boozy cucumber, lime and chilli paletas

pop2

Well, it’s Friday. The first Friday in June, to be exact. By now you’d be aware that my confessed intention to post on a weekly basis has gone less-than-swimmingly over the past three weeks. My last post has taunted me proudly as my free time has dissolved into a mess of work overtime, fatigue and a frightening ocular migraine that consumed most of last Monday.

Yes, an ocular migraine. On a public holiday, when my regular General Practitioner was probably enjoying a WA Day barbecue. Who knew that migraines could be painless and cause temporary loss of vision? I thought I was having a stroke… most probably a TIA, or at the very least my retina was detaching (yes, I have a touch of hypochondria which appears to be familial; thanks Dad).

But a few hours and $135 later, I found out that I was mostly fine; just tired and moderately stressed. Sorry, body. I should take better care of you.

limes loki

Anyway, enough about the negatives of the past two weeks. There have been some gloriously shiny positives, from productive side-project coffee date meetings with Aaron (SO EXCITED) to healthy gym days and a giant Mexican feast held with this blogging crew from last year.

Oh, the feast we had. It’s probably fortuitous that it takes us between twelve and eighteen months to organise each catch-up, as we definitely don’t skimp on courses or calories (chocolate-mousse-avocado -ream-lime-curd-crumbled-brownie-candied-lime-and-chilli-chocolate-soil-layered dessert, anyone?). We did scale down slightly from our elaborate Spanish feast, but I’m still bringing takeaway boxes to the next one (which might be an Indian night; anyone have a spare tandoori oven?).

tequila

As per our previous posts, we’ve got a deliciously photo-heavy series of joint posts in the pipeline, full of recipe links and styling details. But for now? Here’s a tequila-soaked taster for you Northern Hemisphere people who are heading into summer’s warm embrace.

cukes

pop

Boozy Cucumber, Lime and Chilli Paletas

Makes 8

You will need: 8 x 3oz ice pop molds, 8 wooden popsicle sticks

  • 4 medium cucumbers, peeled, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2.5 tbsp caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp Tequila
  • chilli flakes, optional

cukesprepared

Place the chopped cucumbers into the bowl of a food processor. Process for 2 minutes or until the mixture resembles a fine pulp.

Strain the pulp through a fine sieve to extract all of the liquid (push down on the cucumber flesh with the back of your hand to ensure you get all of the juice).

cucumberjuice

Add the caster sugar and cayenne, then stir until all of the sugar is dissolved (you should no longer hear sugar granules scraping at the bottom of the bowl). Add the Tequila and stir thoroughly.

juice mix

Distribute the mixture between 8 clean paleta (popsicle) molds. Sprinkle in a few whole chilli flakes for decoration (optional). Carefully transfer into the freezer, ensuring the molds remain upright. Freeze for at least 1 hour before placing a wooden popsicle stick into the centre of each paleta (if you have an ice pop maker with a lid that holds the sticks in place, feel free to place the sticks in straight away).

Allow to freeze for at least 12 hours, or preferably overnight (the alcohol in these paletas significantly slows the freezing process. Don’t be tempted to unmold these paletas before they’ve had a good amount of freezing time, or you’ll be left with a cucumber and lime slushy).

To serve, run the paleta molds briefly under hot water. Firmly pull each paleta out by the wooden stick (yeah, I probably didn’t need to tell you that, but anyway…).

loki2

pork carnitas with lime and chilli guacamole

boardbest

There’s something about Summer that makes me crave Mexican food. As blistering days melt into hot, blackened evenings, my mind starts drifting towards cool guacamole, spiced brisket, fragrant coriander and salt-rimmed margaritas.

It’s an obsession that I share with my good friend Matt, who recently blogged about his Mexican New Year’s feast over at Inspired Food. Pork carnitas, home made tortilla chips, pineapple salsa and chunky guacamole… now, that’s my idea of Summer culinary heaven.

tomatoes

Over the past month, I’ve revisited Matt’s post more than once to drool over his carnita recipe. Despite cooking Mexican at least once per week, I’ve historically gravitated towards brisket, chicken and black beans rather than smoky, slow-cooked pork shoulder. Though I have made carnitas, they’ve never been to the specifics of Matt’s recipe.

Last Sunday, everything changed. I woke early, arriving at the market with carnitas in mind. Negotiating the aisles, I chose pork, garlic, onion and oregano alongside items for guacamole, esquites and salsa. I checked out, drove home and ascended three flights of stairs to our apartment.

I turned on the air conditioning and started unpacking each bag of groceries. Bag one, no oranges. Bag two, limes… but no oranges. Bag three? Darn it. No oranges.

I glanced at the window, my eyes narrowing in the glare of the blazing sun. Sweat dripped from my brow as I contemplated another insufferable dash to the local store. No oranges equals no pork carnitas; well, not according to Matt’s recipe. But out of desperation (and encroaching heat stroke) I decided to improvise.

panI rummaged around in the fridge, desperately unearthing lemons, limes and a bottle of The Cidery’s still apple cider. As pork goes naturally with apple, I decided to douse the shoulder in the cider whilst exchanging the oranges for a lemon. In the back of my mind, I hoped that the sweetness of the cider would balance the lemon’s extra acidity. I had no idea if it would work.

