When Meyer lemons are in season, I love to make curd. This tried and true lemon curd cooks up in minutes in the microwave and tastes like you slaved over it for hours. Originally taken from the Microwave Gourmet cookbook by Barbara Kafka, I have been using this recipe in my catering for years. It makes a simple piece of puff pastry into an elegant dessert with hardly any effort. Try it spooned onto these easy blueberry tarts at your next dinner party or spread it on biscuits, scones or pancakes at breakfast!
1 package store bought puff pastry sheets (such as Pepperidge Farm)
1 egg plus 1 t water, whisked for brushing the pastry
2 c fresh blueberries (raspberries or strawberries work well too)
1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 T flour
1 T fresh Meyer lemon juice (or regular)
pinch of salt
Thaw out the puff pastry sheets, unfold and cut each into 4 squares. Roll out each square on a lightly floured board to a 6" x 6" square. Fill with 1/4 cup of the blueberry mixture and then, starting with one corner and going around the edge, fold the pastry towards the center being careful not to fold all the way, you want the berries to show. Brush the outside with the egg wash and poke with the tines of a fork. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and browned. Top with lemon curd and a bit of whipped cream. A leaf of mint or a fresh violet is a beautiful touch for serving.
Meyer Lemon Curd
1/4 lb unsalted butter
1/2 c sugar
4 T fresh Meyer lemon juice (or regular)
Grated zest of one lemon
3 eggs, whisked in a separate bowl
Put the butter, sugar, lemon juice and zest together in a 4 cup glass measure. Cover tightly with microwave plastic wrap. Cook at 100% for 2 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover and stir well. Whisk 1/4 of the lemon mixture into the eggs to warm them. Whisking constantly, pour the egg mixture back into the lemon mixture. Cook uncovered at 100% for 2 minutes. Remove from oven and whisk until smooth.
Whip some cream for the top of the tarts with a bit of sugar and vanilla.
Lemon Curd Cream:
Mix lemon curd with equal parts of whipped cream for a lighter more subtle filling or topping.
Another cold and rainy day here in northern California...we could really use some sunshine! Craving something warm and comforting to eat, I started thinking about making soup. Looking for inspiration, I saw a few Golden Delicious apples that were getting soft (I was going to make apple sauce) and an orange in the fruit basket. I had a yellow onion and half of an orange butternut squash in the fridge along with some over the hill yellow beets, orange yams and orange carrots. I had ....wait a minute, what if I use only fruits and veggies that are orange and yellow and create my very own bowl of sunshine? Oh you make me happy.
4 T butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 c butternut squash, chunked
4 c golden delicious apples, chunked
2 c yams, peeled and chunked
3 small golden beets, peeled and chunked (or 1 large)
1 c carrots, chunked
juice of 1 orange
8 c chicken or veggie stock
1 T Aleppo pepper flakes (available at The Spice Tin in Murphys or online)
1 t New Mexico chile powder
1 t curry powder
1 t cinnamon
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 c dry sherry (NOT cooking sherry) optional
Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and the onion and cook for 10 minutes or so to soften and brown lightly. Add the rest of the veggies and the apples with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until soft and lightly browned to intensify flavor and release the sugars, 10-15 minutes. Add the orange juice and the stock. Turn down the heat and simmer for one hour or more until all the veggies and the apples are soft. Puree all with an immersion blender in the pot, taste for salt and add the sherry if using. Let simmer until ready to eat. Serve with yogurt or sour cream and a bit of cilantro on top. Makes 8-10 servings. Freezes well.
Spaghetti ala Carbonara is so simple to make and you probably have all of the ingredients on hand. I have been thinking about my Dad a lot lately. He used to make Carbonara all the time. He wasn't a super experienced cook but he loved a good pasta dish to go with his nightly glass (or two or three) of wine. I too, love the flavors of the smokey bacon and pungent garlic with the tangy parmesan and the creaminess of the eggs. The freshness of the parsley and the spicy pepper are the perfect finishing touch. A hand held bowl of Carbonara on a cold winter evening is just right for the couch, a fire, a friend and a fond memory..
