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Cover: A dish for all seasons

Recipes with lemons

13Jun 12

Spanish Noodles with King Prawns and Clams (Fideua)

FideuaClams are best of season in January and February in the UK, but you may be lucky and find some in the first half of March too.  I love this combination of seafood and noodles, a little like a noodle paella I guess.  The garlic and the fish stock bring wonderful flavours to the dish. 

Spanish noodles with king prawns and clams is a slightly anglicised variation on a dish from the Spanish region of Valencia, where sun and seafood are abundant.  Be sure that your clams are fresh, properly prepared and checked before you cook them – if in doubt, ask at the fish counter.  You can also substitute the clams for mussels if you prefer.

What you need:

  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g very fine, short noodles (Fideua)
  • 400g king prawns, peeled
  • 350g clams in their shells, cleaned and prepared with any that are open, or come open with a light tap, discarded
  • 6 spring onions, or 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • Generous pinch of dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • ½ L fish stock
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Twist of lemon

What to do:

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and on a medium heat, fry the onions for a few minutes.
  2. Add the prawns and the garlic and cook for 5-10 minutes until the onions are really soft.
  3. Add the noodles and the dried parsley to the pan and continue to fry for a few minutes before pouring in the stock, seasoning well with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the clams and bring the stock up to the boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes or until the stock has been absorbed into the dish. Add the fresh parsley, (saving a little for the garnish) stirring it in on the heat for another minute before tasting, and if necessary, adding a little more seasoning.  Add more stock to the dish as you cook if necessary to prevent it from becoming too dry.  Scan the finished dish for any clams that have not opened during cooking, and discard them.
  5. Squeeze over the lemon, serve into dishes and top with the fresh parsley garnish.
  6. Enjoy with a glass of Spanish white wine and baguette rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil.

Ready in less than 30 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

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02Jun 12

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

Pick up some rhubarb and have a go at making this Rhubarb and Ginger Jam, which you are bound to love spread thickly on your cherry and walnut hot cross buns or morning toast, dolloped on top of a blob of Cornish vanilla ice-cream, or even served as a sweet sauce with roast pork and chicken.


What you need:

  • 1.5kg jam sugar (it is important to buy the right sugar for the added pectin it contains)
  • 1.5kg trimmed and prepared rhubarb (so buy a little extra weight for the trimming wastage)
  • The juice and the zest of 1 ½ lemons
  • 6cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 75g crystallised ginger, chopped into little pieces
  • 2 tsp ground ginger

What to do:

  1. Give each stem of rhubarb a really good wash in cold running water.  Chop it into 2.5cm slices.  In a large bowl, mix the chopped rhubarb with the lemon zest and juice, ground and grated ginger, crystallised ginger and the jam sugar, coating all of the rhubarb in the mix.  Cover the mixture loosely with clingfilm and leave it for around 2-3 hours so that the sugar absorbs into the juices of the rhubarb.  It helps to stir the mix every so often during this resting time.
  2. Take a few clean little plates and put them (empty) into the freezer – this is to bring their temperature to sub-zero.  I know it sounds curious, but it’s all about testing the setting point of the jam a little later. Trust me on this one.
  3. Pour the rhubarb mixture into a preserving pan.  Over a medium heat, begin to cook the contents, stirring until the sugar is totally dissolved.  Bring the mix up to the boil and cook on a fairly high temperature for 15 minutes until the mixture has reached its setting point and the rhubarb is so soft, it starts falling apart.
  4. To test whether the conserve has reached setting point, remove one of the small plates from the freezer and drip a teaspoon of the rhubarb mixture onto the plate.  Let it sit for 35 seconds before gently pressing it with your fingertip. If the jam wrinkles, the setting point has been reached.  If it doesn’t, it’s not yet ready, so keep cooking, and try again in a few minutes.
  5. Once set, remove the conserve from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes before spooning it into your sterilised jam jars.  Seal the jars straight away, and label with the date after the jars have cooled right down. The jam will be good for six months or so.

