Sunday, January 29, 2012

Meyer Lemon Marmalade

I love these meyer lemons... the warm yellow peel, orange perfume, underlying sweetness, then resounding tartness just leaves your senses debating... Orange? Lemon? Orange? Lemon?

All love aside, I had now made a beautiful lemon curd and still had another ten or twelve lemons to go! I figured a nice and easy way to use up at least 4 or 5 lemons would be to make a marmalade (not to mention, you could do this with just about any fruit and use up any super ripe bits in your fridge). Very little prep involved and a lovely return on investment.

You could easily preserve this through water bath canning but it's a small recipe yielding about two cups of marmalade. We're making fast work of it here, so you may as well...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Meyer Lemon Curd

When faced with a veritable vat (yep... a "veritable vat") of meyer lemons, I did what any person, who did not want to see them go to waste, would do... I made all things lemon. And I mean all things lemon. Doug probably doesn't want to see another lemon cross our threshold for quite some time.

So, one of the first things that I wanted to make on this lemon journey was lemon curd. Momma R made some lemon curd at Christmas and it was heavenly, so I figured I would give it a shot myself.

Apparently it freezes nicely, so you can portion some out for use (refrigerated for about a week) then freeze the remainder in an ice cube tray (then transfer the frozen cubes into a plastic bag) to thaw as needed to serve as that perfect accompaniment to a scone or yogurt or fruit or whatever else suits your fancy!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Returning to Roots: Making Butter

Butter. Yep, butter. One of my favourite food groups. 

Well, maybe not a food group but it's right up there in my books. I don't really do the margarine thing. Just another personal preference but I love the creamy dreamy rich smoothness of butter. Salted or unsalted. For cooking or for baking. I love butter. Not to mention, it seems that everywhere I turned online, I would stumble across another blogger or site writing about how easy and satisfying it was to make your own butter. My curiousity was peaked and I too had to try. 

Does this also constitute a contribution towards my French food goal for 2012? The French also seem to love their butter. I think that counts then. hahah.

Here is a fast-forward of the process...
four spoonfuls at various stages of the "churning."
From top left/counter clockwise: Whipped cream,
beginning of separation, unrinsed butter, rinsed butter.

Monday, January 9, 2012

BA Cleanse: The Progression

You would laugh if I told you how many comments I got last week with the general theme of "is this really a cleanse??!" hahah. I asked the same question! Honestly, it didn't really matter to me if it was a capital-C cleanse or not. I thought it would be a good way to kick off some healthy eating in 2012.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

BA Cleanse: Make Ahead Pantry and Dinner One

After about two hours and two stops this morning, I have nearly everything that I need for the Bon Appetit Food Lover's Cleanse. I couldn't even tell you the last time that I shopped for that length of time with such a comprehensive list. While I did manage to spend a bit of time prepping for the trip and determining what I already had on hand, I overlooked grouping needed items as they are arranged in my grocery store. Since I'm still new to this city and my grocery store, certain items are illusive on a regular trip... let alone a trip where I need to find coconut water and miso paste and French lentils. 

If you're going to follow along too, then grab the four files from Bon Appetit's website. There is a fantastic and fully comprehensive Shopping List (it assumes that you do not have anything required, which is great because then you can assess yourself and determine what you need to buy... rather than starting your prep and realizing that you are missing key spices or pantry items because you missed a  recipe page when writing your own list), there are two Food Lover's Cleanse recipe documents (one for Week One and one for Week Two), and there is a schedule of all meals laid out in a two week calendar. 

So, my recommendation on prepping for this little excursion would be to not only review your fridge, freezer and pantry to see what you already have BUT also to read, not review, the shopping list a few times and group any items accordingly. Otherwise, bring a buddy with you to stand with the cart while you run back to a passed aisle to grab that missed ingredient or as you wander aimlessly attempting to locate one of the more specialty items. 

The other recommendation that I have, or maybe it is just a moment of honesty, is to do as much as you can but don't pull your hair out over following every aspect of this cleanse completely. I do give complete credit to those obviously talented chefs and food lovers at Bon Appetit for creating such a neat and appealing cleanse concept. I wish I had a larger pantry, a larger budget and a degree more patience in which to follow this cleanse fully. That said, I don't have any of those three (well, I do have a reasonable amount of patience), so I am making adjustments where I need and my substitutions mean no disrespect! I wasn't buying the fermented black beans and the lentils that I have already might have to do. Walnut oil was proving difficult and I have a really beautiful and nutty extra virgin olive oil here already. I think these substitutions are just fine. If nothing else, I am following a great deal of the plan as it is laid out (despite having a general aversion towards rice milk), am allowing my own culinary creativity to flow when I need to make changes, and recognizing that the whole point of this cleanse (and escapade) is about being intentional about eating and making some lovely detoxifying choices... that will allow me to tox myself back up later. hahah.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Eats & Smiles: Plans for 2012

Happy new year! Well... happy new year and how was your first week of 2012??

