Meyer Lemon Curd

Meyer Lemon Curd

For some reason I am finding it particularly hard to write this post. Perhaps because I feel a disconnect with this recipe since I made it almost two months ago. That’s right – I made this delicious lemon curd for a bridal shower that I attended one day before I went into labor.

Meyer Lemons

Ah yes. Now I remember how delicious it was spread on fresh scones; how surprisingly easy it was to prepare; and how pretty it looked in a Weck jelly jar.

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If you have never made lemon curd before, let me urge you to give it a try. It’s hardly more bother than making a pudding. And it’s amazingly fresh and rich at the same time. If you’re a lemon fan, this is definitely something not to be missed.

Meyer Lemon Curd | from Williams-Sanoma | makes 2 cups | PRINTABLE PAGE

Ingredients:

  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar (natural sugar can be used, but the curd won’t be as pretty)
  • 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
  • grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons
  • 12 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

Directions:

1) Have ready a heat proof bowl and a fine-mesh sieve. In another heat-proof bowl (or the top of a double boiler) combine the egg yolks and sugar and whisk vigorously for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and zest and whisk for another minute.

2) Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Add the butter one piece at a time, whisking until completely melted before adding another.

3) Remove from heat and strain the curd through the sieve into the heat-proof bowl, pressing the curd through the sieve. Place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. Now you’re ready to serve your lemon curd on fresh scones (with butter and Devonshire cream), or however you wish!
Meyer Lemon Curd

Honey Roasted Pears

Honey Roasted Pears

I must admit that November is not my favorite month. In Norther Minnesota, most of the colorful leaves are long gone and everything seems brown, grey and cold. I long for the lakes to freeze over so we can go skating and for snow so we can ski.

Honey Roasted Pears

But this is the month to catch your breath before winter settles in. A time to dig out your extra warm coats, boots and sweaters in preparation for the freezing-cold days ahead.

It’s also a time to enjoy warm tea on grey days and hot, filling desserts on chilly evenings.

Honey Roasted Pears

These roasted pears are the perfect little treat for an otherwise gloomy evening. They cook up without fuss and are fantastic with a scoop of good-quality vanilla ice cream. You really must serve them with ice cream.

HONEY ROASTED PEARS | adapted from Sprouted Kitchen | Printable Page | makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe pears
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • good quality vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450° F (230° C). Slice the pears in half lengthwise and cut out the centers.

2. In a small cast iron skilled place the butter, honey, vanilla and salt. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

3. Add the pears to the pan, cut side down. Continue to simmer for 2 more minutes. Turn the peaches over and transfer to the oven. Bake for 12 minutes or until the pears are nice and soft and the sauce has caramelized.

4. Serve hot or warm with vanilla ice cream and the caramel sauce. Enjoy!

Honey Roasted Pears

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

for-cfs

Hey, ya’ll! Sorry I’ve been AWOL for the past couple of weeks. But I have a very good excuse: I was sick with various things for two weeks. Yeah, it was nasty. AND I’ve had a severe case of writer’s block.

But I’m gonna make it up to ya’ll in the form of cookies + a giveaway! Look for it next week.

For now, go check out my guest post on the Tasty Kitchen Blog. This Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream is marvy. And it’s super-easy.

What are your plans for the long weekend?

Have an awesome day!

xoxo

Erica


Homemade Pistachio Pudding

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When I was a little girl, I always requested my favorite dessert for my birthday, or any other special occasion: Striped Delight (shortbread crust, a cream cheese + whipped cream layer and pistachio pudding on top). I still remember being horrified when, for my birthday (probably my fifth or sixth), there was no pistachio pudding in the house so lemon pudding was substituted. I was crushed.

Homemade Pistachio Pudding

A while back, I spied a recipe for homemade pistachio pudding on Joy the Baker’s blog. I knew it needed to happen in my kitchen someday, but I only worked up the gumption to make it a few days ago.

The results? A creamy pudding with wonderful depth of flavor. Does it replace the fakey instant pudding I grew up with? No, it tastes nothing like that. Is that a bad thing? No. I’ll probably eat more instant pistachio pudding before I die, but this recipe is a lovely, more natural alternative.

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Recipe Notes:

  • Reuben and I agreed that, while very tasty, this pudding was a bit too sweet. Next time I’ll be cutting out a bit of the sugar.
  • You can definitely use a natural sweetener (which is probably what I’ll do next time) if you wish. I used granulated because I wanted the pudding to be a pretty color for photos.

