There is a Lemon Fairy who visits my office. True. And she is such a sweetie! To my huge delight, often when I arrive at work, I find little golden Lemon Fairy gifts left next to my keyboard. And sometimes, the Lemon Fairy leaves a BIG bowlful of lemons in the tea room with a note saying 'Please help yourself'! The Lemon Fairy's tree must be lush and splendid, for I am told that it is sooooooooo heavily laden with fruit, that a branch actually broke clean off (due to the weight of the lemons) and tumbled to the ground. Oh, to have such a bounty in my own kitchen garden.
It seems as though it has been forever that I have wanted my own lemon tree and I'm happy to report that now, almost a lifetime on, I do. In fact I have three! Peter and I picked out a sweet dwarf lemon (and a dwarf lime, too) at the nursery at Pialligo last weekend and have planted them in terracotta pots. Autumn is apparently the 'ideal time' for planting citrus and we have chosen sunny spots as their homes, so here's hoping they both fare well.
This recipe, adapted from Indulgence - stylish food at home (Murdoch Books), is a celebration of my little lemon tree and my sheer love of passionfruit. Passionfruit and lemons are two of the fruits that I always keep in my kitchen and I quite often reach for a lemon when cooking. A splash of lemon adds another dimension of flavour to sweet and savoury dishes alike. The citric acid in lemons helps other fruit and vegetables to keep their colour when exposed to the air and is also useful to preserve the colour of fruit when making jam. This is not to mention that the pectin in lemons is beneficial when making jams and sauces.
Forgive me for asking, and I really don't mean to sound risqué, but do you have any Fairies in your office? And what of your lemon tree, if you have one. Do you have any lemony secrets to share?
LEMON AND PASSIONFRUIT CUSTARDS
4 free range egg yolks
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup low fat milk
1/3 cup pouring cream
seeds and pulp from one or two passionfruit
50mls lemon juice
First, preheat your oven to 140 degrees C. Whisk the combined egg yolks and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk in the milk and the cream. Add the fresh passionfruit pulp and juice, and the lemon juice. Pour equal quantities of the custard mixture into little ramekins. Place the ramekins on a baking tray and pour in water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the custards for around 30 minutes, then remove them from the baking tray and set aside to cool on a wire rack. Chill for at least an hour before serving. Serves 2-4.
LEMON CAT'S TONGUE BISCUITS
60g cultured unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon very finely chopped lemon zest
4 egg whites
65g plain flour
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Combine the (soft) butter, caster sugar and lemon zest in a bowl. Cream together with a wooden spoon. Beat by hand until smooth and creamy. Whisk in the egg whites. Then whisk in the flour and mix until well combined. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and, using a 1cm plain piping nozzle, pipe 8cm long strips shaped like cat's tongues onto the baking paper. Make sure you allow room between each one to allow the biscuits to spread as they bake. Bake for about 7-8 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Dust the biscuits with icing sugar and serve with the custards. (This quantity makes plenty).
Lemon Langues des Chats or Lemon Cat's Tongues
Now, make the Lemon Cat's Tongue biscuits...
Tell me dear readers, do you love lemons too?
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.