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This month’s Charcutepalooza Challenge was meat grinding.  Oh, I really became excited about this one.  I recently picked up a meat grinder attachment for my Kitchen aide and have been tapping into the meat lover within making loads of sausage and meatballs.  You see, my grandfather was a butcher and though my father chose another career, he is a meat enthusiast.  I come from the kind of family that doesn’t consider a meal complete without some form of meat. (That would explain why I was nearly disowned during my 6 years exploring vegetarian and veganism.)  But back to meat grinding, it is so easy and the product is sensational!

Last year, we began purchasing pork by the half-hog from our fabulous young cousin who raises them for 4H.  There are so many reasons to buy fresh, local, conscientiously-raised meat, not least of which is that the quality is superb.  For this challenge, I ground a pork shoulder and made chorizo following Michael Ruhlman’s guidance in Charcuterie.  Though I have made a number of different types of sausage, chorizo is one of the most satisfying.  I think that is because I generally have a difficult time finding a chorizo that I can still put in my cart after I read the ingredient label.  The concept of using an entire animal is a good one, though it seems factory-based sausage companies have a different idea of what is suitable for consumption than most home cooks do.  This chorizo is  deeply flavored, full of completely recognizable fresh ingredients including lovingly raised meat, and is super lean.

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Spring is officially here!  Despite the heavy rains of late, there are signs of renewal all around.  At our tiny homestead, the fruit trees are blooming, the shrubs sending forth new growth, and the chickens are beginning to really pump out the eggs.  Our five chickens lay almost year round, with a solid month break around the winter solstice.  Now they are back to laying enough that we can count several egg meals a week.

What better way to welcome spring than to enjoy a pure egg, the ancient symbol of renewal, atop a bed of fresh spring greens?  These two signatures of spring work together beautifully to make a special breakfast or a light dinner.  Saute the greens and mushrooms with a little onion and garlic, then crack the eggs right into a depression in the greens mixture.  The egg will set and hold the greens together to form an attractive little basket.  The dish is beautiful to present, incredibly nutritious, and very tasty.  Serve with home fries or toast.

Eggs in a Basket of Greens

serves 4

4 eggs

1/4 cup onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced

4 cups chard (or other green), washed

1 Tablespoon butter

Lay the chard leaves flat, cut out the stem.  Stack the leaves neatly and roll lengthwise into a neat bundle.  Thinly slice the bundle to create thin strips of chard (This is important because the long strips get a bit tangled in the pan and contribute to the basket effect).

In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter and add onion, garlic, and mushroom.   Saute 3-5 minutes until softened.  Add chard and season with salt.  Cover pan and cook for 5-10 minutes until greens have wilted and begun to soften.  Stir mixture to evenly distribute all the ingredients.

Make depressions in the greens mixture for each of the eggs.  Crack eggs into the pan, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook until egg white it set, but yolk is still runny (approximately 10 minutes).  Scoop one “egg basket” on each plate and serve with toast or potatoes.

Here is a printer friendly version of the recipe: Eggs in a Basket of Greens

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Meyer Lemon Curd

February 6, 2011

Oh la la, lovely lemon curd.  Lemons have always been a favorite.  Growing up on the San Francisco Peninsula, we had a Meyer lemon tree.  I would sneak outside to pick the lemons and eat them whole, despite my mother’s warnings that I was ruining my teeth.  Now I am a bit  (not much, but a bit) more sophisticated and like my lemons seeped in vodka or cooked up with butter and eggs (much healthier, I am sure).

Deep in winter when the trees are dripping with lemons, one fabulous way capture the fresh tang of lemons is lemon curd.  This lemon curd is intense, lemony, creamy goodness.  Meyer lemons work best here because of their balance of sweet and tart.  You can use Eureka lemons (standard supermarket variety) as well, just increase the sugar.

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