When Life Gives You Lemons….. Make Lemon Curd!

When Life Gives You Lemons….. Make Lemon Curd!

If there is a Facebook Quiz that analyzes your personality traits and tells you what color you are, I would be YELLOW. It’s my favorite color. I love all things yellow; yellow blouses, yellow tulips, yellow dishes, yellow gift wrap, yellow lemons…… yellow everything! Yellow is so not brown. Yellow is not red hot. Yellow is not calmingly green. Yellow is not a sad shade of blue. Yellow is perky and optimistic and bright and personable and…. well… me!

So, while others were hording toilet tissue, I was hording sunflowers (for my kitchen vase), eggs (sunny side up of course), semolina flour (that’s for my brand new pizza oven) and lemons. Lots and lots of lemons. Sure, lemons are sour, which is why God gave us sugar!

The combination of egg yolks with the zest and juice of lemons, produces a custard with a consistency between pudding and jam. You can spread lemon curd on your English muffin, swirl it in the center of a pound cake, whip it into a mousse, transform it into ice cream or make lemon curd parfaits for a light, airy and bright spring dessert.

And that’s what I did here. Enjoy!

Lemon Curd Parfaits

with Strawberries and Mascarpone Cream

makes 6

30 minute cuisine, plus 20 minutes for biscuits

For lemon curd

3 large lemons, about 2 tablespoons zest and ½ cup juice

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

¼ pound butter, room temperature, 1 stick

5 large egg yolks

½ teaspoon kosher salt

For berries

1 pint strawberries, stemmed and cut in half

For mascarpone cream

1 (8-ounce) container mascarpone cream

¼ cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

For biscuits

¾ cup buttermilk

1 egg

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

½ cup granulated sugar

⅓ cup shortening

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Zest the lemons and place into a bowl with the sugar. Use a fork to combine. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the lemon-sugar, which you will need later when you assemble the parfaits. Pour the remaining lemon-sugar blend into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the butter and mix until creamy. Add the egg yolks, the juice from the lemons and the salt.

Heat water to a simmer in a pan (some bubbling, but not a mad boil). Place a heat proof bowl over the simmering water. You can use a double boiler for this. Pour the mixture into the bowl. Stir and simmer until the curd thickens, about 10 minutes. If you have a candy thermometer, you can make sure your curd is plenty thick when it reaches 170°. Cool the curd and then transfer it to a jar or plastic container. You can refrigerate the curd for up to 2 weeks.

Place the strawberries into a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the reserved lemon-sugar. Stir and set aside. You can chill the berries for up to several days.

Place the mascarpone cheese, sour cream and vanilla into a small bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture together until smooth and creamy.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together the buttermilk and egg in a small bowl. Place the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and ½ cup sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice to mix together. Take off the lid of the machine. Pinch the shortening into small pieces on top of the flour mixture. Return the top to the machine. Pulse until the flour turns into coarse crumbs and begins to climb up the side of the bowl. With the machine running, slowly pour in the buttermilk/eggs. The dough will clump together and begin to wrap around the blade.

Dump the dough onto your floured work surface. It will be soft and sticky! Dust the top of the dough with additional flour. Use your hands to pat the dough down to about ½-inch thickness. Use a 3-inch round biscuit cutter (or top of a glass) to cut 12 circles from the dough, reusing the scraps. Place the dough circles onto the baking sheet. Bake until the biscuits begin to rise and turn golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Melt 3 tablespoons butter. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the reserved lemon-sugar into the melted butter. Remove the biscuits from the oven and brush with the sugared butter. Cool to room temperature.

To assemble the parfaits, cut one biscuit in half. Break a biscuit half into pieces and place into the bottom of a glass (or container of your choice). Spoon some of the strawberries over the biscuit. Add a spoonful of mascarpone cream and a large spoonful of lemon curd. Repeat with the other half of the biscuit, strawberries, cream and curd. You can drizzle some of the sugared berry juice on the top. Place the remaining 6 biscuits into a resealable plastic bag. You can keep these in the fridge or freezer.

