Frau Kuchen

cooking and eating in Berlin (and elsewhere)

Posts Tagged ‘lemon

Lemon Verbena cake

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Some time ago I posted a link to some Verbena recipes I’d bookmarked in Delicious. A friend of mine had a glut she needed to use up so I nosed around the internet adding recipes that looked worth trying.

My own verbena is now growing like wildfire along with the rest of my balcony plants, so I asked which of the recipes she had used.  The Lemon Verbena Bread came back as a clear favourite.

Image 1: Verbena                          Image 2: Cherry Tomatoes       Image 3: Peppers

I have to say I agree, it’s a lovely light sponge with a light lemony taste, although I’ve no idea why it’s called a bread – there’s no yeast and nothing bread like about it.  The first time round I made it without nuts; the second time I threw in a couple of handfuls of nibbed almonds. I couldn’t tell you which I preferred, both were good – the first went down stormingly well at a house warming party.

The recipe is unclear on a couple of points:

  • I recommend warming the glaze ingredients slightly to dissolve the sugar
  • A large loaf tin is a 2lb tin (or 1 kilo), small is 1lb (or 500g) and mini are 8oz (or 250g)

Image 4: Adding the syrup

This isn’t a cake Hudson’s will be able to sell – I can’t grow enough Verbena – but I do urge you to try it out at home. And if you don’t have Verbena it’s a good adaptable sponge recipe.

Written by hudsons

August 30, 2009 at 2:10 pm


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Sorry I haven’t posted for a while – I’ve been away in London for work. Luckily whilst I was there my hosts – both fantastic cooks – made me numerous tasty meals, and in the process introduced me to za’atar.

Za’atar (also known as satar, zahatar or zatr) is a mix of spices used most frequently in middle-eastern cookery.  My friend made Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za’atar and Lemon, a recipe which he’d adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.  The recipe and some pictures of my version of the same are below.

I’m a big fan of Yotam Ottolenghi and have frequently used his New Vegetarian recipes in The Guardian.  I’ve just ordered my own copy of Ottolenghi: The Cookbook (by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi) – so I’ll let you know what it’s like when it arrives. Apparently garlic and lemon are involved in nearly every recipe (presumably not the baking) – perfect for me, I already use both in nearly everything I make.

If you can’t find za’atar in the shops don’t fret, there are plenty of recipes on-line. I used this one which seems to be quite representative. Like many  spice mixes there seem to be many variations, although the basic ingredients for this one always seem to include thyme, marjoram, salt and sesame seeds.

Image 1: Making Za’atar

Roast Chicken with Sumac, Lemon & Za’atar

(serves 4)

  • 1 free range chicken cut into four (I used 4 legs, you could also use thighs – chicken on the bone is is definitely better for taste)
  • 2 red onions thinly sliced
  • 4 crushed garlic cloves
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • 1 lemon thinly sliced (mine were small so I used 2)
  • 200 ml chicken stock or water (I used my favorite Reduced Salt Marigold Vegetable Bouillon)
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp za’atar
  • 20g butter (I didn’t use this)
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 4 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley


  1. Combine the chicken, onions, lemon, garlic, oil, spices (bar the za’atar), stock and salt & pepper in a large bowl
  2. Marinate overnight, or at least for a few hours
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C
  4. Transfer the chicken (skin side up) and marinade to an oven tray and sprinkle with the za’atar
  5. Roast for 30-40 minutes, basting regularly towards the end
  6. Fry the pine nuts in the butter (I dry fried mine).
  7. Serve the chicken with the nuts and parsley.

We ate ours with what’s known in our house as, Egyptian Rice (recipe below); and a greek style salad made of cos lettuce, cucumber, tomato and red onion dressed in an olive oil, lemon juice, sumac and salt & pepper dressing.


“Egyptian” Rice

I have no idea whether this is really egyptian or not – a housemate in my long past student days taught me how to make it.

(serves 4)

  • 1.5 cups rice
  • 3 cups water
  • a good dollop of butter
  • a glug of olive oil


  1. Wash and soak the rice for 30 mins (I really do find this helps)
  2. Heat the olive oil and butter together
  3. Drain the rice
  4. Measure out the water
  5. Add a couple of tbsps of rice to the butter/oil mix
  6. Fry the rice until it is a nice nutty colour, as soon as it’s brown throw in the water (it only takes a minute to catch and go over) and add the additional rice
  7. Bring to the boil then cover with foil and the lid and simmer
  8. When nearly all the water has disappeared turn off the heat, cover the pan with a tea-towel and the lid and leave it (for about 10  minutes)

  9. Fluff up with a fork
  10. Hopefully you have fluffy rice with lovely little nutty brown nuggets.

Written by hudsons

August 15, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Rose syrup

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I’ve been planning to try out a cake with a rose syrup for sometime, and I thought I had the perfect sponge recipe to try it with. An almond and yoghurt based sponge, which seemed to have the middle eastern connotations that matched the rose water I planned to use.

Unfortunatley, despite it looking beautiful, the sponge was just too heavy.  I’ll try it again with a lighter one – probably the one I base the Hudson’s Lemon Drizzle Cake on, as I know it works really well.

The syrup was a great success though, so I  thought I’d include the recipe here.  Last night I tried a splash of it topped up with sparking water and ice; I loved it, but my parter, who tells me “rose isn’t a flavour, it’s a flower” isn’t so keen!