.1 lb dry spaghetti (or any pasta shape that you have in the pantry)
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1/4 lb bacon, cut into strips
4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
4 large eggs
1 c freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
freshly ground black pepper
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender but firm. While the pasta is cooking, get your sauce ready. Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat, add the bacon and sauté until crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté for just a minute to soften then turn off the heat and wait for the pasta to be done. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if needed. Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss briefly to coat the spaghetti in the bacon fat then pour the egg and cheese mixture into the pasta, tossing quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (remember your heat is OFF). Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, if needed, until it reaches desired consistency (mine didn't need any water but yours might). Season the carbonara with freshly ground black pepper and add salt to taste. Mound the spaghetti carbonara into serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Pass the cheese please! For a spicier version add some red chile flakes. I paired mine with a beautiful glass of my favorite Sauvignon Blanc from Hatcher Winery, a local fave.
Valentine's Day means chocolate for dessert, it is simply obligatory. This recipe dates back to my days at Parigi in Dallas, the restaurant I helped to open with my Godmother and her daughter back in the mid 80's. Parigi is still going strong and the Chocolate Glob is still on the menu, that's how good it is!! Easy to make and naturally decadent... except for the name. it's perfect. Happy Valentine's Day everyone.
1 1/2 c sugar
3/4 c flour
3/4 unsalted butter, melted
1 c walnut halves, chopped just a bit but still chunky
4 oz good quality bitter, baking chocolate, *melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and flour together until fluffy. Slowly blend in the melted butter and walnuts. Pour into a greased baking dish, 8 x 8 square or I used a round fluted dish (prettier). Pour the melted chocolate over the batter and swirl it through with a knife or spatula until the mixture looks rippled. Bake for 20 minutes until the mixture is cake-like around the edges and gooey (but not raw) in the middle. Serve immediately scooping some of the cake-y outer edge and some of the gooey middle for each serving. Top with whipped cream or ice cream. The glob keeps at room temp for a few days but heat gently before serving. Serves 8.
*if you are super careful you can melt the chocolate in the microwave. Put the squares of chocolate into a glass bowl or measuring cup. Heat for 30 seconds, take out and stir. Heat for 30 seconds more and stir again, it should be melted! So easy.
It's Winter and it's Super Bowl time so that means we HAVE to make chili. I wanted to make my chili with turkey meat since I live in the land of Diestel turkey, THE best turkey ever. I wanted it to be slightly smokey, a tad spicy and be just a little bit different and I think I did it! I even surprised myself with this recipe. My only disappointment is that I didn't make enough, so double the recipe for leftovers, this one serves 6.
Turkey + Bacon + Black Bean Chili
1 T olive oil
3 strips of thick sliced bacon (such as Daily's) cut into 1/2" pieces
1 onion, chopped to 1/2" dice
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium jalapeño, chopped finely
1 pasilla pepper, chopped to 1/2" dice
1 small chipotle in adobo, chopped + 1 T adobo sauce (be careful, these peppers are spicy)
1 T Aleppo chili powder (I get my spices from The Spice Tin here in Murphys)
1 T New Mexico chili powder
1 t Mexican oregano
1 T ground cumin
1 lb ground Diestel turkey
3 cups cooked Rancho Gordo black beans (sub 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I used Cento brand from Italy)
1 14.5 oz can low sodium chicken broth (Swanson brand is good)
1 oz '70% ' dark chocolate (I used a theo chili + chocolate bar leftover from the holidays)
1 T pure maple syrup
1 t salt
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot, add the bacon and stir until browned. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeño, pasilla and chipotle with adobo and cook until all veggies are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the spices, then the ground turkey, breaking it up with a spoon so it cooks evenly. Add the tomatoes (I rinsed the can out with about a 1/2 cup of water and added that to the pot), chicken broth and dark chocolate. Add the salt and maple syrup and cook on low heat until bubbling then turn down to a simmer and cook for an hour or so, stirring occasionally to let the flavors blend. Serve from the pot with garnishes such as, sour cream or yogurt, chopped green onions, grated cheese (jack or cheddar are good) avocado and cilantro. (This chili freezes beautifully and can be made the day before and refrigerated until ready to heat for your lucky friends and family.) Cornbread makes a nice addition to serve with the chile (I love Jiffy brand, so easy!), but Fritos or tortilla chips work well too. Enjoy and may the best team win!
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"