Archives for the month of: January, 2014

There is a war raging in our household and, sadly, I’m not sure if – and when – there will be a winner. The war concerns which fruit curd is best. Most of the household are on the side of  Passiflora edulis, I on the other hand am fence sitting. I have a long-standing and fierce loyalty to  Citrus × limon.

My relationship with that sour and satisfying fruit curd goes way back:

  • To my childhood and the Eureka lemon tree growing valiantly in a barrel on our verandah for thirty odd years – whose fruits provided the lemon curd  for lemon meringue pie (and lemon cordial), year after year after year.
  • To my youthful dinner party years of regularly whipping up a lemon curd brûlée tart as a pièce de résistance. I have long since forgotten where that recipe came from – and I so wish I still had it. I dream of that tart and often wonder if I could recreate it.
  • To memories of sitting on a freezing beach on Islay in the Inner Hebrides in ‘mid-summer’ wearing layers of clothes eating lemon curd spread on oatcakes accompanied by one of the smokiest of whiskies – Laphroaig. Lemon curd on oatcakes with or without Islay whisky (Earl Grey tea is a good accompaniment too) is now a firm favourite in our household.
  • To our family favourite cheesecake recipe  – the lemon curd cheesecake from Donna Hay‘s Flavours.
  • And most recently to my daughter’s lemon curd filled macarons.

However I have been plotting and planing to make a passion fruit (or granadilla as it is known in South Africa) curd for some months now, ever since our self-sown and carelessly transplanted granadilla vine took over our carefully cultivated and nurtured espaliered fig trees and all their trellising wire.  The plant went wild and I realised I needed to start googling passion fruit recipes in a hurry. In the last week I have harvested over a hundred fruits, there are still at least another hundred waiting to be harvested – and daily more and more of the unbelievably intricate and complex flowers bloom waiting to turn into fruits.

We have over the last few weeks had a trickle of fruits every day and have been enjoying stirring the pulp into yoghurt, with or without cubed mango, pecan nuts and/or maple syrup. But you can only eat so many passion fruit in this way so this past weekend I decided it was time to revisit google .

In my search I read a blog post on fruit curds by Neil of British Food: A History and the words ‘Curds don’t just come in lemon yellow of course, you can make one from any fruit that the juice can be easily squeezed from: orange, grapefruit, passion fruit and pineapple…’ which got me thinking about making passion fruit curd. When I went back to the blog post I realised that there wasn’t actually a recipe for passion fruit curd.  I guess I could have modified a lemon curd recipe but there were quite a few recipes online so  I decided to use Sam Linsell’s recipe from Drizzle and Dip as my starting point.  I really liked the fact she had made two versions – one with pips and one without.

In addition to hopefully making a dent in our growing pile of granadillas I was rather pleased to be using a whole lot of the free range eggs we had bought the previous weekend at The Shed on Route 59. We went to The Shed to pick up some seeds for our vegetable garden from the Living Seeds stall and were very keen to buy some things from the other stalls since The Shed seemed to be a nice local community endeavour. We came away quite happy with some ‘onion garlic’, a big wedge of boerenkaas, some dried wors, game biltong and a large tray of eggs.

I decided not to use too many of the pips in my passion fruit curd so I started by extracting the pulp from about 40 passion fruit, heating it gently in a pot and straining the pulp through a coarse sieve while mushing  it around with a spatula.

I am sure the very yellow free range eggs contributed to the deep golden colour of the finished curd.  It was good with vanilla ice cream and fruit, great with Greek yoghurt and best entirely on its own.

In the quest to determine which curd is the winner I’ll be making another batch of passion fruit curd just as soon as I can tear myself away from the computer. Or should I be thinking about a rhubarb or raspberry curd?

Passion fruit curd

  • 450ml strained passion fruit pulp with the unstrained pulp of a couple of fruits
  • 180g butter
  • 1.5 cups of sugar
  • 8 large free range  eggs

Mix the passion fruit pulp, butter and sugar  together in a heavy bottomed pot and heat  slowly until it comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and cool for a couple of minutes while you beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Slowly and continuously whisk the eggs into the hot pulp mixture. Put the pot back on a low heat and continue whisking until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.  Pour into sterilised jars and seal or  into a bowl and refrigerate until chilled for more or less immediate consumption.

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Thank goodness we didn’t go on holiday this year. It would have been a disaster from a vegetable gardening, cooking and eating perspective.

There were a few moments when I wished I was at the beach or on narrow boat Patience but as I sit down to write this blog post I realise if we had been away for a month many of our carefully planted and nurtured vegetables would have rotted, grown old and unpalatable or been devoured by the birds, snails and slugs.

Instead we have delighted in the fact that all our meals for the last month and a half have been centred around the vegetables we’ve been picking every day. The only vegetables we have bought have been onions, potatoes and garlic.

IMG_1867So what have we produced with these earthly delights?

Some super fresh pasta dishes for a start.

Green Marinara Pasta

Combine seafood  – prawns, calamari and mussels  flash fried in butter – with barely steamed green beans, sautéed courgettes, raw mangetout peas, basil and mint and serve on a bed of fresh tagliatelle with a sprinkling of parmesan.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Double Courgette, Pea and Pesto Pasta

This pasta dish turned out to have quite a few components that came together very festively to create a dinner party of a dish.

  1. Creamy sauce: Bring to the boil about a cup of cream (I think I also threw in about a half a tub of crème fraîche) and the juice and rind of a lemon or two. Reduce until thick and stir in some grated parmesan and a few grindings of black pepper.
  2. Pasta component: Cook the pasta (spaghetti or tagliatelle) in a large pot. When the pasta is just about done throw in a couple of handfuls of julienned courgette. Drain immediately and toss with some mangetout peas and the lemony cream sauce.
  3. Shoestring courgette fries: If you have ever eaten at Tortellino d’Oro in Oaklands, Johannesburg you will surely have tried to replicate the crisp courgette shoestrings that adorn many of their plates. I’d unsuccessfully tried to make them a couple of times but it was not until I googled ‘zucchini shoestrings’ and serendipitously came upon this perfect recipe from Drizzle and Dip – also inspired by Tortellino d’Oro – that I actually succeeded.
  4. Minty pesto: Blend together olive oil, large handfuls of mint and basil, salt and black pepper with a clove or two of garlic. Stir in some grated parmesan or pecorino and a handful or two of ground almonds.
  5. To serve: Pour the hot creamy pasta mix onto a large serving platter. Swirl in a minty pesto and garnish with shoestring courgette fries.