These Lemon Biscuits (Lemon Cookies) are very quick and easy to make and also very versatile. They are made of lovely buttery shortbread, flavoured with zesty lemon, and the addition of ground almonds keeps them moist and gives them a lovely crumbly texture.
What you need to know about making Lemon Biscuits (Lemon Cookies)
This is a really easy recipe which makes it perfect for those who are not experienced bakers. It is also a great recipe if you want to cook with younger children or for older children to cook by themselves.
It is also a very quick recipe – from bowl to table in under half an hour. This makes it great if you need to produce something yummy and home-baked and are short of time.
The addition of a small amount of ground almonds makes a real difference to this recipe. It makes the shortbread crumbly but moist and also goes really well with the lemon flavour.
I always use butter in this recipe as I prefer the flavour. However, if you are a vegan or wish to avoid dairy products, you can use a non-dairy substitute instead of the butter.
Crisp, buttery and zesty, these Lemon Biscuits make a fantastic accompaniment to ice-cream or sorbet but are also great with a cup of tea!
225 g (8 oz) butter
85 g (3 oz) caster sugar
275 g (9.5 oz) plain flour
25 g (1 oz) ground almonds
Zest of one lemon
200 g (7 oz) icing sugar (optional)
Set your oven to 200 degrees C/gas mark 6.
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
Add the flour, ground almonds and lemon zest and combine to form a soft dough.
Gently roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut into shapes using a cookie cutter. I tend to make them either heart-shaped or round or any shape you like!
Place the dough shapes on a lightly floured baking tray.
Bake for 20 minutes until firm and golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking tray for five minutes or so.
If you wish, once the biscuits are completely cooled, mix the juice of half a lemon with the icing sugar to make a simple icing and drizzle it over them. Alternatively, you could just sprinkle each biscuit with a little caster sugar while it is still warm.
Transfer the biscuits to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
Lemon Chicken with Olives is a simple stew, enhanced by saffron, ginger and cinnamon. It is based on a traditional Moroccan recipe which uses preserved lemons, rather than fresh lemons. The spices are warm, fragrant and gentle and the olives give an extra dimension of flavour to the sauce. The lemon is a fantastic flavour partner for rather than chicken and adds a freshness and vibrancy to the finished dish.
This is one of those brilliant recipes which are easy to prepare, can be made in advance and which are great for a weeknight supper but are also not out of place if you are entertaining. All you need to add is some couscous to soak up the delicious sauce and maybe some green vegetables such as beans, peas or broccoli.
What you need to know about Lemon Chicken with Olives
Make sure that you cook the onions slowly at the start of the recipe to ensure that they are sweet and caramelised. This will add depth of flavour to your finished dish.
The chicken pieces do not need to be browned before you add liquid to the casserole. When I make other chicken stews, I will brown the chicken as I have been taught that this will enhance the flavour. However, I was told many years ago in Morocco that this is not the usual practice when making this type of stew. Removing this stage makes this stew even quicker and easier and so I never do it when making this Moroccan-style stew.
The difference between having a so-so chicken stew and a rich and delicious chicken stew is making sure that you reduce the sauce (step 7). At this point you remove the chicken pieces and set them aside so that they do not become overcooked while the sauce is reducing.
You can make this recipe in advance and re-heat it.
This recipe for Lemon Chicken with Olives is one of my regular weeknight supper options. It is easy, tasty and uncomplicated and can be made in under an hour. It can also be made in advance and then quickly re-heated. Although it is simple to make, it is also special enough to serve if I am entertaining. Here are some of my other simple supper recipes.
Macaroni Cheese – this is a brilliant make-ahead vegetarian recipe which has a secret layer of caramelised onions and a bit of cayenne to balance its rich cheesiness. Topped with a layer of crisp breadcrumbs it is perfect served with a simple green salad.
Creamy Mushroom Pasta – this is simple vegetarian sauce combines mushrooms and chestnuts and lots of garlic. It can be used with any kind of pasta but I prefer it with short pasta such as gigli or penne.
Spaghetti with Smoked Salmon – this simple recipe can be made in 15 minutes. Smoked salmon trimmings are combined with fennel and chives and a squeeze of lemon.
Moroccan-style Seafood Stew – this simple but luxurious stew combines warm spices with seafood of your choice (prawns, mussels, clams or white fish). Serve with couscous to mop up the delicious juices.
This easy Lemon Chicken with Olives and warm spices is the perfect simple supper recipe.
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves (crushed)
Pinch of saffron
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper
1 kilo free-range chicken legs and thighs
A handful of green olives
Juice of one lemon
If using oven, set to 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4 (see point 6)
Peel and chop the onions.
Heat the olive oil in your casserole and add the chopped onions. Season with salt and pepper. Cook gently for around 10 minutes until the onions have softened.
