Archives for posts with tag: 101 Cookbooks

It is true that I love a tart and tangy curd. It is also true that I was obsessed with making curds this past week. And it is true that I’m not going to stop here. I might give it a break until a few different varieties of fruit come into season but stop I will not. How I wish I was on our narrowboat, Patience,  harvesting the autumn fruit ripening on  the endless miles of hedgerows that are the companions of the canals. Maybe next year…

Until recently I had only ever made a lemon curd. My mother made apple curd for apple meringue pies because as a child I hated lemon curd. Impossible to believe! Many years ago my older sister made elderberry curd from a plant in her garden and I remember it being delicious. I’ve always wanted to replicate it.  My younger sister recently made apricot curd from the fruit growing on her beautiful property in McGregor in the Western Cape. But until I read the blog post on fruit curds by Neil of British Food: A History, with his comment that curds don’t just come in lemon yellow, I hadn’t really thought that much about making any other curds.

So I started experimenting  and over the past few months made passion fruit and quince curd. Both exquisite  I have to say.  And then, motivated and inspired by my participation in Scarlet Bennett’s creative challenge, last week turned into a celebration of the versatility of the curd.

On Day 23 I produced a naartjie and passion fruit curd; on Day 24, a pink grapefruit curd; and on Day 27, the week’s pièce de résistance  – beetroot,  citrus and thyme curd.

I’m going to have to hold myself back, I feel an urge to get into the kitchen and try a tarragon, black pepper and orange curd but I have a long to-do list that was rather neglected this week because of all the time devoted to the cooking of curds. Luckily we don’t have any oranges and we have run out of eggs, butter and sugar too. Pity.

Beetroot, citrus and thyme curd

  • 600 ml mixed beetroot and citrus juice. I used 5 small beetroot with their stalks but not the leaves, 3 smallish oranges, 4 clementines, and 3 lemons.
  • Grated rind of an organic lemon
  • A couple of sprigs of thyme – don’t be shy
  • 120 g butter
  • 250 ml granulated sugar
  • 6 large free-range  eggs

Put the mixed juices in a heavy bottomed pot and reduce  to 300 ml as per the instructions on 101 Cookbooks along with the zest and thyme.  Add the butter and sugar to the reduced juice and heat  slowly until it comes to the boil. Remove from the heat, strain and cool for a couple of minutes while you beat the eggs until light and fluffy.  Slowly pour the hot juice mixture into the eggs whisking constantly. Pour back into the pot and cook on a low heat and stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit or 82 degrees Celsius.  Pour into sterilised jars and seal or  into a bowl and refrigerate until chilled for more or less immediate consumption.

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I’ve had a lot of fun lately taking  part in the truly creative (I really am envious!), Scarlet Bennett’s thirty-day creative challenge. I started halfway through, have  barely managed to deliver something creative even every second day and some of my contributions have been extremely modest, but it has been a delight and a joy.  And motivating too. I’m addicted. I’ve loved seeing – and hearing – the results of the daily creative activities that have been produced 10 000 km away in Canberra. Every morning I’ve scrambled to do something, anything, even vaguely creative, before Scarlet’s blog posting deadline of 8 pm Canberra time/11 am Johannesburg time – and so breakfast has ended up being the creative time of the day for me. I have been inspired by the group and their wide ranging creative activities and although I won’t be composing any music or attempting a drawing I might just take a leaf from opera singer and strange bedfellow, Kanen Breen’s book and get out a needle and thread or a bottle of nail polish one of these days.

Here’s a round up of my kitchen fun and games, eats and drinks:

Day 14: Breakfast Puff – an old favourite, from a previous life, when I was the lucky recipient of a subscription to US Gourmet magazine from my then mother-in-law

Day 16:  Three potions – tarragon oil, black pepper syrup, lavender syrup

Day 18: Tropical fruit and black pepper ice cream breakfast. Also from a previous life and from US Gourmet magazine c. 1993

Day 20: Swiss chard muffins – Swiss chard and sage from the garden, spiked with black pepper syrup from day 16

Day 21: Passionfruit cordial and carrot, clementine, mint and ginger juice

(With thanks to Scarlet for making the pictures look so good!)

The most fun of the week was the morning I spent making the potions. I first came across  a recipe for tarragon oil on Heidi Swanson’s wonderful blog, 101 Cookbooks. I’ve never made it exactly as she does since we somehow seem to be incapable of growing parsley but our tarragon is a rewarding and reliable plant that comes up year after year. You can make the oil with the first leaves that appear in spring  or with the last leaves of the season. A great way to preserve tarragon – and you’ll never countenance using dried tarragon again.

Tarragon oil

Take equal quantities of tarragon and olive oil. Blanch the tarragon leaves in boiling salted water,  refresh in ice water and squeeze dry. Purée the tarragon with the olive oil using  an immersion blender. Allow to stand for an hour or so and then strain through a fine sieve. Store in the fridge but bring to room temperature  to serve.

Use the tarragon oil:

  • In simple salad dressings – combine with black pepper syrup and freshly squeezed lemon juice and toss with  simple salad greens.
  • Drizzled over roasted beetroot and goat’s cheese with black pepper syrup
  • Added to savoury muffins
  • In egg dishes
  • As a marinade for chicken  – with the black peppercorn syrup

Black pepper syrup

Combine 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons of crushed black pepper. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about half an hour. Cool, strain and store in the fridge. Use the stained black pepper kernels in any dish that calls for crushed black pepper.

Has been known to:

  • Combine exceptionally well with tarragon oil
  • Invigorate the childhood favourite, macaroni cheese
  • Add a certain je ne sais quoi to a Swiss chard, sage and spring onion fritatta

tarragon