Monthly Archives: February 2011

Spice Rack Challenge: Citrus. Again.

I probably should call this post “If Lemon Curd isn’t your thing…” I already posted about Meyer Lemon Curd for February’s Spice Rack Challenge. All the way back on February 12th. Then I received a delivery from The Lemon Ladies Orchard:

THANK YOU KAREN! Sorry about the camera phone photo – I was way too excited to break out the real camera.

What to do with SEVEN pounds of delicious Meyer Lemons picked only days ago in California sunshine?

First: Preserved Lemons. Recipe courtesy of Tigress:

Spicy. Sweet. Salty. SPICY.

I used half cayenne and half Spanish Pimentón. I know Tigressprefers to use regular lemons instead of the Meyer variety, but when that’s what you’ve got…

We’ll see how they turn out. Maybe I’ll want more toothsome ones when this batch is used.

Ideas on how to use Preserved Lemons: Arctic Garden Studio has great suggestions, including preserved lemon and harissa hot dogs (have to try those!) and an awesome link for Preserved Lemon and Thyme Compound Butter (oh man…). The lovely readers at Food in Jars suggested using Cara Cara oranges (my new addiction) instead. Once they age I will definitely be trying the Spicy Potato Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives from Epicurious.

Second: Juice them! You can use the juice for curd, but you knew that already. Make lemonade, or freeze the juice for when inspiration strikes later. Note to self: Also do a Meyer Lemon Roast chicken.

If you don’t live in California, Texas or Florida, you likely had the lovely yellow beauties shipped in – dont let ANY go to waste! Make limoncello with that rind!

Señor SK and I had a bad limoncello experience on a trip to Rome a couple of years ago – but I’m willing to give it another shot. The idea of lemonade er… for adults… in the summer sounds fantastic.

Patience, grasshopper.

Thanks to Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking for the recipe.

Third: Bake. Tomorrow I might make Arctic Garden Studio’s Lemon Pull-Apart Loaf. And maybe Barefoot Contessa’s Lemon Yogurt Cake. But today I came across dymnyno’s Lazy Lemon Tart on Food 52. It can’t get much easier than this: 1. Buy pre-made pie/tart crust, 2. Blend filling in a food processor – a WHOLE lemon!, 3. Bake.

I should add 4. Try not to inhale in one sitting. The crust gets golden and crunchy and amazing. Seriously – MAKE THIS NOW.

After all that, I was pretty lemoned out. Tomorrow I have plans for more lemon-infused baking and some sort of preserves. I haven’t decided whether to make Vanilla Garlic’s Kiwi Lemon Jam or Hitchhiking to Heaven’s Cherry Meyer Lemon Preserves with Raspberries instead. Or both. Any other Meyer Lemon suggestions are welcome! If I have any left…

V-Day Vanilla Snobbery

V-Day is traditionally low-key in the SK household. There might be a dinner, out or in, maybe some candelight, and a relaxing evening of enjoying each other’s company. This year, we’re eating in. Señor SK is a big fan of roast chicken, but even more so a roast chicken with a little something special to keep it moist and delicious. Some garlic mashed potatoes and some roast asparagus and we are in business.

…But isn’t this day all about dessert? More or less. Señor SK is a big fan of simple flavors, and one of his favorites is vanilla. Did I mention he is a vanilla snob? Not in a bad sense – not that snob is always negative, especially in Connecticut. But rather in a he-kn0ws-what-he-likes-so-dont-mess-with-it kind of way. Vanilla Ice Cream is his vanilla vehicle of choice, but not just any vanilla ice cream. Vanilla BEAN ice cream or else – I wouldn’t dare bring home French Vanilla as a paltry substitute. I know French Vanilla has more eggs to give it a rich custardy base and a yellow hue – and while this has egg yolks in it it is a far cry from the French Vanilla in the grocery store. Vanilla snobs have no fear – I have found the cure for what ails you.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz’ Vanilla Ice Cream and Rurally Screwed’s Homemade Vanilla Ice-Cream with egg yolk
3/4 cup vanilla sugar
1 cup COLD whole milk
2 cups COLD heavy cream (or half and half)
homemade vanilla extract
2-3 COLD egg yolks

First, 12-24 hours ahead, put your ice cream canister in the freezer. Second, make sure all of your dairy is cold – I took mine straight out of the fridge – when you are ready to churn. Whisk one cup of whole milk and 3/4 cup of vanilla sugar together until the sugar dissolves – 1-2 minutes. Vanilla sugar is the final resting place of my vanilla beans. I usually buy them in bulk on eBay (yes, really, eBay – thanks to Alton Brown for the tip). Some of them go into vanilla extract (split and scraped beans + vodka + time) some are used in baking, but all of them end up dried in my jar of vanilla sugar. Its good to have when you live with a vanilla snob.

Anyway, once the sugar is dissolved, add the heavy cream. I only had a cup on hand, so I added more whole milk to the cream. It’s plenty rich as it is, and I wasn’t about to run to the grocery store, so there you go. Separate your eggs (I used three) and mix the yolks together, then whisk to incorporate. If you have a problem with raw eggs, this recipe isn’t for you. An easy solution to that is to trust your egg source. We buy a carton a week at CRFM from Highland Thistle Farm. Their eggs are always deeply golden – a sign of how fresh they are – and so, SO much better tasting than those lifeless pale yellow things from the supermarket. I guess we are vanilla AND egg snobs at SK. And maybe milk snobs – due to the delicious stuff coming out of Beaver Brook Farm.

