chose the mussels, we are big fans of mussels, having lived in Belgium for 13 years where they are almost the national dish.

The mussels were small both in size and quantity ( a kilo per person is the norm) and they were small. This time of year they should be of a reasonable size. My fish, the batter and fish were fine, but chips??? where were the chips? Only sautéed potatoes and not chips.

We only saw such a tiny part of the Island, just around Reykjavik the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon we saw several very interesting museums but we would like to go back to see the Fjords and the Glaciers and try some more of their interesting and definitely different foods.

We are in Iceland ( the country and not the store)

We are in Iceland ( the country and not the store)

This week saw us visiting Iceland. The scenery alone is worth the visit, think Game of Thrones, the Wall in Winter and you have it right there.

We arrived to be met by the first snowfall of winter, but were also told that we were lucky that it was not windy. However the wind decided to greet us the next morning, just as we were heading out to “DO” the Golden circle. Fortunately , we had a car, so we were not restrained by tours and Tour busses. We set out at about 9 am and it was still pitch dark and remained so until almost 11am ! But by then we had reached out first port of call Pingvellir National Park. I really liked the look of the little church, but could get not closer than a quick look. I was amused by a sign that was by a stream, but even more amused by seeing the Scuba divers getting ready to dive! However, the church is Alþing (Althing), the site of Iceland’s parliament from the 10th to 18th centuries. And as for the scuba divers, this area is one of the best spots for diving in Iceland and as Iceland sits on the Atlantic ridge ( it is actually splitting in two by an inch a year) it is internationally famous. Apparently the water is very clear ( and cold). The rift is in the lake itself and becomes deep.

The park sits in a rift valley caused by the separation of 2 tectonic plates, with rocky cliffs and fissures like the huge Almannagjá fault.

 

 

We continued on to the Geysir area, where there is a very obliging Geysir,  (Strokkur) which blows every couple of minutes. We retired to the Cafe/tourist shop for a coffee and a pit stop, where I saw another sign which amused me.

11.16 in the morning !

Moving on, quickly as it not only gets light very late, it gets dark very early, so daylight time is very precious. We went to the waterfalls on the Golden Circle, which at this time were only partially frozen but no doubt they would be completely frozen in a few days time.

So onto Food. We ate in three very different restaurants. One with a Michelin star, ( the only one in Iceland I am led to believe ), one more Home Style and reputedly A.A.Gills favourite restaurant, and finally an Icelandic Fish and Chip shop.

But, I am getting ahead of myself. Bacon, I am sure we all know what bacon is and in some countries there is an alternative, which is Turkey bacon. It is a bit of a contradiction as Bacon comes from pigs and has a certain amount of fat, which adds to the flavour, which of course is missing with Turkey. However, and this was a first for me, Lamb Bacon, breast of lamb makes excellent bacon, the rashers are a bit on the skinny side but delicious. I have just googled this and it is available in the UK, if you are looking for something different, for your Full English !

Our first restaurant was called 3 Frakkar, ( the three overcoats) where we ate good food, albeit not terribly exciting. I had no idea what to expect from Icelandic cuisine. Fish, Fish and more Fish, is what sprang to mind. I was therefore really surprised to find that the Icelanders have over the centuries been really creative with their food. Needs must I suppose. When you consider that Iceland, which is part of Europe is 1,368 miles away, and from Canada it is 2,800 miles, so certainly during the winter months in years gone by, Iceland probably didn’t get much in the way of imported goods !

Our waitress Kristin from France was delightful, spoke excellent English( as did all of the Icelandic people we met) and she talked us through the menu. They certainly had  several options of local fare, including Whale, Puffin, Guillemot, Horse, Lamb, Cod, Halibut, Shark, Herrings and Artic Char. Himself chose the  Roast Whale,  which came with apples and Balsamic, he could also have chosen the Raw Whale which came as Sashimi. I had the plate of herrings , three ways, and the version I preferred was the one in a mustard sauce. 

For our mains, he chose the Halibut, which was good but we both felt that it would have been better without the sauce , and I had the Lamb which was delicious.

I had not thought that there would be a good source of Lamb in Iceland, but given that Lamb from Lundy ( an Island in the Bristol Channel) is good, the sheep just graze on grass and herbs, and I assume likewise in Iceland.

The roast Whale looked and tasted like roast beef, but apparently the raw Whale dish is a bit more fishy. For centuries Whales have played an important part in Icelandic life, and eaten Fresh, Salted or Smoked. The whale Fat or Blubber was an important source for lights. They no longer export Whale products and it is only for domestic use. They also eat Seals and Seal fat can be used as a substitute for butter. One could be excused for thinking “oh, they don’t eat Puffins /Guillemots do they? But why not? Here we eat all sorts of birds, Pheasants, grouse, Ducks of various shapes and sizes, so why not!

