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03 March 2009

Cardamom Lemon Tart with Allspice Pastry

So again I am experimenting with spices. I took this lemon tart recipe from Comfort a marie claire recipe book by Michele Cranston and have added a few special touches in the form of green cardamom, allspice and vanilla bean seeds.

Green cardamom adds a lovely freshness. And allspice adds a delicious cinnamon and clove like fragrance to the pastry.

On my recent trip to Herbies in Rozelle I bought the most beautifully fragrant vanilla pods. You can small them through the plastic. They are amazing. In this recipe I split open a pod with a sharp knife, scrape out the vanilla seeds and mix them with the whipped cream to serve. Delicious!

In the picture I have served the tart with the vanilla cream and blackberries which I have whizzed in the food processor with a little lemon juice and sugar. Enjoy!



1 2/3 cups plain flour
100g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons allspice
2-3 tablespoons chilled water

I made my pastry in my food processor. If you do not have a food processor, combine the flour, butter, sugar and allspice in a bowl and rub butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Then add the water slowly and knead until the pastry forms.

If using a food processor, add the flour, butter, sugar and allspice and process until combined. Add the water slowly until the mixture comes together.

In both cases, wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

Grease a 25 cm tart tin or pie dish. Roll out the pastry until very thin (I found that I had far too much pastry - you can store the extra in the freezer for later use) and line the tin / dish with the pastry. Chill for another 30 minutes (I put this in the freezer for 15 minutes instead).

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork, line with baking paper and fill with rice or pastry weights. Bake for 10-15 minutes until dry and slightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.



Prebaked pastry tart case (see above)
6 lemons
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons ground green cardamom
250ml whipping cream (unwhipped)
300ml cream, whipped to serve
1 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds removed
Icing sugar to serve


Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.

Finely grate the zest of 2 lemons and place in a large bowl. Juice all of the lemons (you should have about 185ml lemon juice). Add to the lemon zest along with eggs, egg yolks, caster sugar and green cardamom. Whisk to combine. Add the cream and whisk once more before pouring the mixture into the tart case.

Place the tart case (carefully!) into the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes (I found that I needed 50 minutes). The filling should be set but still a bit wobbly in the centre. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate to enhance the lemon flavour.

Add the vanilla seeds to the whipped cream. Serve tart with vanilla cream, fresh berries and dusted with icing sugar.

Lamb Curry

Okay, so this is my first attempt at making my own blend of herbs and spices to create a curry (other than adding lemon myrtle to my Tomato Chicken Curry dish). I recently bought Spice Notes and Recipes by Ian Hemphill who owns "Herbies Spices" a spice shop at Rozelle. I am absolutely loving this book and the inspiration it provides. I now have so many sticky notes stuck to the pages there is really no point having any as almost every page is tagged.

As a result you'll find a lot more herbs and spices in some of my dishes. Some are a little obscure - I am trying to experiment with more unknown ones. If you want to find out more about any visit http://www.herbies.com.au/ where you can also purchase spices online. Or of course ask me (you can ask by making a comment on my recipes).

In this lamb recipe you will find "amchur" which is made from dried green mangoes. I chose to use this spice as it is lemony and adds sourness to curries.

You'll also find "fenugreek" which adds sharpness.

My Sunday night taste testers (Mark and Scott) were very happy with this creation (Mark described it as "very good"). The paprika was added during the cooking process. I tasted the curry while it was cooking and asked the boys whether they thought it needed more kick. Mark, who is a big chilli fan, wanted more heat added, so I added the hot paprika. Personally I think the delicate taste of the other spices can stand alone as a delicious curry, but add paprika as desired to suit your taste buds.

The quantities I list below fed the three of us. So perhaps add a bit more meat if you are feeding more people.

If you do not have a mortar and pestle you can use ground spices and skip the first part about roasting the herbs. I just love bashing the spices myself!

2 cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
4 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1 tablespoon tumeric
1/2 cinnamon quill (or 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon amchur
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon hot paprika (or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 small onions chopped
800g lamb leg steaks cut into 2cm pieces
Flour for dusting lamb
3 tablespoons beef stock
3 tablespoons yoghurt
Oil for frying
Handful fresh mint
Rice and steamed greens to serve


Preheat oven to 150 degrees.

Toast the cloves, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and coriander seeds until fragrant. Place spices in a mortal and pestle. Once cooled, grind spices with the garlic until a paste is formed. Add other spices and mix to combine.

Heat oil in a fry pan, add onion and cook until soft. Add spice mixture and cook until fragrant, stirring. Put onion and spice mixture into oven casserole dish and set aside.

Dust lamb pieces with flour. Add more oil to the fry pan and brown lamb on each side. Put lamb on top of onion and spice mixture in casserole dish.

Add stock and yoghurt and stir to combine all ingredients. Place in the oven and cook for 2 - 2/12 hours. The cooking time can depend on how much time you have. If you want to prepare the meal in less time, turn the heat up. Just check the liquid levels and test the lamb at regular intervals. I find however that if I cook the lamb for longer at a lower temperature it is a lot more tender. Taste the sauce as it cooks and add more salt, hot paprika or other spices as desired.

Serve with steamed rice, greens and a sprinkling of mint.