Orange and lemon curd

I was looking for a recipe to make a chocolate orange cake for my partner’s birthday which is in a few weeks time as it his favourite combination of flavours. My idea was to make a marbled cake with a chocolate-orange ganache topping and scribble “Happy Birthday” on top. However, I came across this recipe for a chocolate-orange wedding cake, saw the orange curd in there and hit upon a different idea. I thought I could cover the marbled  cake in orange curd instead, dribble the ganache topping in concentric circles on top of the curd and make feather-y patterns on the curd. How did it turn out ? Well you’ll have to wait for my chocolate-orange cake recipe. In the interim, I’m leaving you with a recipe for Orange and lemon curd.

The word “curd” would throw most Indian people and it did the same to me initially. Curd is a synonym for yoghurt in parts of India so when someone told me about a lemon curd, I thought it was really weird. Then I tried it and fell in love with it. In New Zealand, I lived in a share house with a big lemon tree in the backyard. After months of letting the lemons rot or play ball for the dog, one of my housemates decided to make lemon curd  and marmalade with them. The house smelt wonderful when I returned from work that day. When I asked about it, she told me what they were and that it was OK to help myself to some lemon curd and marmalade. I think I might have taken the “help myself” a bit too far and she wasn’t too impressed. However, I did get the recipe off her before I left. This orange curd recipe is based on the lemon-curd  one I got from my ex-housemate. It’s simple, easy and tasty.

You can use orange and lemon curd on toast, with yoghurt, as a tart filling and as a creamy layer between layers of a sponge cake to name a few. If you are gross like me, you’d just eat spoonfuls of it for fun. This is a lot less tangy than lemon curd and I find that much more of a pleasant taste. Do try it and tell me what you think by mailing me at canwehavesomerasam@gmail.com

Thick and yummy orange+lemon curd

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Vegetable Uppittu/Upma or Vegetable and Semolina porridge

I have written about Uppittu/Upma before and in that recipe, I used bread as the base ingredient. Uppittu/Upma is a dish traditionally made with coarse semolina and some simple spices. Uppittu/Upma is made all over South India in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. Depending on where your are, different types of semolina (coarse, fine) may be used. In addition, semolina can be substituted for broken rice and that version is called “akki tari”. In Karnataka, the state I’m from, uppittu is a very popular breakfast dish. During a particular time of the year, a bean called Avarekalu (Hyacinth bean, Indian bean, Lablab purpureus) becomes available and uppittu made out of these beans is a local delicacy. Sadly, I haven’t been able to find these beans in England so I’ve settled for vegetables in this recipe.

Uppittu can be had as breakfast, lunch, evening snack or even for dinner. As I mentioned in the previous Upma post, it is quite heavy and as a result, a good thing to make if you have a lot of guest-mouths to feed. If you are unable to have semolina as it wheat-based, then you can make the same thing with polenta. You’d have to cook the vegetables and polenta separately and bring them together at the end. Polenta sets quite nicely so you can cut it into little squares and serve.

Hope you try this traditional South Indian dish and like it!

Uppittu – ready to eat!

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Caponata – Italian sweet and sour eggplant

My very first real job was in a small student town in the North Island of New Zealand (NZ) called Palmerston North. The reason it is called Palmerston North is because there is a town called “Palmerston” in the South Island of New Zealand. Full marks for imagination I suppose.

If one wasn’t a student or had a partner/family/pet in this little town, it could get terribly boring. Given I was flush with cash for the first time in my life (not really, but it felt like it), I signed up to as many activities as I could after my work day. Running, swimming, salsa, ceramic painting and so on. Just so happened, 2 other friends of mine, finding themselves in a similar situation as I did, signed up to an “Italian cooking class”. I took cooking classes to be a slight on my ability as a self-made home chef so I shunned them. I could follow recipes well enough on my own!

As fate would have it, one of the two friends couldn’t take the small town politics any more and went back to BIG Auckland (population 1.5 million, largest town in NZ). One of her leaving gifts to me was her place in the cooking class. I smiled and accepted gracefully as that’s all I could do. I went to the first one with great apprehension but to my surprise, I loved it. Our cooking teacher would give us a list of ingredients for the following class. We bought them and then got given recipes for a 3-course meal. We had two hours to cook this 3-course meal and then we’d sit together and have dinner with the teacher. One of the evenings, we even had an olive-oil tasting session. After attending this class, my image of cooking classes changed completely. I’m going to a wine-tasting class soon and will report back.

The friend who remained in Palmerston North was from Germany and was on an exchange programme.  So before she went back, she scanned all the recipes from the class and mailed it to not just herself but to me too! I have the entire collection and I printed some of my favourites for my cooking album. The tiramisu recipe earlier on this blog is one of hers. This Caponata recipe is another.

Our teacher told us that Caponata is originally a Sicilian recipe but had spread throughout Italy taking many forms. While it is usually served as a “Contorno” or vegetable side dish, I have always eaten it as a main. It goes with pasta, with pita bread and more recently as I discovered, as a pizza topping.

Hope you try it and like it!

Caponata, ready to eat…

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