As I said previously, Icelanders were and still are very creative with what is available to them naturally. I am sure that every bit of a Lamb, a Cow, a Whale is used. None would have been wasted. Lamb Liver sausage was considered an Aphrodisiac, whilst Dung smoked Lamb is a National dish. Fermented Skate, or often called Smelly Skate is a traditional Christmas dish, as is roasted Lambs Head. I often buy a cookery book when I am in a land that is new to me, but I declined this one on the grounds of” Where on earth would I be able to get a Lambs Head?” Well the answer is SmithfieldMeat Market in the City of London! Who would have believed it?

To be continued, there is plenty more to say about Iceland, and I cant wait to go back, but maybe next time in the summer.

A Hidden Gem in Gran Canaria

We are on the Canaries, Gran Canaria, to be precise. We have come to play golf and actually I had no great expectations as to dining. My visit to the Super Mercado, was very much less than inspiring. Remind me very much of Willowy Blonds, local in Mexico City, Superrama, ( known locally to #1 daughter at least as Pooperrama.) It was pretty bad I have to say, but here in the Canaries, it certainly is not much better. A large space, but with very little in it.

We are staying with friends, in a Villa on a golf course. It might as well be in Central London, as whoever designed these villas, decided that a view of the course and surrounding mountains was not important! However, we put money into a kitty and decided to eat in at least for breakfast, hence the visit to the supermarket. My fears about dining, were therefore enforced by the distinct lack of choice in Mercadona, though Alcampo was larger ( still not my idea of a good shopping experience) but it seemed to have a little more choice. The fish counter though was not inspiring  and most of the meat was pre-packed !

We ventured out to our local grill, (El Tauro) where we ate steak or shoulders of lamb, all of which were fine ( forget the canary potatoes though…………boiled potatoes with a reddish-yellow sauce on them).

I subsequently scoured and googled, restaurants, to find somewhere, which would come up to scratch. Guantanamo, by the beach most certainly did not fit the bill and many others, when checking them on Trip Advisor, the remarks were along the lines of ” Best Pizza” “Best Spag Bol” or even ” Best Place to go with our 6 kids”! None was what we were looking for. Then I came across Los Guayres! Screenshot 2018-11-22 at 09.00.09And what a find this turned out to be!

This restaurant is to be found in the Hotel Cordial in the fishing port of Morgán, and why it has not got a Michelin Star beats me. The food was Devine and the service impeccable. Our table was booked for 7.30 and we finally staggered out at 11.30 having gorged ourselves on what can only be described as wonderful food.

The chef Alexis Álvarez is a Gran Canarian cook, who trained on mainland Spain with the likes of Ferran Adrià of El Bulli fame. And he says “My culinary style is both Canarian regional cuisine and cutting edge Spanish cuisine, where we treat the basic ingredients with the utmost care, as they are the core of our dishes.”

Screenshot 2018-11-22 at 08.42.11
We had a choice, a menu at €60, another at € 68 and a third at € 75. Fortunately our
group all chose the middle one ( just as well as all had to choose  the same one) we opted not to have the wine pairings but chose ourselves and for the white wine at least it came from the island which has vineyards near the Caldera in Bandama. Excellent choice!

The menu said 6/8 courses but in reality there were several more, as we had several amuse bouches as well as a small soup in the middle of the other courses.

To start with we were given a glass of cava and then followed several Amuse Bouche. One of which was a cone filled with leeks and one which I would call a soup. It was deep pink in colour, ( like beetroot) but in fact was made from Prickly pear.

 

Our starter was an oyster with corn juice, followed by a roasted shrimp with carrot vinaigrette and roasted apple. We were then served what looked like a bisque ( this was an extra course) and then marinated  red tuna, with avocado and coriander. The Avocado and coriander formed the base for a green chip.

Then in order we had Iberian Pork in a beetroot reduction and pine nut cream, grouper filet in a sauce, and as explained, grouper was the perfect fish, as a sauce would cling to it well. We also ate Lamb with sweet potato.

Desserts were cheese ice cream, chocolate and mango crisp with milk ice cream and of course Petit fours.

I loved it all and forgive me for a myriad of photos. Now back in the UK, where it is cold and damp, not an incentive to start a diet, but needs must I’m afraid!

