Category Archives: Add-ons

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

Lemon curd… just the words make me start drooling.  I happen to love sour foods (read: vinegar, citrus, mustard, rhubarb, etc.) and pairing sweet and sour together makes me even more happy.   On a recent trip to London I enjoyed some lemon curd spread on scones with my afternoon tea.  The British are so darn civilized with their little sandwiches and scones in the middle of the afternoon.  When I came home, I was itching to make some curd of my own.  Lemon curd is one of those things (like custards and pie crusts) that have always intimidated me.  Turns out, I really didn’t need to fret.  Making lemon curd was surprisingly easy and the results were fantastic.

Curd ingredients

Curd ingredients

Marc helpfully picked up a sack of organic lemons from Trader Joe’s and set about juicing them over a fine mesh sieve using a lemon reamer.  On the other side of the counter I zested the spent lemon halves, measured the sugar, and cut up the butter.  Then came the stirring, and the standing in front of the stove, and more stirring.  Admittedly, the stirring part took a long time.  I kept my heat on the low side of medium because I was afraid of scrambling my eggs.  Next time, I might turn it up a bit to speed things up (keep in mind, I have an old electric stove that takes quite a while to heat up. I might not try this if I had a powerful gas version).

Spent lemons

Look at all those spent lemons

Luckily, all the stirring time was absolutely worth it. The finished curd is a thing a beauty… deep yellow color, thick, satiny-smooth texture, and the best tart/sweet lemon flavor.  I had my mother-in-law do a taste test – our curd vs. Trader Joe’s.  We did not tell her one was homemade.  She picked ours “hands down because it tasted more like lemon and less like sugar.”  Now that is a ringing endorsement if I ever heard one!

Straining the thickened curd

Straining the thickened curd

Lemon Curd

Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 tbls plus 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1-1/3 cups sugar

4 large eggs

14 tbls salted butter (if you use unsalted butter, make sure to add a pinch of salt to the curd)

To Make:

Choose a 2 quart, heavy-bottomed sauce pan to make the curd in.  Set the pan over medium-low heat and whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and eggs until smooth.  Adding the butter, a few tbls at a time, and whisking constantly, cook until the curd is done.

How to tell if the curd is done:

After you have been cooking for a while, the curd will start to thicken noticeably.  It is done when the curd is thick and bubbles are just starting to form on the top.  The original recipe said this take about 10 minutes.  Using medium and medium-low heat it took us closer to an hour.  So don’t be surprised if it takes longer than you think.  Just keep whisking and be patient and you will be rewarded with a rich, thick curd.

As soon as the curd is finished cooking, run it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.  Let it cool to room temperature on the counter, stirring occasionally.  Once it is cool, refrigerate covered until it is cold.

To Serve:

Lemon curd is a remarkably versatile condiment.  You can spread it on toast, spoon it over ice cream, or use it between the layers or on top of a cake.  You can fold it into whipped cream to make an instant “mousse”.  Spread it on a muffin, scone, or waffles.  Or just eat it with a spoon.  The original recipe says to consume within a few days and once you taste it, I assure you that won’t be a problem.

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Filed under Add-ons, Breakfast, Dessert, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Recipes

Refrigerator Sour Pickles

Refrigerator Sour Pickles

Refrigerator Sour Pickles

When cucumbers first start to appear in the summer, it is blissful.  After a fall and winter of heavy root vegetables, and a spring of greens, cucumbers are wonderfully light and refreshing.  Plus, they usually come along with tomatoes, zucchinis, and other denizens of high summer.  The problem with cucumbers is that they are pretty prolific and I have a hard time doing anything with them other than putting them in salads or on sandwiches.

Pile o' cucumbers

Pile o' cucumbers

Sure, I have a couple of Asian-style salads that cucumbers star in, but honestly, my repertoire is pretty limited.  So when the cucumbers start to overwhelm our crisper drawer, I reach for my trusty refrigerator pickle recipe and make a big batch.  The beauty of refrigerator pickles is that they are simple to make and because they are so acidic, they last a long time* in the fridge without the need for fancy canning.  The best part is that in about 30 minutes, we can make enough pickles to last us most of the year.  Which means we don’t ever have to buy them in the store.