Homemade Pistachio Pudding | from Joy the Baker | printable page | makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

For the pistachio paste:

  • 1/2 cup salted pistachio nuts
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (or a natural sweetener)
  • 2 tablespoons water

For the pudding:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (or a natural sweetener)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup pistachio nuts, chopped
  • whipped cream, for serving

Directions:

To make the Pistachio Paste:

Place pistachios in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until the nuts are in small bits.  Add the sugar and water, and blend until relatively smooth.

To make the Pudding:

1) Spoon Pistachio Paste into a medium saucepan.  Add the milk and whisk over medium heat.  Heat milk and pistachio until steamy and hot.

2) While milk is heating, whisk together granulated sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch and pinch of salt.  Mixture will be thick.  Keep whisking until it’s smooth.  Pour about 1/2 cup of the steaming pistachio milk into the sugar and egg mixture.  Whisk together.  Add another half cup of hot milk and whisk to incorporate.  Return the milky egg mixture into the saucepan over medium heat.

3) Heat pudding mixture over medium heat until thick and bubbly.  Whisk almost constantly.  You might also want to use a heat-proof spatula to stir the mixture, ensuring that the sides and corners of the pan aren’t burning. Boil for about 1 minute, or until thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla extract, until butter is melted.  Pass cooked pudding through a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl.  This will ensure that any cooked egg bits don’t make it into the finished pudding.  Press the pudding through the strainer.  Add a few of the pistachio nut bits that the strainer catches back to the pudding if you’d like.

4) Spoon into small ramekins, place plastic wrap over the individual puddings (so the plastic touches the top of the pudding), and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

5) Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream and chipped pistachios. Pudding will last, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days.


Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

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Super-sweet cakes are definitely not my cup of tea. Ever since I was a little girl I have disliked overly sugary desserts. Often times I would refuse birthday cake and opt for plain ice cream. Of course these days I’m a little more polite. I’ll eat my share of sickly-sweet treats; but give me a perfectly sweetened dessert and I’m much happier.

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The frosting is another hang-up. Gobs of powdered sugar + only a tiny bit of butter = disgusting, in my book. To balance out the sweetness, frosting needs a good measure of fat, whether it be in the form of butter, cream cheese, cream or peanut butter.

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Here I give you (what I consider to be) one of the best types of cakes: Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. The actual cake doesn’t taste like sugar fluff; it has flavor and a bit of spice and it’s nice and moist. The cream cheese in the frosting makes it pleasantly tangy and the maple syrup and vanilla give it a lovely flavor.

What do you think? Do you prefer your desserts with less sugar, or do you have a major sweet tooth?

Notes:

In keeping with my lower sugar preference, I cut out some of the sugar both in the cake and the frosting. If you have more of a sweet tooth than I do, you can go ahead and put in the full amount of sugar.

Of course I had to use half whole-wheat flour.

The original recipe called for nuts, but since Reuben prefers his desserts without them, I only put them on top.

Because I have always wanted to try it, I halved the recipe and baked the cakes in two 6-inch pans. I have provided the full-sized recipe below, but if you want to make a cute cake, just cut everything in half and bake in smaller pans.

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting | Printable Page | Makes 10-12 servings

Adapted from The Joy of Baking and Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 3/4 pound raw carrots (preferably organic), peeled and finely grated (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (preferably ww pastry flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled, or any other flavorless oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup organic confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

For the Cake:

1) Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

3) Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat the eggs until frothy, about a minute. Slowly add the sugar & beat until thick and light colored, about 3-4 minutes. Add the oil in a slow steady stream. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Fold in the grated carrots.

4) Equally divide the batter between the two prepared pans (I weighed the batter for precise measurement). Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

5) Remove from oven and allow the cake to cool, in the pan on a wire rack, for about 5-10 minutes. Turn the cakes out of the pans onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:

1) Beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy.

2) Sift the powdered sugar over the cream cheese/butter mixture and mix until well combined. Add the maple syrup and vanilla extract and beat until combined.




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Creamy Lemon Pudding + A Farewell To Winter

Lemon Pudding

There’s something clear and fresh about lemons that whispers “Spring” to me. The bright tartness reminds me of one of those nippy spring days that seem to hold onto winter. The clean, fresh tastes speaks of new beginnings. The cheerful, warm color says sunny days.

