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.
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.
Yes, you read that correctly, pie with bacon. You thought you'd seen it all with the bacon thing but no! I was going over the shopping list for all of the Thanksgiving food on the phone with my daughter, Lily, last week and found what I thought were pecans in my freezer. She started making the pies and I pulled out the 'pecans' and put them in front of her. MOM, this is BACON! Oops. ( I always keep leftovers from my catering jobs to use in other things...cooked bacon bits included). I went to the store and bought pecans but when I got home I thought, 'what's wrong with adding bacon to the pie?' So we did. I can't tell you how good it was. Even my naysayer friend Kris loved it!
Dixie Pecan Pie with Smoky Bacon
2 T sugar
2 T flour
2 c dark Karo
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t salt
1 c pecan meats
1/3 c cooked, smoked bacon cut in bits
one pre made pie crust, unbaked (see recipe below or store bought works too)
Beat eggs until light. Mix the sugar and the flour and add to the eggs. Beat well. Add Karo, vanilla, salt, pecans and bacon bits. Pour into an uncooked pie shell. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for an additional 45 minutes or until set.
My Plain Pastry
2 cups flour, sifted
1 t salt
2/3 c unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" chunks
6-8 T cold water
Place the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the butter chunks and pulse until the mixture is grainy. Add the cold water and pulse until it comes together in a ball. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Rol out on a lightly floured board to as thin as you like. Remeber to handle as little as possible so your crust will be light and flaky.
Makes one 2 crust pie or 12 tart shells.
Ready or not, Thanksgiving is next week! I love my pumpkin pie as much as my son Alex but isn't it time to add a bit of whimsy and excitement to the dessert selection this year? . My bread pudding is quite famous around these parts and has even crossed the Atlantic to London ( I kid you not!) Presented in a pumpkin, it is the perfect surprise to end your perfect holiday meal.
Bread Pudding baked in a Pumpkin
1 3-4 lb pumpkin, shorter rather than taller (top cut off and seeds scooped out,
like a jack o' lantern) or 2 smaller pumpkins
3 c bread, cut into cubes and left out to dry for a few hours or overnight (french baguette or any bread that's hearty, even raisin bread works great)
1 3/4 c heavy cream
2 oz unsalted butter, melted
1 t pure vanilla
1 t cinnamon
1 c brown sugar (white sugar is what I normally use but I wanted brown for the molasses taste for this rendition)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the pumpkin shell on a sheet pan and place the bread cubes inside. They should cover the bottom of the pumpkin in 2 or 3 layers, loosely packed. Beat the eggs lightly in a medium bowl. Add the cream, melted butter, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar. Pour over the bread cubes and allow to sit for 10 minutes to let the bread soak up the custard mixture. Put the lid on the pumpkin and bake for 30 minutes then uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes until the custard is set, the pumpkin is soft and the top is browned. Allow to sit out until cool enough to serve. Present at the table or buffet with the lid on. Scoop the bread pudding out along with some of the pumpkin and serve with whipped cream.
My friend John brought me some Braeburn and Fuji apples the other day, just picked from his trees. I am going to eat the Fujis with some good cheese but the Braeburns are perfect for my favorite year around dessert, fresh fruit crumble! Just about any fruit works for a crumble and this time of year apples and/or pears are a given. I was so surprised to pass by a Bartlett pear tree in downtown Murphys yesterday just full of fruit so I'm going back to pick some today to mix with the apples. Crumble topping is so easy and quick to put together, be sure to make up extra and keep it in your freezer, that way you will always have some handy when you stumble upon a tree laden with pears or when friends come calling with fruit. A crumble is comfort food at it's best!
Apple - Pear Crumble
6 cups fruit, about 3 pears, 3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 c sugar
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 c light brown sugar
1 c old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 c butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the prepared fruit in a bowl and toss with the sugar, lemon juice and zest. Pour into a 9" x 13" baking dish, no need to butter. Combine the brown sugar, oats, flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. I work quickly and use my fingers to blend the butter with the dry ingredients. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour until browned and bubbly. Serve warm with ice cream or room temp with yogurt or whipped cream.
Add fresh cranberries during the holidays with a 1/2 t of cinnamon instead of the lemon zest. Use juice from just 1/2 of the lemon.
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!"