Sunday, March 29, 2009


Last Sunday at the Farmer's Market, Matthew and I bought a basket of limequats, along with a basket of limes from Farmer Steve. Farmer Steve grows the tastiest limes we've ever tried and we had no doubts that the limequats would be equally good. These tiny, bright yellow fruits are cheerful and cute, as well as being delicious. Naturally, they taste like a cross between limes and kumquats.

Since I also bought strawberries (its the very beginning of strawberry season in Southern Calif.) I wanted to find a way to combine the two fruits into one yummy treat. A lime curd, strawberry tart! So, I decided to start with a creamy base, layer the limequat curd second and then top everything with strawberries. After deciding on my process, I suddenly got the urge to make the same tart but replacing the curd with nutella. Hence the half and half tart. I wish I'd just stuck with one or the other, probably the limequat curd option. But both taste absolutely yummy.

I made the tart dough from Clotilde's book and baked the shell before toping it with all the other ingredients. For the creamy base, I simply processed cream cheese with a large dash of 1/2 n 1/2, a small dash of vanilla and sugar to taste. Lastly, the limequat curd was just adapted from an old lemon curd recipe that I've used for years.

Limequat curd recipe

Grate zest and juice many many limequats until you are tired of dealing with the little things, then grate and zest one lime to make approx. 6 tablespoons of juice total(this can be any citrus juice, all one type or a combo). Mix the juice with 8oz sugar and 4 oz of butter in a double boiler, over low heat, until sugar dissolves. Beat 2 large eggs in a separate bowl. Remove double boiler from heat and very slowly stir in the eggs. Just add the eggs at a trickle, stiring all the while. Once the eggs are incorporated, cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stiring continuously until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon. This is absolutely delicious on toast or scones, over most fruit, or just plain.

Monday, March 23, 2009

My new herbs!

I am ridiculously excited about my new plants. Poor Matthew, I made him schlep to the Farmer's Market with me during the rainiest part of the day on Sunday. We got soaking wet, but I found the prettiest little herbs and a few other goodies to boot, some strawberries, limes and limequats. How fun! I might make a strawberry, lime curd tart tomorrow. Then I can use all my goodies at once.

So, once the sun came out(about 15 min after we got back from the farmer's market), I planted my little herbies: Lemon Thyme, English Thyme, Candy Mint, Baby Lettuce and Sage, along with a few radish seeds that I picked up at the hardware store. We'll see if the radishes grow. The herbs will undoubtedly die at some point because I have a decidedly grey thumb, but I'll see just how long I can keep them alive. They are unbelievably pretty right now and, as you can see in the photos, I'm just beyond excited about them.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Perfect key lime pie

I think that 15 years of experience with baking and an excellent recipe from The Best Recipes cookbook helped me make a key lime pie that is the complete opposite from my last one. This one was absolutely perfect. Finally, I can lay to rest my anxiety about the most traumatic cooking flop ever.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Key lime pie

I've always enjoyed St. Patty's day, but I really enjoyed having the day off this year. One of my favorite aspects of the holiday is how a significant part of the population wears green. I love seeing so much green!

I spent most of the day working on a Key lime pie and Corned beef dinner. I make a corned beef dinner every year but it's been probably about 15 years since I made a key lime pie. My first ever key lime pie experience ended in tears of frustration after the entire thing fell apart. It also prompted my Grandmother to tell me the story of her first married Thanksgiving when she made the entire dinner by herself for the first time. My Grandfather had invited a bunch of his Navy friends over for the dinner, but they didn't get to enjoy it entirely because it the Turkey didn't turn out. Her story consoled me to a certain extent but really, it was the fact that the pie tasted just as good as it would of if it hadn't fallen apart that caused me to dry my tears entirely. That was the most important cooking experience of my life. Today, I've revisited an old nemesis. It looks beautiful on the surface, but we'll see how well it holds up once I cut into it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Strawberry Rose Water Jam

I may no longer live in a house with a large kitchen and lots of pantry room to store canned goods, but that doesn't stop me from making jam. Now, I simply prepare small batches that can be used up within a month or so. Last summer, I frequently found very old, tired strawberries in the refrigerator at work; they were left over from making chocolate dipped strawberries and usually were the small ones that nobody wanted. I hated to take home perfectly good strawberries when they really didn't belong to me, but I also hated to throw away perfectly overripe strawberries once everyone else wanted to toss them in the garbage. To solve my dilemma, I started using them to make Jam. I can make the tastiest jam with the strawberries that really wouldn't taste nice if eaten fresh.

I made this particular jam with the left over strawberries from Valentine's day. Now, don't worry, I made this jam about two weeks ago or so. The strawberries were certainly well aged but not unhealthily so.

Also, with this particular batch, I added a few dashes of Rose water that I picked up while browsing the Whole Foods. Rose and Strawberry flavors pair perfectly, especially in this jam.

Making Jam:
Hull strawberries and cut out any moldy spots. Roughly dice or slice the fruits and put into a pan with Sugar, to taste (Maybe a 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup berries?); add a splash of water (maybe a 1/4 cup of that as well?). Boil everything for a while, until it gets soft and then mash the berries and simmer the jam for 10 min or so. Remove from heat and stir in juice from Half a lemon. Allow jam to cool completely, sometimes I refrigerate it at this point. Once it's cool and has sat for a few hours or overnight, warm it back up again. Boil it for just a bit, 5-10 min. And it's done. Pour into an attractive dish or jar and use. Of course, you can add anything you want during the initially boil, Rose water, Vanilla extract(also a favorite of mine), Spices.

I could eat the whole batch with a spoon, but it's also very good on toast or in yogurt.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

German Lentil soup recipe

And finally, I am posting the soup recipe.

I, of course, did not follow the recipe exactly. I used ham instead of bacon and I used up all my brown lentils which was a bit more that 1/2 pound and I put in extra carrot and I didn't use any onion but I just used leek. and I didn't put any parsley on the soup. Probably, the soup would be better if you just follow Mr. Mager's recipe; he is a professional chef after all, but Matthew and I really enjoyed the soup I made. Actually, it sat in our fridge for a week(far too long) and was 10 times better after a week. I usually figure that most soup vastly improves after two days in the fridge.

German Lentil soup, as copied out of Horst Mager's cookbook.

1/2 pound lentils, washed
1 large onion
1 large carrot
1 celery stalk
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup leeks
1/2 pound lean bacon cut into strips or ham diced
6 cups beef stock
2 potatoes
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons parsley
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Dice all veggies. Render bacon in heavy duty pot. When Bacon has lost half of its fat, add onions, leeks, celery and carrots. Saute vegetables, then add washed lentils. Add rest of ingredients, except vinegar and parsley. Simmer for about an hour and a half. Taste to see if you need to add salt and pepper. At the end, add the vinegar and parsley just before serving.

Of course, I topped each portion with Saurkraut that I'd warmed with sugar and spices.

Warmed Saurkraut

This is my favorite sausage or hot dog topping. And, if I had no self control, I could eat the whole pot of this stuff without much effort.

In a small pot, dump jar or can of saurkraut. Add Brown sugar to taste, approx 1/4 cup and a teaspoon of caraway seeds. Warm gently and let it bubble about for about 10 min, stirring occasionally, just so all the sugar melts well and gets absorbed by the kraut.