Tag Archives: lime

BUTTERMILK HERB BISCUITS and PIMIENTO CHEESE

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Frustratingly, I only seem to really fall in love with dishes from restaurants that are a really long way from where I live. Although thinking about it, that’s probably a good thing, partly for my health and partly because it encourages me to work out my own versions of things, which I can then share with all of you.

This is something that I tried last time we went to Manhattan. I’d had American biscuits before but this way of eating them totally changed my opinion of them. Maybe it appeals to me because it’s like a savoury Southern version of a cream tea…

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Pimiento cheese

The caviar of the South, apparently. This is a kind of tangy cheese spread or pate and it’s surprisingly good. I’ve made mine a little healthier than the classic recipe, which uses mayonnaise where I’ve used Greek yoghurt. I’m not really sure how I feel about cheese and mayonnaise together…it seems a little too oily and unnecessary to me. The added benefit of using fat free Greek yoghurt is that it adds extra creaminess to the blend.

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Ingredients
serves 6

100g strong cheddar cheese
60g cream cheese or neufchatel
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
50g pimiento peppers (from a jar)
2 tbsp fat free Greek yoghurt

Grate the cheese and finely chop the peppers. Put all the ingredients into a food processor and whizz it all up until it is well blended and creamy. It’s as easy as that!

Buttermilk herb biscuits

Biscuits in America are pretty close to what we would call scones in the UK. Ironically their scones aren’t really the same as ours, they’re a bit dry, not as fluffy, inexplicably triangular and most worryingly, almost never served with clotted cream!
Here in the good ol’ USA biscuits get eaten as a side to your main course or for breakfast, normally with a peculiar kind of creamy sausage meat ‘gravy.’ Not really my cup of tea. This way of serving them, however, is right up my street. I ate them for brunch in New York and they certainly set me up for the day, I managed 15 miles of pavement pounding without complaining once!

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The biscuits themselves are light, fluffy and tender and the herbs really perk them up. The chilling stage to making these is very important. The fluffiness of biscuits comes partly from the steam that’s created when the butter melts in the mixture whilst they bake. Because of this it’s important to keep the dough cool.

Ingredients
makes 6

250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
80g butter (very cold, cut into small pieces)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs (any combination you like)
175ml buttermilk

Sift together the flour and baking powder and mix in the salt. Rub in the butter but leave the mixture looking fairly rubble-like. Put this mixture in the fridge for about 20 minutes. This will let the butter re-solidify a bit.
Pre-heat the oven to 230°c. Pop your baking tray in the oven to warm up too.
Once the butter and flour mixture has chilled you can mix through the herbs and then bring it all together to form a soft dough using the buttermilk.
Turn this dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat in into a disc, about 1-1 1/2 inches thick. Stamp out the biscuits with one swift tap, never twist the cutter when you’re making scones and American biscuits, you’ll ruin your chances of them rising properly.

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Once you’ve used up all the dough you can lay them out on the baking tray, it’s okay for them to touch. Brush the tops with a little more buttermilk and bake them for 15-18 minutes. Once cooked they should have puffed up and the tops should be turning golden. Leave them to cool a little on a wire rack, but these are best eaten whilst they’re still a little warm.

I served mine for brunch topped with pimento cheese, mashed avocado, jalapeño lime marmalade (https://colonialcravings.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/jalapeno-lime-marmalade/) and a little crispy bacon. There were no complaints!

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This is my favourite picture – it looks like Frank Sinatra might want some of Mr Colonial Cravings breakfast!

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JALAPENO LIME MARMALADE

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I’m a big fan of chili jams and jellies, more so than hot sauces (with the exception of chipotle, to which I am wholly addicted). I really like the touch of sweetness followed by the gentle warmth of the spice.
This one is great for summer, it’s so tart and tangy! It’s a really good condiment to use with fish, seafood and chicken and works well with Mexican food. There’ll be some more suggestions for what to pair it with in the next few weeks too…

Ingredients
makes 1 standard jar (about 450g)

6 limes
900ml water
2 tbsp cider vinegar
300g sugar
1 jalapeño pepper

Put a small saucer in the freezer.
Cut all the skin and pith away from the limes and remove the segments from their membranes. I appreciate that this is a bit of a faff but the first time I did this I made it the way that I sometimes make marmalade, by simply quartering and boiling the fruit. This made the end result too bitter for my tastes, I think this method gives better results.
Put the segments and any juice that may have escaped into a large saucepan. Halve the chili lengthways and finely slice it, seeds, membrane and all. Add this and the sugar to the pan and give it a stir. Mix in the vinegar and water and set the pan, uncovered over a moderate heat.
Bring the mixture to boiling point and then allow it to bubble away for 45 minutes to 1 hour. You can, very carefully, give it a stir every so often. By this time the volume should have reduced by about half and the colour should have turned slightly more golden.

