Saturday, 23 January 2016

Is there anything more versatile than a lemon?

I may struggle with using yellow in my designs, and you might require a great deal of patience to find yellow in my home decorating, but I guarantee you'll always find a bowl of lemons on the kitchen bench or in my fridge.

I use lemons in all our fresh juices, and I grate the zest into most of my sweet bakes and quite often in stews and soups. Tangy lemons are my kitchen staple, and if I have less than four on hand they'll be the first bag of produce in my basket next grocery day. 

We're pretty health conscious at home so I alter or create recipes to suit that plan on a daily basis, but this doesn't mean we forgo our old family favourites or comfort foods - it just means we only enjoy them occasionally. I think when you only have those 'oldies but goodies' sporadically you slowly savour every spoonful with delightful pleasure, and for me it's especially good when that comfort food treat is loaded with lemon!

Such was the case a couple of weeks ago.
Darling daughter Blossom arrived for Sunday dinner with her beloved and I surprised her with a lemon meringue pie for dessert. She knew about the corned beef and mash main course (her request) but squealed with delight at what would follow afterwards. No matter that she's almost 22, her little girl happiness at eating mama's food has never waned so my heart was filled to bursting all over again.

We thought you might like the recipe?
It's very easy, really. 


Crush a packet of plain sweet biscuits/cookies (such as Ginger Nuts, Nice, McVitties or Graham crackers depending where you are in the world) to a breadcrumb consistency in a food processor.

Melt 1/3 cup of butter and mix through the biscuit crumbs.
Press the crumb mix into the base of a pie plate - oval, round or square, it doesn't matter.
Pop it in the fridge while you make the filling.

Pre-heat the oven to 180c (375f)


Beat together for 1 minute -
3 egg yolks (no whites)
1 400g can condensed milk
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice


Beat 3 egg whites until they are stiff and can hold their shape.
Gradually pour in 1/2 cup castor sugar, a spoonful at a time, whilst still beating.
When all the sugar has been incorporated into the egg white and the meringue is white and glossy, it's ready for the final step.


Remove the prepared biscuit base from the fridge.
Pour the filling over the biscuit base, then spread the meringue across the top.
Bake in the middle of the oven for about 6-8 minutes.
As soon as the meringue peaks show a golden brown colour it's time to remove your pie from the oven.

Leave to cool and set in the fridge for around 3-4 hours.

If you'd like to download this recipe and print or save you will find it HERE.


Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Spelt Bread...

Just before dawn, barefoot I stand on the kitchen floor and lean forward to take in the view of lush green palm trees through the window above our sink. It's a pose so natural to me. 
The kitchen sink is where I go to centre my homemaker heart most days, and if you'd like to follow along with my gentle domestic life on an almost daily basis head over here to my Elefantz blog. This year I'm celebrating...

But blog, Cooked Simply With Love, is about the food side of my life. 
Good food, cooked simply, with LOVE.

  I'm excited about sharing the food ideas and recipes I've been playing with in 2016, and I thought the best way to start this year was with a staple we all love, bread.

Hubby and I can't tolerate wheat in diet. He gets the runs, and I clog up like you wouldn't believe. 
For the longest time we thought it was a gluten intolerance as that's one possible side effect when you have Hashimotos (we both have it), but after experimenting with low gluten grains like rye and spelt we were able to pinpoint wheat as our nemesis.

Spelt is an ancient grain, a wheat relative before the time of genetically modified grain.
It 'spreads' or 'flows' more than wheat so needs to be baked in a tin to keep it growing 'up' and not so much 'out' as the yeast does it's work.

On the other hand, it makes excellent focaccia because  it spreads so well.

I've tried a few recipes since New Year and found an adaptation of Paul Hollywood's Spelt Bread to be the best.

 I made the dough in my breadmaker, left it to rise for an hour, then popped it out and kneaded for a few more minutes on the lightly floured kitchen bench before shaping for the bread tin.
An hour to rise and into the oven it went for 30 minutes. 
We live in the tropics so bread rises very fast here - in a cooler climate you can leave spelt bread to rise for 2 to 3 hours before baking.

I made this loaf last night and after it cooled I left the bread wrapped in a tea towel overnight before slicing in.

It cut like a dream.
We had some toasted for brekky today...

...with crunchy peanut butter, bananas, and local honey.

I don't like bananas on their own, but I love them served like this!

 Paul's recipe doesn't have any seeds or olive oil in the mix, but I like to add my own tweaks - and they worked a treat for a very tasty loaf.


In the breadmaker (or in a bowl if you're making your bread by hand) place in this order:

300ml of tepid water
30g butter
10g (2 teaspoons) instant yeast
10g (2 teaspoons) salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
500g spelt flour
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons flax seeds
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

 Use the 'dough' setting on your breadmaker, or knead by hand for 20 minutes as spelt requires more kneading than wheat.

After the first rise punch the dough down, knead for a minute or two, shape and place in the bread tin. 
Place the tin inside a large plastic bag, making sure the top of the bag won't touch the bread dough.
Leave to rise until doubled in size.

Set the oven to 200C (fan forced) or 220C for a regular oven.

Place a pan of hot water in the bottom of the oven a few minutes before you pop your bread in as this will steam the oven and give you a fabulous crust.

Dust the top of your risen bread dough with a little flour and use scissors to cut a few slashes over the top. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. 
Remove the bread from the tin and tap the bottom - it will sound hollow if it's cooked.
Leave to cool. 

Download this recipe HERE if you'd like to print and add to your recipes folder.

 Next time I'll share the recipe for our family favourite - Focacci!