After removing the rind from the pork, I decided to score the flesh before making small incisions to house slivers of peeled garlic. Much like my technique for slow-roasted lamb, the idea was for the garlic to slowly infuse during the cooking process, melting down into sweet, sticky goodness. As an afterthought, I grilled the crackle alongside the meat, crumbling it into pieces to add to the carnitas upon assembly.

brookfarmlimechilli

After recently sampling Brookfarm’s fragrant lime and chilli infused macadamia oil, I decided to substitute it for vegetable-based oils in both my pork carnita and guacamole recipes.

In my mind, the gentle heat, nuttiness and tang of the infused oil would add a beautiful layer of complexity to both dishes. The golden hue of the oil also looked spectacular against the creamy guacamole and vibrant splashes of paprika.

slightfuzz

Six and a half hours later, five boys and one girl sat around a table to eat succulent, slow-roasted pork, crispy crackling, tomatillo salsa, esquites, pickled cabbage and creamy guacamole. Piles of warm tortillas were claimed with eager hands from their nest of aluminium foil.

After sampling the meat, I’m pleased to report that the Brookfarm oil certainly added an extra layer of smoky complexity. Each bite was soft and delicious, contrasting beautifully against the pop of crackling, sweet kernels of corn, acidic cabbage and cool guacamole. In absence of required oranges, the proxy lemon and cider worked effectively to add both sweetness and tang to the meat. I was well pleased (and so were the boys, judging from their seconds… and thirds).

So; despite yet another failure in my history of following recipes, I have to admit that this was a beautiful improvised success. But next time, I’m stockpiling oranges. For Matt’s carnita recipe, of course.

meat2

Pork Carnitas

Serves 8-10

  • 2kg boneless pork shoulder, rind removed
  • 80ml Brookfarm lime and chilli infused macadamia oil
  • 1 red onion, roughly diced
  • 4 garlic gloves, peeled and halved
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp ancho chilli powder
  • zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 500ml (2 cups) dry apple cider
  • 200ml water
  • 1 jalapeno chilli, halved (seeds left in)
  • sea salt flakes
  • freshly cracked black pepper

In a small bowl, combine the cumin, coriander, paprika, oregano and ancho chilli powder. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, then mix well.

Place the pork into a shallow dish that will fit in your refrigerator. Cut a few shallow slashes into the surface of the meat, then rub in the spice mix (ensure that you massage the spices well into each slash and crevice). Using a sharp knife, make eight 1-cm incisions over the surface of the meat; stuff half a garlic clove into each.

porkrub

Cover and allow to marinate for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees f). Place the pork into a large pan or ovenproof dish, then add in the lemon zest and juice, cider, water, sliced jalapeno chilli and diced onion (add a few extra garlic cloves if you like). Drizzle over the Brookfarm lime and chilli oil, then grind over some more salt and pepper.

pan2Cover tightly with foil and place into the preheated oven; immediately reduce the oven temperature to 150 degrees C (300 degrees f).

Cook the pork for 5 1/2 hours or until the meat falls apart when poked with a fork. Uncover and cook for another 30-45 minutes, basting with the cooking liquid until the sauce reduces and the pork starts to brown.

Remove from the oven, place the pork onto a heat-proof plate and cover it with foil. Drain the sauce into a small pan and reduce it over medium heat until thickened. Shred the pork with a fork and pour over the reduced sauce. Mix well and add a little more lemon, salt or pepper according to taste.

board2

Serve the pork on a large platter, accompanied by warm tortillas, lime wedges, guacamole (recipe to follow), salsa, esquites (or blackened corn salad), sour cream and extra cheese if desired.

guacamole

Lime and Chilli Guacamole

  • 2 medium ripe avocadoes, peeled, stones removed
  • 1 tbsp of chopped ripe tomato (you can leave the seeds in)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped Spanish onion
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp toasted cumin seeds, ground
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp Brookfarm lime and chilli infused macadamia oil, plus extra to drizzle
  • sea salt
  • white pepper
  • smoked paprika, to serve
  • coriander leaves, to serve

Coarsely mash the avocadoes onto a chopping board (or in a bowl, if you prefer). Squeeze over the lime juice and season well with salt and pepper. Make a well in the centre, then add in the chopped onion, tomato, macadamia oil, lime zest, garlic and cumin.

guacconstruction

Mix well, taste and add a little more salt and pepper or lime juice if required. Serve in a small bowl, drizzled with some extra macadamia oil, garnished with coriander and/or dusted with smoked paprika.

boardg

Disclaimer: Brookfarm supplied me with a sample of their lime and chilli infused macadamia oil for the purpose of this recipe post. However, I was not compensated and as always, all opinions are my own.

blackened corn salad with ancho chile and lime

uprightcl

It’s a beautiful spring day today, gently warm and dappled with colour. The breeze drifts softly over sun-drenched trees, heady with sweet rose and eucalyptus. Bird calls are echoing outside my window, intermingled with the urban hum of tyres against blackened tar. I love days like this. The argent hues of spring bring the promise of summer; days at the beach, floaty sundresses, balmy evenings in the garden eating ice cream with sticky fingers.

corn

As a diasporic Australian, I’ve always had strong associations with summer. The crackle of scorched grass underfoot, frozen spearmint milk, iceberg lettuce and the whir of an oscillating fan; all of these images mean ‘summer’ to my mind.

As I’ve grown older, Mexican food has also become one of my summer associations. It’s something to do with the colour, textures, spice and one-handed portability; perfect for nights by the pool drinking ice-cold Sol with lemon.

bowl avo

Though I’ve always been a fan of crisp quesadillas, guacamole and cheesy tacos, it’s only been over the past three years that I’ve discovered the delicious freshness of ‘real’ Mexican food such as spiced tamales, mole poblano and lime-drenched elotes or ‘seasoned corn on the cob’.