The syrup was made up a as I went along, so the quantities here are rough.


150ml water
175g sugar
juice of 1 lemon
8 cardamom pods
1 tsp rose water
dried rose petals
sprig of lemon verbena leaves (or you could use lemon zest)

Crush the cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar and place them in a pan with the sugar and water.  Heat gently until the sugar is dissolved, stir occasionally to help it along. Add the verbena leaves and the rose petals and leave on a low heat (no bubbles) for 5 minutes for the flavours to infuse. Take off the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes.  Strain to remove the cardamom, petals and leaves (I use a paper coffee filter in a funnel for this). Add the lemon juice and rose water to taste – I was aiming for something that reminded me of turkish delight.

Store in a jar or glass bottle in the fridge, sterilise the bottle if you want to keep it for some time.

Use to flavour drinks, drizzle over ice cream, moisten cakes, etc.

I made holes in the two sponges with a skewer and drizzled the syrup over. I then sandwiched them together with turkish rose jam.  It’s topped with a simple lemon icing (sieved icing sugar + lemon juice), a sprinkling of rose petals and a couple of lemon verbena leaves.

Written by hudsons

July 3, 2009 at 6:19 pm

Lemon Verbena

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Last night I had a conversation with a friend about what you can do with a glut of Lemon Verbena.

I had a search today and found quite a few recipes, all of which I’ve bookmarked on Delicious (tag: verbena).

Most are for sweets – jellies, ice lollies, puddings, cakes – and drinks.

I’ll try some out and let you know how I get on.

Written by hudsons

June 26, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Candied Peel

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A great way to use up leftover peel, and you won’t believe how much better it tastes than the diced shop bought stuff.  We’ve just started using it to decorate Hudson’s “Lemon Drizzle” cake – my personal favourite.

So far I’ve only made candied lemon peel (altough double the quantity here), but I’m in the process of trying out some grapefruit – leftovers from our daily breakfast grapefruit. [1]


8 juiced lemons (4 oranges, or 2 grapefruits) [2]
4 cups sugar (+ extra for dusting)
2 cups water

  • Put the peel into a saucepan and cover it with water by a couple of centimetres.
  • Bring it to the boil and reduce to a simmer until the peel is tender when prodded with a knife (about 10-15 minutes)
  • Leave it to cool.
  • Use a teaspoon to scrape out the pulp and the and as much of the white rind as possible. What you have left will look very thin (I thought I’d scraped out too much the first time I did it)
  • Cut the peel into whatever shapes you like – I use triangles (good for decorating) but you can also use strips.
  • Put the peel into a pan with the sugar and water, heat until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is simmering.  Stir occassionally to stop the sugar catching.
  • The syrup should submerge the peel, if it doesn’t add water and sugar in the same ratio as above until it does.
  • Simmer until the peel looks translucent and the syup has thickened.
  • Turn up the heat and bubble until the syrup reches the thread stage (a thread is formed when you our syrup off a spoon)
  • Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.
  • Spread the peel on a wire rack, or on greaseproof paper, using a slotted spoon – be careful as it will still be hot.
  • Leave to dry overnight.
  • Toss the cooled peel in granulated sugar – we found that using a large jar with some sugar in and shaking it worked well.
  • Store in an airtight container.

You can use the remaining syrup in other recipes (drinks, poaching fruits, on icecream, etc).

Another option is to make candied orange peel and dip it in melted dark chocolate – it makes a great after dinner nibble or gift.


[1] I try to buy locally grown ingredients wherever possible, but I couldn’t give up my grapefruits. That sharp tang wakes me up every morning.

[2] If you’re not sure what to do with all the juice, why not try the Lemon, Ginger & Mint Cordial recipe

Written by hudsons

June 26, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Lemon, Ginger & Mint cordial

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This is the recipe that the most people have asked me for, so it seems like a good place to start.  We first made it for a grill (barbeque) in the park, and I’ve been making it in increasing quantities, and trying out variations  ever since.

Add ice, sparking water and a sprig of mint for a great non-alcoholic summer drink.  – add a splash of vodka or gin if you want to give it a kick.

The recipe makes about 250ml of cordial – I tend to quadruple the quantities because it keeps so well in the fridge.


160g sugar
55g root ginger (unpeeled, grated)
5 sprigs of mint (torn)
150ml lemon juice (about 4 lemons)

  • Put the sugar and mint in a pan with 12oml water and bring to the boil.
  • Turn the temperature down (so there are no bubbles) and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the ginger and leave it for another 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and leave the mixture to cool.
  • Once cool add the lemon juice and decant into a sealable bottle.
  • Store in the fridge.

Dilute to taste – about 1 part cordial to 5 parts water usually works.

I’m  not sure how long it keeps, it never stays around long enough to find out.  We did leave some in the fridge when we were on holiday, so I’m certain it will last at least a month, probably longer if you sterilise the bottles.

So far I’ve only tried Lime and Mint, leaving out the ginger.  I wasn’t convinced to start with, but it seemed to improve with age.

Since trying this out I’ve looked for other cordial recipes and bookmarked quite a few on Delicious (tag: cordial).  I’ll let you know if/as/when I try them.

I hate waste, so wherever possible I try to use up anything unused in other recipes.  This recipe used a lot of lemons, so I made a batch of Crystallised Lemon Peel with the leftover peel.

Written by hudsons

June 26, 2009 at 5:03 pm