Monday, December 26, 2011

grapefruit curd

my grandparents have been migrating to texas every winter since i can remember. upon her return, my grandmother always talked about how much she disliked texas. there was the sweltering heat. the dry, nutrient deficient soil which grew none of the plants she was accostomed to growing back in wisconsin. there was also the distance from her beloved family. there were only a few things that called my grandmother back to texas each year. one was my grandfather. the other was her citrus trees. varieties of oranges and grapefruits that surely could not grow in her wisconsin garden. every spring my grandmother returned to her northern homestead giving gifts of her citrus crop. i was always handed a reused grocery bag full of citrus. each fruit a token of my grandmothers nurturing hands.

my grams has since passed, but the citrus fruit remains, traveling along side my grandpa and his little dog on his long journeys back to wisconsin each spring. maybe it's the spring like weather that sparked my grapefruit memories. maybe it was the fruit box we recieved over the holidays, brimming with varieties of oranges and grapefruits. none the less, i felt inclined to utilize those grapefruits in a simple but fantastic grapefruit curd. grapefruit curd is a multi-purpose refridgerator staple. it can be used to fill tart shells, smeared between cake layers, or slathered on scones. it's great on a toasted english muffin and for flavoring yogurt. whatever purpose this grapefruit curd serves for you, i hope you enjoy the simplicity and refreshing flavors!

Grapefruit Curd

8 large egg yolks
the zest of one large grapefruit
1/2 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1/2 cup freshly sqeezed lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

combine the yolks, zest, grapefruit and lemon juices, and sugar in a saucepan. whisk to combine. cook over medium-high heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, about 8-10 minutes.

remove saucepan from heat and add the salt and butter- one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly into the surface of the curd. refridgerate until chilled and set.

belly up!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

northern minnesota flavors

we had the opportunity to have a few out of town dinner guests last saturday. two of our guests had just recently moved to minnesota from france. i was overly excited to talk about food with them! we laughed the night away talking about their terrible food mishaps here in the states. it turns out that sometimes things can get lost in translation and the next thing you know, you're opening a can of creamed corn, in udder disgust, hoping it was maybe corn or soup or anything but creamed corn!

we talked about fromage as one of our guests was a cheese buyer in france, for the last six years. when we finally sorted out this conversation, and i found out that there was a cheese monger from france sitting around my kitchen table, i immediately started interigating. we started with brie. they had found a french brie which had the tell tale signs of a good french brie- it has spring in the center. this means that when you gently press down on the middle of the wheel of brie, it should gently spring back. this helps in identifying freshness and the age of your brie. they pointed out that our brie offered at the co-op was a very nice brie! they also referred to brie as a sweet cheese, one to be eaten after dinner, or with sweets.

we talked about life, arcitechture, and even about the bodies of water around france and minnesota. lake superior was really having an impact on our foreign guests, and they were just amazed at it's enormousy. the sound of the waves on the beach. the full moon's reflection in the water. it was providing a very memorable experience for them. i wanted or guests to embrace northern minnesota as much as i wanted to embrace france. so we did what all good minnesotans would do; we bought beer, smoked fish, and made wild rice soup. it was a hit. we noshed on the smoked fish and various cheeses, paired with regional brews, while we finished making the soup. the soup- a creamy rendition of wild rice soup with locally made turkey wild rice sausage, was quickly devoured with warm crusty bread. dessert was an assortment of christmas cookies purchased that morning at a local craft and bake sale. i worried that our offerings would be sub-par, these guests were from france after all. but all was splendid, and their northern minnesota experience was a success!

i wanted to include a few ideas for your nosh plates over the holiday season. i love to graze. it seems that most of my guests do too. i try to provide little bites and bits, such as smoked fish and a variety of cheeses. it's a great way to introduce out of towners to our local fish house, and their smoked fish which is darn tasty! i also like pairing cheeses with fresh fruits, dried fruits, and toasted nuts. there are an amazing variety of crackers and flatbread out there too. a few of my favorites are; mary's gone crackers, any variety of sesame rice cracers, and let's not forget the akmak crackers!

belly up!!