The brine

The brine

This recipe is a modification of a recipe from Alton Brown.  I love the original for its simplicity but I have tweaked it a bit for my tastes.  Namely, I switched up the vinegars a little and cut the sugar in half because I like my pickles less sweet and more sour.  However, if you wanted more of a sweet-sour balance, feel free to increase the sugar.

Yummy vinegar and spices

Yummy vinegar and spices

Refrigerator Sour Pickles

Adapted from Alton Brown

6-8 pint-sized glass canning jars with lids

12 cucumbers (mix of all sizes), about 4 lbs.

1 medium onion

3 cups water

3 1/2 cups cider vinegar

1 cup white wine vinegar

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tbls kosher salt

1 tbls mustard seeds

3/4 tsp turmeric

2 tsp celery seeds

1 tbls pickling spice

1 tbls granulated garlic

To Make:

Thoroughly wash the cucumbers and trim the ends.  You can take the peels off (which I would do if I was using cucumbers that had been sprayed with pesticides) but leaving them on makes the pickle a bit crisper.  Slice the cucumbers approximately 3/16 of an inch thick.  Using a mandoline or food processor makes this job significantly easier and more consistent then doing it by hand with a knife.  Slice the onion into half moons that are 1/16 of an inch thick.  Set sliced cucumbers and onions aside.

To make the brine, combine the vinegars, water, sugar, and spices in a non-reactive saucepan large enough to hold everything.  Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, turn down the heat and let simmer for a full 4 minutes to allow the flavor of the spices to bloom.

Pack your cleaned and dried canning jars with the cucumber and onion.  Pack them full, and don’t be afraid to push down to get as much air out as you can.  Pour the warm brine over the cucumbers, filling the jars as full as you can without spilling everything when you put the lid on.  Let the jars cool to room temperature, top off with extra brine as need, put the lids on and put them in the fridge.

To Serve:

Let them sit a couple of days before you dive in.  Makes 6-8 pints of pickles, depending on how much cucumber and onion you use and how tightly you pack your jars.

*Public Service Announcement: The recipe says that these keep for a month or so in the fridge. However, we have kept them for longer than 6 months and still had them come out tasting fine.  So, feel free to keep them longer if you like, just use common sense (you know, throw away any jars that get moldy or appear discolored or cloudy) and don’t blame us if something goes wrong.

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Filed under Add-ons, Dairy-free, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Sweet Cherry Lemon Jam

Sweet Cherry Lemon Jam

 

The bounty of summer just keeps on coming.  Last week, it was the 7 pounds of cherries Marc and the small Things picked at our favorite U-pick place.  The girls and I really love cherries.  The day that I go into the supermarket and see bags of cherries for $3.99 a pound I get very excited.  I usually manage to eat a two pound bag all by myself over the course of a couple of days. 

Cherries!

 

You can imagine how thrilling it was to see a huge mound of bright red cherries (with a few Rainier cherries thrown in).  After three days of eating cherries for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacking on them throughout the day, I decided that I needed to actually make something.  I thought about making this again, but ultimately decided that I wanted to go the jam route.  I feel that store-bought cherry jam is never that good.  I wanted something with deep cherry flavor but also a jam that was bright and full of spark. 

Simmering cherries and lemon

 

I knew that I didn’t want to go the full canning route.  I wanted a small quantity that we could eat in a few weeks (and I didn’t feel like spending two days pitting cherries).  So I went looking for some inspiration and found this and this.  I cut the proportions but upped the lemon zest.  After cooking the fresh cherries down, I ended up with a thick, rich jam that is full of cherry-lemony flavor.  If you can get your hands on some fresh cherries, definitely try this delicious jam. 

