The Incredible Lemon Pie from Big Momma Cucina Popolare

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Lemon meringue tart (pie)

Per 6 amici

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Chilling time: overnight
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredienti
For the pastry (pie dough)
90 g/3 and 1/4 oz (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
20 g/ 3/4 oz (scant 3 and 1/2 tablespoons) ground almonds (almond meal)
50 g/1 and 3/4 oz (generous 1/3 cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar
2 large (US extra large) eggs
150 g/5 oz (1 and 1/4 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the lemon custard
1 leaf (sheet) gelatine
3 unwaxed lemons
3 eggs
70 g/2 and 1/2 oz (1/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
140 g/5 oz (1 and 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
For the Italian meringue
230 g/8 oz (scant 1 and 1/4 cups) caster (superfine) sugar
2 tablespoons water
juice of 1 lemon
4 egg whites

Come fare

Make the pastry. In a bowl, soften the butter with a spatula. In a mixer with a paddle (flat beater) attachment, beat the softened butter, ground almonds (almond meal) and icing (confectioners’) sugar until smooth. Then add the eggs, one at a time, while beating. Incorporate the flour and salt. Mix the pastry dough until crumbly. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm (plastic wrap) and rest overnight in the refrigerator.

Make the lemon custard. Soften the gelatine in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Zest two of the lemons and squeeze all three. In a bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Combine the lemon juice, sugar and butter in a pan and bring to the boil. Gradually add the eggs, incorporating with a whisk. Cook over a low heat until the mixture comes to a gentle boil.

Pour the mixture into a bowl. Squeeze the gelatine and incorporate. Add the lemon zest. Use an immersion blender to mix well. Put into an airtight container and rest overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4). Roll out the pastry dough into a 6-mm/1/4-inch-thick disc. Grease a tart pan with butter and line with the pastry. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Make the Italian meringue. Dissolve the sugar into 2 tablespoons of water and the lemon juice in a pan over a low heat. Bring to the boil and cook until the mixture reads 120°C/250°F on a cooking thermometer. If you don’t have a cooking thermometer, put a little of the syrup in a spoon and let one drop fall into a glass of cold water. If it forms a small, soft ball, the syrup is ready. In a grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Pour the syrup in a thin stream into the meringue while whisking until the mixture cools.

Fill the pastry case (shell) with the lemon custard. Use a plastic spatula to cover the tart with meringue, creating a dome in the centre. Caramelize with a chef’s blowtorch. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.

Cool to know
‘If it’s not big, it’s not big enough’ is one of our mottos, so now you know why our meringue stands 20 cm/8 inches high…

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Big Mamma Cucina Popolare: Contemporary Italian Recipes
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Sticky Toffee Pudding by Francis Coulson

096 sticky toffee pudding

Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel United Kingdom 1970s

50 g (2 oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to butter the dish
175 g (6 oz) dates, chopped
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
175 g (6 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
2 eggs
175 g (6 oz) self-raising flour (all-purpose flour plus 11⁄2 teaspoons baking powder)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
vanilla ice cream, to serve

For the sauce

300 ml (1⁄2 pint) double (heavy) cream
50 g (2 oz) demerara sugar
1 dessertspoon black treacle (molasses)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4. Butter a baking tin about 20 cm x 13 cm (8 x 5 inches).

Boil the dates in 300 ml (1⁄2 pint) water until soft (some dates are softer than others, so will need more cooking), then remove the pan from the heat and drain any liquid. Add the bicarbonate of soda (baking soda).

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the eggs and beat well. Mix in the flour, date mixture and vanilla extract and pour into the prepared tin. Bake for 30–40 minutes, until just firm to the touch. To make the sauce, boil the cream, sugar and treacle (molasses) together. Pour over the top of the sponge until it is covered (there will be some left over), then place under a hot grill (broiler) until it begins to bubble. Remove, cut into squares, and serve with the remaining sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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Salted Chocolate and Caramel Tart by Fergus Henderson

Salted Chocolate and Caramel Tart - photo credit Jason Lowe

To serve at least 16 – this is a very rich tart, you will not need very much

Here is an expression of the gradual erosion of chocolate. Fergus notes that the increasing challenge of finding a chocolate bar that does not contain salt is an example of a good idea going too far. For years his loyalties have lain solidly with Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut Bar – affectionately called ‘Fnerr’. But of late, he laments, he has begun to recognise its rough edges. Fergus and Fnerr have parted ways. In spite of (or maybe evidenced by) a little recent saturation, the combination of chocolate, caramel and salt
is still a good idea, and so here is our tart. A very rich tart, you will not need very much.

