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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Big Beef Chili

February 1, 2011

I love the Superbowl, but not for the reason you may suspect.  Football doesn’t hold much sway with me.  What I do relish is the captive, hungry audience to feed.  To me, the Superbowl is more about food than it is about the game.

A rich pot of chili may be the ideal meal for game day.  It can be made ahead and kept warm on the stove or in a crockpot.  Hungry guests can easily fill their bowl whenever they like.  I prepare it in the morning and let it cook long and slow on the stove or in the crockpot.  All that is left to do before the game is to make sure there is enough beer in the fridge and whip up some cornbread.

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I know it is too early in the winter to feel this way and I am going to suffer when the wet and cold months roll on, but I have spring fever.  We had a couple of warmish days around here and all I can think about is firing up the grill and bringing dinner outside.  Alas, this cannot be done as it is still dark long before dinnertime and truly not all that warm.  A girl can dream though, can’t she?  We did manage to grill up some chicken burgers before the sun set and then rush inside to warm our bones while eating the burgers with a side of Chipotle Black Bean and Butternut Squash Salad.

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Caramelized Onion Relish

January 16, 2011

I love my pantry.  This may be an unusual favorite room of the house, but for me it is a place of comfort and a source of pride.  Come visit my home and I’ll be sure to show you my special place.  Though it is not often in perfect order, my pantry is my sanctuary.  In our small home, this is the place where I can escape (briefly, until someone finds me) the commotion and demands of the other members of the family. Inside its walls I store my stacks of cookbooks, the baskets of garlic, squash, and potatoes harvested from last summer’s garden, and of course my canned goods.  My pantry shelves are full of all the grains, beans, seeds, and more required to make almost anything I can dream of.

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For many people Brussels sprouts rank right up there with lima beans and lutefisk for the food they would least like to see on their dining table.  While I cannot speak for the other two, I can tell you that Brussels sprouts have been unfairly charged.  These dense little gems are not only delicious, but also incredibly nutritious and filling too (a feature that is quite a strength in the month of January when many of us are attempting to recover from the holiday bulge).

It is easy to understand why these green meatballs earned their bad rap.  Boiled to oblivion, the leafy globes take on a putrid aroma and ooze  nasty green juice when you attempt to cut off a bite.  The key to creating a delicious side dish is to prepare them properly.  I often halve the Brussels sprouts,  toss them in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast in the oven.  It is super easy and they turn out delicious. The dish enclosed in this post, however, is cooked on the stove top, allowing for more even cooking.  It has quickly become our favorite.

The recipe included today is based on one published in our local paper a couple of months ago.  The original recipe includes bacon and 1/2 cup of olive oil.  While I have no doubt that those additions add a lot of flavor to the dish, I am not feeling nearly as decadent as I was last month (see aforementioned holiday bulge).  Feel free to add the bacon and drizzle on as much oil as you desire!  What I share with you are simply sauteed Brussels sprouts topped with garlicky bread crumbs and parmesan.  They are easy to prepare, delicious, and nothing like the Brussels sprouts you may have eaten (or pretended to) as a kid.  Try them and let me know what you think!

Brussels Sprouts with Garlicky Bread Crumbs

Adapted from Scopa Restaurant

(originally published in Press Democrat)

Makes 4 servings as a side dish

2 pounds Brussels sprouts

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

3 hefty pinches of black pepper

1 pinch of salt or to taste

1-2 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs (see note below)

1-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Trim and quarter the brussel sprouts.  Heat pan over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add  the quartered brussel sprouts, salt, and pepper.  After 30-60 seconds move the sprouts around to caramelize all sides.  Repeat this every minute for about 5 minutes.  As the pan becomes dry, add a drizzle of remaining olive oil every 2 minutes or so.  The goal is to achieve a deep golden brown color on 1-2 sides of each sprout.  Be careful not to burn them or they will turn bitter.

Once sprouts are caramelized, cook for another 3-4 minutes on medium-low heat to finish cooking the sprouts through to their center.  Toss with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan and serve immediately.

To toast breadcrumbs: Saute breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and ½ clove of minced garlic on medium heat until browned.   Watch carefully, the breadcrumbs will go from brown to burnt very quickly.

Here is a printer-friendly version of the recipe:

Brussel Sprouts with Garlicky Bread Crumbs

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Winter Kale with Lemon and Olives

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