burnt toast

Tag: lemon

Spring Fizz

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It’s summer guys! Confusing Swiss summer. I’m surprisingly okay with that. No sweating! No sunburn! And lots of happy green trees having a ball of a time. Gentle monsoons is where we’re at.

In order to celebrate the very agreeable climate had here, I thought I’d serve you up a nice little tipple. This is what I’ve been nipping at in the past few months, at first because I was in the mood for something a little less heavy, and then later because there was an inordinate need for something refreshing and citrusy to reflect the parasol- and gumboot clad world outside.

 

Spring Fizz

Adapted from this recipe . Serves 1.

Ice

2 tsp orange, lemon and vanilla syrup – recipe below

2 tsp lime juice

3 shakes bitters

15 ml sweet vermouth

30 ml gin

1 strip lime rind

30 – 60 ml sparkling water

Fill a tumbler with ice. Drizzle over the syrup and juice. Add the bitters, vermouth and gin. Rub the lime rind around the rim of the glass, give it a bit of a squeeze and drop it in. Give everything a good stir and top it with as much sparkling water as you’d like.

 

Orange, Lemon and Vanilla Syrup

1 orange

1 lemon

½ tsp vanilla seed paste or ½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped

250g sugar

300ml water

Using a vegetable peeler, remove as much of the orange and lemon peel as you can. Transfer to a small saucepan. Juice the orange and the lemon, adding that to the peel. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes (maybe more), until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and let it cool. When it’s reached room temperature, remove the peel and pour into a large jar. Keeps for a few weeks in the fridge.

The Earl of Grey

the earl of grey

Most of us seem to associate a cup of tea with grandparents – a doily or two thrown in there with the shortbread biscuits, the teapot shining with all its glory in the middle of the table, waiting to be poured. Tea is the bomb. I have two wonderful grandmothers, one of them, Grandma, lives about an hour out from where I live in Melbourne. Every one of my weekly visits starts with a cup of tea in the living room – hers very weak with a splash of cold water (I know. But she has many other fabulous assets), mine with milk, sometimes with or without sugar, depending on the biscuit situation. The two of us sip and exchange our news of that past week, before deciding what else we have in mind for the next few hours. I love my Grandma days.

My memory of tea with Omi reaches back a bunch of years, back to Switzerland, to when I was small, but still the tallest of my class, with white-blonde hair and an obsession with dogs. Every once in a while I’d stay the weekend at my grandparents’ place, at their wooden chalet with the red geraniums, nestled at the foot of a forest. Giesenstein is basically a hill with a few farms sprinkled about, an only child’s paradise, where you could pick cherries during your afternoon walks with Omi and Opa in the summer, play with the tadpoles in the pond in their front yard, or watch TV. I may have mentioned before that I was a TV-less child growing up, which was great I might add, but which also made me appreciate TV and its many wondrous animal documentaries all the more. I truly loved breakfast at their place. Omi would already be awake down in the kitchen, singing to herself, setting the table for me. I’d pad down the stairs and sit down in my chair, where I’d select which type of jam I wanted on my slice of freshly buttered bread. In her sweet Austrian accent Omi would then always ask me how I would like my tea, with milk or with lemon, and I’d almost always request lemon. You know why? Because when you poured the lemon juice into the tea, it would change from black to golden caramel. Magic. And which little girl doesn’t like magic? A few lumps of sugar and then we were in business.

This cocktail recipe is inspired by Omi’s breakfast tea. It’s deliciously fresh and a slight bit posh. Earl grey takes the place of black tea and is paired with dash of lemon, accompanied by vanilla vodka and gin, because earl grey and gin are good friends, and a squeeze of orange rind to complement that seductive bergamot flavour.

 

The Earl of Grey

Serves one

 

For the earl grey syrup:

1 tsp earl grey leaves

½ cup / 125ml boiling water

½ cup / 220g white sugar

 

30 ml earl grey syrup

30 ml fresh lemon juice

30 ml vanilla vodka

30 ml gin

ice

a thin sliver of orange peel

 

Get a tea sieve or whatever handy contraption you own, place the tealeaves inside. You could use a teabag here of course, but if you’re going to all this trouble, you might as well go the whole way. Plus tea from tealeaves is a million times better. If you haven’t already, it’s time you converted, trust me. Place the sieve into a small cup, and add the boiling water. Let it sit for about 3 minutes. Remove the sieve and pour the tea into a small saucepan. Add the sugar and bring to the boil, letting it simmer until thickened slightly. Transfer to a jar and let it cool.

Once you’re ready to cocktail, combine the earl grey syrup, lemon juice, vodka, gin, and a few cubes of ice in a cocktail shaker or a jar and give it a good shake. Find your prettiest teacup, fill it up with ice cubes and pour over your Earl of Grey. To finish off, squeeze the orange rind over the top of the drink before dropping it in and giving it a little swirl.

