Very occasionally, I wonder if Nigel Slater and I are actually the same person. He is certainly my favourite writer of cookery books. His 'Kitchen Diaries' are just as readable as a good novel, detailing his thoughts as he cooks his way through the year, feasting of the best of the seasons' offerings. He talks so much sense. Open any page at random and I find myself nodding along with him, in total understanding. Take this, for example on the randomly opened page 100: 'I stir-fry the leaves with mushrooms. The result is a clean and fresh little vegetable dish. No rice, I can't be bothered'. Oh I know how he feels. How often have I whipped together an impromptu stir-fry to find that cooking rice just seems like too much trouble.
I hope he won't mind the direct quote. I'm assuming he won't, seeing as I'm being so complimentary about his glorious prose and suggesting (or should that be insisting?) that anyone who doesn't own this book, go out and buy it. Or, easier still, click here and buy it. In any case, he won't mind, as he and I are practically the same person...
Take this gorgeously creamy, lemony little dessert, for example. In his introductory spiel, he says that he generally favours the kind of pudding that involves a great big bowl in the middle of the table that everyone can just dive straight into (reminding me of a Nigella comment about how she generally loathes 'portion control'), but that he finds a 'certain elegance' in a dessert served in pretty individual dishes. I agree and upon reading this recipe for lemon amaretti cream pots I knew it would be a hit after the slow-roasted lamb that I served up on Sunday. Better still, I gave me a good nudge to dust off the empty jars in my cupboard and whip up some wonderful home-made lemon curd...
I've been planning to fill my pots for a few weeks, having read about a great event being run by Pixie at You say Tomato... and Rosie at Rosie bakes a 'peace' of cake. They are challenging food bloggers to make preserves, chutneys, jams or curds and post about them. Really, I've been planning to make something a little more interesting than lemon curd and hopefully, I'll still get around to it. But once I spotted this recipe, I knew I had to make some. Furthermore, I thought this lemon curd recipe would be a good one to share as it is perfect for preserving novices. It really is the simplest thing in the world to make - you just throw the ingredients in the pan and keep stirring until it thickens.
For those nervous about the paraphernalia that goes with preserving, do start with a simple curd as you don't need any special equipment. Old jam jars are perfect. Wax disks and cellophane disks to seal over the top are optional really, but easy to pick up in any kitchen shop. Still not convinced? Just read the recipe and wallow in its simplicity. Really not convinced? Believe me when I tell you that this is so totally superior to any shop-bought version that you may never go back. It was so delicious that I ate so much on the spot, straight from the saucepan, I almost made myself sick! Don't do as I did, tie pretty ribbons on your jars and give a couple away - they make great gifts.
Here is the recipe for the lemon curd, afterwards, you'll find the recipe for the creamy lemon pots.
The easiest lemon curd ever
Original recipe courtesy of 'Leith's Cookery Bible'
Makes around 3 jars
2 large lemons
8oz caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1. Wash jars in hot soapy water and rinse with hot water (or wash on hot dishwasher setting). Pop in oven on lowest heat to dry out.
2. Grate zest of lemons - just the zest, no nasty bitter white pith!
3. Squeeze the juice.
4. Place all ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat and stir continuously until mixture is thick and coats the back of the spoon. At this point remove from the heat.
5. Pour into the warmed jars, seal immediately. Once cool, label and keep in fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Nigel Slater's lemon amaretti creams, from The Kitchen Diaries
284ml carton double cream
250g natural yoghurt
280g really good lemon curd (preferably homemade)
100g amaretti biscuits
1. Take a large bowl and whisk the cream until it starts to thicken into soft, billowy peaks. Fold in the yoghurt and the lemon curd with a large metal spoon.
2. Bash the amaretti biscuits into small pieces (pop them in a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin). Fold them into the lovely lemony, creamy mixture.
3. Scrape the mixture into individual serving dishes or glasses; the prettier the better. Cover with clingfilm and chill for at least 2 hours for the flavours to mingle.
4. Serve them with little crisp biscuits of some kind or another. These orange poppyseed ones would go quite well.
So, this is my (first) entry for Pixie and Rosie's 'Putting Up' event. If you have a taste for tangy curds, then do check out the blood orange curd that I made earlier in the year too.