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Test that it has reached setting point by dropping a teaspoon full onto the chilled saucer. Leave it for a minute and then push your finger through it. If it wrinkles then it’s reached setting point. If not then let it bubble for a few minutes more before testing again.
Pour the mixture into a warm, sterilised jar and seal.

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HEMINGWAY TART or mojito Key lime pie

This recipe is inspired by our road trip to Key West, where I had my first taste of proper Key lime pie.

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Obviously it would be wrong to visit any area of the Caribbean and not sample a rum cocktail or three. Ordinarily I’m a dark rum kind of girl but I do love a mojito, the mint it so refreshing, especially in the humidity of the tropics!

One of the key flavours of a mojito is lime so I thought that if I was going to have a go at making a Key lime pie I may as well put some rum and mint in there too, just for good measure.

It’s very quick to make but looks and tastes really impressive. If you aren’t a fan of biscuit crumb crusts then by all means use a short crust pastry case instead.

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I’ve christened this Hemingway tart partly because he had a house in Key West and partly because his reputation leads me to believe that he would have enjoyed a boozy tart!

Ingredients

base
175g digestive biscuits/graham crackers
50g butter

filling
400g condensed milk
60g full fat sour cream
2 tbsp good quality white rum (I used Flor de Cana 4 year old)
1 heaped tbsp finely chopped mint
4 tbsp lime juice (I didn’t use actual Key limes as they can be tricky to find in the UK)

lime zest and whipped cream to decorate

Start by pre-heating your oven to 180°c. Crush the biscuits to a fine crumb, I use a food processor but if you’re having a bad day there’s something to be said for sealing them in a plastic bag and going at them with a rolling-pin.

Melt the butter and mix it with the biscuit crumbs. Press this into a standard size pie dish using the back of a metal spoon. Bake this for 5 mins.

Whilst with crust bakes you can prepare the filling. Whisk together all of the ingredients except the lime juice. Make sure that the mint is evenly distributed throughout the mixture. At this point the filling will seem impossibly thin and runny and you will probably be cursing me, convinced that it will never set firm enough to slice.

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Remove the crust from the oven and set it aside for a few moments. Whisk the lime juice into the filling mixture and it should magically thicken to a wonderfully fudgy consistency. The joy of chemistry eh?

Pop the tart back in the oven for a further eight minutes. It shouldn’t colour at all, in fact it shouldn’t look any different when you take it out of the oven. The heat of the oven just gives the chemical reaction a little helping hand to ensure that the filling is fully set.

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Chill the tart completely before decorating with whipped cream and lime zest for extra tang.

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MIA PIZZA

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Remember how last year my basil plant went a little crazy? Well this year I’ve planted coriander in the same spot and that too has become a bit over-zealous. I wonder if I planted beans just there I’d end up with a giant on my deck.
This recipe is inspired by something similar that I ate in Victoria, BC may years ago but for some reason I have only just got around to recreating it. Like most things, homemade pizza is so much better than anything that you’ll buy in the supermarket, and provide that you have enough time for the dough to prove, it’s really not that much effort.
The toppings on this are quite unusual but they work really well together and make such a nice change from the more traditional options.

Ingredients
serves 2 (plus a bit leftover unless you’re really hungry)

Base
170g strong bread flour
30g whole wheat flour
3g fast acting yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
pinch salt
150g tepid water

Coriander pesto
15g toasted pine nuts
10g grated parmesan
1 clove garlic
big handful of fresh coriander, stalks and all
2 tbsp olive oil

Toppings
80g smoked mozzarella
1 small crisp granny smith apple
handful of pecans
handful sliced red onion
lime juice

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Start by making the dough for the base. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl and then gradually add in the water. You may not need all of it. Once you have a ball of sticky dough you can turn it out onto a work surface that you have coated in olive oil. Oil your hands too and knead the dough for a few minutes until it loses its stickiness and becomes soft, smooth and springy.
Wash and dry the bowl, lightly oil it and put the dough back in it. Cover this with oiled cling film or a clean damp tea towel and leave the dough somewhere warm to double in size.
Once the dough is well on its way to rising you can get your oven nice hot. Put it on whatever is its hottest setting, this will give you the best crust.
Make the coriander pesto by putting all the ingredients for it in a small food processor and whizzing to a smooth paste.
Prepare all of your other toppings now too, but leave the apple until last to reduce the chances of it turning brown.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and gently knead it for a minute or two. Stretch or roll the dough out and put in on a large upturned baking sheet.
Spread the coriander pesto over the surface and then scatter on all of your other toppings. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the crust and risen and is crispy and the cheese is starting to brown. Squeeze a little lime juice over the surface just before serving. So much better than boring old Pizza Hut!

