Technique Tuesdays: Double Boiler. Recipe: Creamy Lemon Curd

Technique Tuesday:

Double Boiler

Lemon Curd is a great companion to Irish Soda Farls that we make each St. Patrick’s Day. Curd is essential a fruit custard made with egg yolks. This recipe calls for a double boiler. I don’t know about you, I don’t know anyone who owns an actual double boiler. It isn’t even necessary as long as you have a sauce pot and metal bowl that fit together nicely. You’ll notice in the picture below the recipe my very dirty stove. You will also notice how the “double boiler” should look. You do not want the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. Essentially, the point of a double boiler is to heat something using indirect heat, to avoid it scorching or curdling. It’s used to melt chocolate and make custards, among other things. The custard is heated by the steam created by the boiling water underneath.

This lemon curd recipe results in a creamy curd, not the gelatinous kind many use for a lemon meringue pie. It’s perfect for a topping for breads or as a spread.

CREAMY LEMON CURD

5 eggs yolks
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 TBS lemon zest
4 TBS butter, cut into pats and chilled

Fill a small pot with about an inch of water, place on the stove over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, in a metal bowl that fits on top of your pot, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk well, until light and creamy. For smooth curd, pour the juice through a fine mesh strainer to remove any pulp. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest. When the water comes to a boil, quickly reduce heat to low, to keep to a simmer. Place bowl on pot and whisk continually until thick. This takes about 10 minutes, but will vary. You know it’s ready when it thickly coats the back of a spoon or reached 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and add in the butter, one pat at a time, stirring each until it melts before adding the next pat. Pour into a container or bowl and press plastic wrap against the surface of the curd. Refrigerate until cool.

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Raspberry Lemonade Floats

Summer is fast approaching, and there’s nothing better in the summer than a frosty, creamy, refreshing drink. For this post, we have a guest interview. This delicious concoction was invented by my oldest son (age eleven) one night at dinner. His eyes lit up suddenly and he exclaimed “Ooh! We should put ice cream in pink lemonade, you know, like floats?”

So, we tried it…and it’s delicious! The tartness of the lemonade is smoothed by the creamy sweetness of the ice cream. I subbed raspberry lemonade for pink lemonade to add a little extra dimension.

Here’s my interview with the inventor:

Me: How did you come up with the idea for the Raspberry Lemonade Floats?

Him: Um, well, I like ice cream. My brother mentioned lemonade, and I thought since people really like root beer floats, I thought we could try it with pink lemonade.

Me: You are a great cook, do you have a specialty you cook?

Him: Pancakes…well, not pancakes. I like making sausage egg burritos, those are fun…and easy.

Me: What’s your favorite food to eat?

Him: Mac n Cheese and Stroganoff

Me: Who’s your favorite cook? 😉

Him: My mom. (smiles)

Well, there you have it. An interview with one of the greatest up and coming food inventors. Even though summer is still a few months off, spend some time in your kitchen with your kids this summer, teaching them to cook and helping them invent their own creations. Creativity is contagious!!

RASPBERRY LEMONADE FLOATS

Vanilla ice cream
Raspberry  lemonade
Fresh raspberries (optional)

Line up several tall glasses. Drop two scoops of vanilla ice cream in each glass. Pour raspberry lemonade over the ice cream. garnish with fresh raspberries.

REAL food alert: many lemonades are filled with corn syrup, and sometimes artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Look for “natural” lemonades that are fruit juice and real sugar, or make your own! Ice cream also varies with the amount of additives. Breyers and other natural brands are a step up from conventional brands, full of all sorts of additives and corn syrup. Get used to reading labels for your family’s health. Or….make your own. 😉

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Easy Chewy Granola Bars

My dad passed away a couple of years ago. He was a sporatic, but obsessive, cook. He spent the better part of a year one year perfecting chocolate chip cookies. He experimented with various recipes, tweaking the measurements, substituting butter, margarine and shortening in various ways. In the end he even specified the exact sized scoop you should use to scoop the cookie dough onto the sheet, before pressing each one with your thumb and refrigerating it over night. Some of my best memories of him are him in the kitchen, making the perfect fluffy omelet, or out grilling his specially basted chicken. I think most of my cooking skills come from my mom, but my analytic side definitely comes from my dad.

This last Christmas, a dear family friend gave me a Fred Batterfinger Spatula” target=”_blank”>fun finger scraper, shown in the pictures of this recipe. She chose it, knowing I loved to cook, and because the company who makes them is called “Fred” (my dad’s name is Fred), and each scraper has “Fred” on the handle. She said that way I would always think of my dad while cooking. It’s one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received. It also started me on a love affair with quirky “Fred” products. I’ll list some of my favorites after the recipe.

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to make chewy granola bars at home, without all of the preservatives, refined sugar and hydrogenated oils you find in the ones in the grocery store. I think I channeled my dad when I made these three different ways in one day, attempting to get them perfect.

The thing I love about homemade granola bars is that you can customize them to be as healthy as you like, also geared toward your kids’ likes and avoiding allergens. This recipe uses peanut butter. If you have allergies to peanuts in your house, substitute the gooey part with 1 cup sugar + 1 cup honey + 1 TBS butter (if they have coconut allergies as well), and cook the same.