 

 

Rosewater and Mint Lemonade

rosewater and mint lemonade

Yeah, it’s hot. Listen, this isn’t really what I signed up for when I decided to move to Melbourne. It was more the European autumns and the dry climate that enticed me. But hey, we’ve got aircon in our living room, so there’s no point in bitching anyway.

Before you go and drown yourself in H2O, may I suggest a more delicious way to go? I came across this refreshing and utterly delicious beverage in Brunswick Heads, up there in the tropical New South Wales, at a Middle Eastern café called Yami’s. The food is beautiful and fresh, plates of crispy falafel served with creamy hummus, parsley and tomato salad and warm pita bread. The lemonade though, that’s the reason I go back.

more lemonade

Rosewater and Mint Lemonade

Makes about 350ml of syrup

3-4 lemons, depending on size, to make 200ml lemon juice

175g sugar

2 Tbsp rosewater

¼ bunch mint, leaves torn, to serve

ice

Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan and stir over low heat, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the rosewater. Transfer to a glass jar, screw the top on and let it chill in the fridge. This syrup will keep for a couple of weeks, just so you know. So depending on if you’re serving a crowd or just yourself, you’ll have to adjust the amounts. As I’m a solitary lemonade drinker most of the time, here are the amounts I use: In a 250ml – sized teacup (to me, everything tastes better in teacups), combine 3 Tbsp syrup and two torn mint leaves. Chuck in a couple of ice cubes and top up with water. Proscht.

I know what you’re thinking. Laura, this drink does not contain any alcohol. What’s wrong. Darling, don’t you worry, I’ve been going over this in my head for a few weeks now. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m certain it would taste quite delightful with some gin or perhaps even vodka. I’ll give it a go when things get a bit milder. But honestly – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – it’s too hot for spirits.

Lemons and Coconut

one little lemon slice

Little Cousin Eileen used to love lemon slices.  So small and frail with a big cloudy mop of blue hair, you’d think she’d get blown away if you’d turn the fan up high enough. But it was that wilful, slightly cantankerous character of hers that kept her going till 96. An interesting little lady she was. I often sit in the rocking chair Grandma inherited from her and ask myself how she didn’t get dizzy by that rocking rate. And the consumption of the many lemon slices. Perhaps even the two combined?

I don’t know if she’d like these – they’re a little different to the dense standard version you can get at the bakery. If it’s an indication at all, the first time I made a batch, Grandma’s lady friends went nuts about them. And if three lots of women with four times more cooking experience than I have ask me for a recipe, well then it is definitely an honour on my behalf to share it.

What you end up with is a cinnamon-kissed shortbread base, slathered with a tart and creamy lemon curd with a crisp coconut macaroon topping. Sexy stuff.

lemon slices

Lemon Curd and Coconut Macaroon Slice

Makes 12 or so

For the crust

150g / 1 cup plain flour

75g / 1/3 cup caster sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground cinnamon

125g cold unsalted butter, cubed

For the lemon curd

150g butter

¾ cup caster sugar

pinch salt

½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)

1 tsp grated lemon zest

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

2 Tbsp double cream

2 Tbsp plain flour

For the coconut topping

2 egg whites

pinch of salt

½ caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

180g / 2 cups shredded coconut

For the base, preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 20 cm square baking dish with baking paper. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Rub in the butter with your fingers until it resembles sand, then knead together until a dough forms. Press into the bottom of the prepared tin and bake for 10 minutes until ever so slightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and lower the heat to 160°C.

In the meantime, make your lemon curd. I am an impatient person so I forego the double boiler method and just do it in a saucepan. Just keep whisking the crap out of your curd and you won’t have to worry about curdled egg. So in a small saucepan, melt the butter on a low heat. Add the sugar, salt, lemon juice, zest and vanilla. You don’t want the mixture boiling, just nicely warm. Again, a shortcut created by me to speed up the process. (You can start with cold ingredients if you want.) Add the eggs and yolks, and start whisking. Keep at it until it thickens to the consistency of custard, or yoghurt or whatever you want to compare it to. Remove from the heat and stir in the double cream and flour. You can now pour it over the base.

Whisk the egg whites in a medium bowl for a few seconds with a fork, then add the salt, sugar and vanilla and whisk a little longer. Stir in the coconut and distribute over the lemon curd. Bake for 20 minutes, checking regularly to see how the coconut’s going, because it browns quite quickly. Once it’s golden brown and some of the tips have caramelised even darker, remove from the oven and cool. Then place in the fridge to firm up before cutting into as many squares as you want.

Chances are your grandma will love these, too.

Cheers.

It is time for drinks me thinks. Time to celebrate. It is very important to have a reason to clink glasses. It makes it all the more important. There are many many reasons today for this one. To good friends, to family, to health, to food, to life. To my repetitive sneezing, to early mornings, to warm scarves, and to tired giggles. And to this drink of course. Often it will be ordered without alcohol, as a designated driver’s drink, or even overlooked because it has become “standard”. However, if it is done right, it becomes so much more than just standard. Don’t go shy on the angostura and squeeze that lime for what it’s worth.