Add homemade vanilla extract to taste 1-3 tablespoons. Or more if you have a vanilla problem. I age our vanilla extract until it is deep brown flecked with vanilla – since I scrape the beans into the extract. Whisk into the ice cream mix. Now, take your canister out of the freezer, set up the machine and start it churning while its still empty. The ice cream mixture is already smooth and creamy, but for added assurance I strain it as I pour it into the machine – it catches a few bits of egg every time.

I set my ice cream machine for its longest churn – 30 minutes. When you first start to blend, it goes from smooth liquid:



… to pure deliciousness. All with a little bit of air and a little bit of patience, grasshopper. Trust me, its worth the wait.

I mean, look at that! Guaranteed to satisfy even the most deep-seated vanilla snobbery. At this point, despite your desire to inhale the whole batch, it must be hard set in the freezer for at least 4 hours to give it that ice cream consistency we all know and love.

Yield: 1/2 quart (2 pints) and something delicious enough to make mildly lactose intolerant individuals forgo all common sense.

Options
1. Eat straight up and try not to lick the bowl. Just try. This recipe is already stellar, but if you must:
2. Serve in affogato. I am the lone coffee fan in the house, so not this time.
3. Serve with fresh fruit. Berries when in season are fantastic. Or jam, when in the middle of winter.
4. Drizzle with Disaronno or Coole Swan (Irish Cream – much preferred to Bailey’s) for added decadence. If you need more decadence, that is.

Spice Rack Challenge: Citrus

A few weeks ago I tweeted that I was making Florida Citrus Curd. I had friends who brought me back gifts from Florida – questionably legally – in citrus form. Unfortunately, the recipe I followed didn’t turn out. Long story short – the giant batch turned out eggy. I don’t know about you but eggs and grapefruit is not one of my preferred flavor combinations. I haven’t found a way to make it work, despite advice from Foodpicklers I don’t think it can be saved.

Never one to give up easily, I trekked to the nearest Whole Foods to grab some Meyer Lemons. It seems like you blink and you miss their “season” up here in the frigid North. I really just need to make friends with someone who has a tree. Or figure out how to do it here indoors. Someday. Until then, I will resort to a small amount of decidedly not local citrus to import some sunshine to snowy Connecticut.

Meyer Lemon Curd
Adapted from Vanilla Garlic’s Scavenging Lemon Curd and Healthy Green Kitchen’s Meyer Lemon Curd

3 large eggs This time I used only yolks
8 large egg yolks
2 cups sugar
1.5 cups lemon juice (four lemons worth)
zest of four lemons
1/2 stick of butter, cubed
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

You need to do this in a double boiler so the curd cooks slowly and doesn’t curdle. If you are constructing a double boiler for the first time, before you turn it on make sure the metal bowl fits in the pot without touching the water. Only the steam should be able to touch the bowl. Make sure that the bowl is metal. In a pinch I used a glass bowl once – only to have it crack. Metal only – trust me. I also used a wok ring to stabilize the bowl.

Please ignore the seriously messy stove.

Bring the double boiler on the stove up to a boil, then down to a simmer. While the water is heating, separate your eggs. I used eight eggs because thats what I had, but in hindsight think its a good amount.

Mix your egg yolks, sugar and lemon juice together and put on double boiler. You need to keep stirring until the mixture reaches approximately 180 degrees and is thick and rich – taking approximately 20 minutes or so. I alternate between a whisk in the beginning to a silicone spatula at the end to scrape the sides of the bowl and make sure the sugar is incorporated.

Once it starts to thicken, start to add the butter in small chunks. I used Kerrygold butter – which seems to make the yellow mixture even more golden. Maybe its all in my head, but that butter is CRAZY delicious. I would have used my favorite local butter, but I was unfortunately all out. Kerrygold – though again not local – really is the next best thing.

Once all the butter is incorporated, cook for another minute or so. How to tell its done? Its thick enough to do this:

Just try to get this shot while holding with your right hand, shooting with your left, and trying to do it quickly to keep stirring! Sometimes it takes some talent.

Cooking it slowly (over a long period of time) and gently (with a double boiler) is to ensure that you end up with a luscious, smooth curd. One way to make sure the curd is perfectly smooth is to pass it through a strainer with a silicone spatula to get every last ounce.

After you pass it through a strainer, then add the lemon zest. Don’t do what I did the first time and add the zest before the straining – because, quite obviously, you’ll strain out the zest too. Serious facepalm on that one.

Yield: 2 half-pints. For me – two to freeze, because I had a bowl to lick clean. They both went into the freezer for future use – but I might have to make some more soon. I also had some  juice leftover – which went into a post-work amaretto sour of perfection. You can water bath curds – but due to the butter they have a much shorter shelf life (a few months) than traditional water bathed products (a year). For more info, check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation guidelines.

 

Options

1. Use a different citrus. I think grapefruit would be lovely, but you may need to add more sugar to make it work. Oranges don’t work, though – as they lack something (acid?) to make the curd set.
2. Use a different fruit all together. I’ve used raspberries before a la Eat the Love.

 

 

 

 

3. Use the final product on toast, in yogurt, with oatmeal… lots of breakfast possibilities.
4. Make a large batch and use it in between layers of cake. Add a little into buttercream, top with zest – I think a lemon cake might be calling my name!