Feeling lemony

I went to Abu Dhabi this month…

And I came back with dried lemons.

That would be those golf ball-sized items atop the chicken.

They looked much the same even before cooking. The blackness makes them a little alarming (even for someone who eats blachan), so I googled round beforehand for instructions and found some excellent commentary here, with further links:

http://westofpersia.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/dried-limes-or-dried-lemons/

I also hunted round for some Middle Eastern-type chicken recipes, and in the end concocted my own with green olives and the dried lemons. You’re meant to stab each lemon three or four times to puncture it, then drop it into your stew to infuse.

I rubbed the chicken all over with cumin seed, turmeric and two kinds of paprika – sweet and half-sharp. The next day, I cooked it up with onions, garlic, chopped up olives, raisins, and said lemons, also adding some nice bay leaves – another souvenir from the trip.

It turned out quite nice, especially with this fatoush (green salad tossed with parsley and some stale baguette, cubed and brushed with extra-virgin olive oil) and some grilled eggplant.

It wasn’t as lemony as I was expecting, maybe because it didn’t stew for that long – we were in a hurry (story of my life). I’ll give a go again another day, letting it bubble away longer next time.

My husband was a bit late home tonight, and I’d saved him the leftovers. But someone else got in first.

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Brandy or whisky in fruitcake?

This may seem a little nutty, so long after Christmas.

But, it was an interesting enough experiment that I want to mention the results here. (And I was too shattered to blog this before Christmas. Or, indeed, New Year. Or to take any pictures of it before it was eaten.)

I think brandy is traditional in fruitcakes, but we rarely have it in the house. However we always seem to have several partly-consumed bottles of whisky around the place. So we went with this walnut and whisky Christmas cake recipe from the small and useful delicious.Baking book, edited by Mitzie Wilson. This is my annotated version here.  Continue reading

Aunty Kuppu’s fabulous fruitcake

Here’s another fabulous recipe from our late Aunty Kuppu (she of Christmas pickle fame).

The original recipe contained, shockingly, 28 eggs. Aunty Kuppu said it would be fine to halve the recipe, since the original produced four large cakes. Still, 28 ÷ 4 = 7, which seems a lot for one cake. Anyway, I went with it, baking this in a large roasting tin.

Don’t be alarmed by the length of the recipe. It has lots of ingredients, but isn’t that difficult. If you get everything ready to marinate overnight, the next day is easy – you just need a strong arm to stir the stodgy, almost solid mix.  Continue reading

My shortbread research

Like many things in my life, this too began in church.

Ten days before Christmas, I was on the ladies’ production line cranking out these babies to go with mince pies and mulled wine after carols by candlelight. My job was to press a fork on the dough to make those little grooves you see in the picture.

I sampled a few too – they were great.

What I should have done right away is asked someone for the recipe. But, grooving away, I didn’t think of it at the time.

Christmas at home, for my husband, has always involved a large tin of his mum’s homemade shortbread. Actually, it’s the first thing he’s looked for, every time we’ve spent Christmas at their place. After producing a few hundred pieces that morning, I thought that making some at home wouldn’t be too hard.  Continue reading