Bottled Sunshine

Lemon curd goes well with lavender shortbread cookies and is a good way to use up a dozen lemons when life hands you a barrel full.

Zest and juice about 12 small-medium lemons. You’re looking for 1/2 cup of lemon juice and I like to use however much zest accompanies that much juice. It should go without saying, but you’ll want to wash your lemons before you zest them.

In a sturdy pan over medium heat, combine the 1/2 cup lemon juice, zest, 1/2 cup sugar and 3 eggs. Whisk constantly until mixed thoroughly. Add 6 tablespoons unsalted butter. Continue whisking and cooking the lemon curd until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Transfer to a storage container of your choice. Let cool. Eat over cookies, on toast, or with a spoon, I won’t tell anyone.

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German Dumplings

It took me far too long to figure out how to spell fleisch knoephla. I’d only ever heard the words so I didn’t entirely know what to search for.

For the dough:

Mix together 2 cups of flour, 2 eggs, a pinch of kosher salt, and 1/4 cup of water. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for about an hour.

For the filling:

Caramelize one large diced yellow onion: cook over low-medium heat with approximately 2 tablespoons of olive oil for about 15 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of white sugar and continue cooking until the onions take on a more more golden color. Remove from heat and let cool. Sprinkle lightly with a couple pinches of kosher salt.

Mix together 1 pound of ground beef, the cooled caramelized onions, 1 teaspoon ground white pepper, 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon ground brown mustard seeds and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Use your hands. You want the heat of your hands to help mix everything together.

For the croutons:

Cube sourdough bread to make about a cup of croutons and toss lightly in two teaspoons of olive oil. Place onto a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven until lightly browned.

Roll out the dough as thin as you can. Cut into squares and fill with beef mixture, folding to make a triangle and crimping along the edges with a fork.

If you end up with extra filling (I do), brown the beef mixture and use as the base for the rest of your food.

Cooking in batches, drop into boiling salted water. Cook about 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Serve with croutons sprinkled over the top.

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Salty Focaccia

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 1 3/4 cup warm water, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast. Let sit approximately 15 minutes, or until frothy. Attach the dough hook, then mix in 5 cups of all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1/2 cup olive oil. Knead approximately 5 minutes or until the dough appears smooth.

Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface. Clean out any additional dough from the mixer, then wipe the bowl with olive oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with wrap (I use beeswax cloths) and let sit in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

Coat a full size cookie sheet with with 1/4 cup olive oil. Use a cookie sheet with walls. Put the dough ball into the pan and begin pressing to fit the pan. Brush an additional 1/4 cup olive oil over the top. Continue pressing the dough into the pan. Use your fingers to make dimples in the bread- flat focaccia is boring. Press it to the corners a couple more times over 30 minutes to get the dough to remain stretched. In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup room temperature water and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. This is your brine. Pour brine over the dimpled dough and allow to rise for approximately 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450. While the oven is preheating, place another cookie sheet, upside down, on the rack. This will get nice and hot and work in lieu of a baking stone.

Just before putting the bread in the oven, sprinkle large grain salt over the top lightly.

Bake for 25-30 minutes with your dough-filled cookie sheet atop your inverted sheet. Check the bottom after 25 minutes and see if golden brown.

Remove from oven, brush with olive oil and let sit for about five minutes. The oil should absorb into those dimples.

Remove from pan and transfer to a cooling rack.

Serve warm.

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Easy Crepes

During my summer study abroad, I will confess to eating more than my fair share of Nutella crepes. It’s a delightful dessert, breakfast, or farmer’s market snack. There, they would serve them piping hot and ready to eat without any utensils.

There are more complicated ways to make crepes, but you should probably go with the easiest.

Take 1 cup of pancake mix (I used this protein mix from Krusteaz because it was provided free to test out), 1 cup of milk of your choice, and 1 egg. Whisk it together until there are no clumps. If you are going to make sweet crepes, add a dash of vanilla extract. Pour approximately 3 tablespoons of batter into a warm greased non-stick pan with a flat bottom. Tilt and rotate the pan so the batter spreads out evenly.

Cook over medium heat. When the top begins to look dry, flip. Cook the other side until it begins to just turn golden brown.

Remove from the pan, spread with filling of your choice and either fold or roll up all that delicious goodness. Enjoy hot.

These also freeze pretty well – freeze flat with either a piece of foil or parchment between each crepe.

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Faux Pho Empanadas

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I’d been toying with the idea of pho and empanadas for a while before finally getting around to finding the star anise and testing them out. I’d predicted correctly that they’d be delicious!

For the dough:

Mix together 2 1/4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 stick cold unsalted butter cut into cubes, 1 egg, 1/3 cup ice water and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. It should form a shaggy dough. Knead a couple of times with your hands, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

For the filling:

Brown 1 pound ground beef, then add 1/2 diced white onion, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 3 thinly sliced green onions, 1 teaspoon crushed anise seeds, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, the zest of two limes, 1 teaspoon fresh ground ginger, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon fish sauce. Bring to a light simmer and continue simmering approximately 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

For the sauce:

Blend together 1 bunch lemon basil leaves (approximately 1 cup), about 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, 4 jalapenos, seeds and tops removed,  green onions, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil.

When everything is thoroughly chilled and cooled, break off 1/4 cup sized pieces of dough, shape into a ball, and roll out into a flat circle. Fill with a couple tablespoons of filling. Roll over the edges and crimp using a fork or your fingers. You can get pretty fancy with how you secure your empanada edges. I have not gotten that fancy. Brush with egg wash (1 egg whisked together with 1 tablespoon of water) and cook at 400 degrees until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. You can use an air fryer at this step if you have one. Serve hot with generous helpings of the dipping sauce.

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Farro Salad

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Bring two cups of chicken stock to a boil, add one cup of rinsed farro. Reduce to simmer, cover. Cook 25 minutes until liquid is absorbed.

Remove from heat. Let cool.

Once cool, add 1/4 cup feta, 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds, four diced green onions, 1/2 an English cucumber, diced, 4 pepperoncini, diced, 3 tablespoons finely cut mint, and one tablespoon olive oil. Stir to combine.

You can add diced chicken if you feel so inclined.

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