Tuesday, 21 May 2013

In My Kitchen In May

Joining in with Celia's In My Kitchen series here, in my kitchen, in May, have been:

A huge number of eggs again. Pic very similar to that in my last "In My Kitchen" post back in March but I am afraid I love these bowls of eggs with the odd soft bantam feather among them.

The bantams have gone into overdrive over the last three months and I have been having trouble keeping up. So a lot of my cooking has been using their output: poached eggs on toast; omelettes; ice cream; cheesecake; tarte au citron (the tarte au citron, pictured below has won the prize so far of using the most eggs in one go, twelve bantam eggs went into this in total - ten whole eggs in the filling and two yolks in the pastry! I know, I know, not supposed to be good for you eating too many eggs, but this was a huge tart, eaten in small(ish!) slices!)

I have also made several jars of passionfruit curd. Homemade curd, of any kind, I think, is worth every slow minute of stirring even though it takes quite a long time to thicken properly. I usually make lemon or orange curd but when passionfruit are not too expensive, this is probably my favourite. Fabulous piled on scones; delectable in a sponge cake; sublime swirled into whipped cream and topped with mango or raspberries (or both) on a pavlova.

There has also been some experimenting with some recipes from Salt, Sugar And Smoke by Diana Henry which I got for Christmas but hadn't really explored properly, until recently:

Middle Eastern labneh cheese, made from homemade wholemilk yoghurt, drained overnight in a sieve lined with muslin, and then shaped and rolled in chopped fresh herbs, from the garden - mint, oregano, rosemary, thyme and chives all of which are now burgeoning and ready for picking.

The coated balls of soft cheese are then submerged in jars of olive oil.

Haven't tasted it yet because it needs a few days for the flavours to mature but it's looking good so far, I must say. Going to crank up the sourdough starter, currently sleeping in the fridge, and make a sourdough loaf to go with it, as per Diana Henry's recommendation.

Rhubarb, rose and cardamom jam from the same book.

I don't like rhubarb much as a general rule - I know I ought to somehow but I don't - it's just too sharp and too tannic. But the picture of this jam, in Salt, Sugar and Smoke, was just too alluring not to try and as the rhubarb patch outside the back door has been accusing me every time I go out there for not harvesting it, I thought I would give it a go. It's a revelation. The cardamom and rosewater take off all the unpleasant acidity and lend the finished jam a wonderful fragrance and exoticism. It's beautifully softly set too and slides easily atop plain, homemade yoghurt or chilled rice pudding (as in my pic below) to make an unexpectedly entrancing sweet finish to a meal.

Rice pudding, like rhubarb, isn't up there in my normal list of favourite puddings, certainly not served hot, but baked in a slow oven for a couple of hours, with a split vanilla pod and then chilled and served in small bowls, with a spoonful of this jam, which is really more of a French-style "confiture", slipped on top, it's a grown-up contender as a pudding that leaves its nursery cousin far behind. Think of it as "crème au riz" rather than "rice pudding", even if you just make it with milk and no cream - helps the perception no end, if you have bad memories of school rice pudding, and, as we all know, perception plays no small part in these things!

My pride and joy in the kitchen this month has been the first slender pickings from my juvenile asparagus crowns - steamed and eaten alone in all their solitary glory, enhanced only by a swift swirl of extra-virgin olive oil and some black pepper.

Other day to day offerings have included homemade malt loaf - basically an ordinary half white / half wholemeal flour loaf with a couple of generous handfuls of sultanas thrown in and with several, dark and viscous, spoonfuls of extract of malt added.

Making this always makes me think of Winnie-the-Pooh and the story "In Which Tigger Comes To The Forest And Has Breakfast" in which the bouncy and hungry Tigger does the rounds of Pooh and his friends in search of sustenance. Finding neither Pooh's honey nor the condensed milk Pooh spots in Kanga's larder, nor Piglet's "haycorns" nor Eeyore's thistles make much of an appealing breakfast (apart from the honey and condensed milk, who can blame him, quite honestly?!) he finally decides that extract of malt, is pretty much made for his purpose, even though it is disliked intensely by baby Roo, who is given it after meals as "Strengthening Medicine"! I am not sure I would give you a thank you for extract of malt neat on a spoon, (unlike my passionfruit curd, just because it is so delicious!) but as an ingredient in bread, extract of malt is great and, Tigger aside, this loaf toasts beautifully and keeps all week, which makes for quick and easy breakfasts when we are against the clock for school, as we usually are in the mornings.

Have a look at Celia's lovely blog here for peeks in other May kitchens.

E x


  1. The curd looks gorgeous and WHAT a beautiful photo of asparagus!

  2. Dear E
    Beautiful, sumptuous photos. I am feeling rather peckish now, and continuing the Winnie the Pooh theme, I think it might be time for a little smackerel (or should that be snackerel?) of something...
    Best wishes

  3. Wonderful photo's that passion fruit crd looks amazingly good.
    Clare x

  4. Cripes! You have cranked up the output in the kitchen! It all looks divine, especially the curd. I am inspired to have another go at sourdough after reading this post. Not to be confused with soda bread, which Oliver refuses to eat based on the fact it apparently smells like old ladies knickers. How he can even state this as a comparison is a touch worrying.