Base
200g plain flour
45g cocoa powder
7g bicarbonate of soda
180g demerara sugar
25g caster sugar
5g Maldon sea salt
225g unsalted butter, softened
225g dark chocolate, chopped finely –
the pieces should be smaller than
a chocolate chip

Caramel
225g caster sugar
70g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
80ml double cream

Chocolate filling
500g double cream
40g glucose
400g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
40g butter
Sea salt, for sprinkling
First make the tart case. It is easiest by far to use a machine for this. Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, both sugars and the salt, place in a food processor with the butter, and whizz until a loose dough forms. At this point add the chocolate and mix again. Wrap in cling film and allow to rest for half an hour or so.

If you are making the pastry any further in advance, take it out of the fridge in good time – you need the softness of room-temperature dough for it to work. When ready, butter and flour a tart case and roll the pastry between two sheets of baking parchment – the shards of chocolate would tear cling film, but the dough is too sticky to be rolled loose. Line the case with the pastry, rolled to around 4mm thick, line the pastry with foil or cling film, fill with baking beans and bake in a medium oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

When you remove the case from the oven, wait 10 minutes before removing the beans, otherwise the hot, soft pastry may tear. Once you have done so, press the base and sides all over with the back of a spoon while it is still warm – the aim here is to smooth the interior ready for the caramel,  pushing down the inside corners which may have risen and rounded a little in the baking.

Once the case is cool, make your caramel. It is essential to move quickly when the caramel is ready, so ensure that all your ducks are in a row before you start. Place the sugar in a scrupulously dry pan and melt over a medium high heat. Do not stir! Stirring will result in a crystallised disaster. Swirling the pan a little is allowed. By the time the sugar has dissolved you should have a good colour, trusting that it can be quite dark and still be comfortable. Throw the butter in first and follow with the cream, whisk them together quickly and, at the very moment that they are smoothly incorporated, pour it into the case immediately. With speed, pick up your tart case and move it around, tilting it to ensure that the caramel covers the entire base. Leave aside to cool.

Finally, heat the cream with the glucose and take it just shy of a simmer. Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl and pour the hot cream over the chunks in three stages, stirring gently to incorporate – the first will melt the chocolate, the second will loosen the mixture and the third will make the smooth ganache. Then pour the chocolate mixture into the tart and leave to cool and solidify. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and serve with crème fraîche.

Extracted from The Book of St John by Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver (Ebury Press, £28 hbk) Photography by Jason Lowe

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The Book of St John: Over 100 Brand New Recipes from London’s Iconic Restaurant
St John

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Fruit Soup with Verbena by Michel Roux Jr

fruit soup

(SOUPE DE FRUITS ROUGES À LA VERVEINE)

This beautiful, verbena-flavoured dessert is summer in a bowl. And it is even better with a few little madeleines on the side.

Serves 4

75g caster sugar
2 tbsp blossom honey
2 fresh verbena sprigs (or a handful of dried)
500g mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants)
freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Pour 500ml of water into a pan, add the sugar and honey and bring to the boil.  Add the verbena and simmer for 2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, cover and leave to infuse for about 10 minutes. Remove the verbena. Pour the liquid into a bowl, add the fruit, then leave to cool. Chill the soup in the fridge until it is very cold. Just before serving I like to add a little freshly ground black pepper.

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Peanut Butter Pudding, Peanut Caramel, Dark Chocolate Sorbet by Chantelle Nicholson

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This is one of those desserts that ticks all the boxes for a luscious treat
– peanut butter, caramel and chocolate. You can make the puddings as well as the sorbet in advance and freeze until needed. The sorbet is also delicious on its own – it makes a little more than you need for 4 people.

Serves 4

For the peanut butter pudding
80g aquafaba
80g caster sugar
65g ground almonds
65g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
20g peanut butter
20g olive oil
20g non-dairy butter, melted
20ml non-dairy milk

For the dark chocolate sorbet
125g caster sugar
90g cocoa powder
90g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa
solids, broken into pieces
100g ice

For the peanut butter caramel
60g caster sugar
30g non-dairy butter
60ml non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon peanut butter
¼ teaspoon table salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4. Grease 4 ramekins,approximately 250ml in volume. Start by making the sorbet. Put the sugar and cocoa powder in a saucepan with 200ml of water. Whisk well, then place over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Continue whisking and cooking the mixture until it thickens,
about 5 minutes. Put the chocolate in a mixing bowl and pour the cocoa mix
through a fine sieve onto the chocolate. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then whisk
together. Add the ice and whisk until the ice has melted and the mixture has cooled. Churn in an ice-cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions, or transfer to the freezer and remove and whisk every hour to break up the ice crystals.