For those who are interested you will be able to find at least one of his recipes on the following link

http://www.grancanaria.com/turismo/en/gastronomy/recipes-from-the-islandmix/recipes-from-an-islandmix-chef-alexis-alvarez-gran-canaria/

Leg of goat in salmorejo sauce, red onion and potato purée

Maybe not so eays to find a goats leg, unless you have an  local ethnic butchers near by or maybe an exoctic market, but I am sure that pork or lamb would make a good substitute. I might give it a try over the New Year.

 

Je suis Bouche Bée ( Gob smacked to you and me)

Über Eats, Deliveroo, Grub Hub, Feast, to name but a few!

Given where I live, in a London Mansion block, a stones throw from a myriad of fast food outlets, one could be forgiven in thinking that there is not a call for any of the above to deliver just 1 minute down the road. How wrong can I be. The other day, a leather clad, helmet wearing individual, sauntered down the street carrying a very small paper bag from Pret a Manger. In it was a sandwich and a drink! Seriously? This was followed the following day by a similar man with a KFC bag! I have to say that I am speechless. And according to our porter, there are some people here, who have deliveries 3 or four times  a day, Breakfast, Elevenses, Lunch and Dinner. ( Joe the juice, Starbucks, KFC, Chicken, Nandos, Eat, Pret, Costa,  the list goes on)

So, moving swiftly along, we have been cooking fishy things this week, and I do mean we , as himself has also been creative with fish in the kitchen.

Firstly, he was inspired to cook  Crispy Chinese Fish, along with a spicy sauce, and then  he has learnt to adapt, as my instructions on leaving the house are ” Do not go and buy anything “. So he hunted in the freezer and found some fish, smallish fillets, and white.

  1. one or two fillets per person, ( cod, haddock, pollock) depending on size
  2. 100 grms cornflour
  3. salt and pepper
  4. chunk fresh ginger.
  5. oil for frying

Mix together the salt and pepper and the fresh ginger which has been squeezed in a garlic press ( easy to do it if peeled), rub this all over the fish.

For the sauce

IMG_3411

  1. 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  2. 4 Tbs Rice Vinegar
  3. 2 tsp sugar
  4. 3 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  5. 2 Tbs Soy Sauce

This all very easy and very tasty, mix all of the above, put into a pan and bring to the boil, leave to simmer gently. Heat some oil in a pan or wok, and when hot ( test with a piece of dry bread, and when it sizzles, the oil is hot enough) carefully add the fish ( do not overload the pan) and fry the fish until golden brown. Serve with some of the sauce ( it should not be too runny) poured over the top!

I too have been playing, and I too hunted in the freezer and came across Shrimp ( actually my freezers are not at all random .. nor  are my Pantry shelves, they are very carefully ordered, even though I do not have a list of what is there, I know what is there and where it is located). Shrimp in American speak are large  but they are not as the Brits call them Prawns. I buy my Shrimp, frozen, either from Billingsgate or from the Chinese Supermarket or from Costco!

In New Orleans ( pronounced New Or- Lons) much of their food is based on French cuisine with Cajun thrown in. One of the favourites is Shrimp Remoulade, or in the UK, Prawns with a Marie Rose sauce ( a pink sauce invented in the1960’s by a popular TV chef, Fanny Craddock).

The New Orleans version of Shrimp Remoulade is Shrimp in a spicy sauce, either on its own or with avocados.

So lots of ingredients, but don’t let that put you off!

  1. 1 Lemon
  2. 1 Egg
  3. 1/4 cup creole or spicy mustard ( it is usually brownish in colour)
  4. 1 tbsp horseradish sauce
  5. 1 tsp paprika
  6. 2 Cloves of garlic squeezed
  7. 1 tsp salt
  8. 2 sprigs parsley chopped
  9. stick celery finely chopped
  10. 1 Shallot finely chopped
  11. 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  12. 4 Dashes of Tabasco
  13. 1 Cup olive oil

Then for 4 people, 4 small avocados, 1 Lb Cooked shrimp, some Romaine lettuce or baby Gem, some lemon quarters to serve ( optional)

Zest the lemon and juice it, whisk  together the  items 1-12 and slowly pour in the olive oil, whilst whisking. until you have a nice thick mayo type sauce. Cover with cling film ( touching the surface so that a skin does not form and refrigerate until needed.)

Arrange the avocado halfs on a bed of leaves , mix the sauce with the shrimp ( you can really cheat and buy ready cooked ones) and fill the avocados ad serve with a wedge of lemon.

As an aside, Fanny Craddock was probably one of the first TV Celebrity cooks. Her show started in 1955 on the BBC !

