Have you ever heard of Lemon Curd? If you haven’t then read on!

My mother, as I have mentioned before many times, is Irish.  And when I used to visit there without her, I’d ask what I could bring back and it was always a jar of “Little Chip” marmalade, and a jar of lemon curd.  Now, American’s might get lemon curd if I liken it to the filling for a lemon meringue pie, but seriously, this is so much better and much more liquid.  The main difference between the two is that lemon meringue filling uses corn starch to thicken it, and that sets up as a much more solid texture than curd.  It’s much more silky, almost custard-like and less jelled than the filling. It’s also refreshingly tart, but with sweetness that stops you from the pucker.  Lemon curd is just something you have to experience to believe.  You can also make lime curd, blood orange curd, pretty much any citrus will make a good curd, and I have even seen raspberry and dulce de leche curd recently!

A few Sunday’s ago, we had breakfast at Brooklyn Street Local, one of our favorite breakfast spots in Detroit.  They’re wonderful, and they have poutine, which is uniquely Canadian (although I hear they also do it well in Wisconsin) and wonderfully indulgent, plus they do vegetarian (yay Hubby) and meat eater versions.  They use locally sourced food and lots of Michigan products including their wonderful coffee.  If you’re in the D, this is for sure a place to go!   We changed our usual routine and had the scones as a sort of breakfast appetizer.  It’s not the first time I have had them, but it was for the Hubby, they are served with a local jam, and some kick ass lemon curd.  It put me in mind of a cake I made for Mothers Day many years ago.  I won’t go into the excruciating details, but suffice it to say, I can not make white chocolate ganache to save my life.  However, I made the most wonderful lemon curd for my curd loving Mom.  The cake ended up being a lovely springy sponge, with whipped cream as the frosting, blackberries as the garnish and a lovely, rich lemon curd as the filling.  I think I remember my mom loving it.  In telling the story to the Hubby, he asked in a very accusatory fashion, “Why haven’t you made it for ME?”  And so, I am.

Now, before we start, some practical matters.  It is much easier to zest a lemon before you juice it, so refrigerate the lemons after you have washed them in hot soapy water, to remove any wax that may have been applied.  Let them get good and cold.  Then use a rasp if you have one, or a box grater on the fine side and lightly grate the yellow zest off.  You can even use a vegetable peeler, but once you reach the white pith, stop.  Pith isn’t going to do anyone any good in this recipe, or indeed in most others, so stop a few seconds after you start, and move to another area.  Another traditional thing when making this is that you use a double boiler.  But this time, I am going to say don’t do that.  Just keep the flame low, and whisk all the time.  It will make for more work, but it’s less fiddly.

Zested Lemons

This is how your lemons should look after zesting, before juicing!

Some ideas for the curd are pretty simple and easy.  Spread it on toast, with butter.  Fill a cake with it.  Use it for a pie filling. Fold it together with whipped cream for a light and lemony side to fruit salad.  So, here it is, lemon curd.

Lemon Curd

4 lemons (for 3 for zest and 4 for juice)
1/2 cup lemon juice (from above lemons)
1 stick unsalted butter melted and cooled completely
4 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (omit if you’re using salted butter)

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, off the heat, whisk everything together.  Don’t be alarmed if it looks curdled, that’s OK.  This is what it might loom like:

photo 2

After everything is well mixed, and the sugar is dissolved, put it on a low heat, and start stirring.  Set your timer for 9 minutes, and don’t stop stirring.

After about 8 minutes, you should start to feel a slipperiness on the bottom of the pan.  That is a great sign, it means it’s starting to gel.

photo 3

It will start to look slightly grainy, and as though it is starting to curdle, but it isn’t, that’s the zest plumping up and rising to the surface.  Keep stirring, and when your timer stops, stop stirring and see if it starts to bubble.  If so, you’re almost done!  Keep stirring for another 3 minutes or so, and you’ll see it transform from a runny yellow liquid to a smooth and creamy custard-like consistency.  It’s exactly where you want it.  Take it off the heat and pour it into a waiting glass container.  You should immediately cover this with plastic wrap and press it onto the surface all over the exposed top.  You’ll prevent a skin forming.  Then let it completely cool at room temperature.  Once it’s completely cool, you can spoon it into jars, or a bowl with a lid, and store it in the fridge for up to a week.  Mine won’t last that long, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner!