EASY CHEWY GRANOLA BARS

3/4 cup natural peanut butter (no sugar, just roasted peanuts and salt)
2/3 cup raw honey (read here about raw vs. processed honey and dangers of store-bought honey)
1 TBS coconut oil (if you don’t have coconut oil, substitute butter)
2 cups oats (use gf oats for gluten-free granola bars)
1 cup crisped rice cereal (I have no notes for this, but didn’t want them to feel left out)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (ditto)

In a large bowl, combine the oats and cereal. In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the peanut butter, honey and coconut oil. Stir continuously. When the mixture barely starts to bubble, continue stirring for 2 minutes, then immediately pour over the oat mixture. Stir until well combined. Let sit for a few minutes, until it’s still warm, but won’t burn you to touch it. Add in the chocolate chips and lightly stir. They will melt a bit, so don’t over mix. Pour the mixture into an 8×8 square pan. Place a large square of wax paper over it and press down as hard as you can, compacting the entire mixture into the pan. Let cool in the fridge for 15 minutes. Cut into 8 bars.

You may want to double or triple this recipe, although it’s easiest to make in smaller batches. You can also personalize it, by adding ground flax, coconut, dried cherries, raisins, etc. have fun!! I’m sure you have noticed that coconut oil for weight loss is making waves right now, this is why I use it as much as I can get away with.

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Some of my favorite “Fred” products:

” target=”_blank”>Pastasaurus: Adorable pasta server with the head of a dinosaur. My kids love it.

” target=”_blank”>”Equal Measure” Measuring cup: a glass measuring cup that measures up to 2 1/2 cups, includes standard and metric measurements. The kicker is that it also includes measurements like “volume of half of the human brain” and “one hundred and fifty thousand poppy seeds”. Practical, yet humorous…and it appeals to the science geek in me.

” target=”_blank”>Unzipped-Bag Shaped Glass Bowl: the company has all sorts of funky-shaped stuff, and this is one of my favorites..it’s a glass bowl, but shaped like an unzipped ziploc bag full of something, sitting up. Perfect for a candy bowl, or fish bowl, or just a conversation starter. Clever.

” target=”_blank”>Cake Candelabra: For the diva, or just for an extra special birthday, this candelabra sit a top a birthday cake to hold your candles. I’m thinking I need one for my 40th birthday…which won’t be for another 20-30 years…

Roasted Red Salsa

I hate tomatoes.

I’m fine with cooked tomato products, like marinara or ketchup. But, raw tomatoes are disgusting. It’s one of the only foods that I just can not stand. That makes my relationship with salsa an interesting one. Obviously, I’m not a pico de gallo type gal. I prefer pureed salsas with no chunks, and I have always just dipped the chip and gotten the juice and flavor on my chip without actually scooping any salsa on there. Weird. I know.

But then, I went to a Mexican food place called “Burger House”, believe it or not. I was skeptical about the quality of Mexican food there. It’s in a small town where my husband lived in his younger years. Everyone in his family swore by the food there (a Mexican place called “Burger House”? Really?)…and they were right! I craved it for weeks after we arrived back home. For the first time, ever, I poured the little cups of salsa over my burro before taking each bite. It was addictive. I analyzed the salsa as much as possible. Obviously it had tomatoes and cilantro, and chilis that gave it a nice kick, but I also noticed tiny pieces of char that made me believe that something on there was roasted. I was on a quest. I have tried various types of salsa, tons of recipes, and came up with a mediocre one that involved canned fire roasted tomatoes.

Then, I happened upon a post  on one particular kitchen one day:  . I made it and almost came undone. It was amazing. It’s pretty darn close to the Burger House salsa, but so fresh tasting, with a good bite. I made a few simple changes to personalize it. When it comes to spice, homemade salsa is always unpredictable. Chilis vary in spiciness from chili to chili, so it’s always chancy. If you’re concerned about heat, start with two peppers. You can also use jalapenos, which are milder, but I prefer the flavor of serranos.

This recipe makes a lot of salsa and is amazing with home grown tomatoes. It also freezes perfectly. I typically make a huge batch, then freeze them in sandwich bags for future consumption. Make some this summer!!

ROASTED RED SALSA

15-25 fresh tomatoes (about 15 large ones, up to 25 romas)
2 yellow onions
8-10 cloves of garlic
3-6 serrano peppers
1-2 limes
1-2 TBS salt
1-2 bunches of cilantro

Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees. Halve your tomatoes and onions. Leave the papery husk on the garlic cloves, but separate them into individual cloves. If you want more heat, you will leave the seeds and membranes in the chilis, so remove the caps from the chilis now. If you want less heat, you will remove the seeds later, so keep the caps on. Lay the tomatoes, onions, garlic and peppers on baking sheets. It’s a good idea to have the tomatoes on a baking sheets that has sides, as they will produce a lot of juice. Roast until the onions are translucent and the tomatoes and peppers are starting to char, about 45 minutes to an hour. You may have to remove the garlic and peppers before the tomatoes and onions. You may also have to rotate pans while cooking to allow each pan access to the heat source. Just check on them every so often until they are all soft and there’s some charring going on. Pull the pans out of the oven. Let it cool for 5 minutes. If you want to remove the seeds from the chilis, put on plastic gloves (trust me…I did this once without them and seriously regretted it). slice open the side of each chili. Use the cap to pull out the middle membrane with all of the seeds attached, and discard. You may also need to use your finger and wipe any residual seeds from the chili. Place the chilis in a food processor. For the garlic, you should be able to squeeze them, allowing the soft cooked middle to go into your food processor. Whatever method, you want to remove any charred husk and any outside layer that is to tough to puree. Place the tomatoes and onions (you’ll probably have to do two batches) in the food processor with the garlic and chilis. Add the juice from one lime, 1TBS salt, and the cilantro, and puree it all. After your two batches are done, combine it in a large bowl and taste it. Add more lime juice or salt according to your tastes. The flavors will intensify in the fridge. I find that this is the best after about a day in the fridge (and it gets spicier, keep that in mind).

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