My year has started off with a bang. We enjoyed great holiday time with our families and friends in each city. There is never enough time in that regard! New hours at work are getting my butt out of bed much earlier but also out of the office at a staggeringly wonderful 4pm. I've been diligent about packing lunches and snacks and we've been eating in more than eating out. The dog is getting at least two solid walks each day and has is getting one step closer to being a "big boy puppy" with no more lunch time bathroom breaks. We've also dedicated time to doing a big hike or walk each weekend... though the first attempt at 6km ended up at roughly 20km and finding ourselves on the opposite side of a ridge than our car. There aren't words for the gratitude that we have for the family who let the two of us and the puppy into their van and drove us the 20+ minutes (by highway!) to our car. That said, we made it home... I enjoyed a long hot bath with my homemade bath salts and we lived to hike another day. We also are looking forward to many adventures in 2012... my sister's wedding, several weddings near and far, a trip to Buenos Aires (only one month away!) and a trip to the cottage in Ontario! And that is just what is planned right now... woo hoo!

Charlie really liked the hike... all 20 km of it.

So, I am thinking about kick starting this blogging year with the Bon Appetit Food Lover's Cleanse. It seems like a wonderfully tasty way to spend two weeks and get rid of any holiday meh in time for travel holiday woo!

In addition to using that as a starting point for my foodie journeys for 2012, I have been thinking about what things I would like to cook or bake or slurp or chomp this year... in no particular order.

[ 1 ] Mastering the creme brulee... this has been an absolute favourite dessert of mine for years. I love the hard sugar surface and the ever-enjoyable cracking and shattering that follows to reveal a creamy dreamy custard. Plus, I really want a kitchen blow torch. Yep, I said it.

One Ordinary Day - Creme Brulee (source)

[ 2 ] Bread bread and cheese! I've started making my own bread, though not as often as I would like. While I tried to challenge myself to make all of the bread for our home, it didn't quite work out that way. That's alright though. I can still make a mean bit of dough and just need to do that more often. So, I'd like to make a bit more bread this year but also expand into the wonderful world of cheese. My sister Susie has ventured in and produced some beauties, including some amazing mozzarella. I want to add this to my repetoire.

[ 3 ] More brunch with friends... Our aim is to have brunch with friends each month, saving December when things seem too frantic with Christmas and parties and open houses and such. That said... maybe it becomes a Brunch with Friends Open House. hmmm... food, or rather brunch, for thought.

[ 4 ] Curing and preserving. Our first impromptu preserving escapade this year turned out to be a raging success. I cannot wait until for the spring and trying to grow some of our own produce, while buying more and other great wares at our local farmers markets. In addition to rolling up our preserving sleeves again, I would love to try curing meats and such. I treated myself to a beautiful book on curing that makes it seem possible for a gal like me. We shall see...

[ 5 ] More Mexican! After yet another trip to the country to the south, I have again affirmed how much I enjoy some really rustic and authentic Mexican cuisine. Couple that with being completely awestruck by Rick Bayless on reruns of Top Chef: Masters (here is a great article about him from another food crush of mine, Jay Rayner), I really need to wander through this world beyond the taco. Oaxacan black mole, anyone?

[ 6 ] More Soul... I missed out on Soul Food on New Year's Day this year (just one of those things that happen when you are celebrating the holiday season in two different cities... you can't be everywhere at once). That said, I need to get in gear for next year. Black eyed peas (as suggested by Mon), collard greens, corn bread, chicken and ham... time to grab that Black Pot Cookbook that I received as a graduation present and start practising!

[ 7 ] Ice cream!!! This one deserves three exclamation marks. For Christmas this year, I was spoiled nicely and received the ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid mixer. Doug has already made a beautiful berry sorbet... I just can't decide what will be my first attempt.

[ 8 ] French cooking... unless something else ends up catching my eye. A birthday present has been burning a whole in my indecisive pocket for months now - a gift certificate for a cooking class at the Cookbook Company! I always seem to lean towards Italian in terms of my cooking but I thought French country cooking would be an amazing way to expand my culinary horizons. Though that tagine one looks intriguing too... hmmm.

[ 9 ] Infusing. I need to start thinking about this now, so that the liquors are ready for cocktail season this summer (not that infused liquors are limited to the summer, it just seems that is the time of year that I enjoy them the most).

[ 10 ] Donuts or doughnuts or however you feel it should be spelled. I got a faux-nuts baking tray and a donuts cookbook at Christmas too. Not in line with Year of Health but definitely in line with Year of Yummy.

What else should be on this list?
What is on your foodie hit list?
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