 

 

 

Don’t Throw Bread Away !

I heard on the radio the other day that British people throw away more bread than any other food! This completely flummoxed me. Why throw away Bread? I can honestly say, that I NEVER throw away bread. Bread freezes better than anything else, you can take it out of the freezer, defrost and put back into the freezer without any harm coming to you or to it. Actually if using for toast,( himself often has toast) my lovely toaster has a little knob on it which means frozen, press that and the toast cooks just a little longer to compensate for the fact that the bread is frozen.

Living where I do, there are shops within a stones throw, that are open from 6 am to 11pm, so why do I freeze my bread? Well, firstly, I have no idea when or where himself wants to have toast or a sandwich and secondly, I am far too lazy to have to go to the grocery store just for bread ( another food that freezes well is Milk, so when you go away for a weekend, or a couple of weeks, put your milk into the freezer, ready for your return).

Consequently I always have bread. At the moment it is Sourdough, which even I like (especially with smushed avocado). However, even if you think that the bread in your freezer is getting a tad old, looking a bit dry, you can use it in other ways. Make it in to fresh bread crumbs, dry it out in the oven and then blitz it in a food processor, or put it into a bag and bash it with a rolling-pin.

My favourite way of using up old bread and this is especially good with old baguettes (they go stale very quickly ) is to make Bread Pudding. This is the New Orleans Bread Pudding and Not the English Bread and Butter pudding.. Himself has a sweet tooth and often sneaks a nibble of a dessert when I have gone off upstairs to bed. I don’t often make deserts but when I do, it is usually something that I can then freeze and to which he can help himself.

This week I have been playing in the kitchen and have made the above mentioned Bread Pudding and Bakewell Tart.

So let us start with the Bakewell tart, history says it comes from Bakewell In Derbyshire, and there is a similar one from Gloucestershire.

You will need a quantity of Short pastry ( about 8 oz) and there is nothing wrong with using ready-made. Me? being a bit odd always make my own. On top of the pastry you will need

  1. 4 tbsp of Jam preferably raspberry
  2. 2 eggs
  3. zest of one lemon
  4. 3oz Butter
  5. 3oz castor sugar
  6. 6oz ground almonds
  7. 4 Tabs plain flour
  8. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  9. Flaked almonds to decorate ( optional)
  10. Icing sugar for dusting
  • Pre heat the oven to 190C
  • Grease a 10 inch tart tin
  • Roll out the pastry and line the tin, prick the pastry with a fork
  • Cream together the butter and sugar ( can do this in a food processor) add the eggs and the lemon zest mix in the flour and the baking powder along with the ground almonds
  • cover the pastry with a layer of raspberry jam and then add the Bakewell mixture on top.
  • Sprinkle with flaked almonds if using.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes until brown.
  • Cool and sprinkle with icing sugar when serving. can be served with Creme fraiche.

And onto Bread Pudding, as I said this version is from New Orleans. It is served in many of the world-famous restaurants of that party city.

To make this calorific dessert you will need

  1. 500 grams of any bread, baguette, brown bread, croissants, brioche or a mixture of any of them
  2. 1 litre of milk
  3. 3 eggs
  4. 2 apples, peeled and chopped
  5. 4 oz sugar ( 120 Grms)
  6.  about 4oz raisins or sultanas
  7. 4 oz chopped nuts
  8. Butter or spray for greasing
  • Preheat oven to 190 C, Grease a loaf pan. Using a food processor, with the motor running drop in the bread, large bits at a time, to make fine breadcrumbs
  • Put the breadcrumbs into a large mixing bowl
  • mix the eggs and milk together and pour over the bread crumbs, add the sugar, nuts, apple and raisins. Mix well together, using your hands works very well.
  • Pour into the greased loaf pan and bake for about 50 mins until golden brown.
  • Leave to cool

Then the best part is the whisky sauce:-

  1. 4oz unsalted butter
  2. 4 oz sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1/2 cup whiskey

Melt the butter and the sugar together, pour into the food processor and add with the motor running, the egg along with the whiskey.

To serve the bread pudding, cut into slices and pour over some of the whiskey sauce.

This freezes very well so I usually make extra sauce. Then, I slice the pudding and lay on a baking tray, pour over the sauce, and freeze. When it is frozen, the sauce will be tacky, I remove and wrap individually in cling film and package and put back into the freezer. So when Himself fancies something sweet, ( and he does have a sweet tooth) it is there waiting for him. He has been known to eat it frozen!!