Add the crushed garlic cloves, saffron, ginger and cinnamon to the onions. Then add the chicken pieces.
Add sufficient water to almost cover the chicken pieces and bring to the boil.
You can now either transfer the casserole to your oven or cover it and continue to allow it to simmer gently on the top of your stove. In either case, the chicken will be cooked in 30 minutes.
Then remove the chicken pieces from the casserole and place in another bowl. Remove the lid from your casserole and add the lemon juice and olives. Simmer uncovered on the top of your stove until the liquid has reduced to half its volume. This will take around 15 minutes. It will have thickened slightly and will taste rich and tangy.
Put the chicken pieces back into the casserole and reheat.
Lemon Sponge Cake with Elderflower and Edible Flowers
This lemon sponge cake, flavoured with elderflower cordial and decorated with edible flowers, is the perfect show-stopper for a spring celebration. I bring it out for Mothers’ Day and Easter and also for spring birthdays.
There are lots of things that I love about this cake. First off, it is delicious! Lemon and elderflower are great flavour partners. Secondly, it is really easy to make. It is just a simple lemon sponge, perked up with the fantastic floral taste of elderflower cordial, sandwiched with lemon curd and covered in simple lemon and elderflower buttercream. It is also really easy to decorate. You do not need any icing or cake-decoration skills to produce a really striking cake. It is a doddle to cover the cake with the buttercream. Then all you have to do then is to get creative and add the fresh edible flowers. If there are any bits of the icing that are less than perfect, just cover them up with a flower!
As with all sponge cakes, this cake is best if it is eaten as soon as possible. You can make it a day ahead but any longer than that and it won’t be as good. However, you can make the sponge cakes and then freeze them if that makes things easier. After they have cooled, wrap in cling film and put in the freezer. When you are ready to use, allow to defrost and then sandwich them together, add the icing and decorate.
I make my own lemon curd and elderflower cordial and you can find recipes on this blog. However, there is absolutely no need to do this. A good quality shop-bought lemon curd is fine to sandwich the cakes together and there are lots of great ready-made brands of elderflower cordial. Having said that, it is really fun to make your own if you have time!
Using edible flowers – what you need to know
As you might have worked out from the name of my blog, I love using edible flowers. For someone who really appreciates the visual impact of the food that they eat, but has little decorative skill (piping sugar roses really is not my thing), edible flowers are the perfect ingredient. If you have never used edible flowers before, this is what you need to know.
There are many varieties of flower that are edible. There are also many that are not either because they don’t taste very nice or because they are harmful if eaten. It is vital that you know what varieties of flowers you can use in your cooking. If in doubt, don’t use it!
Similarly, you need to be sure that the flowers that you are using have not been treated with any chemicals (pesticides or fertilisers) that might be harmful to you. The best way to be sure of this, is to obtain your flowers from a location that you know to be safe such as your own garden. Alternatively, you can now buy edible flowers from suppliers such as Ocado or Fine Food Specialist. Do not use flowers from the florist as they will often be chemically treated to prolong their life.
Broadly speaking, edible flowers fall into three categories. Firstly, there are flowers that are primarily decorative. They include lilac, primroses, violas and pansies. Secondly, there are flowers that are decorative but also provide a flavour. These include roses, lavender, elderflowers and dandelions which are generally used in sweet recipes and the flowers of many herbs, such as chives or thyme, which are generally used in savoury recipes. Thirdly, there are flowers which actually form part of the dish. These include peppery nasturtiums which can liven up a salad or courgette flowers which can be stuffed and then either fried or steamed.
Before you use your edible flowers, you need to make sure that they are clean. I soak mine in a bowl of cold water for around 10 minutes and then let them dry out on a clean kitchen towel for a further 5 minutes.
If you are using edible flowers to decorate a cake, you need to add them just before you are ready to serve it up. This is because the flowers will only keep fresh for a few hours once they have been stuck to the cake. I will keep my decorative flowers in a bowl of water until just before I need to use them. They keep fresh for a couple of days if kept in a bowl of water.
Other recipes using edible flowers
If you would like to explore using edible flowers, I have a lot of recipes that use them for decoration and flavour.
This Lemon Sponge Cake, flavoured with elderflower cordial and decorated with edible flowers, is probably the easiest show-stopping cake you will find!
For the cake
450 g butter
450 g caster sugar
400 g self-raising flour
50 g cornflower
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons elderflower cordial
Grated zest of 1 lemon
For the decoration
250 g butter
500 g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of elderflower cordial
8 tablespoons of lemon curd
Edible flowers (primroses, pansies, roses)
You will also need three 18 cm loose-bottomed sandwich tins.
First make your cakes. Set your oven to 180 degrees centigrade or Gas Mark 4.
