I was told about Kuch Khaas on the plane. We travelled with Beena Sarwar, who was so generous about sharing information about Pakistan. And everything I learnt about the place, I seemed to like it more. Within in the week, I checked it out on Facebook, and then promptly forgot about it while getting the house sorted and then finally at the end of August I went back on to check what treats September had for us.
And I was gutted. I'd missed the Farmer's Market that was held that very day. But the good news was that it was on every Saturday! So the next Saturday, armed with my camera, I left for the market, with well, almost zero expectations.
This was not your ordinary subzi mandi, this was almost Portobello Road -esque, albeit a lot smaller. There was organic milk, fresh cheeses, bottled preserves, hand-made pasta, honey, bread right out of the oven, organic eggs, fish, vegetables and basil, oh so much basil.
I was thrilled. I was in my own candy store of fresh produce, and while not a lot of it was organic, plenty of the food around was natural. Two things I couldn't resist buying were the meyer lemons and the thai birds eye chilli. Oh and the quark ofcourse.
I sat down to take in all the sights and sounds. It was just such a lovely feeling stumbling into something familiar yet so different.
And I couldn't help myself, I had to go back again. This week, I bought beautiful ricotta and artisanal feta and plenty of lemongrass. Oh and a reprise on the milk.
Back to the produce. The quark was really quite fabulous and I was in half a mind of making a cheesecake but instead I ended up making a roasted peach and honey and quark layered pudding.
But the Farmer's Market deserved a recipe, so I decided to focus on the Meyer lemons, which needed a few days to turn yellow and they smelt so gorgeous that I knew something had to be done about them.
I'd bought a whole bunch of poppy seeds at the local grocers, and oddly the black poppy seeds which are available all over the world, weren't available so I settled for the white ones. Not like they make any difference to the taste.
I roasted the poppy seeds so that their natural nuttiness come through beautiful and zested the lemons and rubbed them into the sugar.
I made four mini loaves, because I find the sizes a lot easier to give away and deal with, but you can do ahead and make a large loaf.
The Meyer lemons were super tart, yet had a surprisingly refreshing flavour, which made the cake taste quite different from the cakes I've made back at home. Oh and the fragrance. To-die-for.
I still have two huge lemons leftover and I can't wait to make something fun with it, but in the meanwhile, come and visit me in Isloo? No, ok just make this cake then.
Meyer Lemon and Poppy Seed Pound Cake
Adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen
100 grams unsalted butter
3/4 cup cake flour
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup plus two tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest plus 2 teaspoons juice from 2 medium lemons
2 large eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Lemon Syrup:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
For the Lemon Glaze:
1 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides loaf pans; dust with flour, tapping out excess.
- In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
- In a small bowl, toss 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture and poppy seeds together, set aside.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter, covered with plastic wrap, at full power until melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk melted butter thoroughly to reincorporate any separated milk solids.
- In a bowl mix sugar and zest until combined, let it sit for a bit. Add lemon juice, eggs, and vanilla; and beat well. Drizzle the butter in gently. Sift flour mixture over eggs in three steps, whisking gently after each addition until just combined. Fold poppy seed mixture into batter after flour is incorporated.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue to bake until deep golden brown and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto wire rack.
- While the loaf is cooling, make the lemon syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir together the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside.
- Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the warm loaf. Brush the top and sides of the loaf with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let the cake cool completely.
- To make the lemon glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of the lemon juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. Add up to another tablespoon of lemon juice if the mixture is too stiff. Pour the lemon glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the lemon glaze harden, about 15 minutes, before serving.