In the USA there is a spray to grease pans or even frying pans, it is called PAM, but it is not available in the UK, it even gives chocolate icing a sheen when used sparingly. However when I visited the kitchen of the Club Med sail boat, in the middle of the Atlantic, I was surprised to see the french equivalent, and guess what? it is available on Amazon !!!IMG_8364

Amalfi Lemon Tart and Beetroot Ice Cream

I found this recipe the other day and was very keen to try it. I am not sure if I have ever tried Amalfi Lemons, having never been to the Amalfi coast, but when I googled, “Where to buy” I found I could get them on-line at ” finefoodspecialist.co.uk” but at a hefty £11.95 a kilo!! I am pretty sure that Selfridges Food Hall could sell them as well, but when Himself shopped there a few weeks ago, he blithely bought me two beautiful mangoes for my breakfast, what he didn’t realise was they sold them by the kilo and had a bit of a shock at the till £19.0 for 2 Mangoes !! So maybe I will not be going there to hunt for Amalfi Lemons.

IMG_5154

Consequently, I used common or garden unwaxed lemons. As we use the zest it is obviously better to use Unwaxed one.

  1. Use your favourite pastry recipe or really cheat and use bought pastry.
  2. 5-6 Lemons, unwaxed
  3. 300 grams chilled unsalted butter
  4. 300 grams caster sugar
  5. 6 whole eggs
  6. 3 egg yolks
  7. 1 beaten egg white

Heat the oven to 200 C/ Gas Mark 6. Roll out the pastry and press into a 26 cm tart tine, ( preferably one with a loose bottom) leave to rest for about 10 mins.

After that line the pastry with some greaseproof paper and fill with some form of baking beans, Rice, lentils etc will do. These can be reused time and time again, as long as you mark the container ” For Baking Only” otherwise someone might just try to cook with them, which would be a disaster!

Bake the pastry case for 20 mins, remove the paper and the beans, brush the case with the beaten egg white to seal it and bake for another 5 mins  and then remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Meanwhile zest the lemons and then juice them, mix both with butter and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently to melt both the sugar and the butter. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks until pale yellow and pour into the saucepan. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens. Do not allow to boil as the eggs will scramble.

Remove from the heat, leave to sit for a few minutes and then pour into the cooked pastry case.

Light the grill and place the tart under it to char the top of the tart. It might be prudent to cover the edges of the pastry with aluminium foil before hand, to prevent the pastry from burning. When the tart is cool refrigerate before serving.

And finally, Beetroot Ice Cream.IMG_8276

A few years ago, we were in Mexico for Easter and went to San Miguel d’Allende, an absolutely delightful town about 3 hours drive, north-ish of Mexico City. It seems a safe haven for many retired Americans, the climate is great, life is cheap , medical service excellent and not so far from the USA. Dining experiences in Mexico, have on the whole been excellent, but with one remarkable exception. We had been on a tour of the botanical gardens and headed off to find an organic farm with restaurant. However, upon arriving, although we had a reservation no table was available, only one in the midday sun ( and we had 2 small children with us). Needless to say, Son in law was not impressed. A quick telephone call and we were headed back into town, to the restaurant we had eaten in previously and it is called “The Restaurant”

All I remember about this restaurant was a) the food was very good b) they didn’t mind children at all, infact welcomed them and c) our starter, which was a goats cheese salad with Beetroot and Horseradish Icecream. Divine ! If you check this restaurant out on trip advisor, it says, the food is American, it is not and secondly mixed reviews. I put this down to, too many American Expats, who expect a cheap meal. My family and I, as we went twice in two days, thought differently.

Since then I have made my own version of the ice cream, experimenting along the way.

For the Ice Cream you will need

  1. 500 Mls, ( 2 Cups) double cream
  2. 3 Large eggs
  3. 6 oz/150grms fine sugar
  4. 1 cup milk
  5. 1 jar of horseradish sauce apprx 160 grms
  6. +/- 500 grms cooked beetroot ( thank goodness you can buy them vacuum packed already cooked!)

Blend all of the above together in a blender. If you have an ice cream machine, so much better, and then it is very simple, set the machin to cool/freeze and pour the mixture in, it does not freeze solid, but when the machin stops turning, remove the mixture and put into a plastic container and put into the freezer.

If you do not have an Ice Cream machin, pour the mixture into a plastic container, put into the freezer and about every 30 mins or so, give it a good stir.

I servve it on a bed of leaves along with some goats chees, either baked ( hot and melting) or just cold. Delicious either way.

P.S. too much tart? cut into slices, and freeze! it freezes well!