My first bite of fresh, blackened corn slathered in Mexican cream, crumbled cotija, chilli flakes, lime and garlic was heavenly. I’ve been eating it in various forms ever since.

husks jalapenos

One of my favourite ways of eating Mexican corn is in salad form, namely esquites or ‘Mexican street corn salad’. It contains all of the main ingredients of elotes but removes the need to gnaw at a sticky corn cob (less cheese on face and more in mouth is a win, in my opinion).

As the months have passed, my version of esquites has evolved to contain more herbs and less sticky, cheesy ingredients. Of course, the cotija remains, but the mayonnaise and Mexican cream have been replaced with creamy avocado and fruity olive oil.

cherrytoms cherrytoms2

The end result is a light, fresh corn salad that retains its lime-drenched goodness within a less cloying package. The fresh corn, colourful peppers, soft herbs and creamy avocado pay homage to my Mexican Corn Salad of one year ago whilst being ‘amped up’ by pickled jalapenos, powdered ancho chile and black pepper.

I’ve piled this corn salad into a soft tortilla with grilled fish and sour cream for an easy hand-held dinner. It’s also been a regular on the barbecue rotation alongside grilled asado, chimichurri and creamy potato salad. But in the late afternoons when I’m sitting alone in my kitchen, I just eat it from the bowl with a spoon. It’s that good.

plateface

Blackened Corn Salad with Ancho Chile and Lime

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

  • 4 ears corn, freshly washed and husked
  • 1/2 medium green pepper
  • 1/2 medium red pepper
  • 2 whole avocadoes
  • 5 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 200g mixed cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • a handful of mint*, washed and chopped finely
  • a handful of coriander*, washed and chopped finely
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp ancho chile powder
  • 2 tsp pickled jalapenos, drained and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated cotija, crumbled feta or Parmesan cheese
  • sea salt
  • cracked black pepper

*you will need equivalent of 1/4 cup chopped herbs, mix and match as desired

Using a pair of heat-proof tongs, carefully rotate your corn cobs over a naked flame (gas cook top or portable gas hob) until hot and slightly blackened. When cool enough to handle, hold each cob over a medium-sized bowl and use a sharp knife to remove the kernels.

corncook cuttingkernels

Whist still warm, add in the juice and zest of one lime, salt and pepper, the ancho chile powder and a good slug of olive oil. Mix well and set aside.

peppersplit veg

De-seed your halved peppers and chop each into a rough dice (about 1x1cm). Peel your avocadoes and remove the stones. Cut each into a similar size dice to the peppers, then squeeze over the remaining lime juice to prevent browning. Add the peppers and avocado to the corn mix with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well, taste and season as necessary.

fin mixed

This salad is perfect in burritos or tacos, served alongside fish or chicken. It’s also great as part of a barbecue spread, accompanied by good bread, guacamole, chipotle sauce and copious amounts of char-grilled meat.

haute clup peppers

coconut, banana and lime cake with lime syrup and candied carambola

cakesideazIf you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’d be well acquainted with the fact that I’m regularly ‘gifted’ with fresh garden produce by friends, family and acquaintances. Most of the time I view this phenomenon as a huge blessing; for example, I haven’t had to buy fresh limes for over three months.

However, last week’s bounty included four fresh carambola (star fruit), alongside six limes and a whole hand of overripe bananas (the latter were from an overly neglected fruit bowl). Being the headstrong, waste-hating cook that I am, I was determined to use the lot before heading to Margaret River for the weekend.

dropstar2So, early on Saturday morning, I awoke with one task in mind: to create a one-pan, palatable cake incorporating all of the above. As Aaron and I were planning to visit his family on the way to Margaret River, I decided to bake an organic, coconut-based cake for their predominantly healthy taste buds. Below, you’ll find the pleasing end result.

cocbanmontThis cake is dense, fragrant and lime-drenched, gently sweet with coconut sugar and soft, mild banana. I’ve used both coconut and plain flour for a super-moist interior, gently offset by the sweet, tropical candied carambola.

As the cake was topped, dusted and packed for transportation within 30 minutes of leaving the oven, I had little time to take beautiful photographs. It was served immediately in its warm, delicate form, with syrup still dripping from the knife.

Rest assured, there will definitely be a ‘version two’ of this tropical beauty. When that occasion arises, I will take some interior ‘slice’ shots and upload them for your perusal. Until then, please accept my apology… your imagination will have to suffice.

cakesideCoconut, Banana and Lime Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
  • 1 cup coconut flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar (substitute brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup (270mL) coconut cream
  • 3 large, very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup (180g) Nuttelex (substitute Earth Balance or unsalted butter), melted
  • 2 limes, zest and juice (equivalent to 1/2 cup juice)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees f). Grease and line a round 22cm springform tin, then set aside.

Combine dry ingredients and lime zest in a large bowl.

floursugarmontIn a separate bowl, combine your mashed banana, butter, coconut cream, lime juice and lightly beaten eggs. Add your wet ingredients to the dry mixture, then mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula until the mixture is smooth and no patches of flour remain.

batterPour into the lined cake tin. Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is slightly risen, golden and firm to the touch. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out with only a few moist crumbs attached.

Set aside to cool slightly whilst you make the syrup.

zestgrnLime Syrup

Makes about 1/2 cup

  • 1/2 cup white caster sugar
  • zest and juice of 2-3 limes (equivalent to 1/2 cup juice)

Combine sugar and lime juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the mixture thickens (about 5-10 minutes).

limemontRemove from the heat and add in the lime zest. Allow to steep for five minutes.