 

 

How to Turn These Guys into Perfect Scrambled Eggs

How to Turn These Guys into Perfect Scrambled Eggs

The egg is a perfect food, full of protein and loaded with nutrients. It contains zero sugars, no carbs, and they’re cheap! You can build an entire meal plan around an egg, a super food offering 6 to 8 grams of protein at only 70 calories per yummy oval.

To make perfect scrambled eggs…

Break two eggs into a bowl. Use a fork to break the yolks and stir together with the whites. Beaten eggs will be pale yellow (You don’t want to see any of the yolk or whites). Now, melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet over low heat. When the butter is melted and foamy, pour in the eggs.

Use a wooden spoon or spatula to gently stir the eggs, creating small curds. This will take a while, about 3 to 5 minutes. You want soft, silky eggs. While you are stirring, you can season with salt and pepper.

If you like your scrambled eggs cooked more well done… just cook them longer! Now that you have perfect scrambled eggs, what can we do with them?

Well, I happen to enjoy creamy French style eggs, garnished with chopped tomatoes and chives. This oldie but goodie recipe was adapted from two recipes in my lifestyle cookbook Gorgeous: The Sum of All Your Glorious Parts.

It’s an incredibly versatile dish. If you don’t have chives, no worries! Use chopped bacon or any veggies you have on hand for a scrumptious veggie scramble. I love to wake up in the morning and say “Bonjour” to this style of eggs because I love the toast part, and creaminess the sour cream and butter lend the taste.

Bon appetite my friends! And don’t forget that in these chaotic times, eggs can be hard boiled, fried, beaten and added as luscious curds in soup, made into soufflés, or added to a malted egg cream dessert. Just save a few for Easter, when we’ll likely still be hunkered down.

Life can still be EGGScellent!

Creamy French-Style Eggs

Garnished with Chopped Tomatoes and Chives

serves 2

20 minute cuisine

 

4 large eggs

2 tablespoons heavy cream

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon sour cream

2 slices Your choice) bread, toasted

1 medium plum tomato, seeded and diced (about 2 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them with a fork. You want a pale, frothy mixture. Stir in the cream. Season them with some of the salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a pan over medium-low heat until melted and frothy. Pour the eggs into the pan and stir. I like a wooden spoon for this. Continue stirring until soft curds form. Transfer the eggs to the toast slices. Garnish with chopped tomato and chives.

Overboard Tip:

For another topper, consider topping these eggs with a bit of caviar, or perhaps some capers. Instead of tomatoes, try peppered strawberries for garnish. Cut the stem from the strawberry and cut it in half. Dip the cut side into course pepper. It’s yummy!

 

 

 

 

 

“Best Cinnamon Rolls” for Living Your Best Life

“Best Cinnamon Rolls” for Living Your Best Life

While the world can be rough, there is always something to be grateful for, take comfort in and feel good about. 2020 is moving right along. The groundhog predicted an early spring, and colorful Mardi Gras parades are planned as we usher in a new season of Lent.

I tell you what this Catholic will not be giving up: cinnamon rolls! The last Jorj.com recipe this February, a leap year, is one of the oldest one’s in my repertoire. I actually make them so routinely, I didn’t have to dig far into my archives to share these cinnamon-ny, heavenly wonders with you.

Best Cinnamon rolls are from At Home in the Kitchen and seemed fitting as I explore a food trend of living in the moment. In Denmark and Norway, they call taking pleasure in the simple things, Hygge.

Pronounced “Hue-Gah”, it’s the Danish ritual of graciousness, of enjoying and appreciating life’s simplest pleasures, family and friends.

Where, I live hygge is just something I’ve done my entire life: Appreciating a warm blanket and good book to read on a gloomy day, wild flowers that grabbed my attention on a long walk home, and wound up in a vase in my kitchen, cozy meals shared with my hubby, children and grandchildren….

These are hygge moments; these are my moments, and my loved one’s moments when we’re all together, or enjoying our solitude apart.

Certainly, the world presents its challenges, but great food, friends, art and music are always around to lift our spirits.

BUT BACK TO THESE CINNAMON ROLLS! While they take a little bit of time, I assure you they are WORTH IT! I did some checking, and saw that you can order a loved one a hygge box of candles, scents, chocolates and warm socks, but I think you’d be doing that friend a bigger favor buying them a stand mixer with a trusty dough hook.

