Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Lemon, lime and bitters pie

This is the recipe for lemon, lime and bitters pie, I made it yesterday and it is great, but very rich. There are two different ways to do the topping, I will write both. The first one would be better I think because it uses less cream so it is probably a bit less stodgy.

For the crust: You need to either buy a pie shell or make a basic pie shortcrust such as this one (in my recipe book at home the replace one tablespoon of water with white vinegar. Not sure if it makes any difference.). Prebake the pie shell completely as it will not go back into the oven with the filling.

For the filling:
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tbsp orange bitters
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • zest from one lime
  • 75 grams butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  1. Place eggs and sugar in a double boiler and whisk until the sugar dissolves
  2. Add butter, juices and zest and whisk until the mixture is thick enough for you to leave a trail with a whisk that closes over only very slowly. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
  3. Add the bitters and whisk in for around five more minutes. Put in fridge until completely cool.
  4. Add to the prebaked pie crust and put on topping.
  5. If you are short on eggs or don't want to use so many, you can substitute in some cornflour for the eggs. This is basically just a modified lemon curd so you can look up how much you will need to substitute. You will have to cook it a bit different if you do it that way because cornflour in cooking needs a bit of care.
For the topping (version 1 - this one must be put onto the pie immediately after making):
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp bitters
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • double cream or similar
  • a bit of lime zest (a teaspoon or so)
  1. Sprinkle lime zest onto the filling in the tart shell.
  2. Combine sugar, juices and bitters in a small saucepan over low heat and bring to the boil, stirring continuously.
  3. Cook until the mixture reaches the hard crack stage ( approx. 143 C, or when it forms brittle threads when drizzled into icy water).
  4. Take off heat and allow to cool a little before drizzling over the curd filling in a lattice shape.
  5. Serve with a dollop of cream on the side.
Topping version 2 (this one should not be put onto the pie until just before you serve it):
  • Whipped cream
  • a little zest from a lemon and a lime (1tsp or so)
  • 2tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp bitters
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  1. Put whipped cream over the curd filling and sprinkle zest over the top.
  2. Make the syrup in the same way as in version one, but cook only until the liquid reaches the thread stage (it forms soft, loose, thin threads when dropped into icy water, approx. 106-112 C)
  3. Allow the syrup to cool until it is safe to eat at least, then pour over the top of the whipped cream and zest before serving.
  4. If you want to store the syrup in the fridge you can but you might need to warm it up a bit before you serve the pie so it pours more easily. You could also make a bit more syrup so that you could pour it over each slice on its own plate. Just don't go overboard - this sauce is very flavoursome :)
If you try this recipe, don't be afraid to modify it you think it needs it, because I am still trialling things. If you do try it, please let me know how it goes!


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Spiced Mushroom and Capsicum Pie

Well today I cooked two pies. One is for lunch with my family-in-law (specifically dessert) and is a lemon lime and bitters pie. Hopefully it will be tasty.
The other one was a mushroom and capsicum pie with Indian spices that we had for dinner. It was good. I thought I would put the recipe up for the savory one today, then maybe I will put the recipe up for the sweet one after we eat it and I know if it is nice or not.

Spiced Mushroom and Capsicum Pie

  • 1 recipe pie crust (either buy, or make with one of these recipes). If making your own, pie crust should be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes before making the recipe.
  • olive oil for frying
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried ground cardamom
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 or 5 small mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 a large red capsicum, chopped into small squares
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • salt and pepper 
  • 1.5 tbsp tapioca or cornflour
  1. Line pie dish with one half of the pie crust and blind bake for about 15 minutes on 200 C. When done leave out to cool.
  2. Put a small amount of  olive oil in a pan and heat. Fry the coriander and cumin seeds lightly for 1 or 2 minutes.
  3. Add the other spices, garlic and onion and fry until fragrant.
  4. Add the mushroom, capsicum, tomato and paste and water and stir till it is all mixed through.
  5. Add the salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle in the tapioca. Stir it through and cook for another few minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.
  6. Put the sauce into the prepared pie crust and put the second portion of crust over the top. Join the top to the bottom crust and cut a slit in the top of the pie so steam can escape.
  7. Cook for 20 minutes at 200 C or until pie is golden brown on the top.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool for five minutes before eating.
Disclaimer: The amounts, times and temperatures in this recipe are approximate. If something seems too much or too little to you, change it. My only warning would be that putting too much turmeric will make it taste funny. Same with the tapioca/cornflour. :)

Cinnamon and pear essence pancakes

To make these pancakes I use:
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • tiny sprinkle nutmeg
  • 1 large splash pear essence
  • approx. 1/2 tsp cinnamon, or to taste.
  •  you can also put in a bit of baking powder extra if you want them super fluffy.
  • Butter, for cooking
Just mix them all together until all the ingredients are well mixed and there are no lumps. A whisk is useful, I've also had success with a blender (brute force method!) My mum tells me leaving the mixture in the fridge overnight makes for great pancakes, but I have never tried this.

To cook the pancakes:
  • Heat up butter in the pan on a medium-high heat,
  • Put a ladle full of the batter into the hot pan and wait until bubbles form on the surface. 
  • Flip and cook until browned on the other side. 
  • I like to keep the cooked pancakes in the oven (on the lowest setting) so they are all warm when you eat them.

For the topping, you need:
  • Maple syrup (the real stuff, not imitation), 
  • Greek natural yoghurt (I like Black Swan brand), and 
  • Fresh or frozen seasonal berries. If you use frozen berries make sure you get them out to thaw before you start cooking the pancakes so they aren't too cold when you eat them.

I think the best way to do the topping is to:
  •  Stack the pancakes with maple syrup in between each layer. 
  • Sprinkle the berries over the top and put a blob of the yoghurt on top. 
  • Then drizzle some more maple syrup over the top.

Nom nom nom!

Monday, 25 June 2012


Recently I have been reading a book called "The God Who is There" by  Francis Shaeffer. It talks about some of the philosophical trends that have happened in the last century that have to do with denial of absolute truth in the like. In it, he mentions two French philosophers who talked about self actualisation (I forget who they were). Basically, to self actualise, you just have to do an action. You have to make a choice - so helping a lady cross the street would be no more or less valid than beating her up and stealing her bag.

Simultaneously I have been coming across a lot of material (blogs, sermons, and, who knew, a complete recording available for free online of C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity" - gold) which have been talking about adulthood or maturity in the faith and the journey onward to salvation.

The theme of a lot of it has been something clearly biblical, yet which I think many mainstream theologians have either overlooked or downplayed. I have heard it a lot from those who would be considered "heterodox" - like Greg Boyd (highly recommend looking him up) and Rob Bell. It is the idea that the New Creation that will happen when Jesus returns is a certain type of place. In this life we are trying to practise and exercise our wills so that our characters will transform more and more into the type of character that can exist in a place like that.

This is a really cool way of thinking about life here, and it also gives me a context in which to understand the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox idea of "work's" role in salvation - this character transformation happens only through our exercises of will and the actions big and small that we carry out each and every day. So even though we are justified through grace alone, our "salvation" in the sense of becoming completely free from sin and surrendered to God, does happen through works.

So why have I called this post adulthood. Well, it occurred to me that the real and true way of "self actualisation" is, paradoxically, to give the self more and more over to the will of God. In the words of John the Baptist "I must decrease, He must increase."

God is calling me, and all of us, to adulthood. To self actualisation by submitting our will more and more to Him. To growing up into the character that will be made completely ours in the new creation - and thankfully by His grace, we can do this without feeling we have to prove ourselves or justify ourselves. Little by little, we can practise, and change, and grow.