Whilst the cake is still warm, poke holes all over it with a wooden skewer. Slowly pour over the still-warm lime syrup in an even drizzle, allowing time for the liquid to penetrate.

soaktopSet aside to soak whilst you make your candied carambola (place a plate underneath your tin to catch any escaping syrup; pour it back over the cake as required).

crossec1Candied Carambola*

  • 2 firm carambola (star fruit)
  • 1 cup white caster sugar
  • 1 cup cold water

Wash your carambola, then slice off the ‘stalk end’ (the end that has an indent and a black spot. The other end should be pointy). Run your knife down the edge of each ‘rib’ to remove any discoloured or fibrous skin (see picture below, left). Slice the carambola into 0.5cm even slices, then remove any seeds with the tip of your knife.

sfmontAdd the sugar and water into a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then simmer gently until all of the sugar dissolves. Add in the sliced carambola, then allow to simmer for around 20 minutes, or until the liquid reduced and the fruit becomes translucent and glossy. Remove from the heat.

sfpotmontLine a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Using a fork, carefully remove each piece of candied carambola, allowing excess syrup to drip back into the saucepan. Lay each ‘star’ onto the greaseproof paper to dry (this may take a couple of hours; if you’ve just cooked your cake you can place the tray into the still-warm oven [heat turned off] to accelerate the process).

sfcandiedmontWhen your carambola is ready, it should be slightly dry and sticky to the touch. To finish your cake, dust it gently with icing sugar then lay over your carambola ‘stars’ in a circular pattern, from the centre to the outer rim. If desired, add some extra lime zest or mint to serve.sfsimplesyrup

Notes:

  • This cake is beautiful served at room temperature with a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt or double cream.
  • For a vegan version, subtract the eggs and add in two flax eggs (1 egg = 1 tbsp ground flaxseed simmered in 3 tbsp water) or use an egg replacer such as Ener-G gluten-free egg replacer. Bear in mind that your finished cake may not rise as successfully, leading to a denser result.
  • *Keep the remaining carambola syrup for cocktails… I ended up with about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of residual syrup. It has a fresh, slightly sweet melon flavour and would be wonderful with mint, vodka (or gin), soda water and some extra sliced carambola (with a squeeze of lime if desired).
  • This cake can be frozen, wrapped or stored in an airtight container, for up to two months. I’d recommend storing it after soaking, without the candied carambola (the freezing and thawing process will remove some of its chewy texture).

closeuptexture

indian lime pickle

limes2Let me start off by saying that this recipe is well-intentioned, but… uh… a little non-authentic. Being of British birth and Australian upbringing, I am much better versed in making orange marmalade than lime pickle, though I have eaten enough of the latter to sink a small dinghy.

A few years ago, I dabbled in the creation of my own mango chutney, which was delicious but a little Westernised. This lime pickle is similar, if not the same; inspired by the cuisine that’s close to my heart but not naturally embedded in my brain.

gingersugarI decided to make lime pickle about three days ago, after being gifted with a bag of fresh limes by my lovely colleague, Joyce. One of the interesting things about being a food blogger is that people everywhere seem to ‘gift’ you with their superfluous produce, whether it be from their own gardens (Great! So far I’ve been given a lot of citrus, herbs, a couple of knobbly red peppers and some beautiful home-grown squash) or from their refrigerators (Not so good. As in, “…oh, I’ve got this half-finished bag of two-week-old slightly-decaying spinach left in my vegetable crisper. I’m not going to use it, would you like it for your blog?”).  As for the limes, well… as per usual, I excitedly carried them back to my office and squirreled them into my desk drawer.

When the end of the day arrived, I took my little bag of glistening green orbs and carried them home. Then I stared at them for about ten minutes before searching in my cupboard for some mustard seeds.

spicemont

From the archive of my brain, most lime pickles seem to contain four main ingredients: fresh limes (uh, yep), mustard seeds (brown or black seem to be used interchangeably), garlic and spices. I’ve tasted sickly sweet ones and acidic, hot varieties that burn at the back of your throat. Though all are great with a range of curries, naan bread and buckets of saffron rice, I do prefer the less sweet, more spicy versions with a lingering acidity and softened, tender chunks of lime peel.

jarstringThe version that I made today is based on a recipe by Alison Adams. It’s relatively simple, but requires a bit of time for the lime peel to cure in salt prior to cooking. The recipe itself contains the ingredients I listed above with additional fresh ginger, chilli, brown sugar and pungent, nutty mustard seed oil.

In a diversion from the recipe, I boiled the mixture down for about an hour (see, I told you I’m used to making marmalade) until it was glossy, fragrant and speckled with blackened mustard seeds. The lime peel still has resistance to the bite but melts upon chewing to release a fragrant, complex mouthful of slightly tart, spicy goodness. So good.

bowlmontThis pickle improves upon canning so if you can (no pun intended), leave it in a cool place in your house for a week to develop the flavours.

