Orange Curd

Orange Curd Final 1

I had a ton of egg yolks left over from a previous project.

Orange Curd 1

And four oranges that were starting to dry out and look a little forlorn.

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And as we know, lemon curd may be my very favourite thing (it’s hard to tell, though, as I have a lot of favourite things).  So why not experiment with some orange curd?  I figure if I balance the sweetness of orange as opposed to lemon it should work out okay.

So before you start, cut up about 3/4 cup butter into tablespoon-sized pieces and pop that back in the fridge.  If you like your curd a little salty, use salted butter, but if you like it super sweet, use unsalted butter.  But either way, make sure it’s cold.

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In a medium saucepan, whisk together 8-10 egg yolks, 1/4-1/2 cup sugar (depending on how sweet your oranges are), 4 tablespoons lemon juice, the juice of 4 oranges, and the zest of 2 oranges.

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Heat on medium, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to thicken.  If you heat it too high, too fast, you will curdle it and that’s no good.  We want the yolks to cook slowly, for about 10 minutes. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the pot often.

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It will begin to coat the back of a wooden spoon.  When it’s nice and thick, raise the heat a bit and bring it to a simmer (not a boil), stirring again, for about 2 minutes.

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Remove the pot from the heat and take your butter from the fridge.  Working one piece at a time, add butter chunks to the mixture and stir until they are fully melted.  This has the dual effect of cooling the hot curd and also adding some fat to the mixture for easy setting.

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When all the butter is finally added and melted, your curd will be smooth and thick.

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Pour it into a bowl or clean jar and place some plastic wrap on the surface of the hot curd so that a skin doesn’t form.

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Pop it in the fridge to cool completely.  This makes about 2 1/2 cups of curd.

Orange Curd 10

Slimo

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Don’t be afraid of the title.  I promise you that this is really good.

My grandparents used to have a home on the banks of the Ottawa River, and every summer that we could, we would go and visit, for a few weeks of swimming, sailing, and general adventuring.  And on especially hot days, my grandmother would make up a recipe that she had supposedly gotten from her own grandmother, a tasty citrus-y drink guaranteed to refresh.  She called it SLIMO.  To this day we are not sure why.

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My grandmother passed away in August, and at her memorial service, which was oriented towards her relationship with her grandchildren and great grandchildren, I thought it would be appropriate if we served her signature drink.

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It’s relatively easy to put together, but two of the ingredients are a little hard to find.  One is citric acid, which, if you can’t find it in your grocery store, you can get it in many Asian specialty shops, or natural food stores.  The other is tartaric acid (not to be confused with cream of tartar), which can be found (sometimes) in health food stores, but if you have a store nearby that sells beer brewing and wine making supplies, they are guaranteed to have some (or they’ll know where to get it).  Both of them look exactly like sugar, but if you put them in your mouth, be prepared for the sour!

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You need 5 oranges and 3 lemons, ones with a decent amount of rind and lots of juice inside them, so make sure they’re pretty fresh.

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Grate them to remove the rind.

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Then juice those suckers.

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I found that if I poured the juice through a strainer it got rid of the seeds and some of the pulp.

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Add to that 2oz citric acid (~60mL) and 1oz tartaric acid (~30mL).  A kitchen scale will help you with this.

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And 2lb granulated sugar (~1kg).  Yes, that’s a lot of sugar, about half of the 2kg bags you get at the grocery store ’round these parts.  But it’s necessary. Stir all that stuff together.

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In a large kettle or with a spout, boil up 2 quarts water (~2L).  Pour that over your rind, juice, sugar, and acid and stir until the sugar and acids are dissolved.

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You’ll find that the rinds with a lot of pith attached to them will float to the top and get all scummy, so I scooped them out with a small sieve.

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Allow that to cool in the fridge.  Sorry for the dimness of my photos here — despite this being a summery drink, the weekend I made it was dark and rainy.

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When you drink it, use a ratio of 1:2 slimo and water, so 1/3 of your glass is slimo, and the other 2/3 is water.  Adjust it to your own taste, of course.  Feel free to mix it with soda water, as well, or even add a splash of vodka for a more adult version of the beverage.

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Sip it and enjoy memories of summer!

