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

Sesame Honey Lace Cookies

Sesame Honey Lace Cookies

Sesame Honey Lace Cookies

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and despite being a mother for 4.5 years now, I still always pause for a moment when Marc asks me what I would like to do for the day.  You see, I still think of my mother and my mother-in-law when Mother’s Day rolls around.  I forget that I am part of the celebration now too.

Sesame Honey cookie ingredients

The short list of ingredients

So to celebrate moms everywhere, here is a recipe for a light, deliciously sweet cookie that is a perfect pairing for afternoon tea.  These cookies are thin, crisp, and have a delicate, lacy structure.  They are a pretty golden color and taste of honey.

Lots and lots of sesame seeds

Lots and lots of sesame seeds

Make sure to use an excellent quality honey as it is the predominant flavor in these cookies.  When you place them on the cookie sheets, make sure to space them wider than you think you need to.  They spread a lot.

Cookies ready for the oven

Cookies ready for the oven

Happy Mother’s Day!

Sesame Honey Lace Cookies

From The Gourmet Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 cup confectioners sugar

3 tbls unsalted butter

3 tbls honey

2 tbls water

1 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup flour

Pinch of salt

To Make:

In a 1 1/2 quart heavy sauce pan over moderately high heat, combine the confectioners sugar, butter, honey, and water and bring to a boil.  Stir and boil for one minute.  Remove from heat and stir in the sesame seeds, flour, and salt.  Let cool to room temperature.

Position oven racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.  Set the oven to 350F and allow to preheat.  Have ready two large baking sheets, lined with parchment paper.

Scope out level 1/2 teaspoons of dough, roll each scoop into a ball.  Place each ball about 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets.  The cookies will spread a lot so better to space them further apart. Bake until the cookies are flat and golden, rotating the baking sheets half way through, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the cookie sheet and let cool.  The cookies will crisp as they cool.

To Serve:

Serve at room temperature, as a complement to afternoon tea.

Serve room temperature.  Cookies will keep, kept in an air tight container, for 3-5 days.

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Filed under Cookies, Dessert, Recipes

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

There is a Korean restaurant near where we live that we visit whenever we get the chance.  They make a kimchi pancake that is fantastic; even the small Things love it.  The only problem is that when we get takeout, the kimchi pancake is cold and slightly soggy by the time we get it home.  The idea of my beloved kimchi pancake cold and soggy makes me sad… so we decided to try our hand at a home version.

Ingredients

Ingredients

These vegetable pancakes make a pretty nice substitute.  They have the flavor of the different vegetables and the use of rice flour makes them nice and light.  Even better, the batter comes together very quickly so you can have these on the table in less than 20 minutes.  They make an excellent side to Korean-style ramen noodle soup or to some beef and broccoli.

Pancake batter

Pancake batter

If you wanted to make these more like traditional kimchi pancakes, you could increase the kimchi to two cups, substitute 1/4 cup of water with 1/4 cup liquid from the kimchi, and omit the carrot, scallion, and cilantro.  You could also add some cooked and shredded pork to make these more hearty.

Cooking the cake

Cooking the cake

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup rice flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tbls neutral oil, such as peanut or canola

5 scallions, green parts only, finely diced

1 tbls fresh ginger, finely chopped

1/4 cup of cilantro

1 large carrot

1 cup kimchi

To Make:

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, eggs, 1 tbls oil and 1-1/2 cups water until a smooth batter is formed.  Let the batter rest while the veggies are prepped.

To prep the vegetables, coarsely grate the carrot and finely chop the scallions and kimchi.  Chop the cilantro.  Once the vegetables and cilantro are ready, add them to the batter and stir gently until just combined.  The batter will be thick, like pancake batter.

Heat a griddle or large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add just enough oil to lightly coat the bottom.  When hot, ladle a quarter cup of batter and spread it out into a circle.  Cook until the bottom is browned (turn down the heat to medium if needed).  Flip and cook the second side until it is lightly browned, about another 5 minutes.  Repeat with the remaining batter.

