If I think about it, the long list of things I can never walk past is mostly food-related, and at the very top is an unwaxed lemon. I adore lemons and have been judicious over many years never to be without them. With a little squeeze of their bright yellow cheeks - their juice seems to find its way into almost everything we eat at home. They have brought life to many a risotto; been popped as delicately as possible up more roast chickens than I care to think about; entirely replaced artificial pectin in countless jars of jam; and been added to rillettes, and hollandaise, and so much more.
Imagining an avocado without lemon is completely unthinkable, and as long as there is a bowl of lemons in the house, I can always, always pull together a wonderful lemon tart. They won't keep as long as their waxed counterparts, but when using the zest as in the recipe below, unwaxed fruit is essential (though sometimes a little more of a challenge to find) - hence why I can never walk past unwaxed lemons, or "de cecco" pasta - but that's another story!
EDIT: This week I was gifted a large bag of homegrown (unwaxed) lemons, and a day or two later, a smaller (but equally as precious) bag of cumquats. It seemed natural to me to pair them, so I have added a recipe for spiced candied cumquats below. Though they are by no means obligatory, the cumquats make a pretty (and delicious) addition if you happen to have both in your fruit bowl at the same time...
tarte au citron
1 quantity shortcrust pastry
6 large free-range eggs
280g caster sugar
300ml lemon juice (about 4-5 large lemons)
Zest of 4 large unwaxed lemons
190ml crème fraiche
spiced cadied cumquats (optional)
Grease and line a 24cm loose-bottomed tart tin with pastry. Allow to rest in the fridge for an hour or two before lining with foil and filling with pie weights. Heat oven to 160C/300F. Place the tart tin on a large baking tray and blind-bake till the crust is golden brown (about 30 minutes), remove the weights and bake for a further five or so minutes - you want to make sure the pastry is nice and brown.
While the pastry is baking, whisk together the filling ingredients and allow them to rest for about 30 minutes before skimming off any froth and scum. Heat the filling in a medium heavy-based saucepan over a low heat until it reaches 70C being careful not to let it thicken. Strain into a jug.
Pull out the tray with the tart shell and carefully pour the filling into the baked tart shell. Slide it back into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until barely set (it will continue to cook as it cools).
Allow to cool completely before cutting. Serve dusted with icing sugar and perhaps scattered with raspberries or spiced candied cumquats.
spiced candied cumquats
2 cups unrefined caster sugar
500g cumquats (seeds removed and sliced into 4-5 rounds each)
6 whole cloves
1 star anise
In a medium saucepan dissolve sugar with one cup water over low heat. Bring to a boil and simmer sugar syrup for 3 minutes.
Add cumquats, cloves and star anise to the pan and boil for 12-15 minutes.
Strain over a bowl (retaining the sugar syrup). Return sugar syrup and spices to the pan and boil until thick and syrupy (8-10 minutes). Cover the cumquats with the sugar syrup, cover and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
C(h)ook's notes -
- This will make more cumquats than you'll need for the tart, but they are equally lovely on cheese plates, or over ice cream so it is worth making extra