It tastes delicious with traditional (or non-traditional) Indian curries, rice and breads… or, if you’re a rule-breaker like me, slather it onto a piece of crusty French bread to enjoy with some great hard cheese.

picklelike

Indian Lime Pickle

Makes about 2 cups/500mL

  • 8 whole, fresh unwaxed limes
  • 1-2 tbsp salt (start with a little and add extra to ensure that your limes are thoroughly covered during the curing process)
  • 2 tbsp mustard seed oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds (I used yellow)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2cm-piece fresh young ginger, scraped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp chilli powder, to taste
  • 250ml (1 cup) water
  • 125g (3/4 cup, lightly packed) brown sugar
  • 2 tbs white vinegar

Prepare your limes: Cut each lime into 8 wedges. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Mix, cover and set aside in a cool, dry place for 2 days, stirring occasionally.

saltmont

To cook: Heat the mustard seed oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook without stirring until the seeds start to pop (be careful here, as they jump). Finely chop or crush your ginger and garlic. Add these to the pot with the cumin, coriander and chilli powder. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until aromatic and lightly browned.

mustardmontAdd the water, sugar, vinegar and your salted lime mixture, including the juices that have collected in the bottom of the bowl (note: if you find the collected juice to be too salty, discard it and rinse your limes in some fresh water before tipping them into the pan. Taste as you go!).

Stir well, and bring to the boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45-60 minutes or until the mixture thickens and the lime peels soften considerably. The flesh will break down slightly and create a beautifully aromatic, glossy liquid. Taste and add more chilli, sugar or salt as required.

picklelsSterilise two 250-300mL jars. Whilst your pickle is still hot, fill the jars and seal them immediately. Invert for 5 minutes to ensure the lids seal properly. Leave the jars for 1 week before eating to develop the flavours.

limespoonNotes:

  • Choose unwaxed, heavy limes that are bright green and fragrant. These have the most juice and will add the most flavour to your pickle.
  • Mustard seed oil is a beautifully pungent, nutty and rich oil that tastes amazing when used to cook Indian food. Though this oil doesn’t rank as highly as coconut, olive or pure walnut oil in terms of nutritional content, it’s low in saturated fat and it does contain some heart healthy Omega 3.
  • Label, date and store this pickle in a cool place for up to 6 months. Once opened, it needs to be refrigerated but will keep fresh for about 2 months under normal conditions. I mean, if you don’t have a curry fiend living in your house. Or if you haven’t discovered how amazing this pickle tastes with cheese. Mm, cheese.

watermelon mint tequila pops with lime and sea salt

poplikeyIt’s been a few days since my last post; seemingly enough time for the weather to change from warmth and sunshine to grey skies and rain. For the first time in over three months, I pulled my crinkled jeans out from underneath a pile of t-shirts and swapped black Havaianas for mint-green Chucks to stop my toes from getting wet.  Sad, really. Well… for those of us who love the long nights and blue skies of Summer. 

popstickSo… what to post about, as I sit here on the couch wrapped in a blanket? Well, somewhat inappropriately, I felt like making today’s post about one of my favourite Summer treats: icy-poles (as we Australians call them; also known as ice pops or ice lollies for those in the Northern Hemisphere). As my mother will verify, cold weather means absolutely nothing to me when it comes to the consumption of iced treats. I’ve eaten Deep South ice-cream at -6 degrees C (-21 degrees f) in a beanie and gloves on New Zealand’s South Island, and it was totally worth it. Not only because Deep South makes some of the creamiest, most delicious ice-cream I’ve ever tasted, but also (wait for it) when you eat ice-cream at minus temperatures it doesn’t melt.

pile

Now, that might seem like an obvious statement to some of you, particularly if you live in a cold climate. But for me, it was an absolute epiphany. I enjoyed every last bite of that darn delicious ice-cream whilst staring up at the ridiculously beautiful Fox Glacier. I crunched the last remnants of cone and not a single drop of liquid ended up on my thermal gloves. Awesome, in every sense of the word.

Anyway, that’s enough reminiscing for one night. Back to the recipe at hand: sweet watermelon pops spiked with aromatic mint, sour lime and Tequila. I initially found this recipe over at Cindy’s blog, Hungry Girl por Vida, when I was searching for a boozy treat to serve at Aaron’s Mexican-themed birthday party last Summer (only two months ago, but… Summer is gone. Me sad). I soured the recipe up a bit with extra lime, then served the frozen pops after tacos, followed by shots of Jose Cuervo Reposado, salt and lime wedges.

teqmont

The pops were good. Very good… sweet, refreshing, tart and cold. But you know what? As I’ve been typing up this recipe, I had another epiphany (rolling them out tonight, people). Why not serve the actual ice pops with typical Tequila accompaniments: salt and lime wedges? So, wrapped up in my blanket, I tried the combination tonight with a Tequila shot. So good. The extra lime juice immediately freezes to become a sour, aromatic layer around the sweet ice pop, whilst the sea salt flakes embed themselves into the lime… you get little crunchy bursts of saltiness that pop with each bite.

saltteqmont

I’d definitely recommend this recipe for a lick of sweet, fragrant Summertime, regardless of the time of year. I’m still sucking on my popsicle stick as I type; my cold reddened fingers lingering with frozen moments just-passed. Maybe Summer will stay just a few moments longer. Just maybe.

pileofpops

Watermelon Mint Tequila Pops with Lime and Sea Salt

Makes roughly 12 pops (depending upon how large your molds are)

  • 1/4 cup (60mL) water
  • 1/4 cup (55g) white caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint, torn coarsely
  • 4 cups watermelon, cubed
  • juice of 3 limes
  • 1/3 cup Tequila (blanco or aged reposado, I used the latter as it has a more mellow flavour)
  • optional: flaked sea salt and extra wedges of lime, to serve

