Recipe: Chez Panisse Meyer Lemon Curd

I'm posting this recipe as much for myself as for all of you.  I need to record it somewhere public, so I have access to it wherever I am.  There are countless Meyer lemon curd recipes, and many dozens of them are Chez Panisse versions, but this is the version that they serve in the restaurant today, and it is perfect.  The key is balance--of sweeter Meyer and more acidic Eureka lemons, of sugar and acid, of heating the eggs enough so that they set, but not so much that they overcook.  

Since I've got that Nomiku on my hands for another week or so, I thought I'd experiment using it to cook the curd.  Instead of plastic, which I just can't bring myself to use as a cooking vessel, I just poured the raw, tempered curd into sterilized mason jars and cooked them for 45 minutes.  The results: perfect.  The smoothest, creamiest curd I have ever made.  Though it took longer than the classic method, it wasn't active time.  I washed dishes, ate snacks, and took copious photos of my eggshells while the curd cooked. 

Make the curd, and then make meringue softies with the leftover whites.  

  • 1 cup Meyer lemon juice
  • ½ cup Eureka lemon juice
  • Zest of 5 Meyer lemons
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • Pinch of salt to taste
  • 7 whole eggs
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 16 Tablespoons cold butter

Classic Method

Combine lemon juices, zest, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and heat just until the sugar dissolves.

Set up a double boiler on the stove: pour 2 inches of water into a large, wide pot and bring to a boil.  

Place the eggs and yolks in a large bowl.  Temper the eggs with the warm lemon juice mixture by adding it in slowly, in a thin stream, while continuously whisking.  

Place the bowl of tempered eggs over the pot of simmering water and whisk continuously until the curd just starts to thicken.  Remove immediately from the heat, add the chilled butter, and strain through a fine mesh sieve.

Cover immediately with plastic wrap pressed against the curd to prevent a skin from forming.  Keep refrigerated for up to five days, but it's doubtful the curd will last that long.

Sous Vide Method

Sterilize 4 pint-sized mason jars and their lids.

Set the immersion circulator in a large pot, fill to the minimum, and set the temperature to 180°F/82°C.  

Combine lemon juices, zest, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and heat just until the sugar dissolves.

Place the eggs and yolks in a large bowl.  Temper the eggs with the warm lemon juice mixture by adding it in slowly, in a thin stream, while continuously whisking.  

Divide the curd mixture evenly amongst the jars, cover, and set in the water bath.  Cook for 45 minutes, then remove the jars from the water bath and stir 4 tablespoons of cold butter into each jar.  Cover with plastic wrap or parchment pressed against the curd to prevent a skin from forming.  Keep refrigerated for up to five days, but it's doubtful the curd will last that long.

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And, if eating the lemon curd straight out of the jar isn't exciting enough for you, then layer it between shortbread cookies, or sugar cookies.  Spoon it into thumbprint cookies.  Spoon it into a blind-baked shortcrust tart shell and gently bake at 325°F until just barely set, about 20 minutes.  Serve a dollop alongside ginger-molasses cake, lemon pound cake, or olive oil cake.  Spoon atop ice cream.  Eat with berries and whipped cream.  The Meyer lemon sunset sky is the limit.

Recipe: Parsi Deviled Eggs

I didn't grow up eating deviled eggs, so I don't have a sense of nostalgia for any one particular version of them.  To be honest, I actually have to be in just the right mood to even want to eat them at all.  But the first time I had this version, from Niloufer Ichaporia King, I was a goner. As Patty Unterman first wrote in the SF Examiner, Niloufer found this recipe in a book published in Bombay in the 1940s, with the confounding title of "Italian Eggs."  The flavors, though, aren't Italian at all--they're much more reminiscent of India, Thailand, Vietnam or Mexico.  Make these, and soon they will be your preferred version of deviled eggs, too, no matter what you want to call them!

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs, hard-cooked
  • Juice of 1-2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Salt 
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced 
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish

Directions

Shell the eggs, cut them in half, and put the yolks in small bowl.  Set the egg whites aside.

