Category: curd

2014 canning round-up!

Canning round-up 2014 - Cupcake Rehab dot com

Spring is here, summer is coming in a few weeks. Which means I’m sure that most of you “canners” (or preservers, or dabblers) have started making your lists for spring/summer 2014, or even started canning already. If you even make lists at all- which I usually don’t, but I’m trying to be  more organized this year. I haven’t really stopped canning all year, myself, between apples & pears in the fall, & all the winter citrus fruits, then the rhubarb. But this is really the time to start to prepare for the canning boom… pickled cucumbers, carrots, zucchini, & berry jams & jellies, oh my.

So this year I thought I’d do a little preparation post slash canning round-up, and what better to feature in the post than some of my vintage jar collection & my 1945 Kerr Home Canning book!

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The best laid plans of rhubarb & jam.

This whole thing started when I encountered this recipe on Pinterest (you might laugh and say “I COULDA TOLD YOU IT WOULDN’T WORK” but I’ve had nothing but great experiences with both recipes and crafts I found there. Seriously. I have no complaints). It seemed awesome, and I decided that it was a pretty perfect dessert for Mother’s Day. My mother enjoys unique or different things (I made her rosewater-vanilla cupcakes one year) and I like coming up with new things, which (usually) makes it a match made in heaven. I figured maybe I’d do something different, like use that rhubarb curd to fill pavlovas. Pavlovas, in case you aren’t aware, are basically meringue cookies made into a large bowl-ish shape, and usually filled with fresh fruit, fruit curd or sauce.

Sounds great, right?

I thought so.

Food Network magazine, May 2013: all about rhubarb!

Rhubarb can be quite elusive. Despite having an entire feature in this month’s Food Network magazine it’s still not exactly one of those fruits or vegetables that’s easily found, like strawberries or broccoli. Like I said last year, it’s on the rare side, and even if you find a place that has it, it seemingly doesn’t last long. Probably because most stores don’t order large quantities of it. If you’re lucky enough to have a farmer’s market around, you might fare better… but not always. It seems those pesky food bloggers or “foodies” always get there first & get the good stuff. With rhubarb, that’s usually the issue. Either the store doesn’t order it so they don’t carry it, or they did but they ordered limited quantities & all the other food bloggers (or food blog readers) jumped on them first. Of course, life is great if you grow it yourself… but I do not.

So I bought my rhubarb (after hunting it down), got my eggs, I had my vanilla beans. And all was right with the world.

Rhubarb stalks

But then disaster struck.

I have no idea what happened, but my curd just didn’t work. It wasn’t only a terrible color (and it really was) but it wasn’t so much curd as a loose, weird custard thing. Not even a custard- it was a mess. It was bad. Or at least, it looked bad. So bad I didn’t want to even attempt tasting it. I tossed it in the garbage, thankful that I hadn’t used up ALL the rhubarb I bought on it, so it wasn’t a total waste. But still. Talk about a shitty experience… and it has nothing to do with the original recipe, I’m sure. It’s probably user error. Maybe I screwed something up somewhere along the way and I’m just not seeing it. It happens. Who knows.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t infuriating, but it happens. (SIDE NOTE: I told you blogging was hard!)

I ended up using the rhubarb stalks I had left to make a quick rhubarb jam. Yes, I could have tried the curd again. But then if it had failed I’d have been left with no rhubarb, no eggs, and TWO massive failures to ruin my week. Plus, of course, by this point I was in a state of total “I don’t really care”-ness. I was so pissed off that my plans of beautiful, fluffy meringue filled with smooth, pink delicious rhubarb-vanilla bean curd for Mother’s Day were ruined that I think I pulled a muscle in my arm stirring the jam so violently. Of course I realize this isn’t the end of the world. It’s just disappointing. I’m sharing it with you (instead of posting another recipe & pretending it didn’t happen) because I want you to understand that, too. I’ve written before (most recently around Easter, in depth) that I sometimes think I’m part of a culture that promotes perfection when it comes to food- or at least aesthetic perfection. And I hate that for one reason: when things like this happen, people might give up. Or think, “Well shit, if she did it & I can’t then forget it.” I hate the idea that that could be a possibility. I hate to think anyone would give up on anything because of one failure.. or even 100 failures.

