Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grapefruit Curd

Lemon curd gets all of the spotlight. Yes, it's delicious- richly tart, sweet and buttery all at the same time- but it's not the only citrus fruit that makes a good curd. We've got great lime curd and passion fruit curd at the Deli, but you rarely see anything about grapefruit curd. Maybe it's because it's bitterness is tricky to balance, or it's not as approachable a fruit in some peoples eyes, but I can't get enough of them.

It took me a while to find a recipe for it, and the last time I tried to make it without direction, it didn't set properly. Thankfully, Regan Daley's 'in the sweet kitchen' provided (I love that book!). It's not for the faint of heart- 12 egg yolks! I went an extra step further and reduced the grapefruit juice by about 1/4 to deepen its flavor, which seemed to work out well. I also threw in a dried out vanilla bean. The resulting curd is spoonable but soft, brilliantly yellow, and a good balance between sweet and bitter. I ate it on malted pancakes this morning (or was it afternoon? aahhh, a good day off), but it would be just as nice on scones, angelfood cake, or a buttery croissant.

Grapefruit Curd with Vanilla Beans
(Regan Daily, with a few enhancements)

12 yolks
1 dried out vanilla bean, cut into 3 or 4 chunks
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons grapefruit zest (any more and it'll be too bitter)
3/4 cup freshly squeezed juice (either straight or slightly reduced)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks

-have a double boiler ready, with a medium bowl that fits in the pot but sits above the water level (questions? just email me).
-have a large bowl nearby with a fine mesh strainer resting on top.
-in the medium bowl that fits over the pot, whisk the egg yolks and the vanilla bean pieces until frothy.
-whisk in the sugar and the citrus juices, as well as the zest.
-set the bowl over the lightly boiling water and adjust the heat to barely simmering. Cook, stirring constantly, the curd until it thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. It takes about 10 minutes or so, depending on the temperature of the yolks that you started with.
-remove the bowl from the pot, dry off the bottom, and pour it through the strainer into the large bowl.
-stirring constantly, add the chunks of butter a few at a time until they melt completely.
-place a layer of plastic wrap directly over the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming, and allow it to cool for at least 2 hours before using.
-this curd is best the day that it is made, but it can be stored (well covered) in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Loh Shi Fun

The challenge: shiitake mushrooms.
The answer: Loh Shi Fun

I wouldn't claim to know anything about loh shi fun other than that I typed in 'shiitake pork shaoxing wine recipe' into google and found this recipe. It seemed to fit what I was craving, and gave me an excuse to try new things from the Asian grocery store that I had never cooked with. I was skeptical until it was about 75% complete, but by the time I plopped a poached egg on top of fresh pea shoots on top of a steaming bowl of pork (two types!) and noodles, I was very excited.

From what I've read, it's Chinese in origin but has been made famous by a street stall in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. It's sometimes called 'rat tail noodles' because of the shape of the noodles, though I ended up only finding frozen Korean rice cakes (which worked fine, however unusual).

The original recipe, from Food & Wine Magazine, is here.

I added sriracha (rooster chili sauce), and had to find a substitute for the kecap manis, which the lovely propritor of the local market recomended (it tasted like a mixture of molasses and soy sauce- I'm still excited to find the real deal that is infused with star anise). Not having worked with Chinese sausage before, I may have bought the wrong one- what I purchased was uncooked, and I think the recipe calls pre-cooked. After a bit of poaching it worked out just fine, though- quite fatty and sweet but very flavorful.

The pea shoots, which we opted to not to add while cooking but use as a blanket between the hot stew and the poached egg, gave a pleasant lightness to the dish. Overall it was a fun experiment- one I look forward to replicating and exploring more.