20 minutes to prepare – 20 minutes to cook, plus soaking time
Makes: 6 x 450g jars

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15Apr 12

Minty Jersey Royals with Chives and Lemon Butter

Minty Jersey Royals with Chives and Herby ButterJersey Royal Potatoes come into season in April.  They are chock-full of fibre and contain vitamin C, amongst other nutrients.  They are delicious cooked very simply in well-salted water to bring out their natural flavour, but today I’m going to share this minty Jersey Royals with chives and lemon recipe with you, which is just one of the ways of enjoying this distinctive seasonal gem.

Look out for potatoes with a papery-thin, flaky skin and try to buy them unwashed, washing them yourself quite carefully so as not to remove all of the skin, which has a lovely flavour and also contains many nutrientsJersey Royal new potatoes are best eaten within a few days of buying them.  Serve this herby salad dish warm or cold, at your spring barbeques, or to accompany grilled meat and fish like this grilled trout with tarragon and lemon butter.  And why not make some home-made lemonade to go with it?  Fresh tastes of spring!

What you need:

  • 1kg Jersey Royal new potatoes, washed gently to remove any dirt and left whole
  • 50g butter
  • 3 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped, plus a couple of sprigs for the cooking water
  • 2 tbsp fresh chives, cut into 1cm strands
  • The juice of 2 fresh lemons
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 generous pinches of Malden sea salt flakes
  • Fresh ground black pepper to season
  • A little olive oil

What to do:

  1. Put the washed, whole Jersey Royals in a large heavy-based saucepan.  Put the large potatoes at the bottom of the pan, and the smaller ones on the top.
  2. Bring a kettle of water to the boil and pour the water over the potatoes, almost covering them.
  3. Season really well with a few pinches of sea salt, add a couple of mint sprigs and a swirl of olive oil before covering the pan with a well-fit lid and simmering the potatoes gently for around 20 minutes.
  4. Whilst the potatoes are cooking, take a mixing bowl, put the butter in, and then sprinkle over with all of the herbs, the lemon juice and zest.  Stir the ingredients together and leave to one side.
  5. Once the potatoes are cooked (check one or two for tenderness and firmness with a sharp knife – and try not to overcook them), drain them, mix in the herby butter to the pan, then season again with sea salt and grind over some black pepper before serving.

20 minutes to prepare, 20 minutes to cook

Makes: 4-6 servings

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11Apr 12

Home-made Lemonade

Home-made lemonadeHome-made lemonade is incredible stuff.  It’s so very tasty and is simply bursting with vitamin C.  Great for kids and grown-ups alike!  I make jug loads of it throughout the spring and summer, usually to enjoy with friends when they come round to share good food with us on the terrace, but also for us to enjoy as a family. (If you prefer a more adult drink, try this refreshing mint julep.)

You can keep it covered in a jug in the fridge for a couple of days, but it’s so refreshing, especially if you drink it really cold with plenty of ice, that you’ll find it won’t last that long.  My mum used to make this regularly for us as kids.  We loved it, and still do!  This recipe makes fairly sweet lemonade, so if you prefer it a little more tart, vary the sugar accordingly.  If once you’ve made it, you decide that it’s too sweet for your palate, you can simply add more lemon juice to correct the balance.


What you need:

  • 250g sugar
  • 250ml water (to make the syrup)
  • 250ml juice of fresh lemons (4-8 lemons)
  • 1 lemon to slice for serving
  • 700 – 950ml cold water (for diluting)
  • Plenty of ice for serving
  • Sprig of mint to garnish

What to do:

  1. First we are going to make simple sugar syrup.  Put the sugar in a large heavy-based saucepan, and add the 250ml of water.  Gently heat the contents of the pan until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  2. Whilst you are dissolving the sugar into the water, squeeze the juice of around 4-6 lemons to make up the 250ml that you need.  Lemons can vary enormously in the amount of fresh juice that you can squeeze out of them.  You may need more lemons if you are squeezing them manually, or less if you are using a mechanical juicer.
  3. Pour the sugar syrup mixture into a large jug and stir in the freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Add the cold diluting water to taste (between 700ml and 950ml).
  4. Pop the jug in the fridge until you are ready to serve the lemonade with plenty of ice, a sliced lemon and the sprig of mint, or serve it immediately in the same way.

