Monday, May 28, 2012

Cooking Floyd: Spring Indulgence

What do you do when the backlog of eggs takes over the fridge, the greens are getting out of hand, the birds are eying the strawberries and the asparagus pushes lots more spears than you expected?


First you make Lemon Curd.  Because it calls for lots of eggs and lemons and butter just happen to be on sale at the same time as the glut of eggs in the fridge.

I made a multiple batch of lemon curd and froze it in two cup containers.  The beauty of fruit curds is they don't freeze solid and so you can always spoon out just what you want and put the rest back in the freezer.

Lemon Curd
3 lemons
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
4 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Zest 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. I used a microplane grater but you can use a vegetable peeler and then chop it.  Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.

After you zest the lemons, juice them and reserve the juice.
Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon zest mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time,

and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.
Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer.  Pour the thickened curd through a mesh strainer to remove the bits of zest.  If you like the bits of zest and don't want a silky smooth curd, skip this step.

Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.

This is the first strawberry pie, well, the first pie ever, that Michael's made.  He said he followed the recipe exactly.  I think it's way better than my strawberry pie.

After the pie is chilling you send your husband out to cut a head each of Jericho and Valentine Romaine lettuces and Space Saver spinach to toss with the Baby Mesclun mix and Arugula that came in the CSA box.  Then you watch as he goes wild creating a salad with the Sugar Snap peas and English Trellis cucumber that were also in the box, augmented with some of our own broccoli and alfalfa sprouts.  Of course there's a toss of sunflower seeds and dried cranberries.

Meanwhile I'm making a vinaigrette of our own tomatoes dehydrted in maple syrup and cider vinegar.  The rehydrated tomatoes and some of the water gets pureed with a couple cloves of our garlic, a pinch of sugar and some salt and pepper.  Then I add 1 part of our home made maple vinegar to 2 parts olive oil and emulsify it all with the stick blender.

The non-local part of our meal is little new potatoes (from Georgia) boiled in heavily salted water until tender and then allowed to air dry so the salt forms a glittery crust.  These will be served with a compound butter of sage and chives.

While the potatoes are cooking, I preheat the oven to 450F while preparing 2 pounds of gorgeous fat asparagus for roasting.  I just break off the ends and place them on a baking sheet.  Then I drizzle them with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, S&P, and a generous sprinkle of minced Mahgreb preserved lemons.  These go into the oven for 15 minutes.

Just before dinner Michael pulls out a little surprise: a hummus-type dish made with fava beans, mint, olive oil and salt and pepper to go with flatbread, along with a pitcher of peppermint honey iced tea.

It all comes together to make a feast that looks like this

to be followed by this.

Ahhhhh....the joys of Spring!

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