They will never tire of baking and breaking bread. One of life’s simplest pleasures is of fresh baking bread, after all….and these melted cinnamon and brown sugar treats, just begging to be glazed, ratchet up the hygge factor a million degrees!

Enjoy them with a hot cuppa and my latest pick for Super Supper Book Club!

Best Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 12 to 14 rolls

45 minute cuisine, plus rising and baking time

For the rolls

1 cup whole milk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces

3 large eggs

1/3 cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

4 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 ½ teaspoons yeast

For the filling

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), chilled, cut into small pieces

For brushing over rolls

1 tablespoon half and half

For the glaze

1 ¼ cups confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 to 2 tablespoons half and half

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the milk, sugar, softened butter, salt and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix (in a stand mixer or by hand) until smooth.

Add the yeast. Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for up to 10 minutes. Place in bowl coated with vegetable oil spray, cover and let double in size for 40 minutes to 1 hour.

Roll out the dough to a 10 X 14 inch rectangle.

Place the brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the chilled butter pieces and pulse briefly until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Spread the filling over the dough. Roll up jelly roll style, starting at the narrow end. Pinch the open ends underneath the roll.

Slice the roll into 1-inch pieces. Arrange the slices, cut side up, into a 13 X 9 X 2 inch baking dish, coated in vegetable oil spray.  Cover the dish with plastic wrap and allow to rise for at least 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.

Brush the rolls with half and half. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. If the rolls brown too quickly, cover with aluminum foil. Brush the rolls again with half and half after they are removed from the oven.

Make a glaze for the rolls by combining the confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and half and half in a small bowl. Drizzle the glaze over the top and serve warm.

 

A Wonderful Breakfast Recipe for December 25th

A Wonderful Breakfast Recipe for December 25th

Christmas morning arrives and it’s present unwrapping time! The delight of every child and most adults, whether giving or receiving, gifting is FUN and fast. Immediately after gift unwrapping comes cleaning up the papers, bags and bows.

Then there’s the sorting and piling and then… very soon after it all begins, everyone wanders into the kitchen and asks:

“What’s for breakfast?”

What has always worked for me and my family are my make ahead casseroles. I discreetly pop everything in the oven while everyone is grabbing packages, and by the time everything winds down, viola…breakfast is served!

My menu usually includes slices of spiralized, sugared ham, warmed in the oven with a bit of butter and brown sugar; an egg casserole that is the perfect venue for either your favorite veggies or salty meats, and a cheesy hash potato casserole that comes out hot and bubbly.

These are recipes included in my first cookbook, At Home in The Kitchen and I’m sharing one of my family favorites, with you and yours this holiday season.

Merry, Merry to all and to all a Great Season of Family Gatherings!

Fluffy Egg and Cheese Casserole

1 hour and 20 minute cuisine

Serves 6 to 8

10 slices white bread

8 large eggs

3 cups milk

3 tablespoons chopped garlic chives

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Dash of hot pepper sauce

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

3 tablespoons diced green onions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Trim the crusts from the bread and discard. Cut the bread slices into 1-inch cubes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, chives and mustard.

Season with salt and as much hot pepper sauce as you like. Stir the bread cubes, cheddar cheese and green onion into the egg mixture.

Pour the mixture into an ungreased baking dish. Bake the casserole for about 1 hour or until the center is just set and the edges begin to brown.

 

Fall Dreams of Chocolatey Pumpkin Bread…

Fall Dreams of Chocolatey Pumpkin Bread…

This is breaking news! Did you know the pumpkin puree you got at the grocery store is NOT pumpkin? Apparently, it is a combination of all types of squash. WHO KNEW? I feel betrayed, lied-to, conspired against! Well, not really. The canned stuff is still pretty good, and has been a staple for all my pumpkin treats for as long as I can remember.

Now, you can make your own puree, from your very own pumpkins, but this seems just a little bit too over-the top for me.

So…. BRING IT ON, SQUASH… I can take it! Let’s open a can of puree and dive right in, shall we? I CANNOT WAIT, as home baked bread is a real holiday treat for me! I remember my early days in the catering business. Our signature corporate holiday baskets included at least one mini-loaf of pumpkin quick bread.

