Thursday, July 26, 2007

Of Best Laid Plans

Homemade Lemon Curd

lemon curd ice cream sandwiches

Silky lemon curd ice cream, sandwiched between rich chocolate cookies! Oh, how I wanted this dessert to turn out well.

Unfortunately, in my arrogance and over-confidence, I decided that I didn’t need to follow a recipe. After all, I could make cookies and lemon curd, and though I had never made ice cream, I felt that I understood the basic principles involved.

Lemon Ice cream recipe

As it happens, there is more to this frosty confection than just ice and cream and it seems that simply combining heavy cream, half and half, lemon curd and cold does not a tasty ice cream make.

Although the sandwiches received a fairly positive reaction from my taste testers, I found them to be gritty and icy, so I won’t be sharing the recipe at this time. However, the lemon curd recipe I used is delicious, has never failed me and I feel secure passing it on as a winner.

Lemon Curd Recipe
Adapted from Lemon Curd by Stephanie Jaworski

3 eggs
The juice from 3 lemons
¼ cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons of butter (cut into small pieces)
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest

Whisk together eggs, sugar and lemon juice in a stainless steel bowl until blended.

Place the bowl over a pot of boiling water, cooking the mixture while stirring constantly for about 8-10 minutes.

After about 6 minutes, the mixture should start to take on a white creamy appearance and will begin to thicken. Somewhere between 8 and 10 minutes, the mixture should look like lemon pudding and be noticeably thicker. Remove from heat and strain through a fine-mesh strainer into another bowl (or a Kitchenaid mixer with whisk attachment).

making lemon curd

Add the butter and lemon zest to the mixture and whisk until the butter has melted and the zest is evenly distributed. Allow to cool and enjoy!

Lemon curd

Fresh lemon curd makes a delicious spread for toast, pancakes, or scones. One day, it will also make delicious ice cream sandwiches as well. This, I promise!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Salsa Fresca, Fresca! Salsa Fresca, Fresca!


Fresh flavors, bright colors and crisp textures make salsa fresca the perfect accompaniment to any summer meal! I’ve enhanced my version with sweet Fuji apples and smoky roasted bell peppers. It’s really quite tasty.

Salsa Fresca – Blackberry Pockets Style

Two medium sized tomatoes – small dice
One small red onion (or half of one large red onion) – small dice
One roasted yellow bell pepper – small dice
Half of one Fuji apple – peeled, small dice
One Jalepeño – fine dice
Half cup of fresh cilantro*– course chop
Juice from one lime

*Note: Personally, I love the strong sagey, citrusy flavor of cilantro but some people really seem to hate the stuff. If you happen to be one of those people (you know, one of those…), you can either omit the cilantro from the recipe or substitute fresh Italian parsely.

Combine tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, apple, Jalepeño, and cilantro into a bowl, squeeze the lime juice over the contents and fold the ingeredients together to mix.

You now have a bowl of delicious salsa! Open a bag of chips, add it to your fish tacos or simply help yourself to a spoonful. However you choose to eat this salsa, you will enjoy the hell out of it.

chips and salsa

I really enjoy adding fruit to my salsas and I think the crispness of the Fuji apple works really well in this recipe. Pineapple might be a nice touch as well. Ooh, or jicama! As always, feel free to use your imagination, add a few of your favorite ingredients to the mix and work to make this recipe your own.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Po-Tay-Toes! Boil ‘em, Mash ‘em, Stick ‘em in a Stew!

grilled potato fries

Or in this case, slice 2 potatoes into ¼ inch strips, toss with a tablespoon of olive oil, place them on a medium heat grill (around 370 degrees), close the lid, cook them for about 6 minutes, flip them and give them another 6 minutes.

fries on the grill

Pull them off, season with salt, pepper (and any other seasonings you like on your potatoes) and enjoy! Serves 4 as a side dish. Otherwise, serves 1 potato lover!

Ok, so not the most exciting post this week, but sadly, I have just not been cooking that much lately. I suffered some battle damage to my back and it has put me in kind of a lazy mood. That being said, grilled potatoes are really excellent! If you haven’t tried them, you are in for a treat. Light, crispy and smoky and I promise, you won’t miss the deep frier.

grilled potato fries and katchup

Monday, July 2, 2007

Chocolate and Orange

Orange and chocolate

Oh, the delicious pairing of orange and chocolate! It is truly one of my favorite combinations and orangettes are fast becoming a candy staple at Casa de Pockets. For those unfamiliar with these delightful treats, orangettes are delicate strips of candied orange peel with a crisp chocolate coating; they have a soft, chewy texture and a citrus bite.

When I began researching recipes for candied orange peel, I discovered that there are a wide variety of ways of preparing them with no general consensus on the best approach, and surprisingly, few detailed instructions. Unfortunately, this lack of direction resulted in several failed batches with seized sugar, burnt peels and puddles of mush.

However, after a long process of trial and failure, Blackberry Pockets’ test kitchens were finally able to develop a method for candying orange peel, which appears to work faithfully time and time again. Hopefully, today, I can give you the direction that was denied to me and help you to create flawless candy with no waste.

Orangettes (chocolate-covered candied orange peel)

orange peel candied orange peel

candy kid

The peel from 3 oranges*
3 cups of sugar
1 ½ cups of water
¼ cup of light corn syrup
8 ounces of dark chocolate

* Note: If you are not in the mood to eat 3 oranges and can't coordinate another orange recipe to use the fruit and juice, you can save the peel from the oranges that you eat over the course of a week or two by storing them in a ziplock sandwich bag in the fridge.

Cut the ends off of the oranges, quarter them and remove the peel (pith intact) from the fruit. Slice the peel into ¼ inch strips.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the orange peels for 3 minutes, drain them and repeat the process two more times. This process removes some of the bitter flavor from the peel.

After blanching the peels, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup into a medium-sized sauce pot over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the orange peels and bring the solution to a simmer.

Allow the orange peels to simmer on low heat for 30-50 minutes until they are translucent. This is the step where I blew it on multiple occasions. Pay close attention that the liquid never comes to too hard of a boil. You should still be able to see the submerged peels and you don't want all of the water to evaporate.

When the peels have become translucent (and tasty), transfer them to a drying wrack on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Note: you can preserve the syrup in an air tight container and use it in marinades and drink mixes!

Place the peels in the refrigerator and allow them to cool overnight. Roll the peels in sugar and, again, allow them to dry in the refrigerator for a few hours.
candied orange peel

Next, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler until it reaches a smooth consistency with a glossy shine. If you want to properly temper your chocolate in order to achieve a crisper bite and glossier coating, follow these handy directions from David Lebovitz. Dip the peels into the melted chocolate one-by-one, leaving the tips uncoated and place on the parchment. If you end up with leftover melted chocolate, dip some nuts, fruit or cookies into the remainder!

Place the candy back in the refrigerator to help the chocolate firm up faster (about 15 minutes). Enjoy!

chocolate covered candied orange peel

This recipe works great using other citrus peel as well:

candied rio grande vallley grapefruit peel
Grapefruit Peel

candied pomelo peel

candied pomelo peel
Pomello Peel

candied lemon peel
Lemon Peel