Because honestly, sometimes shit just doesn’t work, and we’ve gotta accept that. And if that means having a box of cake mix stored away for emergencies, than so be it. But it doesn’t mean any of us are any less awesome! Not everything is perfect, and not everything has to be. So you make a mistake, big deal.

Oh… and yes, my mother will have a special dessert come Sunday. Just not a rhubarb-y one. Happy Mother’s Day.

 

My bloody valentine.

Listen, I know I’ve been overloading you with cutesy, Valentine-y stuff lately. I know that. I don’t really care if you like it or not, though, sorry to say. Because I love it. I actually get more pissed at the people who bitch constantly about how much they hate Valentine’s Day than I do about seeing the hearts & candies in the stores starting on New Years Eve. If it really bothers you so much, pretend it doesn’t exist. Go celebrate something else like Chinese New Year or Mardi Gras & stop complaining. Just ignore it. Football bothers me- but I understand there’s some kind of sick obsession with it in this country so I just ignore it. Which is hard, because it’s everywhere, but I manage. If you like it, then good for you. I just don’t, so I spend my winter Sunday’s baking, cooking, blasting punk rock music or watching things like Inglorious Basterds instead of watching grown men in tight pants tackle one another in hopes of not becoming the next paraplegic on the news. I spent Super Bowl Sunday shopping, then eating homemade nachos supreme & watching Downton Abbey. Now, I don’t tell everyone else not to watch it. I don’t constantly spout off about how awful & boring I find it all day, every day. I just get on with my life. Just like the Valentine’s Day haters should do.

However… I do understand that if there was a blog that I read fairly regularly that posted non-stop football crap for a month I’d be tired of it & maybe a little bit turned off.

So today I’m here to make amends. I’m posting something that’s still appropriate, but yet not quite as overtly dyed-pink & cheerful & cheeky as heart cupcakes or rose tarts: blood orange curd. There’s a special place in my heart for blood oranges.

And I’ll tell you why: Blood oranges are like the citrus family’s dark secret; like the black sheep cousin of the Navel orange, you know the one… who hangs out in a dark room, smokes cloves & listens to death metal.

And that’s sorta something I relate to. Not that I’m a black sheep per se, not within my family so much. Yeah, I’m different… but I was always accepted & appreciated. However when you’re the Agnostic punk rock short-haired bleached blonde Catholic school girl who tells your Theology teacher (a nun) that you’re pro-euthanasia & don’t quite understand why women can’t be priests, there is some level of that, somewhere. In my uniform I (sorta) looked like anyone else in school… until after school, or until you looked closely and saw the Sharpie-written lyrics on my blazer, my spike collars and dog collars, safety pins in my ears, my too-many-earrings-according-to-the-student-handbook and numerous band patches & pins on my backpack. And so I relate to that metaphor, and the blood orange. It’s sinister bloody-colored inside is almost concealed by the bright orange skin, it almost tricks you into thinking it’s just like any other orange. Maybe one that’s a bit overripe? And then you slice it- BAM! Deep, dark red flesh and a juice to match. There’s a reason they use a blood orange (not a regular orange) in the opening sequence of Dexter.

They’re right up my alley, truthfully.

And they’re also perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Conveniently, they’re in season right now. And if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a few, well then you better make good use of them. They make beautiful marmalades, gorgeous cupcakes, they’re beautiful when candied. And of course, when made into a curd, it’s a lovely pink color… which is perfect for a Valentine’s Day breakfast. It elevates your average toast to something spectacular. (heart shaped toast or English muffins not required!)

Or use it for dessert. When used as a topping for vanilla or chocolate ice cream- or even yogurt, it’s amazing. Another idea? Make it into a tart. Or using an ice cream maker, swirl it into plain homemade frozen yogurt for blood orange yogurt. It makes an amazing cake or cupcake filling too.

