lemon curd

Wild Card Creative : Easter with Lightfoot & Wolfville Riesling

Talented food stylist, and my friend, Kathy Jollimore, and I have officially teamed up as Wild Card Creative.

Wild Card Creative.

What is that?

The answer is complex, yet simple, at the same time. 

Kathy and I both have babies - her little boy is almost 20 months old and my little girl just turned 10 months old. We both love the entrepreneurial lifestyle and what it offers to our children, and our families, from a 'spending time' perspective. 
We both love what we do and we've both come to the conclusion that, when given the opportunity to focus on wearing just one hat - Kathy food styling, me behind the camera - our creativity and skills have a chance to really shine.
Combining forces is something I think we've both felt made sense for a really long time, however, having babies threw a wrench into the spokes.

So the simple answer is - 

Currently, Wild Card Creative is a one-stop-shop for recipe development, prop and food styling, photography, videography, and some writing, however, the word 'creative' gives us freedom to evolve into whatever we want to be

We approached Lightfoot & Wolfville Wines about a collaborative shoot featuring their gorgeous Riesling. With the themes of 'Easter', 'light and fresh', 'pink and green', and 'small mid-afternoon gathering', L&W's Riesling was a no brainer.

For the shoot, I cured fresh Atlantic salmon with beets, fresh dill and citrus, which Kathy then styled as a show stopping little canapé with whipped feta, delicately sliced radishes, baby greens and 9-minute boiled eggs, all atop squares of Birdies Bread Co. homemade rye bread. Kathy also made a coconut cake, filled it with lemon curd and frosted it with hibiscus-infused buttercream. Finally, she made donuts and dipped them in rhubarb glaze and bedecked them with teensy dried roses, edible pink pearls and shaved white chocolate. Cadbury Mini Eggs, fresh tulips and a bunting I made out of burlap and a lace curtain from Value Village completed our pretty scape.


All in all, a good start for Wild Card Creative.

Lemon Curdsicles

When the idea for Lemon Curdsicles first popped into my head, I Googled it right away. I mean, COME ON, surely SOMEONE has already thought of them before and posted them SOMEWHERE on the web?

But no - nobody has

(NO Google, I did NOT mean Lemon curd cyclesAnd what the hell is a beef tallow curdsicle anyway?!?)

Anyhoo, these are one of the BEST things I've made since I first started my blog in 2010. A bold statement yes but so so true!

I've made homemade ice cream in the past that's been pretty darn good however, it always seems to freeze just a little too hard. I've mentioned my love of David Lebovitz before here and here and am absolutely enthralled with his latest book 'My Paris Kitchen' published by Random House. Seriously - it's lovely. David wrote another book in 2007 called 'The Perfect Scoop', so trust me when I say this man knows his ice cream. For the Lemon Curdsicles I used David's recipe for Apricot Kernel Ice Cream (without Apricot Kernels) found in 'My Paris Kitchen'. You can find basically the same recipe on David's website if you click here. His recipe calls for 5 yolks - the recipe I usually use only has three. I think the extra yolks in David's recipe lend extra creaminess to the ice cream and prevent it from freezing hard as a rock - it's the perfect compliment to the tart brightness of the lemon curd. You could also make the 6-Minute Microwave Lemon Curd and layer it in popsicle molds with softened store-bought vanilla ice cream.

SO GOOD.

Lemon Curdsicles

1 batch of David Lebovitz's Vanilla Ice Cream (recipe from www.davidlebovitz.com):

For a richer custard, you can add up to 3 more egg yolks. For a less-rich custard, substitute half-and-half for the heavy cream, realizing that the final texture won’t be as rich or as smooth as if using cream.

  • 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

- Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.

- To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.

- In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.

- Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

- Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.

- Remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Note: Used vanilla beans can be rinsed and dried, then stored in a bin of sugar. That sugar can be used for baking and, of course, for future ice cream making.

 

1 batch of 6-Minute Microwave Lemon Curd (original recipe from Out Of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens by Marie Nightingale):

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C sugar
  • 3 lemons
  • 1/4 C butter
  • pinch of salt (optional - not included in the recipe, but I usually add a pinch to any curd I make)

- In a large microwaveable bowl, ***whisk eggs + sugar until smooth*** - zest all 3 lemons into the eggs and sugar and then juice them right into the bowl - break butter into small pieces with your hands and throw into bowl - whisk everything together

- Microwave, one minute at a time, for 5-6 minutes, whisking between each minute 'until it is as thick as honey' (Out Of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens, p 171) - mine took 6 minutes - pour into a jar - refrigerate

***IMPORTANT*** - IF YOU DO NOT WHISK YOUR EGGS AND BUTTER SILKY SMOOTH FIRST you will end up with cooked scrambled egg bits. That's fine but IF THIS HAPPENS - pour your curd through a sieve BEFORE you jar it. It will pretty much run right through - you may have to press the last bit with the back of a spoon. The sieve will catch all of the scrambled bits.