Add all of the remaining ingredients, apart from the mayonnaise, to the yolks and mash with a fork until well combined.  Make sure the honey is well distributed.

Stir in the mayonnaise and taste.  Adjust lime and salt as needed.  

Spoon the mixture into the egg whites, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.  

To serve, let the eggs return to room temperature and garnish with cilantro leaves.

 

 

Egg Month Giveaway: Gift Certificate to Good Eggs & EGG by Michael Ruhlman

There might not be anything capable of more kitchen miracles than that little, two-toned magician, the egg.  And there might not be anyone better suited to detail them all than author Michael Ruhlman.  

Michael Ruhlman is obsessed with eggs.  And he does them justice in his book, Egg, which began with a flowchart he made to obsessively organize all of the possibilities the egg offers us.  If you want to explore meringues, souffles, mayonnaise, hollandaise, custards, cakes, and everything in between, this is the book for you. 

The good folks at Good Eggs (who are so committed to supporting local farmers that they named their company in honor of the first farm--an egg farm--with which they developed a relationship) have also contributed a $25 gift certificate for me to give away to this week's winner.  If you haven't already checked out Good Eggs, do.  And if you don't know where else to buy humanely-raised eggs, start there!  

Thank you to Michael Szczerban at Little, Brown, and at Greta Caruso at Good Eggs, for contributing this week's #eggmonth prizes!

To be eligible to win this prize, simply post a photo, recipe, link, or anything else egg-related to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and use the #EggMonth hashtag.  I'll announce the winner next Monday when I reveal next week's giveaway.

Good Luck!

And the winner of last week's prize--the copper bowl and four cookbooks from Chronicle books--is @awmanny.  Get in touch with me at ciao (at) saminnosrat (dot) com, and I will send you your prize! 

 

 

Recipe: Niloufer's Everydal Dal

In my opinion, Niloufer Ichaporia King is one of our terribly undervalued culinary greats.  And her book, My Bombay Kitchen, is my subcontinental reference manual.  Part memoir, part cookbook, part history lesson, it's just one of those books that never goes out of style.

This is my go-to dal, or Indian red lentil, recipe, and it couldn't be easier to make.  Plus, it's DELICIOUS.  Served with plain rice, yogurt, and mango chutney, it makes a totally respectable and comforting dinner.  Add vegetables, chicken, lamb or seafood and call it a feast.

The beauty of lentils is that they require no soaking, and they cook up so quickly.  Keep red lentils on hand for legume emergencies--I do.

photo by Emily Nathan

photo by Emily Nathan

Everyday Dal from My Bombay Kitchen

1 cup red lentils (masur dal), husked split pigeon peas (tuvar dal), or mung beans (mung dal)

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon (or more) salt

1 onion, quartered (optional)

1 green chile (optional)

4 cups (or more) water

1 to 2 tablespoons ghee or butter

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion or shallot (optional)

Pick over the dal to remove stones and chaff. Rinse the dal and transfer to a pot; add the turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon salt, quartered onion, and chile, if using, along with at least 4 cups water. Bring to boil; reduce the heat and simmer, partly covered, until the dal is tender. (

Masur and mung dals soften in about half the time it takes to cook tuvar dal, which needs a good 45 minutes to 1 hour.) Watch out for overboiling, even with the heat down.

When the dal is soft and mushy, pass through a sieve or a food mill or liquefy in a food processor or with an immersion blender, which saves you the trouble of pouring and transferring. The texture of the dal should be thick, smooth, and pourable. Taste for salt.

To finish, heat the ghee in a small skillet over medium heat. Sizzle the seeds, garlic, and onion, if using, until the garlic begins to brown around the edges and the seeds start to crackle. These sizzling seeds and garlic are known as vaghar in Gujarati,tarka in Hindi. Tip the vaghar into the dal and stir.

