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April 28, 2009

GUILTY MEYER LEMON CURD


GUILTY MEYER LEMON CURD

I slept terribly last night. I woke in the middle of the night, bathed in sweat, and no, it was not a hot flash. It was a full-blown panic attack. I was certain Alice Waters, at that very moment, was painting a large red X on my front door. You see, that’s what she does at night; she flies around in her organic olive oil fueled wagon (adorned with lemon and lavender peace signs) marking the doors of all fake locavores.
I confess, I bought fruit at Costco! Take me out and flog me. I swear I only went for the vodka.
I had decided to PUT UP some infused vodkas, (in anticipation of the upcoming cocktail season). On my way to the register, case of vodka in cart, what do I see but Meyer Lemons.
I wrestled my gargantuan Costco cart to a halt and stared, doubtful. Were they really Meyers? They had that lovely deep warm yellow color, were from California and did not look one bit like industrial fruit.
I thought for a moment, is this permissible? Will the food police come hunt me down and expose me as a Fake Foodie? What are the Foodie Rules and where are they published? Is everyone lying about the provenance of their food?
While I hated the idea of buying fruit at Costco I rationalized it by saying some farmer had made a nice deal for his entire (very perishable) crop, and I was thrilled by the price, ($6.99 for about 18 lemons). I paused for a moment, conflicted, and then threw four cases in my cart…whoopee!
Until last nights nightmare. So I hope you enjoy this recipe as it caused me a considerable amount of anxiety. If you know the foodie rules please weigh in, in the comments section.

MEYER LEMON CURD

This a lovely tart curd made fairly light by the use of whole eggs and a reasonable amount of butter. There's no cornstarch or fussy instructions, just combine all the ingredients and whisk over heat. If you don’t have Meyer lemons you can either increase the amount of sugar by ¼- ½ cup or you can substitute an orange for one of the lemons.

YEILD: 3 ½ cups

INGREDIENTS

All ingredients should be at room temp

8 Meyer Lemons, zested and juiced
(You should have 1 cup of juice)
1-cup sugar
4 eggs
1 stick unsalted butter cut in pieces


METHOD

1. In a metal bowl or the top of a double boiler whisk together juice, zest, eggs, and sugar. Add butter.

2. Place over simmering water whisk constantly until mixture thickens and is smooth. Five to ten minutes depending on the temp of your ingredients. It continues to thicken as it cools.

3. Put finished curd through a sieve.

4. Place is hot sterilized jars and seal immediately. Keeps refrigerated up to a week.

USES

*Slather on toast,
*Fold in whipped cream and serve with fresh berries
*Throw it in a tart shell and bake
*Whip up a batch of scones and have a fancy tea
*Use it as a cake filling
*Eat out of the jar standing in front of the fridge
*Make a Pavlova http://www.gourmet.com/recipes/2000s/2009/04/pavlova-with-lemon-curd-and-berries




April 17, 2009

THAI SIMPLE SYRUP


THAI SIMPLE SYRUP

Okay, I know I'm supposed to be doing spring things, but I was craving Thai food and I was a bit worried that you might be sick of rhubarb. I'd had an idea for Thai Lime Marmalade but was too lazy to make it; the thought of all that chopping and the whole pits and pith situation made me want to lie down. This recipe is divinely easy (I didn’t want to scare you away after the last one) that’s why it’s called simple syrup.
Throw some kaffir lime, lemon grass, ginger and chilies (if you like a little heat) in a pot with some sugar-water, put it in a cute bottle and voila, Thai Simple Syrup.
I added the chilies, uncooked, when I bottled the syrup which produced a mild kick on the finish. If you want more, add them during cooking or even cut the chilies open, but remember Thai chilies are very hot!. Next time I will opt for a tad more heat.
This stuff makes crazy cocktails; I tried it with whiskey and soda, fabulous! But the best was the insane Thai Margaritas I made, Thaigaritas if you will (there’s a joke in there somewhere).
Slice up some tropical fruit, mango's especially, and toss them in a little syrup and spoon over sorbet or my favorite, panna cotta.

THOM YUM SYRUP

I cup water
1 cup sugar
3-4 kaffir lime leaves, sliced
1 inch fresh ginger peeled and sliced
2 stems lemon grass, cut in half and smashed
2 Thai chilies

Combine the water and the sugar in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and add kaffir, lemon grass and ginger. Simmer for 5 minutes or until syrup is slightly thickened. Cool.

Strain and bottle. Keep refrigerated.

NOTE:
For an extra clear syrup strain through a coffee filter. This is takes time so be patient.

April 7, 2009

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PRESERVES


FEARLESS FANCY STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PRESERVES


Here on the west coast spring is in full swing (eat your heart out easties) which means strawberries everywhere. I bought a flat of ugly but delicious seconds at the farmers market ($14) and mixed it with all that rhubarb I'd bought. The results, a very special preserve, delicate and ambrosial, filled with luxurious whole pieces of fruit. It wants little else but some nice bread and butter.
I looked at a lot of recipes , most were either too simple ( resulting in a jam , not a preserve) and some too complex. Christine Ferber, the Jam Genius, had an amazing one but it made me want to lie down. I hope this recipe strikes the right balance of work vs. reward.
At first glance the recipe seems high maintenance and fussy, but really it’s not. It needs little tending, just advance planning.
Basically you make a batch of rhubarb and a batch of strawberry and combine them at the end, cooking only briefly to marry the flavors.
This produces a preserve, not a jam, with whole strawberries to sink your teeth into. The strawberries are brought to the boil and cooled repeatedly so that they can soak up the syrup without breaking down. Be patient and follow the steps, it sounds fussier than it is.
This recipe is best when smaller, bite sized (1-11/2 “) strawberries are used. But here in the U.S. the berries are often Flintstonesque. When this is the case cut the berries accordingly and adjust the rhubarb size. Make sure you have some unripe berries for their pectin.

RHUBARB STRAWBERRY PRESERVES

Ingredients

2.5 lbs strawberries
4 cups sugar
1 lemon juiced

8 cups cut rhubarb (about 2 ½ -3 lbs)
4 cups sugar
1 lemon juiced


METHOD

DAY 1

1. Wash and hull strawberries cutting any extra large ones into uniform size. Place in a non-reactive bowl with sugar and lemon juice and macerate over night or until sugar is dissolved.

DAY 2

2. Strain, reserving the fruit in the bowl. Boil the syrup for 5 minutes, skimming as needed
till you reach the gel point, 220-222 on a candy thermometer. Pour syrup back over strawberries and let soak again overnight. This allows the berries to absorb the syrup.

3. Prepare Rhubarb for maceration at this time. Wash and trim rhubarb and cut into 1” pieces (or larger to match your strawberry proportion). Place in a non-reactive bowl with sugar and lemon juice and macerate over night or until sugar is dissolved.

DAY 3

4. Bring strawberries and syrup to a boil, skimming as needed. Immediately turn off heat. Repeat this once more cooling in between.

5. Strain the rhubarb syrup into a preserving pan and bring to a boil. Skim. Continue boiling and skimming till you reach the gel point, 220-222 on a candy thermometer.

6. Add the rhubarb to its syrup and return to a boil. Skim. Continue cooking for 3-5 minutes, stirring, carefully to maintain the integrity of the fruit.

7. Combine strawberry and rhubarb preparations in one preserving pan (make sure pan is large enough to accommodate both and allow for boiling). Boil for 3-5 minutes stirring carefully. Skim .
8. Place jam in hot sterilized jars, seal and label.

Makes 10-12 ½ pint jars