***ANOTHER NOTE*** - Wednesday January 29, 2014 - I made this recipe again, with 3/4 C of sugar instead of a full cup - it was really nice - more tart, less sweet - BUT IT COOKED FASTER - 4.5 minutes

 

- After churning ice cream batter, layer it in popsicle molds with dollops of chilled lemon curd - freeze overnight

 YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT.

6-Minute Microwave Lemon Curd

I'm on a bit of a citrus kick right now. I've read about Meyer Lemons, and how delicious they are, on many a different blog, but last week was the first time I've seen them here in Halifax. Produced by Sunkist, the bag reads 'cross between a lemon and a Mandarin orange - a culinary favourite!'.

Just before Christmas, Sean's Aunt Anita gave me a box of cookbooks and handwritten recipes that had belonged to her mother, Sean's grandmother, Miny (short for Elmina - pronounced MY-nee) - aka Nanny Neil. One of the books in the box I'm sure is familiar to many -  the 1970 classic Out Of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens.

This morning, flipping through Nanny Neil's copy of Out Of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens, I came across a recipe for Lemon Curd. I LOVE lemon curd, and remembered reading on My Baking Addiction that you could microwave it, so I thought I'd make a half batch to test and see if was any good.

Holy freakin' shit.

GO MAKE THIS RIGHT NOW.

I ate half a jar with a spoon and felt like I was going to barf after but FRIG it was SO WORTH IT.

6-Minute Microwave Lemon Curd (recipe from Out Of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens - microwave inspiration from My Baking Addiction)

3 eggs

1 C sugar

3 lemons

1/4 C butter

pinch of salt (optional - not included in the recipe, but I usually add a pinch to any curd I make)

- In a large microwaveable bowl, ***whisk eggs + sugar until smooth*** - zest all 3 lemons into the eggs and sugar and then juice them right into the bowl - break butter into small pieces with your hands and throw into bowl - whisk everything together

- Microwave, one minute at a time, for 5-6 minutes, whisking between each minute 'until it is as thick as honey' (Out Of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens, p 171) - mine took 6 minutes - pour into a jar - refrigerate

***IMPORTANT*** - IF YOU DO NOT WHISK YOUR EGGS AND BUTTER SILKY SMOOTH FIRST you will end up with cooked scrambled egg bits. That's fine but IF THIS HAPPENS - pour your curd through a sieve BEFORE you jar it. It will pretty much run right through - you may have to press the last bit with the back of a spoon. The sieve will catch all of the scrambled bits.

***ANOTHER NOTE*** - Wednesday January 29, 2014 - I made this recipe again, with 3/4 C of sugar instead of a full cup - it was really nice - more tart, less sweet - BUT IT COOKED FASTER - 4.5 minutes

Strawberry Vanilla Curd and The Summer Everything Changed

The summer I was 13 was one of the best and one of the worst of my life. The best because I was finally old enough to be a counsellor at the sleep-away camp my sister and I went to each summer. The worst because that's the summer my parents broke up.

The day we got home from camp, we knew right away something was wrong.

 'Mum, where are all of Dad's clothes?', we asked.

Looking back now, I realize how devastated and scared my Mum must have been, and so, she lied.

'Your father's away at a hockey tournament'.

At 13 and 11 years old, we were still naive and trusting, never questioning that it wasn't true. 

Two weeks later we were still asking, 'When is Dad coming home?'. I can only imagine how it must have felt for Mum to have to say the words, 'Your father moved out. He's not coming home.'

The words that changed everything.

Before my parent's separated my Mum would cook and bake all of the time - roast beef dinner with Yorkshire puddings, homemade strawberry rhubarb jam, chocolate cake with boiled icing, lemon meringue pie and the best homemade meatballs in the world. She's a wonderful cook and baker and to this day, my Dad still says that about her. But that summer, after he left, it wasn't just their marriage that ended. After he left, my mum didn't cook or bake anymore.

From that point on, and until I was 18, my sister and I lived on an endless supply of processed meats, grilled cheese sandwiches, Mr. Noodles, fast food, frozen microwave dinners and hot dogs. My Mum would fill the fridge with stuff that could be assembled quickly and easily by her two teenaged daughters as she went back to school, for the first time since before I was born, trying desperately to get her new life on track.

