Lemon Curd

To me, a curd is lumpy, but not this recipe for traditional lemon curd. This is smooth and lemony without being overly tart. It is great on desserts, cookies, waffles and in hot tea (try it!).  It is quite nice to have on hand and can be added to sauces for a citrus kick or in your salad dressings.  I am a shameless fan of high and low teas, and lemon curds is a must at both on your crumpets and tea cookies. I’m working on an entire section of tea party recipes, this is my introduction offering. It is quick, easy, and will last for the better part is two weeks if you take care not to contaminate the lemon curd while using it.

Ingredients

3 to 4 tablespoons lemon zest (none of the white, it is bitter.)
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice, strained to remove any solids (roll the lemons under the heel of your hand to release more juice before cutting)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter, cut into pieces
3 eggs

Directions

Wash the lemons to remove any chemicals, dirt or wax then thoroughly dry.  Remove the zest (the yellow part of the rind) from the lemons using a zester or a peeler (be careful to avoid getting any of the white pith, it is bitter  Yes, I know this is the second warning, it is that important).  Juice the lemons after removing the zest.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar. Bring just to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes. Add butter and stir until it has melted. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Beat eggs into cooled lemon mixture until well blended. Return to heat and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, 10 to 15 minutes or until mixture thickens and coats spoon. NOTE: Do not let the lemon curd boil, as it will cause the mixture to curdle and that cannot be fixed.

Remove from heat, allow to reach room temperature. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools.  Once it reaches room temp, you can refrigerate.

Veal Demi Glacé

Every kitchen should have a great Demi glacé on hand.  The depth of flavor cannot be replicated, slow roasting and time are crucial to making a deep brown, clear and shiny finished product.  I make this recipe 2-3 times per year, freezing it in small batches for later use.

25 lbs. Veal Bones

8 onions with skins
6 carrots with skins
2 heads celery
3 6-oz. cans tomato paste

25 peppercorns

3 Bay leaves
2 bunches parsley STEMS ONLY. (The leaves will leave black specks in the demi that looks like burned herbs.)
Water to cover

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and roast the bones for about an hour. Do not burn. Remove from oven and coat with tomato paste. Return to the oven for about 5 minutes until the paste roasts but doesn’t burn. Place the bones at the bottom of a stock pot and form a barrier between the vegetables and the pot. This will prevent a bottom burn.

2. Slice 2 onions in half, with skins on, plaimagece the flat part on a sizzle plate and roast until very dark and extremely light. This adds the deep color and a richness of flavor to the demi.

3. Rough cut the rest of the onions, carrots and celery and roast until browned and softened. About an hour or so.

4. Add the vegetables on top of the bones and cover with water to about 4″ from the top of the pot. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns and parsley stems.

5. Simmer for 3 days. Strain and refrigerate.

6. Remove the fat from the top.

7. Reduce to 1/3 of starting volume.

8. Should make 3 Quarts. Can be frozen. If you make a large batch, portion the demi into ice cube trays and freeze in containers for future use.

Bolognese a/k/a Meat Sauce a/k/a More Please….

Showing the parmesan rind.
Bolobnese, showing the parmesan rind.

One of life’s truisms is that everyone loves pasta, don’t let them tell you otherwise – that is just an attempt to make you walk away from the pasta bowl to save more for them.  Honestly.

Even so, not everyone loves the same kind of pasta.  Some like their noodles al dente (“toothy), others mushy (not me!).  Some like red sauces, some white.  Some red sauces have sugar added, others would rather gnaw on a pine cone.  Some choose a smooth marinara, others a chunky Bolognese.  This recipe is in that last category, a nice, chunky Bolognese – with no sugar added.

If you follow any of my recipes, you are probably aware that I consider a recipe more of an advisory opinion that a “you must do this….this way….now”.  And that is quite true with sauces, partially for the reasons set forth above:  everyone has their own preferences.  So, here comes by basic recipe.  You can add, subtract and substitute all day long and make it your own.  But I suggest beginning at the beginning.  Make this base, what I consider “essential” recipe, then modify it to your own liking.  Oh, and this recipe makes 6 quarts of deliciousness.  As you will see below, I use my vacuum sealer  to make individual quart bags to freeze for later.  They lay flat, and thaw quickly, but you can also use mason jars.  I do not suggest storing red sauce in any of your plastic containers (to be honest, I don’t recommend plastic containers at all), because the sauce will stain the containers and depending on quality, you may even end up with a chemical taste in your sauce.  Ew. (Jimmy?  Jimmy Falon??  Where are you?)

Continue reading “Bolognese a/k/a Meat Sauce a/k/a More Please….”

Fire Roasted Tomatoes

“Fire Roasted Tomatoes”  the title sounds ominous and maybe it is:  hot, sweet, delicious. “Fire Roasted Tomatoes”…  easy as pie, (which despite our propensity to declare something so easy, pie certainly isn’t), versatile and a must-have in the fridge.  These tomatoes are great in a winter chili, a spring soup, a summer dressing or a fall sauce – year round goodness.  Any recipe that calls for a tomato of any sort can immediately elevate its status with the addition of a bit of a fire roasted tomato.  Honest.  And making them is easy.  You can do this over a grill, but doing so in unnecessarily difficult and if you are using a gas grill, there is no benefit.  Of course if you are cooking over wood or charcoal, you are officially “da (wo)man” and you know what to do from here.  For those working in their kitchen, this is for you:

Start with Roma tomatoes.  They are meaty enough to withstand the heat.  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Slice your tomatoes from end to end and place center down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper that has been brushed with olive oil.  Brush the skins with olive oil.  Leave enough space between each tomato to allow the heat to flow around the fruit freely.

Bake for 25-30 minutes depending on your oven.  When done, the skins should all be blackened.  There is a lot – A LOT – of room for error at this point, do not fear, errors will not ruin this recipe.

When the skins are nice and black, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Once cool, put the tomatoes in a glass container, add a topping of olive oil and store in the refrigerator for deliciousness in your recipes.  I told you it was easy!  And once you are used to having these delicious sweet beauties on hand, you will find an endless number of uses for them. Within a few months, you will wonder how you ever got along without them.  Honestly, you will.