Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A host of new recipes - yum!

Strawberry cheesecake muffins
It's been a busy couple of weeks in the kitchen, with a number of firsts in the baking and preserving department.

Strained juice and sugar for the jelly
Thanks to our prolific strawberry crop, I've made my first batch of strawberry cheesecake muffins (see above) for the year as well as my first ever strawberry preserve - a strawberry and apple jelly. I made this using four granny smiths apples and 500g of our strawberries. I simmered the fruit in two different pans with the required amounts of water (just cover the apples, 150ml for the strawberries) for about an hour. This was then drained through a muslin overnight to produce 250ml of combined juice. I then boiled this up with 180g of sugar (half caster sugar and half jam sugar) to achieve my shiny, red jelly.

Blackcurrant jam and the (already half-used) strawberry jelly
We've had the first crop from our blackcurrant bush, planted last year. It netted us 275g of blackcurrants, which is pretty good on a two-year-old plant, so I made two jars of blackcurrant jam. Because I was making such a small quantity, the set is a bit firm, but I'll adjust this for next year. Hopefully, I'll be taking some hard cuttings from our bush in the autumn in order to propagate a couple more blackcurrants so that we can look forward to bumper crops in future years!

Flavouring the vodka for limoncello
I've also developed a bit of an addiction to craft and homestyle magazines at the moment. There's a host of new titles on the market this year, suggesting I'm not alone in rediscovering my love of making things - from cookery to craft. My current favourites are Making, Mollie Makes and Simply Homemade (although I gave Handmade Living a try too!). A recent issue of Simply Homemade had some great recipes using lemons which caught my eye. The first was for homemade limoncello, the well-known Italian liqueur which is a fantastic digestif served ice-cold and is my secret added ingredient when making Nigel Slater's lemon icecream tart with gingernut crust from the Kitchen Diaries. You can see the recipe at the jamjar shop website but it's a very similar process to making flavoured gins, like the raspberry gin we make in the autumn.

The second recipe attracted me because it made use of dill. Having decided to include dill in my herb garden, I confess to being a little at sea for exactly what to do with it, and so have been looking out for some interesting recipes. This one is for a  summery lemon and dill mustard; it was fantastically easy to make and would go well with fish dishes, as an alternative to mint in potato salad, or to english mustard in a ploughmans.

Half were drizzled with lemon icing and half with mint icing.
Finally, I've been planning to make some lemon and mint biscuits for ages, to take advantage of the applemint growing in the herb garden. It basically adapts a simple lemon biscuit recipe to include chopped mint and I used the lemon juice leftover from stage one of the limoncello to make some homemade lemon curd (thanks, Delia) which I then used as the lemon base. They've actually turned out surprisingly minty, so I think next time I'll add some lemon zest as well just to sharpen them up.

Lemon and mint biscuits
350g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
140g butter, cut into small cubes
175g caster sugar
125g lemon curd
2 eggs, beaten
x2 large sprigs of mint, chopped into small pieces
*the zest of 1 lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 180 fan/200 C. Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarb into a large bowl.
2. Add the butter and rub to fine breadcrumbs.
3. Stir in the sugar, mint, lemoncurd and eggs (*and lemon zest). Shape the resulting dough into small balls and press them gently onto a greased baking sheet.
4. Bake for 12-15 minutes until light golden in colour.

You can then choose to ice your biscuits. I made up some mint-flavoured icing and some lemon-flavoured icing and did half-and-half.

No comments:

Post a Comment