Orange Coconut Scones

Orange Coconut Scones

I had a bad experience making (read: burning) scones when I was a kid and haven’t tried them since.  But our receptionist at work made these for the Sweet Treats club (seriously, the best idea I have EVER had) two weeks ago and I thought I would share with you the awesomeness.  If you think something is awesome in Newfoundland, you say that it’s “best kind.”  Not THE best kind.  Just best kind.  And these are best kind.

Orange Coconut Scones

Preheat your oven to 400°F and line two baking sheets (or three, depending on the size of your scones) with parchment paper.

Orange Coconut Scones

Stir together 4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, and the zest of 2 oranges in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Orange Coconut Scones

Dice up 3/4 cup cold butter and add that in, mixing on the lowest speed until the butter pieces are all pea-sized.

Orange Coconut Scones

Lightly beat 4 eggs and pour in 1 cup cold heavy cream.  Give that a stir then add it to the mixing bowl and mix until just blended.

Orange Coconut Scones

Combine 1 cup shredded coconut with 1/4 cup flour and add that in as well.  I found I had to stop the mixer at this point and manipulate it in with my cold hands, as it slowed the machine down quite a bit.

Orange Coconut Scones

Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead it into a ball.

Orange Coconut Scones

Flour a rolling pin and flatten the stuff out until it’s about 3/4″ thick. Use a cutter or a knife to cut your scones from the dough.  When you run out of room, squish up the scraps and roll them out again.

Orange Coconut Scones

The scones will expand upwards while they cook, not sideways, so you can crowd them pretty close on the baking sheet.

Orange Coconut Scones

Bake the scones for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are baked all the way through.  They will be firm to the touch, not sticky.

Orange Coconut Scones

Let them cool for about fifteen minutes, and while they’re doing that, mix together 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar), 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice, and the zest of 1 orange.

Orange Coconut Scones

Drizzle the glaze over the still-warm scones.

Orange Coconut Scones

Serve right away, with honey and butter.  Or secretly leave half the batch on your neighbour’s doorstep.

Orange Coconut Scones

Cranberry Orange Cookies

These cookies garnered the approval of Il Principe and his mother.  And the Pie.  And they were really easy.  Which might be why I adapted them from EasyCookies.com.  But I’m just guessing here. In changing the recipe, I left out the salt, as usual, and accidentally added twice the amount of butter I should have, which ended up giving the cookies a lovely crunch I think they needed.  I also added zest to boost the orange aspect of what would otherwise be a pretty plain cookie.

There is nothing more cheery than citrus in the winter, and my mother will tell you that any time you wave an orange at her at any point between November and April.  But she’s right.  Citrus is a remarkably happy-making thing.  Orange being the Pie’s favourite colour, I made these citrus-y cookies with all our citrus-y implements.

So first you want to preheat your oven to 375°F and line some baking sheets with parchment paper.

Next, gather yourself the juice and rind from 2 oranges and set that aside.  You should have about 1/2 cup orange juice and about 2 tablespoons rind to show for your efforts.   While you’re at making things to set aside, whisk together, in a measuring cup or small bowl, 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.  And, well, set that aside too.

In a large bowl, cream together 1 cup butter, softened, with 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup packed brown sugar

Add in 2 eggs.

Pour in your reserved juice and rind.  Mix ’em.

Slowly add your dry ingredients, mixing the whole while.

Stir in 2 cups dried cranberries.

It won’t look like you’ve produced a lot of dough, but trust me, this will make you a whole whack of cookies.  And I MEAN a WHOLE WHACK.  Like 6 or 7 dozen maybe?Drop the sticky dough in heaping teaspoons (not tablespoons, mind you, these cookies are meant to be small) onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating your sheets halfway through, until lightly golden and firm on top.  Let the cookies sit on the sheets outside the oven for a little bit, then remove the crunchy wonders to a rack to cool completely.

If you end up having any left, you should store them in an airtight container so they don’t go stale.  I also froze some dough for later.  Because it’s so sticky, I couldn’t pre-form the cookies before freezing, so I will have to defrost the whole batch of dough before baking.  Alas.