Cheers to us.

 

Vodka with Lemon, Lime and Bitters

ice of course

15ml lime cordial

10-12 dashes of angostura bitters

50ml vodka

150ml “Lift” lemonade, or other cloudy lemonade

2 fat lime wedges

Fill a tall glass with ice and add cordial, bitters and vodka, combining them with a spoon. Add lemonade and squeeze the lime wedges on top and drop into the drink.

Cheesecake

Look, I baked you a cake. Nice of me isn’t it? That’s because I love you. And because I just can’t eat a whole cheesecake by myself, I need help in sharing the calories. That’s what true friends are for.

Cheesecake was a coming of age thing for me. Like wine or maybe even blue cheese for some, it took me a good long time to get used to. Maybe because what I grew up with in Europe was nowhere near as good as what I’m getting my teeth into now. Mind, it has to be worth it. If I’m going to eat a piece of cream cheese as big as a brick I want to taste the calories please. I want to taste every gram of guilty pleasure. I want it to be creamy, silky and smooth, with a deliciously buttery base. Because life’s too short.

 Cheesecake of Cheesecakes

2 Tbsp caster sugar

150g frozen raspberries

500g granita biscuits, roughly crushed

200g salted butter, melted

750g cream cheese, softened

250g sour cream

330g caster sugar

1 lemon, juice

finely grated rind of half an orange

1 Tbsp vanilla essence

½ vanilla bean, seeds (if you can afford it – I just think the little black dots elevate it from great to sexy)

4 eggs

combine the sugar and the raspberries in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved and raspberries are soft. Remove and pass through a sieve. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Grind the biscuits to a fine powder and combine with the melted butter. Line the base of a 24cm tin and add crumb mixture, patting it firmly into the base and up the sides. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and reduce heat to 150°C.

Beat cream cheese until creamy. Add the sour cream, the sugar, the juice, rind and vanilla and keep on beating until the sugar is dissolved. Add the eggs, one at a time, until you’ve got a volumtiously creamy cheesecake filling in front of you. Resist the urge to eat it all and spoon into the cooled baking tin. Draw a few swirls with the raspberry sauce on top of the cheesecake filling and make it look fancy by pulling the back of a spoon through it. Or just leave it. But I like fancy.

Place into the oven. Place a baking tray beneath it, and fill it about halfway with some water. This is the secret to the cheesecake’s dreamy texture, promise. Make sure you top it up if it runs low during the baking process.

So now, bake this little gem for 1½ hours. Then take out of the oven, cool, and keep in the fridge for a few hours or over night.

Serve it cut into thin slices with a few dabs of the remaining raspberry sauce and a scattering of raspberries. And if you still feel guilty (you sinful person you) then run around your house five times. Done. Time for another slice.

Ginger, lime and colds

Hi. How are you. Feeling like crap? Join the club. I don’t know if it’s a cold, the dust mites under my bed or a newly acquired allergy to some new pollen hybrid, but I am over going through a tissue box every few days. Weak and vulnerable could be one way to describe my delicate self at the moment. Or just plain over it. Have I tried taking cold and flu tablets? Yeah those things are crap. I’m convinced all they’re made of is compressed lint. Those people are making a fortune out of our gullible little minds. We’ll do anything to get better faster. But really, all we really can and should do is drink bucket loads of hot herbally liquids and stay in bed. With a few panadol. That always helps. Or at least my mind wants me to believe that.

So what to drink when Mr. Cold is visiting? Lemon and ginger always sounds like the best option. The teabag version is alright. It’s a bit weak in my opinion though. I like something that makes my lips pucker, my throat burn and my eyes water, just ever so slightly. The zingy spicy punch it gives my tastebuds after that first sip. Something with that effect must be good for me. Home made lemon and ginger tea, my savior.

Both lemons and ginger are both known for their vitamin C content, a powerful antioxidant that can help boost your immune system and decrease the severity of some of the symptoms associated with the flu and other illnesses. Lemon ginger tea may also temporarily relieve sinus pressure, a runny nose, a sore throat and coughing. This mixture of lemon, ginger and honey can stimulate the release of dermcidin, which is a compound that has anti-microbial properties and can help fight the flu. Let’s get ready to terminate this sucker.

You can use lemon instead of lime if you want. I’m quite partial to lime because on one of my trips to India one of the things I would frequently order at our favourite seaside restaurant in Goa was “Lemon Tea” – made with these round little lemon limes and lots of honey.

Lemon Lime and Ginger Tea

1 lime, juiced

3-4 thin slices of fresh ginger, bashed with the back of a knife to release the gingery goodness

1+ Tbsp honey

Recently boiled water

Combine the juice, ginger and honey in a mug. Give the ginger a bit of a workout with the back of a spoon – get those flavours going. You don’t want the water to be boiling or else it will kill the goodies in the juice and honey. You need these vitamins for a rapid recovery. Stir and add more honey. You’re sick, you can have it as sweet as you want. That’s my excuse anyway.

Get well soon chicken.

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