As the pancakes finish, remove them and, if necessary, store on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven until you are ready to serve.

To Serve:

Serve warm, cut into triangles.  Dip in a sauce made with soy, rice vinegar, and a bit of sesame oil

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-free, Dinner, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Braised Pork Chops with Creamy Cabbage

Braised Pork Chops with Creamy Cabbage

Braised Pork Chops with Creamy Cabbage

It feels like we have been gone for a long, long time.  The winter has overtaken us… beat us into submission and stolen our kitchen creativity.  Sometimes, I dream about vegetables (that aren’t roots) and days when we can pick blueberries and eat fresh tomatoes.  Plus, things have been mighty busy around the wicked whisk household.  Of course, all of these thoughts are really just excuses for not blogging lately.  There are still plenty of delicious winter cooking options out there.

Local pork chops

Local pork chops

Take this dish, a slow braise of local pork and in-season cabbage.  Braising is a wonderful winter cooking technique.   Since you are in the house for long periods of time, you don’t mind having the oven on and cooking something for hours.  Meats get so tender that they practically melt in your mouth.  Most of the cooking work is done at the beginning. And braising is very forgiving.  If something simmers for an extra 20 minutes, it’s only going to be more delicious.  It helps build in a little buffer for the spouse that leaves the office late or gets caught in traffic on the way home.

Cabbage and the flavor

Cabbage and the flavor

Pork chops and cabbage are a wonderful, soul warming pairing.  The chops are browned first to give them a nice depth of flavor.  The cabbage is cooked with wine, mustard seeds, and fennel seeds before the two components are simmered together to let their flavors mingle.  While the pork chops are resting, the cabbage is finished with some heavy cream. You will be disappointed when there are no leftovers.

Browned chops

Browned chops

Braised Pork Chops with Creamy Cabbage

Adapted from All About Braising

Ingredients:

2 thick cut pork chops, about 2 1/4 lbs total

all-purpose flour, for dredging

3 tbls extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbls butter

1 tsp caraway seeds

1 tsp yellow mustard seeds

2 medium shallots

1/2 small head green cabbage

1/2 cup dry white wine

2/3 cup water

1 tbls cider vinegar

1 small chicken bouillon cube, crushed

1/4 cup heavy cream

To Make:

Season the pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides. Dredge each chop in flour, tapping to knock off the excess.  Add the extra-virgin olive oil to a large pot or Dutch oven(with a lid) that has been heated on the stove top over medium high heat.  Brown the pork chops for 4 minutes on each side.  Remove the pork chops to a plate.  Add in the butter and wait until melted.  Add in the caraway seeds and mustard seeds.  The mustard seeds will pop everywhere, be careful!  Stir frequently for about 1 minute while dodging the flying mustard seeds.  Add in the shallot and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often.  Add in the white wine and boil for a few minutes.  Add in the cabbage cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes.  The cabbage should be wilted, but not completely limp.

Add the water, the bouillon cube, and the cider vinegar.  Stir until everything is combined.  Place the browned pork chops on top of the cabbage, pouring in any juices that have accumulated on the plate.  Put the lid on the pot and reduce the heat until the liquid gently simmers. Let it cook for 30 minutes, turning once, or until the pork chops are cooked through.

Remove the pork chops to either a cutting board or their final destination plates.  Cover with foil so they stay warm while they rest.  Stir in the cream and boil for about 5 minutes.

To Serve:

Serve immediately.  Serves about 4.

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Filed under Dinner, Meat, Recipes, Vegetables

Roasted Cauliflower Cheddar Soup

Roasted Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup

Roasted Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup

Wait, please don’t run away.  I realize that the title of this post might not rouse tons of enthusiasm and that the soup isn’t the most appetizing color.  BUT, hang with me for a few minutes because this soup is fantastic… full of roasted delicious flavor and easy to make.  It is warm and filling which, if you leave in any of the 49 states in the US that currently have at least a little snow (yes, I am jealous of you, FL), makes it a perfect soup for a winter evening.