When you’re picking the oranges, be sure to pick ones that aren’t bright orange. The outside color is usually indicative of the color of the flesh & juice, so pick one that has a darker flesh, or even a mottled orangey-red flesh. That way you’re assured a deep burgundy flesh, and juice, and therefore a bright pinky red curd. My oranges were Moro, so they actually have a darker flesh & stronger flavor anyway, but I picked middle of the range ones that weren’t too dark, but weren’t too light. Actually the outer skin of all of mine were bright orange on one side, and a deep red on the other. I could’ve gotten ones that were so dark maroon on the outside they looked almost alien. In retrospect, I should have!

The thing that’s great about this recipe is that it doesn’t use so many egg yolks that you end up with an orange-colored curd. Orange colored curd is great, if it’s plain orange curd. But blood orange curd calls for a reddish color, doesn’t it? At the very least, a pretty rosy pink, like mine. But if you choose darker oranges you can really achieve a really bright pinkish red curd.

Also… listen up. Curd is a terrible word. Let’s be honest. Everyone hates it, from chefs to home cooks to pastry chefs to bloggers. It’s horrible to say, it rhymes with turd and it turns people off completely from trying it. Although, in Southern America they call lemon curd “lemon cheese”… and as far as I’m concerned that’s not much better than curd. But I hope that doesn’t put you off from trying it. It really is something else. But here’s the deal: curd isn’t disgusting. I swear. It’s basically similar to a lemon meringue pie filling, or in this case substitute blood orange for lemon. It’s like a creamy, citrus custard. Like a citrus pudding, kind of.

BLOOD ORANGE CURD (adapted from Local Kitchen who adapted it from Rose Levy Beranbaum)

Makes slightly over 1 cup (8 oz.), it can be doubled

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium to large blood oranges, scrubbed clean and dried
  • 1 large egg and one large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • a pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Zest enough of the oranges so you end up with roughly 1 1/2 teaspoons of finely grated zest. Set aside in a medium bowl.
  2. Juice the blood oranges, making sure to get every last bit out of them! Strain the juice to get out any pulpy bits or miscellaneous sneaky seeds. In a medium saucepan, over low heat, reduce the juice to 1/2 cup and set aside to cool in a measuring cup. Be sure to stir often while it’s reducing to avoid scorching.
  3. Rinse out the saucepan and place the sugar, eggs and salt in it. Whisk them together. Add the butter and slowly whisk in the reduced orange juice.
  4. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes together and is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (roughly 15-20 minutes for me).
  5. Once thickened, strain the curd into the bowl with the zest in it. Then stir the zest into the curd to incorporate. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the curd into a clean jar. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator for a week or so.

Here’s a secret: if ALL you’ve got is a 1/2 cup of blood orange juice, you can just use that without the reduction. It’ll still work. It won’t be as concentrated, and the color probably won’t be as amazing… but the basic product will be successful. And best of all? EDIBLE! And some people don’t like zest in their curd. I know this, but the point of the zest is to impart even more flavor & the scent of the fruit to the curd. However if you’re one of those people, I’d add the zest into the mixture while it’s cooking then strain it out. That’s a matter of personal preference, of course.

Some people have trouble with curd. I never have- it’s always come together relatively quickly & easily for me, regardless of  whatever the recipe, or whatever source it’s from. If you have trouble, and it fails, rest assured you are not the first & will not be the last. But also don’t give up! If it scorches or it doesn’t thicken, etc, these are all just steps on a ladder. Learning the way. I know it sucks to waste materials, especially if blood oranges are really hard to find near you. But you’ll get it, I promise. Maybe try it out first with a plain lemon curd; those are cheaper and easier to find.

The recipe above made one cup, or 8 ounces, of curd. You might want to double it if you’re thinking of using it for a cake filling or a large tart filling. But I find one jar is perfect for a slow, sweet, laid-back breakfast.

Enjoy your Valentine’s morning with a little burst of pink sunshine, for you & your bloody valentine. (hey! that rhymed!)

Good Golly Miss Molly: My adventures featuring Molly’s Meyer lemons.

