Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cooking with lemons

My little lemon tree is a real survivor. When I planted my tree some five years ago, it was placed in a hole strewn with old roots, in a garden that has major drainage issues, and all through winter my little lemon tree has sat in it's very own swimming pool. It really has fought hard to establish itself. It's first year it produced one hard lemon, then nothing the following two years. But this year, little suns popped up in the corner of my garden, and lifted my spirits. The only problem was I had to swim across the lawn to get them. So this food fight is in celebration of my tough little lemon tree and soggy Ugg boots. Enjoy Ingrid

Vanessa's dish
Lemons are abundant this time of year, so much so that they are often left rotting under swelling lemon tress. Such a shame. I have one such tree next door and every year its bursting at the seams and it appears its only me collecting the rewards. Usually its either for lemon and honey drinks, a squeeze or two over fish or to look fresh and inviting in a big glass bowl on my dining table.

Lemons add a touch of summer to a long winter

For our 11th food-fight I pondered with the idea of something sweet and zesty but the trouble is I always lick the spoon and spend a couple of days scoffing the treat!
I have just started a 10 week challenge at the gym and because I have low willpower when it comes to food, I have opted to use the lemons in a savoury dish. To zoosh it up a bit so its not just adding a squeeze to a dish I have attempted homemade fresh pasta. 

Fresh homemade fettuccine - delicious

Fresh pasta is actually pretty easy to make, not much can go wrong with the dough. Rolling it out takes a bit of getting used to but its worth the effort. The trouble I had was the dough/pasta sticking together after I placed it onto a plate - even with extra flour. (any suggestions - please comment)

What amazes me, is the cost of fresh pasta in the supermarket, like with my cheese making its not actually the ingredients that adds to the cost, its the process and the time - home made pasta is in this category. But once prepared, cooking it is a breeze and it lasts for about 3 days in your fridge.

Homemade pasta with lemons, capers and olive oil  
You will need
500grams flour
4 eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
Water to mix

How to make the pasta dough
In a bowl (or on the bench) measure out the flour. Add the eggs and olive oil to a well in the centre and mix them up taking a bit of flour from the sides of the well. Keep doing this until its coarsely mixed.
Add a bit of water to make it into a smooth dough. Knead Knead Knead for about 10 minutes. You will need to add flour as you go along to stop it becoming sticky. When you have kneaded it for 10 minutes, wrap it in glad wrap and put it in the fridge while you make the pasta sauce.

Pasta sauce
you will need about...
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup capers
Salt and pepper to taste
2 chopped tomatoes
1 chopped onion
6 cloves of garlic (depending on how garlicky you like it) 
Shrimps or prawns (shelled or not)

Saute the onions and garlic in a little oil until soft, throw in the chopped tomatoes and capers and briefly cook. Add the oil and lemon juice and heat through. Finish with salt and pepper and chopped coriander or basil.

Now its time to roll out the pasta.
If you have a pasta maker, put small flat balls through the non blade rollers and keep thinning the dough by reducing the width of the rollers. When it's about 2-3mm thick, feed it through the fettuccine rollers. If you don't have a pasta maker, you can just use a rolling pin and a knife - it might even be easier. Apparently you can roll up the thinned dough into a tube shape and cut through so you get long ribbons.
My tip is to constantly add flour to prevent sticking and avoid the spaghetti rollers as I found them too small and the dough kept getting stuck.

Boil a large pot with salty water, I heard Ray McVinnie on NZMasterchef say it needs to be as salty as the sea. When its boiling, add the fresh pasta and cook until al dente or firm to the bite. Approx 5 minutes. Whilst this is cooking reheat the lemon and oil sauce and sauté the shrimps briefly in their own pan. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add the lemon sauce then toss through the shrimps. Serve with chopped herbs. Bellissimo!!!

Fettuccine with lemon, capers and shrimp - simple and fresh

Confession - during the final photo shoot I headed to Ingrid's house with everything and the kitchen sink but arrived and realised I left the pasta sitting on my kitchen bench! GUTTED! Time wasn't on my side so I raced to the supermarket to get store bought pasta for the shoot and our lunch! When I arrived home hungry and Jake was in bed I feasted on my own fresh pasta, sauteed frankfurters, store bought pasta sauce fired up with chili and capers. 

All I can say is totally satisfying and delicious - I will be making my own pasta again! 

Ingrid's dish
I was so impressed with candied lemons, sticky and gooey and sweet but still with the tartness. I would also recommend using them on top of a cake (lemon or vanilla), with the sticky sweet lemon juice dripping down the sides - no need for any icing.

Lemons were more successful than limes, the limes skins were tough whilst the centres disintegrated.

Lemon and lime tart with candied lemons
What you need
125g butter (cold, and cut into cubes)
100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
1 x egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon zest (grated finely)
250g  (2 cups) flour

How to make
In a food processor, blitz the butter and sugar until just combined. Add beaten egg, vanilla and zest, lightly mix. Add flour and process until crumbly. Don't over mix. Should only need a few seconds. Knead lightly on a floured surface, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30mins.

Roll pastry on floured surface until large enough to fit loosed based flan tin 24cm. Grease tin. Lift pastry into tin. Press into sides. Trim edge. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for another 30 mins.

Preheat oven to to 200C or 180C fan forced oven. Remove plastic wrap, and line with foil, making sure the foil goes over the edges. Add rice or beans for blind baking. Blind bake for 10mins. Remove rice or beans and foil and bake for another 5 mins. Reduce oven temp to 160C / 140 fan forced. Let cool.

Lemon and lime zest filling
What you need
5 eggs (3 whole, 2 yolks only)
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 x lemon (juice) approx 50mls plus zest
1 x lime (juice) approx 50mls
200mls cream
50g butter (melted)

How to make
Whisk eggs, yolks and sugar until creamy. Add cream and melted butter. Mix in lemon and lime juice and lemon zest. Whisk. Pour into cooled pastry.

Bake for 40 mins until filling has set. It should have a slight wobble in the centre when ready. Cool.

Candied lemons
What you need
1 1/2 cup of caster sugar
2/3 cup water
3 lemons (sliced thinly) (My candied limes weren't so successful, so just stick to lemons.)

How to make
Put sugar and water in a pot on medium heat, and stir until sugar dissolved. Add sliced lemons and bring to the boil. Cook until the liquid thickens. Around 10 mins. Let cool and place lemon and lime candied slices on tart. Pour syrup into a jug. Serve with yoghurt and warmed up lemon syrup. Enjoy


  1. Such a delightful lemon pasta & tart. Love your blog :)

  2. It is truly healthy recipes. It is very helpful for me. Thanks for the lemon information.