A bowl of sunshine-yellow lemons will brighten any spring day. Alongside salt and pepper, lemon is probably the most useful seasoning ingredient a cook can use. A squeeze of lemon juice will perk up almost any dish in the same way that salt does - but it's better for you! Try adding lemon juice to soups, stir fries or pasta dishes and see how it transforms the flavour - especially if added just before serving. The zest, full of lemon oil, is just as wonderful and can be used in sweet and savoury dishes to add a fragrant depth to the flavour. EL.
Gluten-free Almond & Lemon Cake (Serves 6-8)
4 eggs, beaten 200g ground almonds 200g caster sugar 100g melted butter For the topping: Finely grated zest of one lemon juice of half a lemon 3-4 tblsps limoncello, optional 2-3 tblsps caster sugar To serve: 300ml double cream 2-3 tblsps lemon curd
Heat the oven to 180ºC / Gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm cake or flan tin. Beat together the eggs, almonds, sugar and butter. Pour into the prepared tin and cook for 30 to 35 minutes, or until risen, firm in the centre and lightly browned.
With the cake still in the tin and still warm, mix together the lemon zest and juice, limoncello (if using) and sugar and pour evenly over the surface of the cake. Allow to cool before removing from the tin and peeling away the lining paper.
When ready to serve, stir the lemon curd into the double cream. This will thicken the cream. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with the cake.
Lemon Curd (makes about 3 jars)
For consistency, it is important to measure the eggs and lemon juice.
Place the butter, sugar, lemon zest and juice in a double boiler or a bowl over a pan of hot water (making sure that the bowl is not touching the water) and heat until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Stirring continuously, add the eggs and continue cooking, stirring frequently until the mixture is as thick as custard and coats the back of a spoon. Strain through a sieve, then pour into warm, clean jars. Cover with waxed paper discs and seal. Store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.
Swiss Chard with Lemon & Parmesan (Serves 6)
A big bunch of Swiss chard 4 tblsps olive oil grated zest and juice of 1 lemon 3 tblsps grated parmesan cheese sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Wash and shake dry the chard then, using a sharp knife, slice down either side of the central stalk to separate the leaf from the stalk. Set the leaves aside and cut the stalks diagonally into short lengths.
Take the stems and either steam, or cook them in boiling water, for 3 minutes. Remove the hot stems with a slotted spoon and add them to the oil and lemon dressing. Add the chard leaves to the steamer or boiling water and cook quickly for 1-2 minutes or until wilted. Drain well and add to the dressing. Toss the chard in the dressing then sprinkle over the parmesan cheese, a pinch of sea salt and a generous grating of black pepper. Serve warm or cold.