Dal Soup:

Dal without vaghar makes an excellent cold soup. I've served it with a blob of yogurt and chive blossoms, or snipped chives or green onion tops.

Note: In my mother's house, it was considered good practice to send dal to the table in a tureen with the vaghar floating on top, a last-minute affair, although the flavors have a better chance to combine if you stir in the toasted spices ahead of time. If you're having dal as a first-course soup, you can serve individual portions with a little vaghar poured over each one.

Serves 6

Tamar Adler on BEANS

image source


Every January, I think of this article about Tamar's beautiful book, An Everlasting Meal. Tara Parker Pope was right--there's no better way to start the year than to commit to cooking more, and better, at home.  And for that, there is no better muse than Tamar.

When I asked Tamar recently if she had anything new to say about beans, she responded, "Re-reading what I wrote about beans a few years ago I don't have much to add but a bold underline and affirmation that I still do everything I did then, and still feel grateful I know how to. I continue, too, to collect bean anecdote and trivia, feeling every time I do like I am collecting information about my roots, though they are not Tuscan or anthropological or agricultural, but human, and as far as I can tell, humans are meant to eat beans."

Here's an excerpt, from the chapter entitled, "How to Live Well:"

Tuscans, though, make the best beans.  They are known in Italy as mangiafagioli, or "bean eaters."  Tuscans believe that frugality is next to godliness and give the humblest ingredients their finest treatment.  Tuscan cooks are extravagant with good olive oil, pressed from dark trees, and with vegetable scraps and Parmesan rinds, which, along with salt and more of that fine oil, make transcendent pots of beans.

Those odds and ends are as crucial to pots of beans as fresh water.  Your pot will benefit from a piece of carrot, whatever is left of a stalk of celery, half an onion or its skin, a clove of garlic, fibrous leek tops.  If you must decide what to save for your chicken pot and what for stock and what for beans, save your fennel scraps with pots of beans in mind.  I make notes to myself after meals, and there are enough torn pieces of paper attesting that "The best bean broth has fennel in it!" for it to have become axiomatic.

Your pot also wants parsley stems, whole sprigs of thyme, and a bay leaf.  It can all be tied into a neat bundle in cheesecloth or with kitchen twine, or it can be left bobbing around, as everything in my bean pot always is.

Beans need salt.  There is a myth that adding salt to beans keeps them crunchy and unlovable.  Not cooking beans for long enough keeps them crunchy, and undersalting them is a leading culprit in their being unlovable.  They also need an immoderate, Tuscan amount of olive oil....

The liquid in a bean pot becomes broth as beans cook in it just as the water in which you boil a piece of meat does.  No ounce of the water that goes into a bean pot should be discarded.  Tuscan food is based as much on the broth made by the beans on which Tuscans lavish their affection as on the beans themselves.  Harold McGee, who writes about the chemistry of food simply, writes that beans make their own sauce.  He is right.  Their sauce must be well made and it must be kept.

Cooking beans is like boiling a chicken or boiling an egg: only their water boils, and only for a brief second.  The rest of their cooking is slow and steady.  Light the burner under your beans, and as soon as the pot has come to a boil, turn the heat down to just below a simmer.  Gray scum will rise to the top of the pot and gather around the edges.  Skin it off and discard it.  

The best instruction I've read for how long to cook beans comes from a collection of recipes called The Best in American Cooking by Clementine Paddleford.  The book instructs to "simmer until beans have gorged themselves with fat and water and swelled like the fat boy in his prime."  The description is so perfectly illustrative I don't think anyone should write another word on the subject.  I don't know who the fat boy is, but I feel I understand his prime perfectly, and it is what I want for my bean.

As they cook, beans should look like they're bathing.  Their tops should stay under the surface of the liquid, or they will get cracked and leathery, and they shouldn't ever be in so much water that they're swimming.  Taste their broth as they cook to make sure it is well seasoned.  It should not taste like the pleasant seawater of the pasta pot, but like a sauce or soup.  