  5. Dear E - I'm sitting in our bookshop and your post made me soooo hungry! I'm definitely a rhubarb crumble kind of girl so you can always pass your rhubarb to me! The labneh cheese in the olive oil looks scrummy and the malt bread would be a definite hit in our house! Just a shame I'm hopeless in the kitchen....hey ho. xxx

  6. wow, please can I come and eat at your house?
    I want to eat everything here, home made cheese and jam and passionfruit curd all sound so amazing
    I too have been very excited about new fresh asparagus- yum!

  7. That food looks delicious! I am currently having my kitchen renovated and I am unable to cook anything. I'm still undecided as to which of the ovens and ranges to choose. Do you have any recommendations?

  8. you make me want to prepare jams and pickles, it really is all so delicious.

  9. Mmmm everything looks so yummy. How do you manage to stay so slim with all those yummy homemade treats!!

    My daddy used to give my brother and I a spoonful of malt before bed every night when we were children. We loved it. Special memories.

    Helen xx

  10. A veritable online hamper-full of foodie scrumptiousness, leaving me with extreme guilt about my poor performance in the kitchen! I felt quite pleased with myself this week because I'd found half and hour to make rock buns - felt I was doing the 'good mummy' thing - but not any more! In all seriousness though, I admire your evident skill with homemade and homegrown foods and I'm quite inspired by the passionfruit curd - I've only made lemon curd before so I might have a go at that. I have to admit that I LOVE rhubarb - I've even made rhubarb flavoured vodka in the past - so on that point we must agree to differ. Love Judy.

  11. It all looks too yummy. Where did you find your passion fruit curd recipe? I have never made a curd, lemon or otherwise, but will google a recipe unless you have a gem that is as superb as what your picture shows.

    1. Do try making your own curd - it's not difficult but it does take time to get the right consistency. Quite a bit longer than most recipes state. I use a variation on Nigella Lawson's recipe for my passionfruit curd ie 12 passionfruit (very important they are ripe so wait until they are nice and wrinkly in your fruit bowl!), 8 bantam eggs (or 4 large hens' eggs), 6 oz caster sugar (superfine in the US?) and 4oz unsalted butter cubed. Halve the passionfruit and scrape the juicy contents into a food processor. Whizz briefly to loosen the seeds. Sieve the juice carefully into a bowl and add the sugar and eggs. Whisk. Add the cubed butter and place bowl over simmering pan of water and stir gently until good and thick. Might take half an hour or even longer but it does happen! Worth every single minute when you taste it! Store in sterilised jars in the fridge. It keeps for a week or two in the fridge but rarely needs to! Won't keep long term though as it's not a proper preserve in that sense. Enjoy! E x

    2. You made it sound easy, but I definitely will give it a go. Superfine sugar? Hmmm....maybe that is what we always use, but I will look for superfine at the store. Passionfruit is not easily available, but we have a new gourmet food store in our burg now, so they might have them. I will copy out your directions and make it; who knows, that is a blog post in itself!

      Thank you for answering in good detail, Elizabeth.

  12. Mmm Good things in your kitchen as ever. I like the idea of the labneh cheese and if it tastes as good as it looks then it's sure to be a winner. I couldn't decide whether to buy Salt, Sugar and Smoke, as it had variable reviews, but maybe it should go on my wishlist.
    The asparagus season is so short that I never tire of cutting and eating it and like you I find the simplest way is often the best. Ours seems to be on a go slow at the moment but that's probably because it's confused by this autumnal weather we've had lately. Ax

  13. You really ought to make your own cookbook, using your own photographs! Everything looks so delicious.....I hope your family is appreciative:) My kitchen output this month has been so nominal. I did make strawberry/rhubarb pie yesterday, which is really the main way I've used rhubarb. It is rather expensive and hard to get here, I think because I'm too far south.

  14. Goodness things are looking delicious (not to mention photogenic) in your kitchen!

  15. Wow, all sounds and looks delicious. I made rhubarb and ginger jam last year, I think rhubarb,rose and cardamom will be this years concoction, if I can find a recipe. I'm also going to have a go at curd too, I think I'll start with lemon. Yum! Very inspiring.

  16. Oh, so many wonderful things here! I have never made lemon curd before but I love eating it. That rhubarb jam sounds very good. And as someone who loves hot rice pudding (but not the skin, eurgh!) I wasn't sure about eating it cold, but the idea of chilled "creme au riz" with a fruit compote - well that does sound quite tempting. x

  17. Yum! and Yum again! Lots of delicious delights here and much inspiration. We have an abundance of eggs too so may well try the curd recipe. Thanks for sharing. Helen

  18. Oh, how I envy your eggs, Elizabeth! Our girls are getting older now, so we have very few eggs (so few in fact that I've actually had to BUY a box for the first time in over three years). There is nothing quite as glorious as freshly laid eggs, with the possible exception of homegrown asparagus! Do you eat them together? I like to dip our asparagus dipped in soft-boiled egg! :) And your passionfruit curd looks sublime - I'm lazy and make mine in the microwave! Thank you so much for sharing your kitchen with us! x

  19. I am so going to make labner cheese when my herbs are ready this summer! I also have BIG plans for the six passion fruit vines I'm growing up a sunny wall......passion fruit curd here I come!


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