1/2 pound organic strawberries, hulled
Zest and juice of one organic orange
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), cubed
4 large eggs
In a food processor, puree the strawberries and orange zest until very smooth.
Heat water to a simmer in a double boiler or a saucepan. In the top of the double boiler or a heatproof bowl, combine the puree, juices, salt, sugar, and butter. Place the bowl on top of the pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t actually touching the water. Beat the eggs and add them to the bowl. Cook, whisking constantly, until the curd comes together and thickens, about ten minutes. When the curd is done, it will coat the back of a spoon.
(Full disclosure: my strawberry curd was that grayish-pink color that used to be trendy but was never appetizing. I added a few drops of red food coloring and one drop of yellow to perk it up.)
Store in sterilized jars in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Vanilla is such an important ingredient. It goes into pretty much every dessert I make, and lately I’ve started putting a capful in my morning coffee, too. Sometimes when I’m baking, the worst thing happens. I suddenly realize there are only three drops of vanilla left in my little bottle. This has been happening all too frequently since I developed my vanilla cafe au lait habit, so I decided to put an end to my vanilla extract shortages for good. I got the idea to make my own vanilla extract from this post on Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes.
All you need are some cute little bottles (I used these), vanilla beans (I got these Madagascar beans), and some vodka. It doesn’t have to be high quality vodka–the quality of the beans is much more important. Vanilla beans are expensive, but more reasonable if you buy a bunch of them. Also, vanilla extract is expensive, so I think if you use enough of it you’ll definitely save money by making your own. If you don’t want to make all the beans you buy into extract, you can store some in an airtight container to use in baking or custards. A lot of desserts call for vanilla bean seeds instead of extract, so it’s great to have some around. As soon as I get my ice cream maker, I am going to use my leftover beans to make vanilla bean ice cream with those great little specks of vanilla seeds in it.
Guess what? This vanilla extract would make a great gift, and is a gift that keeps on giving. If you start running low, just top off the vodka and let it sit for a few weeks before using it again. After doing this a couple of times, you will probably want to add some new beans. Ina Garten says she’s been doing this to refresh the same bottle of vanilla that’s been in her pantry for twenty years!
Vanilla beans (6 beans per cup of vodka)
Make sure your bottles are really clean. I sterilized mine by boiling them in water for ten minutes. Let them dry completely (I put mine in the dishwasher top rack to dry).
Cut each vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and then crosswise to fit in your bottles if you’re using small ones like me. I used three beans for each of my four-ounce bottles. Pour in vodka, leaving a little bit of space at the top (if you can find a funnel, you won’t make as much of a mess as I did). Store in a cool, dark place, and shake every day or so. The extract will be ready after two months, but continues to develop a more pronounced flavor if aged longer.
I made my labels in Microsoft Word, printed them on regular paper, and stuck them on with a permanent glue stick. I can’t figure out how to post the document up here for you to download, but if you want these labels, drop me a note with your email address and I’ll send them to you.
Ingredients (from The Year in Food):
8-10 organic lemons (depending on how big your jar is)
about 1/2 cup sea salt (I used Maldon)
Chocolate truffles are so easy to make, it’s amazing that places like Godiva get away with charging so much for them. If you want yours to be even more like the ones at the chocolate shop, you can melt your favorite milk or dark chocolate and dip the chilled truffles in it instead of rolling them in cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar. Use a fork to remove the truffle once it’s covered in melted chocolate. Let the extra drip off, and place the truffle on wax or parchment paper or in a candy cup. This is a deliciously rich, fancy, no-bake dessert that will impress anyone. Chocolate truffles also make a great gift wrapped up in a cellophane bag or placed in a decorative box or tin. This recipe makes about 20 truffles.
Vegan Coconut Almond Truffles
Hi, I’m Becky and this is my new blog. The
first recipe I’m going to share with you is for homemade lemon curd.
While you may not think you need to make this unless you’re planning on
hosting a high tea, I’m going to try to convince you that you actually
need to make it right now. This stuff is ridiculously delicious, plus
easy and fun to make. I made mine to pipe inside the lemon coconut
cupcakes I’m making for Easter dinner, but I’m worried I might have to
make a second batch. I’ve been sneaking spoonfuls at every opportunity,
and my boyfriend and I each had a generous dollop on the Dutch babies I
made for breakfast this morning (recipe for that is here).
If you love lemon like I do, you have to try this! It would be
fabulous on scones. I’ve never made scones, but will have to try it if I
end up with any lemon curd left at all.
This recipe is adapted from Ina’s, in the Barefoot Contessa cookbook and here.
I reduced the sugar, and think mine has the perfect balance of sweet
and tart flavors. She says you can make this with oranges or limes
instead of lemons—let me know if you try it!
Ingredients (makes about two cups):
4 lemons, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 pound butter (1 stick) at room temperature
Generous pinch of salt
1. Zest the lemons, avoiding the white
pith underneath the yellow rind (I usually scrape each spot across the
grater twice). Place the zest in a food processor with the sugar, and
process thoroughly to break the zest up into tiny pieces.
2. Juice the lemons (roll them under the palm of your hand first so
they’ll release more juice) until you have 1/2 cup of lemon juice. I
had to use all four lemons to get that much juice.
3. Cream the butter with the lemon sugar (I used my stand mixer
with the paddle attachment). Add the eggs one at a time, and then the
lemon juice and salt. Mix well.
4. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan. At this point, it probably
looks like a big mess. Mine looked like curdled milk. Maybe lemon curd
is named after its gruesome looks at this stage in the process? Don’t
worry though, your lemon curd will smooth right out as soon as it heats
5. Cook the lemon curd over low heat, stirring constantly, until it
thickens (10-15 minutes). I used a thermometer to keep tabs on
things—my lemon curd thickened around 155 degrees, and you don’t want to
let yours get much above 175.
That’s it! You made lemon curd. Now, try not to just eat all of it
with a spoon. I cooled mine and poured it into jars—it will keep for a
couple of weeks in the refrigerator, although I can’t see it ever
lasting that long at my apartment. Tomorrow I’ll be piping mine into
some springtime coconut cupcakes—I’ll let you know how it goes and share
the recipe soon!