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SPICY CRAB WONTONS

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Chinese new year got me thinking about dim-sum. As a general rule I’m not a big fan of Chinese food, my taste buds are firmly anchored in Southern Asia. Having said that though, I do love dim-sum, ever since we ate ‘proper’ dim-sum in Hong-Kong. Anything where you can experience so many tastes and textures in one meal is a winner as far as I’m concerned.
Since moving to America I have discovered something called crab Rangoon, crab and cream cheese deep-fried in wonton wrappers. Not in any way authentic but so good and quite obviously so bad too.
Because I love Thai food so much I added some curry paste to the filling and I also baked mine rather than frying them, in a (probably vain) attempt to make them a bit less bad for me.

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Make sure that you don’t let the wonton wrappers dry out, keep them under a damp tea towel, whilst you’re working. Don’t be tempted to overfill them either or they will only burst open in the oven.
You can fold them anyway that you like but I’ve tried to explain the way that I did it as well as I can. You can also add more curry paste if you like them a bit more spicy.

Ingredients
makes 24

24 wonton wrappers
100g cream cheese
100g white crab meat
1 tsp red or yellow curry Thai paste
1 tsp palm sugar
1 tsp dark soy sauce
zest of 1 lime
2 tsp chopped coriander
melted butter
Pre-heat the oven to 220°c.
Give the cream cheese a good stir to soften it up before blending in everything but the coriander and crab.
Carefully fold these through.

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One at a time, take a wonton wrapper, put one teaspoon of the filling in the middle off it. Moisten the edges of the wrapper with a finger dipped in water and fold the wrapper in half diagonally, firmly pressing the edges together to seal it.

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Moisten the corners and fold them across each other and give them a little pinch together.

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Brush both sides with melted butter and lay them out on a baking tray.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until they are nicely browned. I serve mine with a dipping sauce made from a 50/50 mix of soy and sweet chili sauces.

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THAI FISH-LESS CAKES

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Many many years ago I took my first trip to Thailand, travelling around the country for three weeks with a friend.

One of the best things we did was spending a day being introduced to the art of Thai cookery in Chang Mai. We started our education with a trip to the local markets to buy ingredients. However I missed out on large chunk of this when one of our fellow students fainted in the heat and I aided in their recovery by standing with their ankles propped up on my shoulder whilst they lay on a kindly stall holders empty table.
This isn’t actually one of the recipes that we made that day but I’ve adapted it from the fishcake recipe in the book that we took away with us. If you can get kaffir lime leaves then be sure to use them instead of the lime juice that I’ve used here. The juice tends to make the mixture a little loose so you have to use extra cornflour in the recipe which can give the cooked patties a slightly floury mouth-feel. Unfortunately I was unable to find kaffir lime leaves when I made this so I had to improvise. Annoyingly I tracked some down just a few days later!

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Ingredients

makes about 16

200g firm tofu
1 egg
1 spring onion
1 medium red chili (de-seeded)
1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tbsp palm sugar
pinch of shredded kaffir lime leaves or juice and zest of 1/2 a lime
sprig fresh coriander
1 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp (approx) cornflour

Lightly beat the egg with the curry paste, soy sauce and palm sugar.
Finely slice the spring onion and chop the chili and the coriander. Mix these and the lime (leaves or zest and juice) into the egg mixture. Add in the baking powder and them crumble in the tofu.
Fold it all together and then sprinkle in enough of the cornflour to bind the mixture together. Be careful not to be too liberal with the cornflour or, as I mentioned earlier, you’ll be able to taste it in the finished product.
Shape the mixture into little patties or drop spoons of it onto a tray or chopping board covered in clingfilm (to prevent staining.) Place these in the fridge to firm up for a couple of hours.
Fry in a little oil for a minute or two on each side until golden brown. Serve with your favourite Asian dipping sauce, mine is a mix of soy and sweet chili sauce that a lady at our local Korean supermarket told me to serve with tofu. Very tasty it is too.

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Note: If you aren’t of the veggie/vegan ilk then these can be made with firm white fish instead of tofu but you’ll need to cook them for a little longer.

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BASIL MOJITO

I’ve been making the most of the still wonderfully warm weather with evening drinks on our deck. Our rum stores are still amply stocked so mojitos seem to be the order of the day.  A particularly hot spell has left the mint looking a bit on the tired side however but the basil plant is still over-achieving. I believe that they’re from the same family so why not substitute one for the other. I also changed the lime juice to lemon juice because I thought something slightly less tart might work better with the sweet basil.

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Ingredients

Serves 1

5-6 fresh basil leaves (plus extra to garnish)

1/2 tsp sugar

50ml good quality golden or dark rum (I used Flor de Cana 4 year old)

1 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

splash of soda water

ice

Muddle together the basil and sugar until the leaves have broken down but they aren’t quite a pureed mush. Add plenty of ice along with the rum and lemon juice and stir well so that it is nicely chilled. Top up with as much or as little soda water as you like. Garnish with a few more basil leaves or some lemon wedges. Sit back and think of Cuba.

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