Combine the water, sugar and mint in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow to boil, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. When there are no further sugar granules in the mixture, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside, allowing the mint to steep in the sugar syrup for a minimum of 30 minutes (I left mine for 1 hour, which I’d recommend if you can spare the time). Strain your mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl or jar, pressing down on the mint leaves to remove as much flavour as possible. Set aside.

meloncut

Now for your watermelon. In a blender or food processor, puree the watermelon in batches. Add in your lime juice, then strain through a sieve to remove any large chunks of watermelon or stray seeds. Add in the Tequila and mint syrup, stirring well to ensure that everything is well distributed. Taste, then add in some extra lime or Tequila as desired.

melonlime

Divide your mixture between as many popsicle molds as you like (I made one massive one in a takeaway container, then mashed it up to make granita. Divine!). Freeze the mixture in the popsicle molds for about 30 minutes, then add in the pop sticks (push half of the stick into the centre of your ice pop… if it doesn’t stand up straight, wait a little longer then try again). Continue to freeze for 24 hours (or at the very least, 12, if you can’t wait) before eating.

servsug

To make these even more adult-friendly, serve the pops with extra wedges of lime and a little bowl of sea salt. Squeeze, dip, then slurp… like a deliciously icy Tequila shot. Yum.

*This post is in no way affiliated with Jose Cuervo or any other brand of Tequila. I just bought the bottle above because 1) I’ve tried it before, and it’s delicious; 2) it was free of slippery little plump agave worms. Opinions stated are entirely my own.

popscontainer

Notes:

  • To make these pops child-friendly, omit one lime and all of the Tequila. Your pops will probably freeze faster this way, as the alcohol (40% or 80 proof) in Tequila actually requires a temperature of about -34.44 degrees C (-30 degrees f) to freeze. Quite impractical, really… but delicious enough for me not to care.
  • If you’re not keen on cane sugar, I imagine that agave syrup would work wonderfully in this recipe (as it echoes the blue agave in the Tequila). You can also try 1/4 tsp stevia (powdered or liquid) as a substitute but you may have problems getting your mint syrup to the right consistency. Your finished pops will also be slightly ‘icier’ due to a higher ratio of water to sugar.
  • If you’ve ever wondered how to efficiently eat a watermelon, watch this video by Tom Willett. Your life will never be the same.
  • These pops will keep in the freezer for weeks. I’ve got a couple left from my husband’s birthday (in February) in the freezer and they taste just as gorgeous as ever (yes, I ate two whilst writing this blog post).

lime and burnt sugar meringue tart with coconut pastry

tartheader

Over the past few years, Tahitian limes have become a staple item in my shopping basket, mostly for use in salads (such as Mexican Corn Salad), cocktails (it’s great friends with gin), marinades and Mexican food. I absolutely love them… they’re both acidic and sweet, refreshing and adaptable, whilst their distinct floral aroma reminds me of Summer every time.

The only frustrating thing about limes is that their market price seems to vary greatly from week to week in Australia. In recent months, they’ve been up to $1.50 PER LIME at the supermarket… it’s, uh… definitely affected my cocktail consumption. So, you can imagine my delight when I was unexpectedly gifted with an entire bag of limes by a friend at work the other day. I almost danced in delight, holding the crinkling plastic shopping bag with two hands as I squirreled it into my office drawer.

limebox

When I got home, I counted my bounty whilst adding in three supermarket limes from the crisper compartment of my refrigerator. The total? Twenty two beautiful, shining orbs, stalks attached, some gently blushed with hints of ripened gold. They were perfect, like little juicy emeralds sitting on my kitchen table. A growing sense of excitement rose like a butterfly, fluttering in my stomach… what to do with twenty two limes? It was too late to start cooking there and then, so the limes were returned to their shopping bag. I placed them in the crisper compartment next to some friendly heirloom tomatoes, kale and beetroots… then I went to bed. With lime on the brain.

limes

So, let’s cut to today. I’ve been sitting in my kitchen surrounded by a week’s worth of lime-related productivity. There’s lime curd, chilli-lime pickle, lime simple syrup for cocktails, Mexican salsa and some frozen watermelon, tequila, mint and lime pops. I also candied some lime peel in sugar syrup for cake decorating; it’s been sitting in a sugary little pile on my bench top, waiting to adorn a spectacular creation. These little candied treats eventually inspired me to create a lime curd tart, topped with a cloud of Italian meringue and sugared strips of crunchy lime zest.

curdcrust

In homage to the end of Summer, I also decided to experiment with a recipe for coconut oil pastry. After reading several recipes including this one from Baking Bites, I ended up with a pallid, soft mess of a pastry shell that was (unfortunately) only fit for the bin. Take two: my own version of butter shortcrust pastry with coconut sugar and additional coconut oil. This pastry shell worked perfectly; buttery, short and golden with a soft, sweet hint of coconut. Unfortunately, both versions of coconut pastry completely solidified whilst ‘resting’ in the refrigerator, so if you’re going to bake the recipe as written, I’d encourage you to maintain an attitude of patient persistence whilst kneading. It’ll all be worth it in the end (or alternatively, if you want to avoid the solid coconut experience, just increase the butter to 125g and omit the coconut oil altogether). The burnt sugar meringue can also be a touch challenging, so if you’d like to increase the simplicity of this recipe I’d recommend only reducing your sugar syrup to the ‘soft ball’ stage, 6-8 minutes or 115 degrees C (240 degrees f). I’ve also included more tips for making Italian meringue under ‘notes’.

