Cook in the Moment: Lemon Curd Tart

Lemon Curd Tart (c)2012

One of my unofficial resolutions this year is to bake more fruit tarts. Year after year I find myself wishing I had baked with the strawberries of spring, the peaches of summer, and autumn’s glorious apples. Time passes so quickly, and I regret not celebrating fresh fruit at the peak of its season. It may seem silly to worry about such things, but I believe investing precious spare time in baking a fruit tart slows time down a little. Eating fresh fruit out of hand is a true pleasure, but it’s a fleeting one. Baking a tart is a ritual beginning with selecting the fruit, composing the pastry and blind-baking it, filling the tart shell and finishing it off in the oven. We plan each step then we wait as fruit bubbles and crust caramelizes under the heat of the oven, filling the kitchen with its tantalizing aroma. To me, a fruit tart embodies hospitality. If you’ve got a tart and a pot of tea, then you’ve got a party waiting to happen. For my first fruit tart of the year, I’ve baked Martha Stewart’s Rustic Meyer Lemon Tart, which is actually based on a recipe from Chez Panisse Desserts. I made the tart with Meyer lemons and then with regular lemons- both variations were delicious.


10 Ways Tuesday: Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd (c)2012

I’ve got creative recipes for cooking with lemon curd during spring:

1.  Baked Lemon Tart

To me, sweet buttery pastry, rolled out and baked into a tart pan, filled with smooth-as-silk lemon curd and baked till caramelized is the perfect spring dessert. There is nothing more satisfying than a bright, sunny lemon tart after a beautiful spring lunch. This week I’ll be featuring a Martha Stewart recipe for Rustic Meyer Lemon Tart here on the blog. The beauty of a curd based tart is that it keeps well (3 days in the fridge and still delicious), can be made ahead of time, and travels easily. It’s perfect for picnics and potlucks.

2.  Not-Baked Lemon Meringue Tart

The not-baked lemon tart is more elegant and pristine when compared with the loveably rustic Baked Lemon Tart above. Recipes can be found everywhere for a baked tart shell filled with lemon curd, topped with berries or fluffy meringue. My favorite is the recipe for little Lemon-Almond Meringue Tarts from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. I’m intrigued by the recipe because of the almond theme which carries through the crust (ground amaretti cookies, sliced almonds, amaretto liqueur) to the browned meringue topping (amaretto liqueur). Who knew almonds and lemons were such a winning combination?


Ingredient of the Week: Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd (c)2012

With the arrival of spring and her warm, breezy days, I begin to crave the sunny, tart flavor of lemons. Easter weekend awakened my sweet tooth, and I’m in the mood to bake. Flowering trees hold the promise of fresh fruit, but it’s not time yet for the juicy stone fruits of summer. That’s okay, because we’ve got lemons to get us through. Here at la Domestique, we’re making lemons into bright yellow jars of buttery lemon curd destined for meringue pies, tarts, cakes, or simply slathered over toast and served with a cup of tea.

Lemon curd is a mixture of eggs, sugar, butter, and lemons (juice and zest) stirred in a pot on the stovetop over medium heat until thickened and spreadable. Kept in a clean jar, lemon curd will last for a week in the fridge, or process jars of lemon curd in a water bath and store for a month in the pantry (refrigerate once opened). In The Craft of Baking, Karen Demasco writes, “Lemon curd is most often thought of as a tart filling. Reconsider it as more of an all-purpose ingredient, however, and the possibilities for enjoying this tangy topping quickly grow.” This week at la Domestique, we’ll explore the many ways to use lemon curd in sweet spring treats.


Cook in the Moment: Boiled Quail Eggs with Meyer Lemon Sea Salt & Chives

Boiled Quail Eggs with Meyer Lemon Sea Salt & Chives (c)2012

April is National Poetry Month. I was going to tell you that I don’t read poetry, put my head down in shame and admit to the fact that I don’t know much about poetry at all. I’ve never been good at posturing, impressing others with obscure quotes. Ask me my favorite anything: poem, painter, band, etc., and I panic. My mind goes blank. The doubt crawls in and I’m definitely feeling uncool. But then I realized poetry is an inextricable part of my life, always present. Poetry is in the everyday and the momentous occasions. Kind of like cotton, it’s the fabric of our lives.

I learned that April is National Poetry Month because I read the blog Eat This Poem. Okay, so I do read poetry. Nicole announced National Poetry Month and asked readers to share their favorite poem. For once, my answer came to mind immediately. I grew up reading Shel Silverstein, famous for his illustrations and poetry. I’ve carried a tattered, coverless copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends with me since I was a little kid. Silverstein’s writing is a mix of ridiculous silliness balanced by loving guidance and a dash of melancholy. As a kid I turned to Where the Sidewalk Ends for comfort and respite from the anxiety of living in a world I couldn’t predict. I’ve always walked to the beat of my own drum, and reading Shel Silverstein’s poetry reassured me that my music was worth playing. My favorite Shel Silverstein poem from Where the Sidewalk Ends:


10 Ways Tuesday: Quail Eggs

Quail Eggs (c)2012

I’ve got creative recipes for cooking with quail eggs during spring:

1.  Simple Boiled Quail Eggs with Flavored Salts

My favorite way to cook with quail eggs is the simplest: boiled with a fun flavored salt garnish and fresh herbs. Kids love the tiny shape for it’s whimsy, adults love them as a cute one-bite appetizer with a glass of wine. This week at la Domestique, I’ll be sharing a recipe for Boiled Quail Eggs with Meyer Lemon Sea Salt and Fresh Chives. This is a great opportunity to show off a favorite salt blend whether flavored with herbs, smoke, hot peppers, or curry. I used the citrus salt recipe from 101 Cookbooks.