We baked hundreds of these each season. But I also love yeast bread, especially when it is laced with a bit of sweetness. I’ve told you the story of Sammy’s favorite “Sammy Bread”, a loaf of sour dough bread, sweetened with cinnamon-sugar and frosted with a sugary glaze. We look forward to placing a loaf in our basket every week from the Farmer’s Market.

I recreated it at home, with a can of fake pumpkin puree, wink wink.  It’s SO YUMMY, toasted and slathered with butter, or battered and fried ala French toast. Use leftovers to create a toasted crouton for your bowl of ice cream, or as the lead ingredient in custardy pumpkin bread pudding.

But first, make this bread – it’s a recipe born of two cravings: pumpkin bread and cinnamon bread, married together in the sweetest fall recipe you could possibly imagine.

Pumpkin Bread

With Hazelnuts and Chocolate

Yield 1 loaf, about 12 slices

2 ½ hours before you can eat the bread!

 

¼ cup maple syrup, room temperature

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

2 ¼ cups bread flour

1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour

1 cup hazelnuts, chopped

1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup pumpkin puree

Pour the maple syrup into a measuring cup. Sprinkle with yeast. Add I cup warm water. Allow the yeast to bloom (foam) about 10 to 15 minutes.

Whisk together the flours, nuts, chocolate, spices and salt in a large bowl.

Place the pumpkin into a bowl. Whisk in the bloomed yeast. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Use a spatula to bring the dough together. Sprinkle your work surface with a generous amount of flour. Pour (the sticky) dough onto the flour and knead the dough until it comes together, and no flour shows through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Place the dough into a bowl coated with vegetable oil spray. Cover with plastic wrap and move to a warm place to rise for 1 hour. I use the warming drawer on the proof setting for this.

After an hour, remove the dough from its cozy hide-out and use a spatula to fold the dough onto itself while your turn the bowl, about 8 to 10 turns. Cover again with plastic and move the bowl back to the warm place to rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Coat an 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½-inch with vegetable oil spray. Use a spatula to transfer the (still pretty sticky) dough to the loaf pan. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 31 to 40 minutes.

 

How to “Pumpkin-Spice” Everything as Though It Were a Verb!

How to “Pumpkin-Spice” Everything as Though It Were a Verb!

How can tell when the Fall season approaches? Is it the cool breeze, shorter days, leaves changing colors? Heck no! You can tell that it’s Fall because absolutely everything is pumpkin-spiced.

Not too long ago I wrote a recipe for pumpkin donuts in my Sunday Best cookbook. It’s easier than you think it is to make these delicious donuts at home. The downside is that unless you have a lot of friends, you may just eat all of them yourself! Check out the yield from this recipe in the photo below:

Aren’t those donuts gorgeous? They should be…for I added a new dimension this time! I pumpkin-spiced up some granulated sugar for dipping, and created a maple glaze for dunking. The results were… well, can I say sooooo Fall inspired. Give these a try… or move next door to me, and ask to borrow a cup of pumpkin-spiced latte for total pumpkin immersion!

Pumpkin-Spiced Donuts

with Maple Glaze for Dunking

For donuts

3 cups unbleached all-purpose four

1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

½ teaspoon table salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 large eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup buttermilk

¼ cup light brown sugar

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Canola oil for frying

For spiced sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

For glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 to 2 teaspoons heavy cream

 Whisk together the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Use an electric mixer to combine the eggs, pumpkin puree, sugar, buttermilk, brown sugar and butter. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in batches. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least 3 hours.

Unwrap the chilled dough onto a floured work surface. Roll out the dough to ½-inch thickness. Use a donut cutter to cut out donuts and holes, reusing the scraps until all the dough has been used. Transfer each one onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Pour enough canola oil in a deep fry pan to come up the sides two inches. This should be less than half of the depth of the pan as oil expands when heated. Heat the oil over medium high heat between 365° and 375°. Fry the donuts in batches until golden brown on one side. Turn to brown the other side, about 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel-lined sheet pan.

Mix together the spiced sugar ingredients in a shallow bowl. Whisk together the glaze ingredients in a shallow bowl. Place the donuts into either the glaze or the sugar.