Cauliflower ready for the oven

Cauliflower ready for the oven

The particular color of the soup is because we let our cauliflower get nice and roasted.  If you choose to roast your cauliflower to a less, er, caramelized state, your soup would be more white than tan.  However, looks aside, the taste of richly browned cauliflower mixes with roasted garlic, wine, and cheddar cheese in a really fantastic way.

Richly roasted

Richly roasted

Other than roasting the cauliflower (which takes about 40 minutes), this soup is very quick to put together.  If you are pressed for time, you can roast your veggies in advance and pop them in the fridge.  Once you are ready to make the soup, it only takes about 20 minutes of (largely unattended) time.  We used an inexpensive riesling for the wine but you could use whatever type of white wine you have on hand (or omit the wine and use extra stock).  Feel free to add a little cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes if you like a little heat or use fresh herbs if you’ve got them.  Really, have a little fun with this soup… It is rich tasting, simple, and satisfying, especially when you are looking at 2 feet of snow in your driveway!

Cheesy goodness

Cheesy goodness

Roasted Cauliflower Cheddar Soup

Recipe adapted from the Tasty Kitchen Blog

Ingredients:

1 large head of cauliflower

3 large cloves of garlic (or 6 smaller cloves) peeled and cut in half

2 tbls olive oil

3 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock

1/2 cup white wine

1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tbls chopped fresh thyme)

1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbls chopped fresh oregano)

1 and 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Make:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Chop the cauliflower into florets, discarding the core.  Place the cauliflower and halved garlic in a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil.  Toss with your hands until well combined and spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.  Put the sheet into the oven and roast, turning once, until the cauliflower is caramelized and is fork-tender, about 40-50 minutes.

Add the cauliflower and about two cups of the stock to a large saucepan or stock pot.  Using an immersion blender, blend until the cauliflower is smooth and creamy.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can do this in batches in a regular blender.  Just be careful that the steam doesn’t cause a blender explosion in your kitchen.  Add the rest of the stock, the wine, and the dried herbs and bring to a gentle boil (make sure you add the puree back to the pot if you are using a regular blender).  Turn the heat down and simmer the soup for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Remove the soup from the heat and add the grated cheese, stirring until completely melted.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

To Serve:

Serve immediately with some good bread for dipping.  Serves 4.  The cauliflower can be roasted ahead of time and held in the fridge for up to a few days.  Just heat it with the stock a little before pureeing.

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Filed under Dinner, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Soup, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Salmon Rillettes

 

Salmon Rillettes

Salmon Rillettes

It is hard to believe that 2010 is almost at a close.  It has been a very busy year in our household.  Between raising two growing girls, starting a new business, and dealing with the day-to-day of life, we haven’t had as much time to blog as we would like.  Hopefully, 2011 will mean more frequent blogging!

 

Poaching the salmon fillet

Poaching the salmon fillet

So, to help you celebrate the New Year, here is a delicious little appetizer to add to your party spread.  It can be made a day in advance to ease pre-party preparations.  It is quick to put together but looks rather sophisticated on the table.  Pack it in a pretty container and serve in the same dish.

 

Salmon, onions, and butter

Salmon, onions, and butter

The best part, the flavor… I love salmon (especially smoked salmon) and when you combine it with lemon, wine, onion and capers, it is extra delicious.  The combination of two kinds of salmon mixed with butter makes the texture very smooth.  The capers, onions, and spices add a nice little kick of flavor.  For the best taste, allow the dish to come to room temperature before serving on toasted slices of crusty bread or crackers.  Happy New Year!