For the puddings, whisk the aquafaba in a stand mixer until stiff peaks form.
Gradually add the sugar and whisk until glossy and all sugar grains have dissolved.

In a separate bowl, combine the ground almonds, flour, baking powder and salt. In a third bowl, mix the peanut butter, olive oil, melted butter and milk together. Stir the peanut butter mix into the dry ingredients, then gently fold in the meringue. Divide between the ramekins and bake for 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, make the caramel. Put the sugar into a small, heavybased
saucepan or frying pan. Set over medium heat and leave the sugar to melt, swirling the pan occasionally for even caramelisation. Once the sugar has dissolved and reached a deep golden colour, add the butter and whisk to combine well. Bring the milk to the boil, then add to the caramel and whisk well. Lastly, whisk in the peanut butter and salt.

Drizzle the warm caramel sauce over the peanut puddings and serve with a big scoop of dark chocolate sorbet.

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Recipes taken from Planted by Chantelle Nicholson. Published by Kyle Books. Photography by Nassima Rothacker

Seeded Granola and Chai-spiced Poached Plums by Chantelle Nicholson

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Homemade granola is super simple and has a good shelf life when kept in an airtight container. Dark red plums are among my favourite fruits to poach, so I suggest doing a four times recipe and keeping a large container in the fridge – perfect for breakfast and pudding.

Serves 4

For the plums:
8 plums
50g caster sugar
2 English Breakfast tea bags
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods
2 star anise
4 cloves
1 bay leaf

For the granola:
150g rolled oats
60g coconut oil
40g sesame seeds
40g sunflower seeds
60g pumpkin seeds
60g dates, chopped
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons agave syrup
non-dairy yogurt, to serve

Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan 150°C/gas mark 3.

First prepare the plums. Cut each plum in half, remove the stone and set aside. Put the sugar in a large saucepan or deep frying pan with 250ml warm water. Bring to the boil, then add the tea bags, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, star anise, cloves and bay leaf. Simmer for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to steep for 6 minutes. Lift out the tea bags and return the pan to the heat. Bring to a simmer, then add the plums, cut-side down. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 5–7 minutes, until just soft. Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly, then peel off the skins and transfer to a container and refrigerate.

For the granola, put all the ingredients except the agave into a deep roasting tray and cook for 8–12 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until golden. Drizzle over the agave and toast for a further 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Serve the granola with the plums and a spoonful of yogurt.

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Buttermilk drop cakes with lemon curd by Simon Stallard

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Topped with warm lemon curd and served straight from the stove, these drop cakes are a sure-fire way to draw everyone to the breakfast table. Serve with berries and crème fraîche.

Serves 4

320g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
a good pinch of sea salt
50g caster sugar
2 large eggs
290ml buttermilk
60g butter, plus extra for frying
crème fraîche and berries, to serve

FOR THE LEMON CURD
90g butter, cubed
140g caster sugar
a pinch of sea salt
120ml lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
3 large egg yolks
1 large egg

FOR THE MINT SUGAR
4 tbsp caster sugar
a good handful of mint leaves

First, make the lemon curd. Put the butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Add the sugar, salt and lemon juice. Stir until well combined and the butter has melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and set to one side.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and egg. Add this to the lemon and butter mixture and whisk to combine. Return the bowl to the simmering saucepan and heat for 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little.

To make the mint sugar, simply either blitz the sugar and mint leaves in a food processor or bash them together using a mortar and pestle. Leave to one side.

Preheat the oven to 110°C (90°C fan oven) gas mark ¼. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir in the sugar. Add the eggs and buttermilk, and whisk everything together to make a smooth batter.

Put half the butter in a non-stick frying pan and melt it over a medium-low heat. Mix the melted butter into the batter.

Put the frying pan back over the heat and add tablespoonfuls of the mixture in small pools around the pan – you should be able to do 4–5 at a time. Cook for 1 minute on the first side, or until bubbles form on the surface. Flip them over and cook for 1 minute.

Remove from the pan and keep warm on a plate wrapped up in a tea towel in the oven while you cook the remaining batter in the same way, adding a little more of the remaining butter to the pan each time.

Serve the drop cakes warm with the lemon curd drizzled over, some crème fraîche and fresh berries and a sprinkle of the mint sugar.

The Hidden Hut by Simon Stallard (HarperCollins) £20, is out now

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