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.

Chocolate Mousse – (gf) MMMMMousse

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Elegant, cool, velvety, chocolatey mousse. Mmmmmmousse (eyes dreamily closed). Now for my personal disclaimer, I am not a big fan of chocolate. SAY WHAT? That’s right, I prefer the saltier side of life. Give me a potato chip over a candy bar every day of the week.

Even so, every now and then a nice bit of chocolaty sweetness sooths the soul. And the darker the chocolate and smoother the feel, the happier I am. Voila! The answer is this chocolate mousse.

Of course, as this is merely one of hundreds of recipes that you can find for this whipped treat, you can easily modify it to your liking. It doesn’t even have to be chocolate! Nope, it does not. I will explain later.

Oh, and while I shaved chocolate on the top I do not recommend doing so and I will refrain in the future. “Why?” you ask…well, let me quickly explain. It makes it lumpy. That’s it. Pretty for the picture, but not the tongue. I don’t want little bits of chocolate and I will never do it again. Maybe a dusting of….STOP. No. Nothing on top. Maybe a drop of whipped cream with a little raspberry liqueur infused into it. Now that’s how to top mousse. But I digress. As always. To the recipe!

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2 c. heavy cream (always get your cream from a local farm, if you can, it makes a difference)
1 T. vanilla (make your own if you need it to be gf)
4 egg whites
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1-2 T. instant espresso powder
6 oz. bittersweet (60% cocoa) chocolate chips – a good brand. I like *Ghiradelli
OR 4 oz. bittersweet and 2 oz. milk chocolate if you like a sweeter dessert, still *Ghiradelli

{*I mention brands only when I find using one to be important. I am not on Ghiradelli’s payroll.)

If you have a stand mixer, feel free to use it, but I just use my hand mixer fitted with the whip. Some folks use both beaters, but this recipe seems to turn out better with the whip.

1. Whip the cream, sugar and vanilla in a metal bowl nested over a bowl of ice water until very stiff peaks form. I begin whipping on #3, then increase the speed as the cream thickens. It usually takes 5-6 minutes, but the cream will show you when it is ready. The chilled bowl is important, the ice water nested bowl will allow you to let the cream sit on the counter while you make the rest of the recipe. Alternatively, you can chill the metal bowl and when the whipped cream is done, just put it into the refrigerator to keep it cold.

2. In a double boiler, or a metal bowl over gently boiling water, melt the chocolate and add the espresso when it becomes liquidy. Do this slowly and remove the pot from the heat just before all the chocolate is melted. Give it a few nice stirs and allow the chocolate to melt into itself slowly. You do not want this to happen over high heat/steam but gently. Cover with a plate or lid and set aside. It must cool, but not to room temperature. You want to keep the chocolate in liquid form, but no so hot that it cools into little hard pieces when added to the eggs.

3. In a third metal or glass bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form and there is no liquid to be found at the bottom of the bowl. I like using my stand mixer for this, but that’s because my arm is already tired from the whipped cream. If you use a hand mixer, again, use the whip and not the beaters.

4. When the egg whites are done, fold in the cooled chocolate slowly with a rubber spatula by adding the chocolate to the egg in 3 or 4 batches.

5. Fold the egg/chocolate into the cream. Lots of folding going on here. Much easier than folding fitted sheets. Hahah.

6. Put this lovely mousse into a large serving bowl (pictured) or directly into individual serving bowls like nice stemmed glassware or small dessert bowls. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

This is a remarkably sturdy dessert despite its seemingly delicate nature. It can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for 24-hours before your dinner party, for example. When you’re ready to serve, you can shave a little more chocolate on top (which I don’t recommend, see intro) or top it with some fresh berries or fruit sauce, whipped cream with a bit of raspberry liqueur infused into it or any number of things that make it your own creation.

It is also quite elegant as is. Save room for seconds, you’ll want them.

Bacon Stuffed Cinnamon Rolls, NOT gf, but kids LOVE them

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A Sunday morning breakfast isn’t complete without a warm bread. What can be better than a bacon cinnamon roll? Well, nothing really. And this is easy. This recipe is for the kids and bacon lovers in your house. You will be a hero and it is so incredibly simple, most of the work is done for you if you buy the Pillsbury rolls in a can. I do this because I have a gluten-free kitchen. That being said, I do not make the rolls myself so that I don’t accidentally have any flour get loose and cause problems.

Ingredients:

1 or 2 cans of cinnamon rolls
thick cut bacon, 1/3 of a slice per cinnamon roll
lard or crisco to grease baking sheet
parchment paper

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or foil) and place a rack on the baking sheet. Pre-heat. When the oven and rack reach 325 degrees, carefully place your slices of bacon on the rack being careful not to overlap the bacon. Pre-bake for about 20-25 minutes. You do NOT want to crisp the bacon at this time, but you want it on the verge of being done.