Before I get into how awesome my friends are, I just wanted to show off a little bit, & brag about a pretty piece of design I did. My Facebook fans already saw it, but I figure showing it off on the blog couldn’t hurt. Stroke my ego, will ya? A few nights back I was sitting home one rainy, miserable night, drinking an Irish coffee, listening to Lady Gaga (see above) & playing around on Illustrator when this little beauty above just kinda drew herself. Isn’t it pretty? I love it. I call it “Holy Lola.” It’s already on my new business cards (which are currently being printed & cost me nothing but shipping, thank you Klout & Moo Cards), and I’m even contemplating getting it as a tattoo, but I was undecided at first whether or not to use it in a new blog design. Clearly, I made up my mind, as you can see there’s a whole new thing goin’ on here. If you’re not seeing it, clear your cache & refresh the page. Just a word of warning: it’s copyrighted, it’s my work, and if I find anyone stealing it or passing it off as their own… your face will meet my brass knuckles. Or at the very least, you’ll be at the wrong end of a strongly worded e·mail & public embarrassment, which coming from me is just as bad. Just ask Sharon Luann Swann Stallings or whatever her name was. Whatever happened to her, anyway, is she still stealing people’s cupcake photos, claiming they’re hers & promoting “her business” on Craigslist? Or did I totally scare her off the internet? What a lying little rotten egg she was (the last paragraph of this post explains that incident a bit).

But sometimes, you meet the coolest people on the internet. There are a lot of assholes, yes. You hear about it everyday on the news: people pretending to be other people, people scamming people out of money, people who stalk other people they don’t even know on the ‘net, fake charities that rip you off, sneaky bastards that find out via Facebook when you’re going on vacation then clean out your entire damn house, etc. But all that said- there are tons of really cool people out there too. I have a gazillion awesome friends, some of which I’ve known for 9+ years, that I’ve met on the interwebs. Really genuine & truly special people: Yoyo, Anna, Rain, Becky, Cece, Ari, Percy, Jamie, Heather, Joey, Melissa, Tania, Susan, Carlos, Lyns, Miemo and more who I probably forgot (but who are no less important!). Some of these people I’ve had relationships with for years & years. I may not talk to every single one of them as much as I did at one time, but I still love & adore them. They’re all cooler than your friends, I bet *wink* And then there are people I only know through their comments on my blog, like Pola, who is sending me a super special present via Amazon! People I don’t even “know” are kind enough to send me awesome stuff.

Which brings me to one of the many really cool people I’ve met more recently- Molly. Molly is a very sweet, very cool makeup artist & blogger (with a sweet tattoo) who’s originally from Alaska, but now living in Arizona. She’s got an adorable chihuahua named Ruca & a Meyer lemon tree in her yard. Lucky girl, right? Well, I guess if you live in Arizona it might not be as unusual as I feel it is. Do you know how hard it is to get your hands on Meyer lemons if you live in New York? No? Well it’s really friggin’ hard. Almost impossible. We get mostly Eureka’s, maybe a couple of Lisbon’s, even some Ponderosa’s. We never ever get any Meyer’s, and if we do, they’re snatched up super quick from the gourmet market & are never to be found again.

Meyer lemons are a sort of lemon-orangey hybrid from China that are really popular on the west coast of the U.S. but over here on my side of the world, not so much.

Citrus × meyeri, the Meyer lemon, is a citrus fruit native to China thought to be a cross between a true lemon and either a mandarin or common orange. It was introduced to the United States in 1908 as S.P.I. #23028[1] by the agricultural explorer Frank Nicholas Meyer, an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture who collected a sample of the plant on a trip to China.[2]

The Meyer lemon is commonly grown in China in garden pots as an ornamental tree. It became popular as a food item in the United States after being rediscovered by chefs such as Alice Waters at Chez Panisse during the California Cuisine revolution.[3][4] Popularity further climbed when Martha Stewart began featuring them in her recipes.[2]

Citrus × meyeri trees are around 6 to 10 ft (2 to 3 m) tall at maturity, though they can be pruned smaller. Their leaves are dark green and shiny. The flowers are white with a purple base and fragrant.

The Meyer lemon fruit is yellow and rounder than a true lemon. The skin is fragrant and thin, coloured a deep yellow with a slight orange tint when ripe. Meyer lemon fruits have a sweeter, less acidic flavor than the more common Lisbon or Eureka grocery store lemon varieties. The pulp is a dark yellow and contains up to 10 seeds per fruit.

