This is a guest blog by Aine McAteer
Otherwise known as the sunshine fruits, citrus fruits cross cultural and culinary boundaries to be revered as staples in cuisines around the globe. Almost any dish can benefit from a touch or more of their juice, pulp or zest and personally I hardly put a dish on the table that isn’t in some way touched by a little bit of citrus magic.
The application of citrus extends far beyond the kitchen – what other substance can add pzazz to your gin and tonic, cook your fish without it having to touch a flame, flavour your salad dressing, clean the stains on your tablecloth, cleanse and disinfect your dishes and kitchen surfaces, help heal your sore throat, alleviate your hangover after a night of indulgence, keep your body healthy and alkaline and then humbly sit and look beautiful in your fruit bowl – yes I’m talking about the lemon. It’s close cousin the lime can do nearly as well, but may not spring to mind as readily.
From a health point of view, citrus is notoriously high in Vitamin C, so can be used to help ward off or treat the common cold or flu. Lemons and limes are detoxifiers and help cleanse the liver, so they’re excellent after indulging in a heavy meal or fried foods. Lemon juice is a dieuretic and can give relief with bladder and kidney problems or water retention. Not to mention keeping your blonde tresses lightened and the juice of a lemon mixed with a little rose water is an excellent treatment for acne.
Having lived and worked in places like Florida and California, I’m often fortunate enough to be able to get my morning juice straight from the orange tree, or pick my own lemons or limes for my culinary creations. I was at a party in Hawaii once and for dessert everyone was indulging in the most luscious looking Key Lime Pie. Being lactose intolerant, I refrained but when I got home I picked a basketful of limes from the tree that was growing in the garden where I lived and made the most delicious sugar and dairy free lime pie, which I called my “Kauai Lime Pie”.
One kitchen gadget I wouldn’t be without is my microplane zester. If you can’t find one, a good grater will usually have a zester or I’ve even been known to peel my citrus zest off with a potato peeler and finely mince it. The flavor of the citrus is concentrated in the zest and it makes a lovely addition to many dishes from salads to cookies.
Kauai Lime Pie:
1 cup crushed digestives or other
3⁄4 cup very finely chopped or ground brazil nuts
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1⁄3 cup rice syrup
1⁄4 cup coconut oil
500 g (1 lb) organic firm tofu
1/3 – ½ cup lime juice
2⁄3 cup maple syrup
1⁄2 cup coconut cream skimmed from
the top of an unshaken can of coconut milk
1 heaped tablespoon kudzu or arrowrootPreheat the oven to 190°C (375°F, Gas Mark 4) and lightly grease the base and sides of a 20 cm (8 in) springform pan or pie dish.
To make the base, thoroughly combine the crushed biscuits, almond meal and lime zest in a mixing bowl. Add the rice syrup and melted coconut oil and mix thoroughly. Press most of the mixture into the base of the prepared tin and, as best you can, press the remainder up the sides of the tin.
To make the filling, combine all the ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Pour over the pie base and bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then chill for at least 3 hours or overnight before serving.
This pie is delicious as is, or serve it topped with fruit purée. I particularly like a combination of fresh berries with the citrus flavour of the pie.
To make a “no bake” pie, you can omit the kuzu or arrowroot from the filling and instead add 1/3 cup melted coconut oil and 1 Tbs. lecithin granules. Set aside in the fridge until set.
Other ground nuts, such as cashews or hazelnuts, can be used in place of the almond meal.
Vary the amount of lime juice and sweetener used in the filling, depending on your personal taste. If you prefer a sweeter taste, add more rice syrup or maple syrup.
If you like, add a little almond essence to the base for a nuttier flavour. Or try 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
To serve this pie with a fresh berry topping, dissolve 1 teaspoon of kudzu or arrowroot in 1⁄3 cup of cold apple juice and
add to 375 g (12 oz) of fresh berries, such as blueberries or raspberries. Place in a small saucepan, slowly bring to
the boil and simmer for 1 minute until thickened. Spread on top of the pie and chill before serving.