2.  Poached Egg on Toast with Sorrel

With the arrival of spring comes sorrel, a plant with long lemony tasting leaves. The tart flavor of sorrel pairs beautifully with rich poached eggs. I found a recipe for Poached Egg on Toast with Sorrel from The River Cottage Cookbook that would be lovely with quail eggs. The sorrel is sautéed in butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, a dollop of crème fraîche stirred in. Place a poached quail egg on a small piece of toast and spoon over the sauce. Simple spring snack or breakfast.


Ingredient of the Week: Quail Eggs

Quail Eggs (c)2012

This week at la Domestique we celebrate Easter, and spring, with quail eggs as ingredient of the week! Green-tinted and tan, speckled with brown spots, quail eggs are tiny compared to chicken eggs. Some may call them fussy, but I prefer whimsical and fun. If you’ve never cooked with quail eggs, it’s time to try something new. Not as exotic as they may seem, quail eggs can be found at farmer’s markets and some grocery stores. For this week I picked up my quail eggs at the Asian market, Pacific Ocean Marketplace, in Broomfield, Colorado, where I can always count on an interesting selection of quail, duck, and chicken eggs. Tiny quail eggs have a flavor that’s milder than chicken eggs. The same rules apply to cooking and storing all eggs, which you can find by taking a look at my egg tips from last year. I learned something reading Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking, and it’s that quail eggs can keep for up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator before going bad. Store quail eggs in their carton pointy side down.


Cook in the Moment: Fennel Soup with a Green Swirl

Ingredients for Fennel Soup with a Green Swirl (c)2012

Out with the old, in with the new. Spring is here, have you cleaned out your closets? Boxed up your sweaters and pulled out your sandals? It’s time to open up the windows and let in the light. To me, spring  has truly arrived when the birds start singing. I’m amazed by their gusto, listening to the finches belt out arias with their tiny lungs. How can something so tiny make such a powerful sound?

As many of you know, the husband and I just moved to a new apartment in a neighborhood just a few miles away. We never actually saw our unit until we signed the lease and picked up the keys. To our surprise our humble new home on the third floor has a large patio with a mountain view! In all the time we’ve called Colorado home, we’ve never had a mountain view, so we’re pretty excited. I look forward to many al fresco meals. That’s where David Tanis’ Fennel Soup with a Green Swirl comes in. Flipping through his book, Heart of the Artichoke, the recipe immediately caught my eye as a perfect way to celebrate spring. This time of year fennel is sweet and succulent, with a fresh, herbal flavor reminiscent of anise. If you’ve never cooked with fennel, this simple puréed soup is a great place to start. The “green swirl” is basically a pesto made with fennel fronds, basil, parsley, and scallions. I enjoyed the bright and herbal green swirl atop the velvety soup. Typical of David Tanis’ recipes, Fennel Soup with a Green Swirl is easygoing and low maintenance- let it sit on the stovetop while you prepare the rest of the meal, serve it warm or room temperature. I recommend bare feet and a light, crisp, refreshing bottle of white wine on a Saturday afternoon. If the birds show up to sing you a song, even better.


10 Ways Tuesday: Fennel

Fennel (c)2012

I’ve got creative ideas for cooking with fennel during spring:

1.  Fennel Soup

David Tanis’ Fennel Soup with a Green Swirl from Heart of the Artichoke seems like the perfect way to welcome spring. Just shopping for the produce is uplifting, filling your basket with gorgeous bulbs of fennel, bundles of scallions, fragrant basil, and leafy parsley. It’s an overload of green, which many of us are craving this time of year. The soup calls for sliced fennel to sauté in hot olive oil with garlic and onion, then simmer in water or stock until tender, which cooks the anise flavor of this bright vegetable down to mellow loveliness. A handful of rice gives the soup body reminiscent of comforting potato soup. The green swirl is a pesto made with vibrant herbs and fennel fronds that adds a light and fresh note to the nourishing bowl. Look for the recipe this week here at la Domestique!


Ingredient of the Week: Fennel

Fennel (c)2012

The daffodils are blooming, fields are taking on a green hue, and my shoulders are warmed by the sun, even though cool breezes brush my skin. Spring is here, there’s no denying it. This week at la Domestique, we open up the spring pantry. It’s an exciting time. The kitchen cupboards are full of bright, fresh ingredients for cooking lighter fare. Gone are the hearty stews and rich casseroles. Now is a time for salads, light soups, crudités, delicate fish, pasta, and cooking outside on the grill. Spring is not an aggressively flavored season, it’s about nuance- the mild flavor of fresh chives growing wild in the meadow, sweet and dainty pea shoots, tender lettuces and fresh garlic. If summer is obscenely bountiful, spring is a series of small celebrations: finding asparagus at market, the thrill of short-seasoned purple sprouting broccoli, that first radish pulled from the soil. We want fresh veg so badly we can almost taste it, but mother nature makes us wait until it’s time, dolling out the occasional reward for our patience. The first ingredient of the spring pantry is just what we need right now- something green, fresh, and herbal: fennel.


Cook in the Moment: Citrus Recipe Round-Up

Grapefruit (c)2012

Every Tuesday I contribute a column to the Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder Website. Check out my citrus recipe round-up by clicking on the icon below. I’m cooking in the moment with grapefruit, lemons, and the many varieties of oranges before their season comes to an end. You’ll find recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.


What citrus recipes are you cooking before the season ends? Share them (with links if you like) in the comments section. Click Here.