My completed bowl!

photo 4

These are a few of my favorite things!

Who doesn’t love The Sound of Music?  It’s where I get today’s blog title.  With the advent of vegetarianism entering my meat eaters life, I began to realize two things.  The first is, living without meat and meat by-products isn’t as hard or easy as it sounds, and second meat substitutes are OK, but vegetables and alternative sources of protein are much better for you!

So in my quest to help my husband reach his goal of being the worlds fattest vegetarian (Joking of COURSE!) I have found some really tried and true products that allow me to keep him vegetarian and well fed, and don’t make me miss meat at all!  Here are several of my tried and true products, and a few sources of where to find them, along with a few “can’t live without” kitchen items that I would truly be lost without!

Quorn is a product that I have become completely addicted to.  You can find their website here: http://www.quorn.us/  or here: http://www.quorn.com/ .  Their products are not soy based, but made from Mycoproteins, which are a kind of fungus, similar to mushrooms.  And I can tell you, they’re delicious!  They come in chicken and beef styles, and everything from cutlets with goat cheese and cranberries to meatballs.  They’re out of this world, and we eat them at least twice a week!

Our two favorites are the cranberry and goat cheese cutlets and Quorn roast, which is what Tim eats for holidays.

Cberry gcheese cutletsTurky roast

Believe it or not, Meijer in Michigan is very vegetarian friendly, and they have these fantastic soy products called “Gardein”, they have BBQ chicken wings, beef tips, which I use for a fast stew in the cooler weather.  They have a website too (http://www.gardein.com/index.php), and tons of options, that are all super good!

Gardein

There is another product, we get it at Whole Foods, called Match.  It’s a sort of raw ground meat type product, it comes in beef, chicken and sausage flavors, and it seriously tastes and looks like ground meat.  I make faux chicken cutlets with it, and hamburgers.  It’s really delicious, and a soy based product.  They do have a website, to find where their products are sold near you:  http://matchmeats.com/wp1/

Match meat

We do use several other “meat replacement” products.  TIm loves the Tofurky products (http://www.tofurky.com/), I don’t particularly like them, they don’t really agree with me.  His favorite, after the famous Tofurky roast is brats and now they can be grilled, which is pretty sweet when you’re going to a BBQ.

We have a local restaurant that I may have mentioned before, Brooklyn Street Local (http://brooklynstreetlocal.com/), and they make this uniquely Canadian dish called poutine.  It’s french fries, cheese curd and beef gravy, sounds odd, but it’s delicious! They make a vegetarian version that Tim loves with mushroom gravy.  They also make a traditional diner breakfast, with tempeh bacon, which we have now found!  It’s admittedly NOT bacon, but if you like the smokey flavor, this will hit the spot.  Much better than the faux bacon strips that look like pink and white communion wafers….

Tempeh bacon

There are many other things that I adore, although right now, I have an obsession with a juicer we got.  It’s bright yellow and sunny looking, and juices citrus like a breeze:

Fancy juicer

However, my very old friend, the wooden reamer has to do for larger citrus, like large oranges and grapefruit:

Non fancy juicer

I am in the process of getting more blog posts put together, so I won’t be posting so sporadically, upcoming is the promised tomato gazpacho, and a really lovely desert my cousin Petula taught me to make that they called “Wellington Squares”.  I recently found a version of it in a New Zealand blog I have been following.  Maybe this favorites will be a  quarterly thing, not sure yet, but I love giving people options that they may not have known on, or wouldn’t have tried if they hadn’t heard of it.

Happy Fall everyone, the weather here in Detroit seems to have turned, I hope for the cooler side of things!

PS: Look at what Tim brought me back from Hungary!  YUMMY!!

Truffle honey