a sunny day: a decided cause for celebration in the scenic but often damp northwest, where i’ve become as weather-obssessed as Washington’s television forecasters. on this first formal weekend of spring, i took a drive north for a little adventure. donning my favorite Oakley’s to kick off the season and to temper the bright sun (which i’m clearly no longer accustomed to), i swung out of my driveway—lined with fragrant, pink-blossomed plum trees—and sped (conservatively, of course) up to La Conner, Washington to see the daffodil crop in bloom.
as i continued to meander north, i spotted several flocks of snow geese chowing down in a farm field—all completely unaffected by admiring tourists stopping for a photo op. next, i winded along the Padilla Bay Estuarine Reserve, where a great blue heron emerged majestically—as if on cue—during the late-morning high tide. in short order, i arrived in Edison and was drawn into the lot of Farm to Market Bakery (hardly a surprise. me. a bakery. screeching brakes.). the shop is tiny, but the flavors and portions? HUGE. i happily immersed myself in a generous piece of rhubarb pie (the first of the season, nicely layered, with a dense consistency, wonderful blend of spices and a light, buttery crust) and a glass of whole milk. i heaved a contented sigh.
i’m ushering in spring with a few sunny lemon recipes: a Meyer lemon curd tart, topped with hefty California raspberries and whipped cream. and a skillet corn cake with stewed cherries. both dedicated to my friend, Anne-Marie. bright, funny and eternally optimistic, whenever A-M is tossed the proverbial lemon, she consistently and graciously squeezes it into lemonade. may i grow up to be just like her.
Meyer Lemon Curd Tart
a combination of recipes from Cook’s Illustrated and The Martha Stewart Cookbook, the latter adapted by Marisa and found in her Food in Jars blog.
for the crust
1 3/4 cups unbleached organic white flour
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, at very cool room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces
for the curd
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3 Meyer lemons (you need a generous 1/2 cup of juice; it took me 9 lemons to get there; make sure you strain the juice to remove the seeds)
the zest from the lemons
1 stick butter, cut into chunks
- preheat oven to 350F.
- in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse the flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch and salt.
- add the butter, and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds.
- pulse until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal.
- sprinkle mixture in a 10- or 11-inch tart pan, and press in firmly with your fingers into an even, 1/4-inch layer across the bottom of the pan and up the sides to the edge of the rim.
- refrigerate for 30 minutes, then bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes; set aside.
- to make the curd: in a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.
- add the lemon juice, then begin to stir with a wooden spoon so you won’t aerate the curd.
- stir continuously for 10 to 15 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed so the curd doesn’t come to a boil.
- when the curd has thickened and coats the back of your spoon, drop in the butter, and stir until melted; remove from heat.
- to strain the curd, position a fine mesh sieve over a glass or stainless steel bowl.
- pour the curd through the sieve, and remove any bits of cooked egg.
- whisk in the lemon zest.
- pour the curd into the cooled tart shell, and smooth the top.
- refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
serve topped with whipped cream and fresh raspberries. or just plain. really. it’s great either way.
Skillet Corn Cake with Stewed Cherries
a recipe from Emeril 20-40-60 Fresh Food Fast
1 cup unbleached organic white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (i cut this back from the original recipe and used salted butter)
6 tablespoons yellow cornmeal (medium grind)
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 10-ounce bags frozen, pitted cherries (i used a mix of sweet, dark cherries and pie cherries)
- place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven, and preheat the oven to 350F.
- in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; stir in the cornmeal.
- in another medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, milk, olive oil and lemon zest until frothy. add 3/4 of the sugar, then whisk to combine.
- pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and mix just until the batter is smooth.
- swirl the butter in the hot skillet (be super careful not to burn yourself) until melted.
- pour the batter into the skillet and bake until the center is set, about 25 minutes.
- while the cake is baking, set a 10-inch skillet over high heat.
- add the lemon juice, cherries and remaining 3/4 cup sugar.
- cook until the cherries have released most of their juice, 10 to 12 minutes; remove from heat, and set aside.
- when the cake is done, allow it to cool in the skillet for 5 minutes.
- slice into wedges, and serve with the stewed cherries spooned over the top.
the combination of the lemon flavor, olive oil and cherries: surprisingly, totally delicious! i served as an accompaniment to some crock pot pulled pork and mashed maple-sweet potatoes.