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always on the sunny side

22 March 2010

dj

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.

INGREDIENTS

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

DIRECTIONS

  1. preheat oven to 350F.
  2. in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse the flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch and salt.
  3. add the butter, and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds.
  4. pulse until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal.
  5. 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.
  6. refrigerate for 30 minutes, then bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes; set aside.
  7. to make the curd: in a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.
  8. add the lemon juice, then begin to stir with a wooden spoon so you won’t aerate the curd.
  9. stir continuously for 10 to 15 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed so the curd doesn’t come to a boil.
  10. when the curd has thickened and coats the back of your spoon, drop in the butter, and stir until melted; remove from heat.
  11. to strain the curd, position a fine mesh sieve over a glass or stainless steel bowl.
  12. pour the curd through the sieve, and remove any bits of cooked egg.
  13. whisk in the lemon zest.
  14. pour the curd into the cooled tart shell, and smooth the top.
  15. 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

INGREDIENTS

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)

DIRECTIONS

  1. place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven, and preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; stir in the cornmeal.
  3. 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.
  4. pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and mix just until the batter is smooth.
  5. swirl the butter in the hot skillet (be super careful not to burn yourself) until melted.
  6. pour the batter into the skillet and bake until the center is set, about 25 minutes.
  7. while the cake is baking, set a 10-inch skillet over high heat.
  8. add the lemon juice, cherries and remaining 3/4 cup sugar.
  9. cook until the cherries have released most of their juice, 10 to 12 minutes; remove from heat, and set aside.
  10. when the cake is done, allow it to cool in the skillet for 5 minutes.
  11. 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.

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