Cream the butter with the sugar. (I usually soften the butter for about 30 seconds in the microwave first as it makes it much easier.)
Gradually add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture. If it looks as if it is going to curdle, add some of the self-raising flour.
Once the eggs have been incorporated add the rest of the self-raising flour and the cornflower.
Add the milk, elderflower cordial and the grated lemon zest.
Grease your Victoria Sandwich tins or containers and then add the cake mixture.
Bake your cakes in the oven for around 35 minutes. They are done when they are golden brown, springy to the touch and have shrunk away from the edge of the tin. You can test this by inserting a skewer in the middle of the cake – if it comes out cleanly with no mixture attached, your cake is done.
Allow your cakes to cool on a rack before removing them from the tins or containers.
Next prepare the icing and decoration. Beat the butter and icing sugar together in a food processor or using a hand blender. Add the lemon juice and elderflower cordial and beat until the mixture is pale and smooth.
Spread 4 tablespoons of lemon curd on top of one of the cakes. Place the second cake on top of it. Spread 4 tablespoons of lemon curd on top of the second cake. Place the third cake on top of it.
Spread the lemon buttercream over the top and sides of the cake.
Decorate with edible flowers.
Make sure that you are using varieties of flower that are safe to eat and that they have not been chemically-treated. Wash flowers before use.
This is probably the quickest and easiest ice cream recipe. It only has three ingredients – cream, Greek yogurt and Lemon Curd – and takes a matter of minutes to combine them. I think the ice cream tastes better if you use home-made Lemon Curd. It has a citrus zestiness that you just don’t get with the shop-bought version. I have a foolproof, quick recipe for making Lemon Curd and you can use it for lots of other things as well as ice-cream. It is great just spread on bread or as a filling for cakes or you could try making my Lemon Pavlova. However, if you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own Lemon Curd, you can use shop-bought.
You can use an ice cream maker to make this ice cream but it is not essential. If you do not have an ice-cream maker, you can place the mixture in a freezer-proof container, put in the freezer for several hours until half-frozen. Whisk the mixture and then return to the container and replace in the freezer until totally frozen.
I am a great home-made ice cream enthusiast. I make it in the summer, of course, but am happy to eat it in winter too! There are some brilliant, shop-bought ice creams available but it is so easy to make your own. I like to experiment with flavours and some of my other ice cream recipes are listed below.
Stir the Greek yogurt and 300 ml of the Lemon Curd into the whisked cream.
Transfer the mixture to the fridge in a covered bowl to become thoroughly chilled.
When you are ready to make the ice-cream, transfer the mixture to your ice-cream maker and use according to your machine’s instructions. If you do not have an ice-cream maker, you can place the mixture in a freezer-proof container, put in the freezer for several hours until half-frozen. Whisk the mixture and then return to the container and replace in the freezer until totally frozen.
Once the mixture has thickened, stir inn the remaining 100 ml of Lemon Curd so that it forms a “ripple” through the ice cream. Transfer to a container and keep in the freezer until you wish to eat it.
This recipe is much better if you use home-made Lemon Curd and you can find a fool-proof recipe on this blog. However, if you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own, you can use good quality shop-bought Lemon Curd.
Lemon Pavlova, what’s not to like? I love lemon and I love meringue, so for me this is pretty much the perfect dessert. Even better, it is really easy to make! One of the great things about pavlovas is that while they have that show-stopping, celebratory vibe, they are actually extremely simple to produce even for inexperienced cooks. Another of my favourites is Rose and Raspberry Pavlova which is a twist on a more traditional pavlova recipe.
This recipe for Lemon Pavlova first came into my family through my Aunt Pat who led a rather glamorous life as a literary agent in the 1950s and 1960s. Part of her not-terribly-onerous job involved taking trips from London to New York in order to meet authors and publishers. Needless to say, food and copious amounts of alcohol figured prominently during these visits. This Lemon Pavlova was made for Aunt Pat by an admirer who lived in New York. Despite the Pavlova, the relationship didn’t last but the recipe became a firm family favourite. I always think of it as a kind of deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie but without the pie! I think it is brilliant as just having the lemon and the meringue makes it a much lighter dessert.
Lovely Lemon Curd…
The lemon flavour in this Pavlova is provided by Lemon Curd. If you are pushed for time, you can, if you must, use shop-bought Lemon Curd. However, the Lemon Pavlova will truly be so much better if you use home-made Lemon Curd. It only takes ten minutes to make and my Easy Lemon Curd Recipe is fool-proof. Once you’ve made it, it keeps in the fridge for three weeks and can be used in lots of different ways – as a spread, as a cake filling and, of course, as a dessert ingredient. My recipe for easy Lemon Curd Ice Cream is also a great way to use Lemon Curd – home-made or shop bought!