The second good piece of advice from the same book is in one of its recipes for black beans: "Soak beans overnight; drain.  Put in pot, cover with water.  Add onion, celery, carrot, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Simmer until bean skins burst when blown upon, about three hours." This is the only recipe I've ever read that takes the doneness of beans as seriously as it should be taken: a cooked bean is so tender that the mere flutter of your breath should disturb its skin right off.

Beans are done when they are velvety to their absolute middles.  You should feel, as soon as you taste one, as though you want to eat another.  The whole pot is only ready when five beans meet that description.  If one doesn't, let the beans keep cooking....

Cool and store your beans in their broth.  The exchange of goodness between bean and broth will continue as long as the two are left together, and the broth helps the beans stay tender through chilling, freezing, and warming up again.

Those are instructions for cooking all beans.


P.S. If you want more Tamar (and I'm not sure why one wouldn't), check out her column in the New York Times Magazine.


Bean Month, So Far

#Beanmonth is off to an incredible start!  Here are a bunch of posts from the far flung corners of the internet:

In classic style, The Joy of Cooking tells you everything you need to know about Cooking Dried Beans

Russ Parsons stirs up an age-old debate: To Soak or Not To Soak

Phyllis made some Good Old Bean Soup to get her through her last cold over at Dash and Bella

Heidi's recipe for Pan-Fried Giant White Beans with Kale is no-fail via Food52

Julia Nishimura made some insanely beautiful Tuscan Pork and White Beans (a major achievement considering it's a dish not typically known for its beauty)

Adam at Amateur Gourmet lists the Things You Can Do With A Big Pot Of Beans

Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome makes it easy, listing all of her bean recipes for you, here

Learn how to turn one pot of beans into five meals from the Canal House ladies via Food52

Learn about Leather Britches from Sean Brock on Food Republic

Food52 also tells you The Best Ways to Use Canned Beans

How to Cook Beans in the Oven at The Kitchn

Learn how to can your own beans from Punk Domestics

Make feijoada, like the good folks at Good Eggs NYC

Kim O'Donnel shares a recipe for Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili

Heidi's recipe for a beautiful Ayocote Bean and Mushroom Salad

Sarah posted her take on Melissa Clark's Beans Braised with Bacon and Red Wine

Judy Witts Francini shares the ribollita recipe from Trattoria Mario, one of my favorite lunch spots in Florence

Olivia at The Coast Kitchen shares her recipe for Lemon Lentil Soup

And, right here: 
Cal Peternell's Fagioli all'Amatriciana
Mary Oliver's Beans
Cooking (beans) with Italian Grandmothers
Bean Resources


Instagram Photos
@sansculottes made these beautiful beans all'Amatriciana

@andreagentl did right by these beautiful chestnut beans with this moody photo, then she turned them into soup

@dominicarice's corona beans with pork adobo

@fieldsofplenty's beautiful pozole with black-eyed peas and smoked brisket

@juliaostro's Tuscan pork and Beans

@danalouisevelden's La Chamba bean pot took the internet by storm

@tifamade cooked up some mung beans

@claraygray turned these black badger beans into curry

@heyk8 cooked dried beans for the first time!

@goodeggsnyc turned these black beans into an occasion for tacos

@dashandbella went above and beyond with this navy bean gratin baked with bacon and bread crumbs

@melinahammer's lentils with watermelon radish and avocado sure brighten things up!


Post your own photos with the #beanmonth hashtag so I can see and repost them!

Spotify Playlist
#BEANMONTH

Pinterest
BEANS

Books
The Best Bean Cookbooks, According to Omnivore

Heirloom Bean Sources:
Rancho Gordo
Zursun
Rancho Llano Seco
Good Eggs: SF, NYC, NOLA, LA
Jalama Valley
CUESA: Tierra Vegetables, Lonely Mountain Farm, Dirty Girl Produce, and Iacopi Farms

(Know of any other great sources for heirloom beans?  Let me know and I'll add them to the list!  And keep posting with the tag!  I'll do another round-up next week!)