Strawberry season in Nova Scotia always reminds me of happy times. When I was a kid you couldn't buy strawberries year round - it wasn't an option. You had to wait for strawberry season. I have clear memories of being a kid, holding a plate of my Mum's homemade strawberry shortcake, luscious red Nova Scotia strawberries piled high, sugary pink syrup soaking the cake, whipped cream billowing from the sides.  It's one of the best food memories I have. This Strawberry Curd recipe is a small tribute to my deep love for Nova Scotia strawberries and the deeper love and admiration I have for my Mum, who has experienced more struggle and heartache in her life than anyone rightly deserves. 

Strawberry Vanilla Curd

1 box Nova Scotia strawberries

1 Tbsp Port

1 vanilla bean, scraped

1 C sugar, divided in half

5 egg yolks

1/8 tsp kosher salt

1/2 C butter

- wash, hull and rough chop strawberries - place in medium sized pot on med/low heat with Port, Vanilla Bean scrapings and 1/2 C sugar - cook 7-10 minutes until strawberries are soft

- in a med/large bowl, whisk remaining 1/2 C sugar, egg yolks and salt

- when strawberries are soft, drain the juice from the berries into a heat proof vessel (you only need 1/2 C juice for the curd - if you have extra, mix it with club soda for a refreshing summer drink - make sure you scoop out your vanilla bean seeds into your 1/2 C juice - most of mine ended up in my soda) - while whisking yolks, drizzle in 1/2 C hot strawberry juice, a little at a time, whisking constantly, until all juice is incorporated

- add egg yolk mixture back to pot with cooked strawberries and cook over med/low heat for about 10 minutes, or until thick and creamy - pour into heatproof jars and cool - I served mine (pictured above) on a slice of Julien's baguette with some Hug Your Nanny Goat Cheese

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Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

My friends Erin and Natalie gave me these sweet little cupcake wrappers for my birthday, and I had three mini jars of lemon curd in the fridge, so what better to do than bake cupcakes?

Like I need a reason.

I got the Old Fashioned Vanilla Cupcake recipe AND the Meringue recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks - The Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook. I've made a number of treats from this book and have been pleased with all of the results, including these cupcakes. In fact, I think this could be the perfect vanilla cupcake recipe.

And the meringue? Luscious.

You can get the recipe for the cupcakes at the end of the post, the recipe for the lemon curd here and the recipe for the meringue here. I omit the cream of tartar from the meringue because I really don't like the taste of it.

The cupcake batter was really thick so I used an ice cream scoop to plop a dollop of batter into my cupcake wrappers, then, I fitted a piping bag with a round tip and filled it with lemon curd. I stuck the tip of the piping bag just under the top of the cupcake batter and squeezed some curd into the center of the raw batter. You can see what it looks like after it's baked below.

The piping tip left a small hole in the top of the batter so I added about a half teaspoon more batter to fill it in. 

My wrappers were fairly large so my cupcakes took about 25 minutes in the oven. I let them cool, in the tin, on a rack, about 20 minutes before I piped the meringue because a) I figured the meringue would 'melt' if the cupcakes were still warm and b) the lemon curd inside the hot cupcakes was like molten lava. 

Preheat the high setting of the broiler in your oven and keep the rack in the lower third. Once the broiler is ready to go, pop the tin of cupcakes in and keep a close eye on them, because once they start to turn golden, they'll brown fairly quickly. Mine took about 4 minutes and I rotated the tin a couple of times during those four minutes.

I think next time I may try a different filling - maybe some Dulce de Leche, Nutella or some of the Biscoff Spread I just ordered?

The Back In The Day Bakery's Old Fashioned Cupcakes are truly a perfect blank canvas for any creative flavour combinations you can dream of!!

Back In The Day Bakery's Old Fashioned Cupcakes (18 large or 24 medium cupcakes)

1 C milk (I used 35% heavy cream)

1 tsp vanilla

1 3/4 C cake flour

1 1/4 C all purpose flour

2 C sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

3/4 tsp fine sea salt

2 sticks butter (227g) , cubed, room temp

4 eggs, room temp

  • Preheat 350 - rack in lower third of oven
  • combine cream and vanilla - set aside
  • combine flours, sugar, baking powder and sea salt in stand mixer - mix with paddle on low 2 minutes
  • add butter, a few pieces at a time, until all butter is added and mixture resembles coarse sand
  • add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each until well combined
  • add cream/vanilla mix slowly - mix 1-2 minutes more to combine
  • scoop into cupcake wrappers set in a muffin tin and bake 20-25 minutes