Happy cooking (oh, and now that I’ve scared you regarding the level of difficulty… this tart really isn’t so hard if you break it down into several steps. And once you taste it, I guarantee that the work will be all worthwhile).

pieside2

Lime and Burnt Sugar Meringue Tart with Coconut Pastry

Makes 1 x 23cm tart

This tart includes four components: coconut shortcrust pastry case, lime curd cream filling, burnt sugar Italian meringue and candied lime peel. I’ve broken down each element into an individual ‘recipe’ with instructions for assembly to follow.

crust

1. Coconut shortcrust pastry:

  • 1 1/2 cups (250g) plain flour
  • 100g butter, chilled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin coconut oil or coconut butter (I use Loving Earth)
  • 1/3 cup (40g) organic coconut sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp chilled water

Place the flour and coconut sugar into a large bowl. Rub in the cubed butter and coconut oil with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add in the egg yolk and chilled water, then knead until the mixture comes together.

coconutmont

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the mixture is smooth. Mold into a flattened ball, cover in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 3o minutes prior to using.

Now for the rolling part: lay a piece of baking parchment over your bench, then sprinkle it lightly with flour. Turn out your dough, and start kneading it again until it reaches a pliable consistency (let me tell you from the start; this is not a fun pastry to work with. The coconut oil makes it go rock hard if you leave it too long in the refrigerator so don’t think you’ve done anything wrong. You’ll just need to knead it consistently until it softens again).

crustmont

Once your dough softens, roll it out with a floured rolling pin into a large disc, 0.5cm thick. Drape it over your rolling pin then transfer it across to a 23cm loose-bottomed tart pan. Press your pastry into the edges of the pan and make sure that the surface is covered evenly (don’t worry if your pastry fractures, just pick up the torn pieces and press it all back together inside your tart pan). Prick the surface evenly with the tines of a fork, then place your pastry case into the refrigerator to chill for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C (375 degrees f). Remove your chilled tart case from the refrigerator and line it with foil or baking parchment. Fill the lined case with rice, ceramic pie weights or dried beans. Now it’s time for blind baking: place your weighted tart case into the oven and bake it for about 20 minutes.

After the time has elapsed, remove the case from the oven and take out the weights, foil and/or baking paper. Use a fork to prick and flatten any bubbles that may have formed in the pastry, then return the case to the oven at a reduced temperature of 180 degrees C (350 degrees f).  Bake for another 20 minutes, or until the tart shell is crisp and light golden brown.

Let the case cool completely before adding your filling.

 

curdjarlike

2. Lime curd filling:

  • 1 cup (130g) white caster sugar
  • 60g organic unsalted butter
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup fresh Tahitian lime juice (I used about six medium limes, or to taste)
  • 1 – 2 tbsp lime zest (to taste)
  • 2 whole free-range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup heavy double cream (or clotted cream, if you can find it)

Place a glass bowl over a pot of gently boiling water to form a double boiler. Add the sugar, butter, lime juice and lime zest into the bowl, then stir the mixture over medium heat until the butter melts.

limeymont

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before adding your eggs in a gradual, steady stream. Whisk continuously until all of your eggs are combined with the lime mixture, then return the bowl over your pot of hot water and keep stirring until your mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon (about 20 minutes).

When your curd is ready, place it into a clean bowl or jug then refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes to cool and thicken prior to whipping it with the heavy cream until smooth and glossy. Refrigerate your lime cream filling for 2 hours prior to filling your pastry case.

meringuetop2

3. Italian burnt sugar meringue:
  • 3 large free-range egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (130g) white caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
Place the egg whites into a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand-mixer. Beat until soft peaks form, then set aside.
meringuemont
Place the white caster sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup of water into a medium saucepan over low heat. Allow the sugar to dissolve without stirring, then increase the heat to medium, or until the mixture reaches a slow boil. Continue to boil, brushing down the sides of your pan with a wet pastry brush occasionally (to prevent crystallisation) for about 10 minutes or until spots of toffee colour appear. Remove your pan from the heat at this point and swirl the mixture until it darkens to a shade of light toffee.
meringuebowl
Now’s the difficult part. Take your hot pan of burnt sugar syrup, and pour it slowly down the side of the mixing bowl whilst continuing to beat your egg whites (this is much easier if you have a stand mixer). Continue to beat until the meringue is firm, glossy and cooled (about 4-5 minutes).
Refrigerate your mixture until you’re ready to assemble your tart.
zestraw

4. Candied lime peel:

Always exercise caution when working with hot sugar syrup

  • 1 lime
  • 1 1/4 cups (160g) white caster sugar
  • extra caster sugar or powdered sugar, to coat
limeestmont
Using a sharp knife, carefully remove the peel (or ‘rind’) from your lime in 1-cm strips. Use a sharp knife to remove any white pith, then cut the peel into strips (about 2mm wide).
Blanch your lime peel in freshly boiled water for one minute. Drain, then refresh the peel immediately in an ice-water bath. Repeat process, then drain and set aside.
candzestmont
Heat the sugar with 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the sugar dissolves and the mixture starts to bubble, add in the drained lime peel. Allow to bubble and reduce for 5 minutes, stirring continuously, until the syrup becomes viscous and your peel appears translucent and softened.
boil
Using a slotted spoon, place the peel onto a wire rack to drain. Separate the strands and toss them in caster sugar or powdered sugar to coat. You can store this candied peel in an airtight container for up to three days.
candiedmont
To assemble:
Place your tart shell onto a serving platter. Fill it with a smooth, even layer of your lime cream filling. Take your Italian meringue and heap it into the centre of the tart, leaving a 2cm/1 inch border around the edge. Use a knife to sculpt the surface decoratively, then if desired, you can either brown it in the oven for 3-5 minutes at 220 degrees C (430 degrees f) or blowtorch the surface until toasted. Top with candied lime peel to serve.
tartlikey

