I have a newfound appreciation for the old adage on lemons. With the less-than-desirable circumstances I found myself in over the weekend, in my case a defunct oven and a Saturday full of rain and gloom, it seemed decidedly defeatist to take it lying down (albeit on the couch cradling a mug of tea and the delightful French Women Don’t Get Fat), so I made my own sunshine in the kitchen: tangy and sweet lemon curd! And not just the usual citrus affair, but three exceedingly delicious versions, all with a simple last-minute addition. Very much taken by Clotilde’s lemon and almond curd, from the lovely Chocolate & Zucchini, in similar form I added ground almonds to the finished curd for an even creamier spread, and also tried stirring in a handful of unsweetened coconut flakes for another variation. Obligated to taste-test the results, like any good chef, the pale yellow lemon-almond curd was by far my standout favorite among the three, truly a match made in lemon curd heaven.
With a preliminary taste of the creamy spread on an english muffin half, I was so arrested by the tang and zest alighting on my tongue that I wondered if perhaps I’ve let winter linger a little too long in my kitchen. It was a good thing the lemons came three-to-a-bag, because now I can’t resist dashing off a fresh squeeze on everything–fried eggs, sauteed spinach, lentils, a bowl of blueberries and yogurt. In fact, my readiness to apply lemon without reserve to any and all things inspired a lighter take on eggs benedict for an easy weekend or weekday breakfast: Continue reading →
Halloween has come and gone, and in its wake I’ve been left with a pair of Minnie-Mouse ears and battered prints of pictures featuring trick-or-treaters, costumes, Jack-O-Lanterns, and general good-old American Harvest-time fun. But aside from my now-abject educational props, I feel as though I’ve really made a lasting contribution to the Japanese classroom via cross-cultural exchange: I carved three darling Jack-O-Lanterns out of kabocha squash!
It was almost too perfect. There just happened to be three lonely little kabocha sitting on the desk behind me in the teacher’s room, and when my curiosity got the better of me, I ventured to ask whether it would be alright if I got crafty with them. To my delight, the Vice Principal handed me the squash, a box knife, some newspaper, and, at my request, a spoon, and I set up shop on a coffee table. One hour later, I had a bagful of mealy pumpkin innards, a smattering of lopsided chunks of squash, and amidst all that mess, three grinning faces. It was a joy to watch the looks of surprise and amusement when passing teachers and students saw the Jack-O-Lanterns :) Continue reading →
I know, I know, bruschetta is not by any means classifiable as a “baked good,” but I was so proud of my resourcefulness and daring nerve to try cooking something decidedly non-Japanese that I had to write about it. And in all honesty, it’s a notable achievement when I cook something worthwhile, because usually I’m so wrapped up in a baking project or incessantly reading recipes to inspire my next one, that often I find I haven’t a clue what I’m going to do about dinner when 5:00 comes around.
Back in the blissful, unhurried days of summer with Mr. Baker, I could always count on his incredible quick-thinking in the kitchen after a whole day neglecting plans for dinner in lieu of baking a strawberry tart. He continually amazes me with on-the-spot ideas for dinner like curried chicken and rice with dollops of ricotta, sauteed tilapia and veggie-filled pita pockets, or homemade pizza with huge slices of ripe tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil. It goes to show how much like two peas in a pod we are: me, the precise, perfectionist baker, and he a natural with paring knife and grill.