The right jam consistency

 

Sweet Cherry Lemon Jam 

Adapted from The Hungry Mouse and David Lebovitz 

Ingredients: 

1 lb sweet cherries, pitted and stemmed 

1/2-3/4 cup of sugar (use as much as you need, depending on the sweetness of your cherries) 

1 lemon 

To Make: 

Start by zesting the lemon into a heavy-bottomed, medium saucepan.  Cut the lemon in half and juice each half into the saucepan.  Next, pit the cherries.  I don’t have a cherry pitter so I cut each cherry in half and pull the pits out.  Put half the cherries (either whole or cut in half) into the pan and toss with the lemon juice to prevent browning.  Roughly chop the remaining cherries and add them to the pan. 

Place the pan over medium-high heat and let it sit until the juices start to simmer.  Turn the heat down to low and loosely cover the pot.  Let the cherries simmer until they are soft and starting to fall apart, about 15-25 minutes (stir occasionally and be careful not to let it boil over).  Add the sugar and stir until combined.  Raise the heat and let the mixture simmer until the jam thickens (anywhere from 5-20 minutes, depending on how watery your cherries are).  To test if the jam is done , place a small dollop on a ceramic plate.  Put the plate in the freezer for a few minutes until the jam is cold.  Take it out and give it a little nudge with your finger.  If the jam wrinkles and forms a skin, it is ready.  It should coat the back of a metal spoon. 

Once the jam is done, take it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature (it will continue to thicken).  Once it is cool, place in a small, covered bowl and refrigerate. 

To Serve: 

Makes about 1 cup.  Jam will keep for a few weeks in the fridge.  Use it to spread on toast, top ice cream, make a glaze for grilled chicken / pork.  Or just eat it with a spoon.  It is that good.

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Filed under Add-ons, Fruit, Recipes

Buttermilk Biscuits with Havarti and Dill

Buttermilk Biscuits with Havarti and Dill

Who doesn’t love a nice biscuit?  A good biscuit, one that is buttery, tender inside, and crisp outside makes a great addition to any meal (or snack).  Even better are biscuits made with buttermilk.  There is just something about the subtle twang of buttermilk and the tenderness that it brings to baked goods that make it indispensable in our kitchen.    

The Dry Ingredients and The Cheese

Fresh buttermilk is great to have around, but if you find it goes bad before you can use it, you can also buy good quality dried buttermilk.  The taste is pretty good and all you need to do is mix with the appropriate amount of water.  But I digress… these are your classic drop biscuits with the delicious addition of Havarti and dill.  The cheese and herbs bring lots of flavor to your biscuit and also keep everything nice and moist.  However, don’t feel you have to use this particular combination of cheese and herbage.  Use whatever is in your fridge, the combinations are endless.  For example, cheddar and chives would be tasty, or how about Gruyère and tarragon.  Any cheese you can grate will work well so use your imagination and make lots of different batches. 

Biscuits Ready for Baking

Buttermilk Biscuits with Harvarti and Dill 

Adapted from Gourmet Today 

Ingredients: 

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 

3/4 cup cornmeal, preferably stone-ground (not coarsely ground) 

4 tsp baking powder 

1 tsp baking soda 

1 tsp salt 

4 tbls (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces 

6 oz (about 1 1/2 cups) shredded Havarti cheese 

1 tsp dried dill 

1 1/3 cups well-shaken buttermilk 

To Make: 

Put a rack into the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 450F.  Butter a large baking sheet. 

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and dried dill in a bowl.  Use a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the whole thing resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in cheese.  Add the buttermilk and stir until well combined. 

Drop dough in equal mounds about 2 inches apart on baking sheet.  Our dough mounds were about 3 inches in diameter and we made 9 biscuits.  Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.  If you make your biscuits smaller, make sure to keep an eye on the cooking time as they may bake faster.  Transfer to a rack and cool for about 10 minutes. 

To Serve: 

Serve warm with butter.  Yum.

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Filed under Add-ons, Baked goods, Bread, Recipes, Vegetarian