So Can You Cook? 24

Citrus

There is probably nothing in the world I enjoy more than the ‘cat’s-bum’ cheek- sucking, mouth-pursing bite of a really good citrus tart. Citrus are flavours that cleanse and add a bit of zing to anything they are cooked or served with. We have our own lemon tree, which at this very moment is full of ripening fruit, and it’s not all that long until I start churning out lemon tarts, lemon delicious puddings, lemon self-saucing puddings and passing all the excess I can’t use onto friends and neighbours.
Unlike David, my partner, who can pick up a lemon and just bite into it without pulling a single face, I prefer mine to be involved in a dish of some description. It is not all that long ago that trying to buy a lime was like looking for ocean in the Red Centre. Now, apart from them being atrociously expensive out-of-season, you can buy bags of them for as little as $3.00. Limes are probably the most versatile of the citrus family, and not only make great cakes, puddings and biscuits but are an integral part of nearly all Asian cooking. Oranges and grapefruits make fantastic enlivening additions to salads, and whole-orange cakes are a thing to lust for. Grapefruit marmalade is one neighbours favourite – I don’t make it all that often, but I can bet he will take every jar I offer. There is also the world of little citrus like cumquats. These also make a deliciously tart marmalade, or can be poached and stored in spiced syrup for spooning over ice cream or serving with a cheese platter.
Because of uncontrollable obsession with desserts this column is going to deal in the sweets (tart?) side of using these delectable and versatile fruits. By the way, slices of lemons and limes are also great when barbequed, and served with fish or poultry. Don’t forget to buy yourself some Preserved Moroccan Lemons – or make them yourself – to serve with cous cous, rice or Middle-Eastern dishes. Some brands can be found on my web site under ‘Condiments’.

By the time this column is published, the new Alderman Providore web site will be launched. We have had the new site designed by Duncan from Chirp Internet, and he has given it a fresh make-over, cleaning up all the untidiness that annoyed me with the old site, and expanding it to be a more interesting and comprehensive browse for our customers. We have also brought the site ‘home’ to a local host, and have changed to our local domain name. This is one of our short-term goals now completed. Please come and have a browse at http://www.aldermanprovidore.com.au. There is no obligation to buy, but I do like to tempt people.

Summer Soup of Red Fruits in Citrus Sauce;
Serves 6

Juice of 2 grapefruit
Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 2 lemons
2 passionfruit, halved, pulp and seeds scooped out and reserved
1 kiwi fruit, peeled and finely diced6 strawberries, finely diced
1kg of mixed red fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants – or use frozen if out-of-season. Just drain off the excess juice.

In a large bowl, mix together the citrus juices and stir in the passionfruit pulp and seeds, the diced kiwi fruit and diced strawberries.
Arrange the mixed red fruits in the centre of 6 serving plates. Spoon the citrus sauce and diced fruit mixture around the red fruits and serve the ‘soup’ at once.

Lemon & Almond Tart;
Serves 6

1 x large sheet sweet shortcrust pastry
2 eggs
150g icing sugar
4 lemons
100g butter, melted
75g ground almonds
icing sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 220°C. Carefully work the pastry into a 20cm tart pan, and trim off the excess. Blind bake (cover with baking paper and some sort of weights eg ceramic beads or rice) for 10 minutes, remove paper and weights and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.
Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C
In a bowl, whisk the eggs and the icing sugar together until fluffy. Mix in the grated zest of 2 of the lemons, the butter, ground almonds and juice of all 4 lemons. DON’T WORRY IF THE MIXTURE LOOKS CURDLED. It won’t affect the finished product.
Pour the filling into the pastry case and bake for 25 minutes, or until the filling is set. Leave to cool and serve dusted with icing sugar.

Orange and Almond Cake;
Serves 6-8

2 large navel oranges
6 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon orange blossom water or orange liqueur
1 cup caster sugar
3 cups ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 more navel oranges, peeled, pith removed, thinly sliced, to garnish

Orange Syrup:
2 cups fresh orange juice, strained
¾ cup caster sugar
60ml sauternes (or any other dessert wine. If too expensive, use a sugar syrup of 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water boiuled until slightly thick.

Grease and lightly flour a 23cm springform cake tin. Put the whole oranges into a saucepan full of water. Boil for 2 hours, topping up water as needed. Remove the oranges, quarter them and process in a food processor until smooth. Cool thoroughly.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Place the egg yolks, orange blossom water and caster sugar into a large bowl and beat until smooth, then stir in the orange puree and mix well. Whisk the egg whites in a clean dry bowl until firm peaks form. Add the ground almonds and baking powder to the orange mixture and stir well, then fold in the egg whites. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 1 hour, or until firm – cover with foil if it overbrowns. Cool in the tin, then transfer to a serving plate.

To make the syrup, put the orange juice, sugar and sauternes (or syrup) in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat ands simmer for 20 minutes or until reduced by half and slightly syrupy – skimming off any scum.

Cut the cake into wedges, garnish with orange slices and drizzle with the syrup. Delicious served with cream.

Lemon Stars;
Makes about 22

125g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
½ cup caster sugar
2 egg yolks (freeze whites to use in meringues or pavlova)
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1¼ cups plain flour
¾ cup coarse cornmeal (polenta)
icing sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 160°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Mix in the egg yolks, lemon zest, flour and cornmeal until they form a ball of soft dough. Roll out on a floured surface to 1cm thick.
Cut out stars from the dough using a 3cm star-shaped cutter. Place on the tray and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar.

Orange, Pistachio and Semolina Slice;
Makes 18 pieces

2/3 cup shelled pistachio nuts
200g unsalted butter, chopped
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 eggs
½ cup self-raising flour
½ cup orange juice
1½ cups fine semolina
1 cup caster sugar, extra
icing sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 20cm x 30cm shallow baking tin and line with baking paper, leaving it hanging over the two long sides.
Bake the pistachios for 8-10 minutes or until they are lightly toasted. Cool, then chop.
Beat the butter and sugar with electric beaters until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, orange zest and eggs, and beat until combined.
Add the flour, orange juice, semolina and pistachio nuts and fold in with a spatula until just combined – do NOT overmix. Spread into the tin. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and firm when lightly touched. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then on a wire rack placed on a tray.
Mix the extra orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then simmer for 1 minute. Spoon over the slice. Cool and cut into squares or diamonds. Dust with icing sugar.

Key lime Pie;
Serves 6-8

375g block ready-made shortcrust pastry
4 eggs yolks
395g tin condensed milk
½ cup lime juice
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
Lime slices – to garnish
Icing sugar, to dust
Whipped cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 23cm loose-bottomed flan tin. Roll the dough out between 2 sheets baking paper until it is large enough to fit into the flan tin. Lift and fit the pastry into the tin, then trim edges.
Line the pastry shell with baking paper and ceramic balls or rice. Bake for 10 minutes, remove paper and beads and return the pastry to the oven for another 5 minutes or until the base is dry. Leave to cool.
Using electric beaters, beat the egg yolks, condensed milk, lime juice and zest in a large bowl for 2 minutes or until well combined. Pour into the pie shell and smooth the surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set. Allow the pie to cool, then refrigerate for 2 hours, or until well chilled. Garnish with lime slices, dust with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream.

Mandarin Ice;
Serves 4-6

10 mandarins
½ cup caster sugar

Squeeze the mandarins to make 2 cups juice, and strain.
Place the sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Stir the mandarin syrup into the sugar syrup, then pour into a shallow metal tray. Freeze for two hours, or until frozen. Transfer to a food processor and blend until slushy. Return to the freezer and repeat the process three more times.

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014

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