It’s stone cold and pewter grey today. This winter is dragging on a bit isn’t it? And if it wasn’t for the bright, juicy, healthy and happy citrus floating around my kitchen today, I think I’d be getting a bit over it about now.
Since returning last week from Gippsland with a basket full of the most beautiful home-grown citrus fruit (thank you Cheryl!), we’ve been happily working our way through grapefruit, lemons, limes and oranges. And over the weekend made curd with the meyer lemons (using this recipe), cordial with the oranges and ruby grapefruit (recipe below) and cake with the rest of the lemons (recipe a touch further below).
Tonight we have roast lemon chicken and on it goes. Thank goodness for citrus hey?
Ruby grapefruit, orange and barley cordial
This is just gorgeous with mineral water, ice and a slice of lemon or orange. Or mixed up as a cordial and served warm. It’s also great with vodka.
250g pearl barley
300mls ruby grapefruit juice
300mls orange juice
3 cups (660g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
Place the barley in a large saucepan on medium high and toast for five minutes, stirring often so the grains don’t burn, rather turn a lovely golden colour. Add remaining ingredients and four cups of water. Stir and bring mixture to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool for five minutes then strain cordial into jars. Discard the barley but place the vanilla in the jars. Keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. Makes about a litre and a half.
Really lemon-y almond cake
This recipe is an adaptation of one belonging to Nigel Slater from my favourite of his books; The Kitchen Diaries. I haven’t changed much, just tripled the quantity of lemon juice and zest (because I really love this cake to punch you in the face with citrus) and upped the almond content quite a bit too. It’s gorgeous for morning or afternoon tea but also, as Nigel says in his book a more than acceptable dessert (when served warm with thick Greek yogurt or crème fraîche). Keeps for ages when wrapped up tight.
200g unsalted butter, softened
Zest and juice of 3 large lemons
1 cup (200g), loosely packed light muscovado sugar
4 large eggs
1/3 cup (50g) plain flour
1 cup (125g) almond meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
For the topping
2 tbsp demerara sugar
4 tbsp water
For the syrup
2 tbsp demerara sugar
Juice of one lemon
Preheat oven to 160C and grease and line a loaf tin (about 25x11X7cm). For the topping, thinly slice the lemon and place in a small saucepan over medium heat with the sugar and water. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the lemon slices are completely soft and sitting a syrupy puddle (add a little more water if you think it necessary). Arrange slices and syrup on the base of your loaf tin.
For the cake, combine the butter, lemon zest and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Now sift together the flour, almond meal and baking powder and fold through the batter. Finally fold in the lemon juice (don’t worry if the mixture looks like it’s curdling a little). Spoon batter into the cake tin and smooth the top. Place in the oven for 45 minutes or until the cake feels springy to touch and has begun to pull away from the tin’s sides. Set aside for a moment while you make the syrup. To do this, just combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan, add a splash of water and cook just until the sugar has dissolved. Turn cake out onto a serving plate and pour over the syrup before serving.