2. Remove from oven and drain on paper towels. When cooled, cut each slice of bacon into thirds.

3. Ready a clean baking sheet for the rolls by lining it with parchment paper. Unroll the cinnamon buns and place a piece of cool, drained bacon in the center. Re-roll and place on your baking sheet.

4. Follow the directions on the cinnamon bun can and bake. When the rolls are removed from the oven, allow to almost cool completely before adding the icing, if you are going to ice the rolls. We don’t, but it is just a delicious if you do.

ENJOY!

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GF Rum Cake with Orange Glaze

GF Rum Cake with Cider Rum Glaze
GF Rum Cake with Cider Rum Glaze

**Adapted from a recipe found at Saveur.com

CAKE

NOTE: Gluten free baking is tricky, at least for me. Sometimes the difference between a great dessert and one that is destined for the trash is the brand of gf flour used, but many times technique is important. This cake recipe originated at Saveur, but pay attention to the instructions. As I learned after making this cake no less than a dozen times, the little things matter and I’m sharing with you the ones that worked. By the way, if you don’t tell anyone this cake is gluten-free, they will never know! It’s that good.

Cake

2 cups gluten free all-purpose flour, plus more to grease & flour the pan (I use King Arthur) SIFTED
(OPTIONAL: use almond meal to flour the pan instead of the all purpose flour if you have it)
1¾ cups sugar SIFTED – esp. if using gf flour.
¼ cup dry milk powder SIFTED
3 tbsp. cornstarch SIFTED
1 tbsp. baking powder SIFTED
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ cup dark rum
½ cup milk
½ cup canola oil
1 tbsp. vanilla
4 eggs

Orange Glaze

1 c. sugar
½ c. rum
8 Tbsp. butter (unsalted)
* orange zest (optional-but recommended)
*Sometimes I use my orange marmalade instead (pictured). Cook it to soften, then use as the glaze. May need to add a bit of unsalted butter.

1. Heat oven to 325°. Grease and flour (I use almond meal instead of flower, it give it a nice nutty flavor) a 10″ Bundt pan; set aside. Whisk together flour, 1¾ cups sugar, milk powder, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Whisk together ½ cup rum, milk, oil, vanilla, and eggs in a medium bowl until smooth; pour over dry ingredients, and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan, and smooth top; bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool for 20 minutes, and then unmold and let cool.

2. Bring butter, remaining sugar, and ¼ cup water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over high heat; cook, stirring to dissolve sugar, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, zest in the orange if using, and stir in remaining rum slowly, very slowly – this will cause the hot liquid mix to boil violently, be careful and you can allow it to cool for a minute or two before adding the rum.

Place cooled cake, top side down, on a wire rack set over a baking sheet, and poke holes all over the bottom and sides. Slowly pour syrup all over cake, letting it soak into the cake as you pour. Do this slowly and several times. It can take me up to 30 minutes to finish the process. Pour, wait 5 minutes…etc.

Bananas Foster over Cheesecake (gf)

Bananas Foster over Cheesecake (gf)

Bananas Foster over Cheesecake (gf)

Okay, it is Friday and I think we all deserve a little goodness, right? You’ve worked hard all week, a little culinary splurge is in order. Now, this happy dessert can be quick and easy, or it can be the grand finale of a fancy dinner party if you want to also make your cheesecake. For now, I will teach you how to make the Bananas Foster, and in an upcoming post, you will find a cheesecake. Of course, the traditional way to serve Bananas Foster is just over ice cream, and it is fantastic, but I had a little fun with it, and this sort of fun is like a culinary roller-coaster that makes your taste buds scream woooooooo!

Ingredients

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, best available or make your own (coconut gelato is a good substitute, see the related post)
Rum – a black rum works well – just a splash per serving (as with all ingredients, including alcohol, if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it. A cheap clear rum will not make you happy, and we are all in this for happiness!)
1/2 c. Light Brown Sugar
4 Tbsp Unsalted butter
candied pecans (or nut of your choice) – to taste (See accompanying recipe)
water
1 or 2 firm bananas, sliced

OPTIONAL: New York Cheesecake

Directions

Melt the butter in a saute pan on medium heat. As the butter finishes melting and is making small bubbles, sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter allowing the sugar to melt into the butter until combined. Add about 1/3 c. tepid water, incorporate and bring to a slow, light boil to thicken slightly. Watch is step carefully, you do not want your sauce to thicken too much. Depending on your heat setting, this will only be 2-3 minutes.

As it thickens, add the bananas and let them soften and warm through, about 30 seconds. Turn softly. Add sugared pecans. To complete the dish, while the pan is still hot, remove from direct heat, let it rest 10 seconds, and add the rum. Be careful, heat can make the rum flame, so be very careful here. Serve over NY Cheesecake and/or ice cream. Enjoy!