 

Almost ready

Almost ready

Salmon Rillettes

Adapted from Gourmet

Ingredients:

1/2 lb skinless salmon fillet

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 lb thinly sliced smoked salmon, finely chopped

4 tbls butter, softened

1/4 – 1/3 cup shallots (about 2.5 oz), minced

1/8 – 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

2 tbls fresh lemon juice

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp drained capers

2 tsp Cognac or other brandy

Zest of one lemon (freshly grated)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

To Make:

In a shallow skillet large enough to hold the fresh salmon, bring 1.5 cups water and 1.5 cups wine to a gentle boil.  Add the fresh salmon, reduce the heat, and poach at a bare simmer until the salmon is just cooked through (about 4 minutes).  Remove from the poaching liquid and let cool.

Flake the fresh salmon, chop the smoked salmon and add both to your serving dish.  Stir in the butter, shallots, parsley, lemon juice, mustard, capers, Cognac, and lemon zest until well blended.  The final dish should be well mixed but with some texture to the fish.  Season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight, until firm.

To Serve:

Serve spread on toasts or hearty crackers.  Allow the dish to come to room temperature before serving.  Makes about 2 cups.  Recipe can easily be doubled.

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Filed under Appetizers, Fish, Gluten-Free

Chocolate Mint Brownie Thins

Chocolate Mint Brownie Thins

Chocolate Mint Brownie Thins

First, I would like to offer a warm hello to all of our new readers.  We were “Freshly Pressed” on WordPress the other day and got a lot of traffic.  We hope that everyone sticks around!  We love to read all of the comments, ideas, and suggestions about the blog that others have.

The cast of characters

The cast of characters

And now, it is time for more cookies!  I really love cookie season because I love any excuse to bake (and eat) butter and sugar-laden treats.  Last night I got the urge for something chocolate.  Since it was already late I knew I needed something relatively quick (no long rests in the refrigerator) and easy.  These cookies fit the bill.

Melted chocolate goodness

Melted chocolate goodness

These are rich and chocolatey cookies with an unusual chewy/crispy texture.  The recipe describes them as the top layer of a brownie and that is exactly what they are like.  If you could skim the very top crackly layer off of a pan of brownies, you would have these cookies.  They deliver all the chocolate punch of brownies but they are lighter and less of a commitment.  The addition of a little bit of mint extract makes them very festive.  Of course, if you wanted pure chocolate, you could omit the mint and use chopped nuts instead of peppermint candies on top.

Spreading the dough

Spreading the dough

A couple of notes to make baking these easier.  First, the thinner you spread the dough, the thinner and crispier the cookies will be.  This makes the cookies great for eating, but challenging to get off the pan.  I found that using a very thin, flexible spatula (like an offset spatula that you would use to frost a cake) helps to get the cookies off the sheet in one piece.  Also, the original recipe says to bake the cookies for 7 minutes.  My oven probably runs a bit cool but I found I needed to go to 10-11 minutes in order to get cookies to the appropriate state of crisp.

Cookies ready for baking

Cookies ready for baking

Chocolate Mint Brownie Thins

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients:

6 tbls butter, cut into pieces

2 ounces good quality dark chocolate (at least 72% cacao), chopped

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

3 tbls plus 1 tsp all purpose flour

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp mint extract

pinch of coarse salt

Crushed peppermint candies, for garnish

To Make:

Position your oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Grease two baking sheets and set aside.

Place the chocolate and butter in a medium, microwave safe bowl.  Microwave the chocolate and butter using medium power until almost melted (about 1.5 minutes).  Remove from the microwave and whisk until completely melted.  Add the sugar and egg and whisk until smooth (about 1 minute).  Add the flour, extracts, and salt and stir until just combined.  Set the batter aside and let it stand for 10 minutes.

Scoop teaspoonfuls of batter onto the baking sheets, spacing them so you get about 12 per sheet.   Using the back of a large spoon, spread the dough into thin circles, about 2 inches in diameter.  Top with the crushed candy.  Bake in the oven, one sheet at a time, until the edges are darkened and the centers are nearly set, 7-10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 4 minutes.  Using a thin spatula, remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

To Serve:

Serve with milk.  Makes 2 dozen.

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Filed under Baked goods, Bars and Brownies, Cookies, Dessert, Recipes