So anyway, I saw a box of all the lemons she picked in a picture she posted on Instagram, and then I saw a photo of all the lemons in a bowl & I kiddingly (I swear!) said to send some my way. And like I mentioned in my last marmalade post, she did!

So I got a big, beautiful box of them. As soon as I opened it, I was hit with the best citrusy, lemony-sweet smell ever. It was amazing. And so basically I went lemon crazy. I made lemon curd, marmalade, candied citrus peels, lemon chewies with glaze from The Cookiepedia, made lemon-infused water, etc. I didn’t want even one of these babies to go to waste. I even reserved some seeds to try & grow my own, despite this crazy feeling that won’t work well at all. But it’s worth a shot! Maybe I can get my very own mini-Meyer lemon tree, I heard that even tiny ones are pretty prolific with the fruit. And of course, I’m sending Molly some of the treats I made as a thank you for her generosity. I even re-named the lemon curd after her (okay, so it’s just for blogging purposes, but still!).

Sometimes with my lemon curd, little pieces of the zest darken, or caramelize (I guess?)… I’m not sure why that happens, but it does. If it happens with yours, you can strain them out before ladling it into the jars. I like the zest in it, so I leave them in anyway. If you do leave ‘em in, you can always eat around the darker ones if they bother you, but they’re only little bits of darkened zest. Nothing harmful.

Again, I stress that if you aren’t familiar with the process of canning, you read this thoroughly before starting. It isn’t difficult, but you have to take certain precautions to be safe. Sterilizing your jars/lids & knowing what you can preserve using a water bath & what you can’t is important knowledge to have if you’re going to be doing this. The lemon curd doesn’t have to be processed, it can be put in a jar or Tupperware and refrigerated or used right away (cake filling, etc). Most curd recipes you find aren’t suited for canning, they’re simply meant to be eaten right away. This recipe is (very slightly) adapted from the USDA Center for Home Preservation’s curd recipe, so I’m pretty confident it’s up to par.

MISS MOLLY’S MEYER LEMON CURD

Makes about 5 half-pints

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • ½ cup bottled lemon juice (or, alternatively, use 1 whole cup bottled & omit the Meyer juice if you’re super anal & scared about acid levels)
  • ¾ cup unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1-2 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest
  • 4 whole eggs, beaten thoroughly
  • 7 egg yolks

Directions:

  1. Bring boiling water canner to a boil. Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water. Put lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water from the canner.
  2. Combine zest and sugar in a bowl, mix well, and set aside for 20 minutes to let the flavors meld. Juice your lemons while the sugar & zest are coming together.
  3. Prep your eggs by thoroughly beating the 4 whole eggs until they are light and airy, with little bubbles. Make absolutely sure there are no white pieces floating around still.
  4. Separate seven egg yolks, and whisk them into the beaten egg mixture. Now combine all the ingredients in a medium-large non-reactive pot.
  5. Now turn the burner on, very very low, and whisk. Incorporate the ingredients together slowly and consistently, avoiding high heat that could cook/curdle the eggs.
  6. Once the butter has melted, turn the heat to medium and keep whisking. Eventually the mixture will thicken, and resemble the consistency of pudding. After another minute or two, the mixture will be thick enough that when you pull the whisk across the bottom of the pan, you will see the metal for a few seconds. That means the curd is starting to hold its shape.
  7. Remove the pot from the heat. You can run the curd through a fine sieve at this point to remove the zest. You don’t have to do this, but some people find it gross, and you’re really just imparting the flavor from the zest to intensify the lemon-yness, so it isn’t needed if you don’t want it. Ladle hot curd into hot jars leaving ½″-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims clean and attach lids. Processed the jars for 20 minutes.

When I was a kid, I always thought the color of curd & lemon meringue pie filling was from the lemons. Not true. The color doesn’t actually have much to do with the lemons, it’s due to the egg yolk, but this curd just so happened to have an amazing color pre-processing. So amazing I had to get a few shots of it. It became slightly paler after the waterbath & sitting overnight. I happened to get four half-pints (8-oz.) and two 4-oz. jars from this recipe, which equals 5 half-pints. And just like everything else I make, 5 out of those 6 jars were practically gone before they were even cooled!