Slow Cooker Glazed Carrots

Dinner parties like the feast at Thanksgiving are all about timing and having all your different dishes be ready at exactly the same time.  It’s nice to be able to make things ahead of time, or at least to be able to chuck some of those things into a slow cooker or crock pot and ignore them while you do other things.

This recipe is adapted from Phyllis Pellman Good’s post at Fabulous Foods and is really easy.

Turn your slow cooker to high and chuck in 2 pounds chopped carrots, 5 tablespoons brown sugar, 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Cover and cook for about three or four hours until the carrots are tender.

Put the carrots in a serving dish and keep them warm.  Take the cooking juices and bung them in a pot.  Bring it to a boil.Dissolve 2 tablespoons corn starch in 1/4 cup water and add that to the juices, boiling for another full minute until the glaze is thick.

Pour over top your carrots and serve.

Monolithic Date Squares

The Pie and I spent several long hot days in the kitchen, doing the prep-work for my brother’s wedding celebration.  One of the confections we produced were some rich, tall date squares.

Interesting fact for you: date squares are a Canadian invention.  I kid you not.  If you look up date squares in some of the older cookbooks you’ll find it under “matrimonial date squares”.  If anyone knows the reason for this, I’d love to hear it.

As a bit of a preparation for this, zest an orange.

While you’re at it get the juice from it as well.

And take 1/4 cup of hazelnuts and pulse them in a food processor until you have some lovely crumbs.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Now you start with the filling.

In a saucepan, stir together 2 cups water with 1 package (375g) pitted dates, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and the juice from your orange, about 4 tablespoons.  Let that stand for about 30 minutes.

Afterwards, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and boil gently, stirring often, until it’s thickened.  This will take about ten minutes.  And when it bubbles it will more resemble swamp goo than anything else.  Let it cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups rolled oats, 1 1/4 cups flour, and 1 cup packed brown sugar.

Cut in 1 cup cold cubed butter.  Keep going until the mixture is in coarse crumbs.

Press half (or slightly more than half) the oat mixture evenly into an 8-inch (2L) square pan lined with parchment paper.

Spread the mixture with your date goo.

Add the hazelnuts to your remaining oat mixture and toss well.

Pile the remaining mixture on top of the date goo and press it down lightly.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden brown on top, and let it cool before cutting into squares.

If you keep it covered it will last for weeks.  You can also freeze the squares before baking, wrapped in aluminum foil.

Made-Up Muffins

Yesterday I looked in my fridge and saw a little less than a cup of fruit sauce leftover from a waffle indulgence during Cait and iPM’s visit, a can of defrosted concentrated orange juice that I had never gotten around to making up, and about two cups of buttermilk, which was set to expire the following day.

Muffin time.

If I’ve learned anything from my baking idol Ovenhaven over at Epicurean Escapism, it’s that the key to baking a good muffin is not to overmix your ingredients.  This is why I now mix my muffins by hand, and not with a hand mixer or stand mixer.  From my own experience I’ve also learned that if you’re adding a lot of liquid, you need to compensate with extra dry ingredients.  So this particular recipe I had to do some thinking and some mental calculations first. 

The fruit sauce plus the concentrated orange juice came out to about two cups, so that meant I had to double the recipe.  In a weird way this meant that I came out with 36 regular sized muffins and another 12 mini-muffins.  So be it.

Anyway, here goes.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease your muffin tins or line them with paper cups.

In a large bowl, whisk together a little over 4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and a pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg.  The baking powder will counterbalance some of the acidity in the buttermilk.

In a smaller bowl, mix together 1 cup melted butter, 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 4 eggs, 2 cups buttermilk, and your 2 cups juice mixture.

This one is weirdly bubbly and gross, but smelled good.

Pour your wet ingredients over your dry ingredients and mix just until the dry ingredients are all moistened.  Don’t fret if you see one or two tiny spots of unmixed flour.  Err on the side of mixing it too little.  Mixing it too much will result in flat, tough muffins.  

You can see here how the chemistry is already beginning and the mixture is getting all bubbly.

Spoon into your pans so the cups are about 2/3 full and bake, rotating once halfway through, for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the muffin comes out clean.

I couldn’t wait for it to cool before trying one.  Totally worth a burnt tongue.

Serve right away or seal tightly in plastic bags and freeze for later.