The Best Bean Cookbooks, According to Omnivore

I asked my friends at my favorite bookstore, Omnivore Books, for some bean book recommendations, and here's what they suggested:

  

  


Clockwise, from top left:
Heirloom Beans by Steve Sando and Vanessa Barrington
Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon
Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
Twelve Recipes by Cal Peternell
The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson


Other Books Omnivore Carries That I Highly Recommend for #beanmonth, and Life in General:

 



Clockwise, from top left: 
Heritage by Sean Brock
The Inspired Vegan by Bryant Terry
An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler
Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America by Maricel E. Presilla
The Vegetarian Flavor Bible by Karen Page
The Cooking of Southwest France by Paula Wolfert


Omnivore has loads of these books, signed copies, and rare and antiquarian cookbooks and will ship anywhere in the world.  To purchase, call the store between the hours of 11am and 6pm, Tuesday-Saturday, 12pm-5pm Sunday at 415.282.4712.

p.s. I am purposely refraining from linking to Amazon in this post, so if you don't want to support Omnivore, then go support your own local brick & mortar independent bookstore this time!

"Beans" by Mary Oliver

                     

Beans

They’re not like peaches or squash.
Plumpness isn’t for them.They like
being lean, as if for the narrow
path. The beans themselves sit qui-
etly inside their green pods. In-
stinctively one picks with care,
never tearing down the fine vine,
never not noticing their crisp bod-
ies, or feeling their willingness for
the pot, for the fire.

I have thought sometimes that
something―I can’t name it―
watches as I walk the rows, accept-
ing the gift of their lives to assist
mine.

I know what you think: this is fool-
ishness. They’re only vegetables.
Even the blossoms with which they
begin are small and pale, hardly sig-
nificant. Our hands, or minds, our
feet hold more intelligence. With
this I have no quarrel.

But, what about virtue?

--Mary Oliver

BEAN MONTH

photo source
Growing up, I didn't really feel one way or another about beans.  Here and there, I'd eat a few chickpeas, fava beans, or kidney beans, and lots of pinto beans alongside burritos.  They were fine.

But during the first summer I worked in the kitchen at Chez Panisse, I fell in love with beans.  Every Monday we received a shipment of vegetables from Chino Ranch, and it was my job to unpack it and put everything away.  That summer, I saw true cranberry beans for the first time--as red and round as their namesake fruit--and peeled fresh giant lima beans we simmered and serve alongside braised pork.  I was still in college, still planning to head to graduate school for poetry upon graduation, and I reveled in the names of the varietals--Dragon's Tongue, Painted Pony, Lina Sisco's Bird Egg, Coco Bianco and Coco Nero, Tiger's Eye, Snow Cap, and Jacob's Cattle.

And then, I tasted them.  I'd never known a bean could be so satisfyingly creamy or so sweet.  I was a goner.

I've loved beans ever since.  The first article I pitched to a magazine was about shelling beans.  They were the first seeds I planted when I started to garden.  I buy beans at the market in every country I visit.

But what cemented my interest in beans as a cooking teacher, and why I want to dedicate this month to celebrating beans is this: a couple of years ago, I heard Mark Bittman say was that he'd consider his career a success if he could get every family in America to make rice and beans once a week. I couldn't agree more.  Besides being beautiful and labeled with playful names, beans are accessible, cheap, nutritious and delicious.  They are easy to cook, and lend themselves to a thousand different uses in the kitchen.

And since beans are for everyone, I'm declaring January #beanmonth.  I'll be posting all sorts of links, recipes, resources, photos, poems, and more here, and on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  I've started a board on Pinterest dedicated to BEANS, and I've invited friends all around the internet to join me.  Wendy MacNaughton and I are even planning a very special giveaway at the end of the month.    

Come, follow along!  Share your own recipes, links and photos with the #beanmonth hashtag.  I'd love to see everyone's favorite ways to cook and eat beans!

p.s. Lentils and chickpeas count!