This has a shelf life of 3-4 months, and if the harmless darkening in color doesn’t bother you, that can extend to up to one year. Of course it tastes best when eaten as soon as possible. You can also freeze it instead of processing it, or put it right into the fridge and use it right away. As far as what to do with it, you can swirl it into ice cream or frozen yogurt, use it as an ice cream topping, or put it on scones, muffins or toast. It makes a terrific cake or cupcake filling, an easy pie filling (basically that’s what lemon meringue pie is filled with) and it’s delicious on pound cake or angel food cake. Alternately you can just eat it out of the jar; that’s how my mother likes hers. Although sometimes she likes it on Toast-R-Cakes or English muffins too.

After the marmalades were made, the curds were spooned on to pound cakes, the candied lemon peels were all done, the lemon bars & lemon cookies were eaten and a few of the juicier lemons were eaten out of our hands like oranges… some of the smaller, more misshapen Meyer’s were left in the bottom of the bowl. With these, I made pomanders. Pomanders are quick to make, smell amazing & use up some of the older citrus fruit you may have around that’s too old to eat or use for jellies or marmalades. They’ve been around forever for just that reason. If you’re interested in making your own, check out the how-to’s with a Google search. There are a few different ways of doing it, they usually use oranges but because Meyer lemons are so similar in shape to small oranges, they worked out just fine for me. I couldn’t possibly give you the recipes to every single thing I made with these in one post. But let me just say that I made some lemon cookies, the candied lemon peel & lemon bars I mentioned above, divine c-lemon-tine marmalade (clementine marmalade with one large Meyer lemon thrown in) and some other, slightly different & interesting jelly I’ll probably be posting later on.


So thank you, Molly, for sending me these little bursts of sunshine during a month when I can barely stick my head out the door without my nose freezing off. What a great present to get. I’m lucky to know such incredible people on the internet. Without sounding like a cheeseball… they restore your faith in humanity. Not everyone is a total douchebag. Just something like 98%.

But no matter how many assholes there are in the world, I’m proud to know kick ass folks like this. And I was proud to have two big ass bowls of these lemons sitting on my table.

‘Vanille français’ sounds nice, ‘curd’ does not.

It really doesn’t. It sounds gross. Curd. Go on, say it. Curd. It rhymes with ‘turd’ for Christ’s sakes! What kind of name is that for something as smooth, delicious and lovely as this?

‘This’ being David Lebovitz‘s “improved” lemon curd. For those of you not in-the-know about fruit curd, here’s a little Wikipedia to help you out:

Fruit curd is a dessert spread and topping usually made with lemon, lime,[1] orange or raspberry.[2] The basic ingredients are beaten egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice and zest which are gently cooked together until thick and then allowed to cool, forming a soft, smooth, intensely-flavored spread. Some recipes also include egg whites and/or butter.[3]

In late 19th and early 20th century England, home-made lemon curd was traditionally served with bread or scones at afternoon tea as an alternative to jam, and as a filling for cakes, small pastries and tarts.[4] Homemade lemon curd was usually made in relatively small amounts as it did not keep as well as jam. In more modern times larger quantities are feasible because of the use of refrigeration. Commercially manufactured curds often contain additional preservatives and thickening agents.[5]

Modern commercially made curds are still a popular spread for bread, scones, toast or muffins. They can also be used as a flavoring for desserts or yogurt. Lemon-meringue pie, made with lemon curd and topped with meringue, has been a favorite dessert in Britain and the United States since the nineteenth century.[4]

Curds are different from pie fillings or custards in that they contain a higher proportion of juice and zest, which gives them a more intense flavor.[6] Also, curds containing butter have a smoother and creamier texture than both pie fillings and custards; both contain little or no butter and use cornstarch or flour for thickening. Additionally, unlike custards, curds are not usually eaten on their own.

This recipe is actually a Meyer lemon curd, but by adapting the amount of sugar you can use regular lemons (as I did). I really had no idea that Meyer lemons were that different from regular lemons until I did a little reading on it. Apparently, they’re native to China & are thought to be a cross between a mandarin orange + lemon, and are milder & sweeter than regular lemons, Eureka for example. Meyer lemons were actually banned in the U.S. for a while! DISEASED REBEL LEMONS! Sounds like a punk rock band.

