The St Helena lemons I have seen this week, look just fantastic, in fact I was so impressed with them I took a photo of the bowl sitting on the counter at the market.
A little bit lumpy and bumpy, these lemons have ATTITUDE!
Tesco might not agree with me but I would far prefer lemons which look like they have had a normal life, rather than lemons which look like they grew and ripened in the box they were delivered in! As for juice content and flavour: St Helena Lemons win the contest again! That’s St Helena Lemons 2 Tesco Lemons 0!
My recipes this week are both sauces. One sweet and one savoury. Both are with butter which is fast becoming the new luxury food! Lemon curd is a really versatile recipe to know as the finished article can be used not only for tarts etc but can be “diluted” cream or other dairy product to make a sauce. The curd can also be swirled through a cheesecake mix to make a Fab lemon cheesecake. Other fruit can be substituted although it should be the tangy ones. Pineapple also makes a lovely curd.
4 oz butter
5 eggs at room temperature
Juice of 4 lemons at room temperature
4 oz caster sugar
1. Melt butter in double boiler or in a pan over boiling water
2. In a separate bowl mix eggs sugar and lemon juice together
3. When the butter is very hot whisk in the other ingredients
4. Keep whisking until thick which can take up to 15 or so minutes
5. Pour into sterilized jars to keep for over a month or into a plastic tub and keep in the fridge to keep for a week or so.
Lemon Butter Sauce: Savoury (Beurre Blanc)
Serve with cauliflower or courgettes (add some rosemary too), any fish, lean pork
To add different flavoured herbs you can put them in the wine and strain them out before adding the butter.
The theory behind this is similar to making homemade mayonnaise, start adding very small amounts of the butter to the liquid and don’t allow it to overheat.
This recipe may take more than one attempt to master but well worth it!
½ medium (red is best) onion or shallot very finely chopped
Juice from half a lemon
Good pinch of salt
150 ml White wine
150 to 200g Soft best butter (unsalted is best)
1. Put the onion wine and lemon juice in a small pan and bring to the boil
2. Reduce the liquid until there is only half left and its starting to go syrupy
3. Turn the heat down to VERY low or get a pan of hot water going
4. Take the liquid off the heat and start to whisk in the butter a bit at a time
5. Pop the sauce back on the heat but not so it will boil, let the liquid just warm up and always keep whisking
6. Gradually add the butter continually whisking until it tastes tangy but nice and buttery
7. Check for seasoning, it may need more salt
8. Keep warm but DO NOT reheat or the sauce will split back into liquid and butter!
Jamie Oliver makes this sauce by putting the reduced liquid into a hot thermos flask and then adding the butter. He then puts the lid on and shakes the lot for about half a minute to get the sauce thickened. You can see the recipe on his website.
Tip of the week: Always strain custards, jellies, sauces and soups before serving. Restaurants use a variety of strainers. Two of the most popular are called a conical strainer and a chinois. A conical strainer can be purchased up to very large sizes which can sit on the sides of very large pans. They are great for getting all the little bits out of a sauce or soup which the blender couldn’t manage. Use a small ladle to push the food through. They are also very good for leaving pureed food in to dry: the water will drip out the bottom.
A chinois is a VERY fine mesh strainer used in pastry departments for getting fruit purees to go clear and to strain custards. If you are a keen cook, both items are fairly reasonable to buy (under £25) and are well worth the investment as they last for years.
Articles & Recipes
The articles first appeared in the St Helena Herald in the Autumn of 2011.