15 minutes to prepare

Makes 6 servings

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03Apr 12

Easter Hot Cross Buns Part 2

This is where we continue with the creation of the dough.  We will bake the Easter hot cross buns and decorate them with the classic piped white cross shape.  You will need to visit part 1 of this recipe for the ingredients and instructions on the first part of the dough creation.

What you need:

For the topping

  • A little vegetable oil for greasing
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup for the glaze, hot
  • Cinnamon powder for dusting

What to do:

  1. Clean and re-flour the work surface, and divide the risen dough into 12 even parts.  Roll each piece into a round, then with the palms of your hands, flatten each ball a little into a bun shape.  Re-cover the buns with the tea towel for another 10 minutes.
  2. Grease a baking tray with a little butter and move the buns to the tray.  Wrap parchment paper around the tray and buns and put it inside a large plastic bag (a clean shopping bag, for example), tying the bag tightly to seal out the air.  Once again, leave the buns in the airing cupboard for another 45 minutes to rise some more.
  3. Take a deep breath, and preheat the oven to 240ºC.
  4. Whilst the buns do their final rise, make the cross topping.  Put the plain flour into a mixing bowl and stir to a smooth paste with 2 tbsp cold water.
  5. Once the buns have risen, remove them from the bag and paper, put the cross topping into a piping bag and draw a cross shape with the mixture onto each bun.
  6. Bake the buns on the tray in the oven for 8-12 minutes, until they turn a pale golden brown.  Remove them and brush them over with hot golden syrup, then dust with cinnamon powder.  Leave them to cool on a wire rack or enjoy them fresh and warm.  You deserve it!

More than 2 hours to prepare – 10-20 minutes to cook
Makes: 12 hot cross buns

Note: For an extra twist on the classic recipe, try these cherry and walnut hot cross buns.

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03Apr 12

Easter Hot Cross Buns Part 1

Hot Cross Buns -1This is quite a time-consuming little project, making your own traditional Easter Hot Cross Buns. But believe me, if you can make the time, it’s worth it to eat them fresh from the oven; lavished with butter, or topped with a thick layer of seasonal rhubarb and ginger jam.  It’s also a great idea for something to do with the kids during the Easter holidays, if you find yourselves stuck in on a rainy day. (Try this especially kid-friendly hot cross bun recipe.)  I’ve split this recipe into 2 parts.  Visit part 2 for instructions on finalising the dough, baking and decorating.

What you need:

For the buns

  • 630g strong white flour
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g unsalted butter, use a tiny bit for greasing the baking tray
  • 90g caster sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 ½ tsp yeast, fast-acting
  • 275ml milk, slightly warmed to tepid
  • 1 medium egg
  • 130g mixed dried fruit

What to do:

To start the process of making the dough

  1. To make the buns, sieve the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon and salt over a large mixing bowl.  Peel the lemon with a zest peeler and leave to one side.  Add the butter to the flour, rubbing it into the mix with the tips of your fingers.  Create a well shape in the middle of the mixture. Next, add the sugar, yeast and the lemon zest.
  2. Beat the egg together with the tepid milk and add that to the well.  Mix everything together to create a soft and pliable dough.  Gently combine the dried fruit into the mixture.
  3. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and knead the dough onto it gently and lightly for about 4-6 minutes, or until the dough becomes elastic and smooth.  Shape it into a ball.
  4. Warm a plastic or ceramic mixing bowl in the microwave for a few seconds, grease it with butter, place the dough ball inside, cover it lightly with a clean tea towel, and leave it in the airing cupboard or somewhere warm to rise for one hour.
  5. On your floured work surface, knead the dough again, but roughly this time, for a few minutes – to knock-out some of the air and return it to the shape it was before you left it to rise.  Shape it back into a ball, pop it back into the bowl, cover it again and leave it for another half an hour to re-rise.

 continued in part 2

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