By the mid 1940s the Meyer lemon had become widely grown in California. However, at that time it was discovered that a majority of the Meyer lemon trees being cloned were symptomless carriers of the Citrus tristeza virus, a virus which had killed millions of citrus trees all over the world and rendered other millions useless for production.[5] After this finding, most of the Meyer lemon trees in the United States were destroyed to save other citrus trees.

A virus-free selection was found in the 1950s by Don Dillon of the California company Four Winds Growers,[6] and was later certified and released in 1975 by the University of California as the ‘Improved Meyer lemon’ — Citrus × meyeri ‘Improved’.[7][8]

Crazy the shit you find out just by looking up recipes. Anyway, this post is going to be pretty huge, because it’s really two recipes in one. See, with this lemon curd, I made a French vanilla ice cream. Or, ‘vanille français.’ Why? Because a) it was a request by my mother for her birthday on the 5th and b) I had seen during my numerous searches on this big, beautiful interwebs that some people mixed their lemon curds with frozen yogurt or ice cream, and it sounded good. Although lemon curd is also great on toast, scones, crumpets, or as a filling in cakes or cupcakes.

The curd cooking away…

LEMON CURD (from David Lebovitz)

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup freshly-squeezed Meyer or regular lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup sugar (or ½ cup, if using regular lemons)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

Directions:

  1. Place a mesh strainer over a bowl, and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, egg yolks, eggs, and salt.
  3. Add the butter cubes and set the pan over low heat, whisking constantly until the butter is melted. Increase the heat and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and just begins to become jelly-like. It’s done when you lift the whisk and the mixture holds its shape when it falls back into the saucepan from the whisk.
  4. Immediately press the curd through the strainer. Once strained, store the lemon curd in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to one week.

Some people like a little zest in their curd, feel free to add a teaspoon or so of it if you do. David says it makes a cup, but I actually got 1 ¼ cups myself. My lemons were pretty big though, and I didn’t want to waste any juice so I just squeezed it all out. Haha. That entire sentence sounds dirty. Anyway, I’m sure this could be doubled or tripled easily if you want to use it to fill a cake, etc.

Alright, well that ends the fruit curd portion of our program. So now, on to the ice cream! Vanilla ice cream has always been my favorite, just like vanilla cupcakes have always been my favorite. Some may find that boring, but really, when you’re as awesome as I am, you can’t have too much other stuff going on, you have to let the awesome-ness speak for itself. Vanilla is always the perfect backdrop or companion for everything. But have you ever wondered what the difference was between vanilla & French vanilla?

While today’s ice cream enthusiasts may view vanilla as a bland or generic offering, it used to be considered a very exotic flavor indeed. Because it became such a popular choice for consumers, vanilla became the standard bearer of the ice cream family, closely followed by chocolate and strawberry. The complex flavors created by the vanilla bean, a member of the orchid family, were never intended to become a generic base, however.

There are several variations on the standard vanilla flavor, including a particularly rich and creamy variety called French vanilla. While both traditional vanilla and French vanilla ice creams can still be used as a base for milkshakes and other dessert treats, there are a few differences between them. Traditional vanilla flavor is derived from the seeds of a vanilla bean pod, or at least a synthetic chemical equivalent called vanillin. French vanilla is more of an egg custard before freezing, and contains egg yolks for a richer consistency.

Traditional vanilla ice cream is also likely to contain small flecks of vanilla beans, but French vanilla is often strained to remove these flecks. Because of the egg yolks, French vanilla ice cream also appears to be a deeper shade of yellow than traditional vanilla ice cream. French vanilla ice cream is often viewed as creamier in texture than many standard vanilla ice cream brands, which may be a result of starting with a custard base instead of cream.

- Wisegeek

..

The term French vanilla is often used to designate preparations that have a strong vanilla aroma, and contain vanilla grains. The name originates from the French style of making ice cream custard base with vanilla pods, cream, and egg yolks. Inclusion of vanilla varietals from any of the former or current French dependencies noted for their exports may in fact be a part of the flavoring, though it may often be coincidental. Alternatively, French vanilla is taken to refer to a vanilla-custard flavor.[19] Syrup labeled as French vanilla may include custard, caramel or butterscotch flavors in addition to vanilla.