Notes:

  • This page from Pastry Chef Online contains a great tutorial on making Italian meringue. It also outlines the importance of safety precautions when working with candied sugar.
  • Despite my complaints, all dough needs to rest in the refrigerator before rolling to allow the gluten in the dough to relax. Despite the difficulties of coconut oil in dough, do not skip this ‘resting’ process or you’ll end up with a tough pie crust.
  • You can save your lime-infused blanching liquid and sugar syrup to make a simple syrup for cocktails. Just add them together into a medium saucepan with the juice of three limes, then reduce the lot down into a syrupy consistency. Store in a sterilised glass jar… delicious with vodka or gin, soda water, muddled blackberries, a wedge of fresh lime and loads of mint.

pieside

Extra facts about Coconut Oil:

If you, like me, are new to using coconut oil in cooking, you might be interested in reading a little more about its stated health benefits here. I wouldn’t suggest that you start guzzling it by the litre (read this contrasting article by Kathleen Zelman, Registered Dietitian), however in moderation it contains many heart-friendly short and medium chain fatty acids, primarily lauric (44%) and myristic (16.8%). It also has a very high smoke point which means it’s an ideal oil for creating crispy, delicious foods with a delicate hint of fragrant coconut. Warning: coconut oil is contraindicated for those with hypertension (high blood pressure). Consult your doctor if you have any further questions about the suitability of coconut oil for your diet.

lemon and sweet lime curd

Last week, a friend of mine gave me a bag filled with yellow citrus. The small golden orbs were a little unusual, puzzling me with the fragrance of a lemon whilst resembling more of an overripe lime. After a bit of discussion I was told that they were actually Palestinian sweet limes, which are native to both India & Mexico. They’re naturally lower in acid than their bright-green cousins and typically display a blushed yellow hue.

So, whats a cook to do when given a glut of sweet limes? Well, at first, I ate one. Juicy and sweet by nature, this variety of lime tastes a bit like a cross between a lime and an orange whilst having the scent of a lemon. It’s both unusual and delicious.

This is a mingle of both Tahitian & Palestinian sweet limes but the latter are the yellowish fruit (both central & on the right)

Well, after one week I’m now pleased to say that I’ve used sweet limes in a variety of ways, from dressing a range of salads to making a gin cocktail featuring herbs and my favourite spirit, Hendrick‘s dry gin (if you haven’t tried it, get some!! It’s got notes of cucumber, rose & juniper all wrapped up in syrupy gin deliciousness. Definitely recommended). I’ve also used to make two varieties of curd: 1) lemon with both sweet and Tahitian limes and 2) ruby red grapefruit and sweet lime. Both are delicious, but the lemon variety was sweetly satisfying with a Tahitian lime kick.

The recipe below is for the lemon & sweet lime curd, but I’d encourage you to try the grapefruit variation by swapping the lemon & Tahitian lime for 2 ruby red grapefruit (zest & juice). You’ll also need to reduce the sugar a little to compensate for the reduced amount of acid, and whilst I won’t give you an exact amount I’ll encourage you to start at 120g then add & taste as you go. If you can’t get hold of sweet limes, feel free to use the base recipe and substitute any citrus fruit you desire. They’ll all be delicious, and perfect with everything from pavlova to toast and tea.

Lemon & Sweet Lime Curd

Makes roughly 1 litre (4 metric cups)

  • 440g (2 cups) sugar
  • 250g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 5-6 egg yolks
  • zest & juice of 1 lemon*
  • zest & juice of 5 sweet limes*
  • zest & juice of 2 Tahitian limes*

Method:

Wash and dry your citrus fruit, then finely grate the rind.  Juice fruit and reserve the equivalent of 250mls (1 cup) of juice. You can either strain your juice at this stage, or just remove the pips whilst reserving any fruit pulp (I like the latter option, probably because I just like rustic home-cooked food!).

Whisk your eggs, egg yolks & sugar until smooth, then place your pan over a low heat. Add the juice, rind, sugar & butter and keep whisking until the mixture thickens.  You’re looking for it to be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon… for me it takes around 20 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to boil or the eggs will curdle & you’ll be left with a congealed, eggy mess!

Once your mixture has thickened, take it off the heat & allow it to cool a little. Pour it into your pre-prepared hot sterilised jars (you will need four 250ml/1 cup jars, see ‘notes’). Seal and invert jars for 2 minutes before turning them upright and allowing them to cool.

Notes:

*substitute with your choice of citrus fruit. You will need juice equivalent to 250mls (1 cup). Make sure you adjust levels of sugar according to the acidity of your chosen fruit.

Preparing your Jars: Taste has a great tutorial on how to sterilise jars for your jams, chutneys & preserves. See link here.

Sealed curd will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. You can also put your curd into an airtight, sealed container and freeze it for up to three months. Whisk again upon defrosting.

Cashew Kitchen

vibrant food. quiet soul. wild at heart.

Brooklyn Homemaker

modern classic recipes, story telling, and a little bit of history. Oh yeah, and schnauzers.

better than a bought one

as homemade should be

Chompchomp

Perth Food Blog | Restaurant Reviews | Food & Travel Blog | Gluten Free

The Veggy Side Of Me

Deliciousy Green...