Thus, as these Minnesota days are finally warming up, the birds are beginning to sing and the snow is almost gone, I bid farewell to winter. I love winter for its nostalgia and (most of all) for the skiing, but I am quite ready to say hello to jackets and flats and good-bye to heavy coats and snow boots.

Lemon Pudding

Lemon Pudding

Lemon Pudding

But on to the pudding!

I was very much surprised by the creamy smoothness of this pudding – I was half expecting it to curdle horribly. However, the only lemon that hits the pudding while it cooks is the zest. Only after the pudding has completely cooled do you gently whisk in the lemon juice, ensuring that the pudding stays velvety.

The lemon flavor isn’t loud and sharp; it’s soft and slowly curls out as you savor each bite. Little bits of zest find their way into the finished pudding, even after straining, and give you a pleasant surprise. It’s marvelous.

Lemon Pudding

Notes:

  • I used white sugar because I didn’t want to compromise the delicate color, but you could easily substitute a more natural sweetener for a healthier treat.
  • I highly recommend serving with a dollop of whipped cream. It elevates a delicious treat to a decadent dessert.

Creamy Lemon Pudding | Printable Page | Makes 4 servings

From Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (make sure you lemon is organic!)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

1) Begin by putting a fine-mesh strainer over a heat-proof bowl set on top of a hot pad. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, cream and egg yolks. Slowly whisk into the cornstarch mixture.

2) Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat and strain into the prepared bowl. Whisk in the butter and vanilla.

3) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Gently whisk the lemon juice into the chilled pudding until smooth. Spoon into small bowls and serve.

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Peanut Butter Carob Chip Cookies + Food Goals for 2012

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Can you believe it? A new year is upon us. In fact, we’re almost two weeks into 2012.

I’m usually not one to reflect on the past year and make resolutions for the new one.  I hate making resolutions that I’m bound to break. But sometimes listing goals is a good way to give you some perspective and push you forward. Last year I started a Project 365, but only got to 146 photos. I’m not sorry at all that I started that project; even though I didn’t finish, I still have many moments preserved and I feel that I learned so much from the experience.

So I’ve decided to write down some food goals for myself for 2012; goals I know that I’ll break. But they’ll give me something to works toward.

My Five Food Goals for 2012:

1. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole foods.

2. Eat less processed, prepacked baked goods.

3. Make new recipes; don’t get stuck in a rut of making only the recipes you know.

4. Try to overcome your fear of sharing your food creations with others. You can’t always please everyone, and sometimes you’ll make something that just isn’t that great. Get over it.

5. Try something new, even if you think you won’t like it. You never know!

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On to the cookies!

I believe that these cookies are a good representation of a few of my food goals. They’re made with natural ingredients (whole wheat flour, demerara sugar, rolled oats, etc.), they contain an ingredient that I was a bit afraid of (carob chips), and I had to overcome my fear of sharing them with others.

You see, Reuben loves carob, but, I must admit, I’m not the world’s biggest fan. Give me a choice between 70% cacao chocolate and carob and I’ll take the chocolate 9 times out of 10. But I wanted to make something that he loved. And I found that the carob chips added a lovely malty flavor that fit these cookies very well.

However, I was so scared that everyone would think they were gross and too “healthy” tasting that I always put a caveat before them: “They’re healthy,” or “They’re made with Carob chips.” To my surprise, no one hated them, and a gentleman even asked for the recipe. Just goes to show that you should get over your ego and share your work.

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Notes:

  • These cookies are none too sweet: just the way Reuben and I like them. If you prefer something a little sweeter, simply add some extra demerara.
  • If you can’t find any carob or you can’t stand it, you can easily substitute it with chocolate chips.

Peanut Butter Carob Chip Cookies | Printable PageMakes approximately 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup demerara sugar or sucanat or rapadura
  • 3/4 cup natural peanut butter (I really like this kind)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour (aka soft white wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup regular rolled oats
  • 1 cup semisweet carob chips (we really like this kind), or chocolate chips

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 375 ° F.

2) In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), cream together the butter, sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into the butter and sugar mixture. Add the oats and chocolate chips.

4) Form the dough into balls the size of golf balls and place on an ungreased or parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten the balls slightly.

5) Bake in the preheated oven for 8-12 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. Remove from oven and let the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before storing.