Tag Archives: Lemon

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

Lemon Crackers

Lemon Crackers

Lemon Crackers

Sometimes, you want snack time to be more than just goldfish crackers, you know?  If you have little ones, then you know that snack time at play dates usually hits all the major kid food groups… crackers, juice boxes, and grapes.  While that’s menu gold for the kids, I think the adults deserve something a little more special.

Getting Things Ready

The ingredients

For example, maybe something with parmesan cheese, and butter, and with delicious hints of lemon and pepper.  Now that sounds like a grownup snack worthy of any play date.  Even better, the dough for these crunchy little gems can be made made the night before the get together and baked right before everyone arrives.  So whip together a batch of these crackers and be the star of your next playgroup.  These are so tasty that you might just have to wrestle them away from the kids.

The 11 inch Cracker Log

Cracker dough

Lemon Crackers

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

3/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

4 tbls cold butter, cut into small cubes

1 1/2 tbls water

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

To Make:

Whisk together the parmesan, flour, lemon zest, and black pepper in a mixing bowl.  Cut the butter into small pieces and toss in the cheese-flour mixture.  Using a pastry blender (or two knives), work the butter into the cheese flour mixture until the result looks like coarse bread crumbs.  Add in the water and lemon juice.  Use a fork to mix thoroughly until a dough ball is formed.  Transfer the dough to a sheet of wax paper.  Handling the wax paper (not the dough), roll the out the dough to a uniform log, about 11 inches long.  Wrap tightly in the wax paper and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to two days.

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Cut the log into 1/4 inch slices and place on a baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.  Cook only one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes, or until the edges start to turn to a golden color.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To Serve:

These make yummy little vessels for your favorite dip.  Or just eat them plain and enjoy their cheesy, mildly lemon flavor.  Makes about 40 crackers.

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Filed under Appetizers, Baked goods, Recipes

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

I bet you all think today is a special occasion, with back-to-back blog posts happening.  Well, it is eggplant time in these parts, which is definitely cause for a little celebration.  When the eggplants start rolling in it means I get to make (and eat) one of my all-time favorite dips, baba ganoush.  Up until a couple of years ago, I didn’t even like eggplant.  Whenever I had it I found it to be either tasteless or bitter.  So I pretty much kept away, frequently using the “no thanks, I really don’t care for eggplant” deflection whenever it was offered.  But then we joined our CSA and I suddenly had a lot of eggplant in my possession.

Eggplants ready for grilling

Eggplants ready for grilling

Since Marc lives to smoke things, we decided to break out the smoker and try our hand at baba ganoush.  I figured that I liked hummus, so maybe I would enjoy this Middle Eastern dip too.  After I had my first taste, I was in love.  Fast forward three years… this recipe for baba ganoush is on the menu every summer.  Even the kids like it.  When Thing 1 was a baby, she used to call it “gaba noush”.

Eggplants, transformed by smoke and heat

Eggplants, transformed by smoke and heat

The key to truly good baba ganoush is smoking the eggplant.  You can make this recipe by roasting the eggplant in a 400 degree oven but it won’t have the same smokey, slightly sour flavor that wood chips impart.  Luckily, it is easy to create a “smoker” using your gas or charcoal grill.  Get some smoking chips (they are easy to find at big box stores or your local hardware store) and soak them in water for at least an hour (you can leave them overnight if you want).  Make a packet with the chips in the center using heavy duty aluminum foil, poke a few holes in it so the smoke can get out, and toss it directly on the charcoal or flames.  Voila, your very own smoker, easy as pie.  Just make sure you close the lid while you cook so all the smoke doesn’t escape.

Almost ready

Almost ready

Baba Ganoush

Adapted from Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

~2.5 lbs eggplants (any color will do)

1 large clove of garlic, chopped

juice of one large lemon

1 1/2 tbls tahini (this is sesame paste and can be found in the ethnic section of most grocery stores)

1 tsp salt

To Make:

Soak smoking chips in bucket of water for at least one hour prior to grilling the eggplant.  Heat your gas grill to 400F or a charcoal grill to medium-hot.  Put wet wood chips in a packet made from aluminum foil with holes poked in it and lay the packet directly on the flame tamers (or the coals).  Pierce the eggplants all over, place on the grill, and close the lid.  Let the eggplant roast until is it soft all over and the skin is nicely charred, about 45 minutes. Make sure to keep half an eye on your eggplant.  Depending on the size, yours may cook slower or faster than ours did.

When the eggplant is soft, remove it from the grill and allow it to cool until it can be handled.  Cut the eggplants in half and scrape the flesh into a colander, allowing any excess liquid to drain.  Discard the skins.  Put the eggplant flesh into a food process along with the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, and salt.  Process until smooth.  Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary.

To Serve:

Right before serving, drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt.  There are endless ways to serve this dip.  I like it spread on warm pita breads, on pita breads that have been baked until they are crisp, as a dip for fresh or roasted veggies (especially tomatoes), dolloped on a grilled lamb chop, etc.  Makes about 2 cups.

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-free, Gluten-Free, 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