-Wikipedia

 

Well that settles that, huh? Ya learn somethin’ new everyday. The reason for that particular little culinary history lesson is that I’m sharing today a recipe for French vanilla ice cream. It does not have the little black vanilla seeds in it, true to form, and it is indeed quite an off-white color.  This recipe is from the little booklet that came with my KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment, so the directions given are for that particular brand. The thing is, it requires an ice cream maker. If you don’t have the KitchenAid one & you have another brand/model, that’s totally fine, just mix the ingredients together either with a hand mixer or another stand mixer, refrigerate for the 8 hours +, and then just freeze according to the directions of your ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker- buy one. But be forewarned: you’ll make a lot of new “best friends.” Anyway, I mixed mine for 30 minutes in the freezer bowl and then froze it for a while (couple of hours) since it wasn’t firm enough for me. It was like soft-serve consistency, which is nice, and I won’t lie… I ate more than I should’ve while it was soft. But I like it better firmer, and it was pretty hot & humid, so it melted fast anyway.

There’s Lola, mixin’ it up…


THE MOST AMAZING HOMEMADE FRENCH VANILLA ICE CREAM

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups half-and-half
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ cups whipping cream
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat half-and-half until very hot but not boiling, stirring often. Remove from heat, set aside.
  2. Place egg yolks and sugar in a mixer bowl. Attach bowl and wire whip to mixer. Turn to speed 2 and mix about 30 seconds, or until well blended and slightly thickened. Continuing on speed 2, very gradually add half-and-half and mix until blended. Return half-and-half mixture to the medium saucepan; cook over medium heat until small bubbles form around edge and mixture is steamy, stirring constantly. Do not boil.
  3. Transfer half-and-half mixture into large bowl; stir in whipping cream, vanilla and salt. Cover and chill thoroughly, at least 8 hours.
  4. Assemble and engage freeze bowl, dasher and drive assembly as directed. Turn to STIR (speed 1). Using a container with a spout, pour mixture into freeze bowl. Continue on STIR for 15-20 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved. Immediately transfer to serving dishes for soft-serve or freeze in an airtight container until firm. Prepare yourself for the deliciousness.
Served with lemon curd, blackberries & raspberries

Okay… this is the most amazing ice cream I ever had. The absolute best French vanilla ice cream EVER. I must stress the pure vanilla extract here. Usually, I don’t make a fuss because in a cupcake, especially chocolate or other flavor, it’s not really that big of a deal. But in this, you really need a good, true, real vanilla flavor. For a vanilla lemon curd ice cream, just spoon some of the curd (or all of it, depending how much you made/like) into the ice cream maker a few minutes before it’s ready. If you want streaks of it throughout, add it much closer to the end, just so there are ripples of lemon curd in it. If you want it mixed in completely, add it about 5-10 minutes to the end. The curd is also excellent served on top of the ice cream and then topped with fresh blackberries or raspberries, like I did above. The blackberries & raspberries were huge & beautiful… and also buy one, get one free, so you better believe I bought those babies. Vanilla ice cream is so easy to build on, you can top it with anything, or add anything. Add crushed cookies, fruit, jam, chocolate chips, brownie pieces, broken waffle cones, etc. Top it with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, butterscotch sauce, whatever! An Italian restaurant me & Jay go to serves their French vanilla ice cream in a parfait glass with two delicious, soft almond cookies. Amazing. You could even freeze it until it’s really firm, then sandwich it between two chocolate chip cookies to make a homemade Chipwich!

I know, there are like 10 egg yolks and 2 extra eggs in these recipes combined. A whole dozen. But, like the coconut cupcakes that take 5 eggs, it’s so worth it. And you can freeze the whites and use them to make meringue later on! Or, use the whites to make meringue, use the curd to fill little pie shells or tart shells (even store-bought ones), then top them with the meringue- and you have mini lemon meringue pies! So cute.

And that, children, concludes the most epic Cupcake Rehab post ever, a.k.a. the post of the century. After writing all of this up, I will now go and collapse on the floor and cradle my newly Carpal Tunnel ridden-wrists.