Lemon Curd

You guys. YOU. GUYS. Prepare to have your world rocked. Is all I’m saying.

Let’s start at the beginning. Remember this week? Lemon yellow? All things sunshiney and good? I had the best of intentions to make lemon curd that week because it just made sense, but with work and rehearsals and special events, it didn’t happen. So I waited and waited, and the fog became foggier and foggier, until I just couldn’t take the crappy SF weather anymore. And so, in honor of fashion week – and all its crazy colors! –  I’m so excited to present sunshine in a jar, ie, lemon curd.

Most recipes call for straining the curd, while simultaneously saying that your lemon curd should be “satiny” smooth. Satin-like seems to be the major goal of lemon curd making, because everyone is all satin, satin, satiny, but somehow you are supposed to achieve this when mess, mess, messy straining is involved.

Negatory, ghost writer.

After not very much searching, I used this wonderful recipe, which called for zero straining, and instead, lots of straight up hand mixing. And that was just great.

So, behold: the satin, satin, satinyist lemon curd that you ever did see. Sunshine in a jar.

LEMON CURD

Ingredients:

. One cup of sugar

. Six tablespoons of butter

. Two eggs

. Two egg yolks

. 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (not juice out of that plastic lemon-shaped bottle, if you please)

. Pinch of zest, up to a teaspoon, if you like to be zesty. I do not.

Instructions:

1. Get all your ingredients together first. This recipe calls for some fast mixing, and it won’t do to try and yolk your eggs or juice your lemons halfway through the process.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar, add in the eggs and yolks slowly. Once it’s fairly well blended (about a minute), add the lemon juice and beat for a few more minutes. It will be: runny and chunky. Do not be: alarmed. We will fix it.

3. Pour the mixture into a large saucepan over low heat and let it cook until it smooths out. Caveat: mine never totally smoothed in this step, which is okay.

4. Turn up to medium (never high – this should never boil) and begin stirring continuously. Yep, just keeeep stirring. The recipe says to stir continuously for 15 minutes, and some of the commenters said they only stirred for five, but I stirred for a whopping 35 minutes continuously (I know, I’m tired too). I think the key is to not let it be too hot, and to use your best judgement. When the curd is thick enough to stick to the back of a wooden spoon, you’ve done it.

5. Pour it into a jar or bowl, cover with saran wrap so a skin doesn’t form, and refrigerate. It will continue to gel as it cools.

6. Eat it. Preferably in a pie or on a scone, but if you’re a true Suzy Fat Pants like I am, you might just attack it with a spoon. And that, my friends, is just great.

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Apple Dijon Grilled Cheese

Do you trust me?

(Do you remember when Aladdin asks Jasmine that before he takes her on a magic carpet ride, and then they fly off into the arabian night and sing that charming duet and he shows her a whole new world? Yeah? Well this is not quite that, unfortunately. But almost, because this recipe is kind of a whole new world, sandwich wise.)

So, really, do you? Because I have the greatest sandwich recipe – it’s such a great sandwich! – but I know that as soon as I type out the ingredients for this sandwich, you are all going to say, “bleh, no, I do NOT trust you, this sandwich sounds like complete yuck!”

And then I might try to sing to you, a la Aladdin, but mostly I will just be sad for a second, and then I will make this sandwich for you anyway. Because I know you will LOVE this sandwich and I will get to be a kitchen rockstar. And I will also get to be right. My two favorite things.

Similar to the grown-up mac and cheese recipe, this recipe takes a familiar childhood favorite – a grilled cheese sandwich – and makes it infinitely better by adding all sorts of strange and delicious things: apples, dijon mustard, red onions, cinnamon bread, to name a few. Yes, all in the same sandwich. Stop looking at me like that.

It’s a perfect lunch, warm and melty and crunchy, but on a whole new and amazing level. Harness your inner Jasmine. You can do it.

GROWN-UP GRILLED CHEESE 

Ingredients:

. Two slices of cinnamon raisin swirl bread

. 1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard

. Four thin slices of sharp cheddar cheese

. Four red onion slices

. Two-three thin slices of crisp red apple (I like Honeycrisp or Jazz varieties best)

. Glug of EVOO, for the skillet

Instructions:

1. Glug some EVOO into a flat bottomed skillet and heat it up until it swirls and coats the pan. While it’s heating, move onto #2.

2. Spread the dijon onto one slice of bread. Do not over-dijon. Dijon, like wasabi and horseradish, has a subtle heat rather than a tip of the tongue spiciness, and it will rear up and overpower the other flavors, and possibly come out your nose. It’s a delicate balance, this sandwich. Trust.


3. Layer up your apples, onions and cheddar slices. I like to put the cheese down first so it gets melty and sticks to the bread, but you do how you do for this part. 3. Lay that sammy down in the pan over medium heat and just wait for it. I turn it about halfway through (5-7ish minutes) or until golden brown. Once the sides are both gold and crispy and the cheese is beginning to ooze out the sides, you’re done!

{Please note the melty goodness}

4. Cut on the diagonal like your mom taught you and bite in. You can thank me later.

Mom Tip: Avocado Storage

Courtesy of Roommate Meredith’s mom, a little tip to keep your avocado-based dishes their gorgeous green, on the go, or days later:

 
“Wrap the dish tightly in plastic wrap, then cover it with foil, then rubber band the rim. The wrap keeps the air out, preventing oxidation of the fruit, and the foil keeps the light out, preventing browning.”

Voila! Thanks, Mom!

Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Do you ever sometimes crave those delicious – and really bad! – foods from when you were little? Zebra cakes, corn dogs, Oreo blizzards from DQ? Is it just me? Should I not have admitted that sometimes a can of Orange Crush hits the spot better than anything else?

In that vein, while we’re still on all things lemony, yellowy and good, I thought this week was the perfect time to make mac and cheese for grown-ups, also known as lemon ricotta pasta. First found on The Kitchn a few years ago, I’ve modified this recipe just a bit to include more pepper, more basil and more lemon. While Kraft Easy Mac may recall happy memories, the bland taste of its fake cheese can recoil the stomach. This bright and seasonal dish is a punched up mac and cheese for grown-ups. Lemony, yellowy, and, if I do say so myself, really, really good.

Ingredients:

. One small tub of cottage cheese

. One small tub of ricotta cheese

. One lemon

. Small shaped pasta (I like shells or oriechette best)

. 1/4 cup of basil leaves, to taste

. Freshly grated parm

. A few glugs of EVOO

. Lots of salt and pepper

Instructions:

1. Boil the water for the pasta, and when it’s rolling, add noodles.

2. Put one cup of ricotta, one cup of cottage cheese, the EVOO, and the zest and juice of the entire lemon into a food processor or blender and zoom zoom! The original recipe calls for all ricotta, but I like the smoothness cottage cheese adds to this dish. Plus, ricotta can feel a bit heavy (hello too much lasagna!) and for me, summer is all about keeping it light!

3. Place the heavenly blend from the food processor into a metal bowl and heat it over the pasta water as it cooks. Should this not loosen the cheese mixture enough (as dictated by the original recipe) you can give it a quick zap. While it would be ideal for everything to turn out perfectly, sometimes it doesn’t, and it’s okay to utilize your friend the microwave to get this cheese to the perfect, melty consistency.

4. Once the pasta is done, mix the cheese blend in, and top with the parm, salt, pepper, and basil. When I serve this dish warm, as intended, I chiffonade my basil into long thin strips. The next day, it makes an excellent cold pasta salad, and I throw in whole basil leaves instead, plus tomato, mushroom, and anything else fresh that catches my eye.