June 22, 2011

Lemon Curd

Once again, I attended the Shakespeare Festival in St. Louis's historic Forest Park. This year's performance was a 1950's-inspired rendition of The Taming of the Shrew. The play was set in the backyard of a rich "Lord's" home, complete with 50's style patio furniture, aluminum swimming pool, and vintage Chevy sedan. 

It was, as it always is, a great event...my absolute favorite thing to do in the city.

I met some friends there this year, so I packed my picnic basket with things to share...pressed sandwich, truffled popcorn (aka "crack corn"), and lemon curd with strawberries. 

My first attempt at making this recipe resulted in a too thin--albeit still tasty--curd. I think I was afraid of over-cooking or over-heating the mixture & ending up with a curdled mess of egg yolks. So, I probably under-cooked it slightly, as it didn't get as thick as I had expected. Still, it made a nicely tart & refreshing dip for sweet strawberries.

June 21, 2011

Pasta with Roasted Beet Sauce & Wilted Arugula

I recently had dinner at Salt, Chef Wes Johnson's new restaurant in St. Louis, with a few of my Kitchen Conservatory co-workers. We ordered & shared nearly all of the small plates....including duck fat frites, mussels with chorizo, seared scallop with mustard sauce & cedar smoke, pork & fennel meatballs, crispy pork belly with pickled vegetables, and--my favorite dish of the night--pasta with beet sauce & sauteed collard greens.

I wanted to recreate that dish at home, especially since there were some farmers market beets in the fridge that I needed to use. I didn't use a recipe, but here's what I did to create this simple, flavorful, and vibrant summer dish:

1. Trim, peel, & roast red beets with a drizzle of olive oil, salt & pepper at 400 degrees until tender, about 15 minutes (I had about 6 tiny little beets).

2. Meanwhile, saute 1 small yellow onion (chopped) & 1 garlic clove (crushed) in some olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) until just softened. Add to a blender or food processor. Add the beets when they are cooked.

3. Add a splash of dry red wine, some heavy cream (I added about 1/2 cup), and the zest of 1 lemon to the beets. Blitz until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Add more wine/cream or water to reach desired consistency. Toss the sauce with cooked & drained pasta.

4. To wilt the arugula: Over medium heat, cook a couple tablespoons of olive oil with a crushed clove of garlic in a large skillet. When it just starts to sizzle, add a few large handfuls of arugula. Toss in the oil and cook until wilted & tender. Finish with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

5.  To serve: Spoon some of the pasta onto a plate. Top with a pile of the wilted arugula & a sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese.

June 2, 2011

Deviled Ham

For Easter dinner this year, I bought a 15-pound bone-in ham. Ok, for two people, that is WAY TOO MUCH HAM...even in my pork-centric world. To avoid an overdose of standard ham sandwiches, I picked a few recipes to make with the leftovers that week: ham fried rice, ham & bean soup, ham & chive frittatas, & ham pot pie.

But, for the most part, those are the obvious use-up-leftover-meat dishes. In searching for some more exciting ways to use up the rest of the ham, which I cubed/vacuum-sealed/stashed in the freezer, I came across many great sounding recipes (see list of links at the end of this post).

Most recently, I made Deviled Ham. I was leery at first. My parents used to buy that "sandwich spread" shit from the supermarket deli, and I despised it. It looked and smelled like cat food. Plus, "deviled" ham just doesn't sound appetizing to me.

Yet, this recipe sounded so good...smokey ham, creamy mayo, tangy mustard, sweet maple syrup, spicy hot sauce...what's NOT to like.