Our citrus tree is bursting with Meyer lemons. Baby Bird, who is 14-months-old and walking, loved picking the lemons. Meyer lemons are sweet and juicy and made a great lemon curd.
I have been trying to feed us less refined sugar this year. I find that our taste buds are slowly adjusting. For example, my husband and I don’t sweeten our coffee anymore. Meyer lemons are naturally sweeter than a conventional lemon. This recipe came out delicious sweetened with just honey, and I used a fraction of the amount of sweeteners other curd recipes use.
Little Bird is 3-years-old now and is quite the pro in the kitchen. She loves cooking projects. She loves to taste all of the ingredients, but at one point I had to pull the honey away from her. I think she ate half the container. (So much for limiting our sugar!) The lemon curd was perfect over Papa Bird’s famous gluten-free blueberry pancakes. I also used it to make a quick lemon-meringue tart with a (gluten-free) cashew/almond crust. Since my curd uses only egg yolks, a meringue was a perfect way to use up all of the whites.
This version of a classic lemon curd uses honey to sweeten. I used grass-fed butter, but it could also be made with coconut oil for a vegan version. I recommend using organic citrus anytime you are using the zest or peel.
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from approx. 5-6 lemons)
1 cup lemon juice (the juice of approx. 5-6 lemons)
8 oz butter, room temperature
½ cup honey
8 egg yolks
Rinse the lemons and use a microplane to grate the zest of the lemons. Set aside.
Juice the lemons until you have about 1 cup of juice. Set aside.
Place water in a 2 quart saucepan on the stove and bring to a boil. Place a double boiler or bowl on top of it.
While the water is coming to a boil, place the butter in the bowl of a mixer. Beat until light and fluffy. Add the honey and beat well. Then add the egg yolks one at a time and mix in. Then slowly add in the lemon juice. It is okay if it is not totally smooth in the mixer, because the butter will melt in the next step.
Pour the mixture into the top of the double boiler or the bowl over the pot. Occasionally, stir gently with a heat proof spatula. Heat the mixture until it comes up to 170*F. At that point it should be smooth but not necessarily thick.
Pour into jars for canning, a crust for a meringue, or store in the fridge. Allow to cool completely. It will thicken as it cools.
Keeps in the fridge for 1 week and freezes well.
From this size recipe, I used two cups of the curd in a tart/lemon meringue pie and used the remaining 3 pints as curd. If you want a super smooth texture, strain the curd after taking it off the heat to remove the zest. I left it in and liked it.
Get all of the ingredients for this recipe ready ahead of time and then it will be easy to throw together. Just watch out for three-year-old honey swipers!
No fancy equipment is required, but a kitchen-aid mixer helps get a creamy texture and a microplane make zesting citrus much easier. A double-boiler let me not worry about scorching the bottom while it cooked and a thermometer let me know exactly when to take the curd off the heat.
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We finally have fall weather here in San Diego and I’m enjoying autumn vegetables. This side dish features butternut squash, chick peas and black rice, and is warm and cozy. The clementine vinaigrette gives it a sweet bite and pine nuts make it extra rich. I love the bright and warm combination of citrus and fennel. To me it tastes sunny and cozy and wintery all at once.
A fellow food blogger invited me to participate in a recipe challenge from Melissa’s. Melissa’s sent us a box of fresh and seasonal produce and we were challenged to come up with a recipe featuring at least 2 or 3 of the items, sort of like “Chopped.” (FCC Disclaimer: I received the box for free, but have not otherwise been compensated. Opinions and recipe development are entirely mine.) I immediately gravitated to a beautiful butternut squash, pine nuts and cranberries. Unfortunately, Little Bird also gravitated to the cranberries… and ate the entire bag in a few minutes.
I decided to add the garbanzo beans for extra protein. I usually cook with dried beans, and start from scratch, but the convenience of the vacuum sealed beans was nice and the taste was a step up from a can. Apart from throwing the rice in the rice cooker, the only “cooking” was chopping and roasting the squash. Little Bird enjoying shaking up the vinaigrette in a jar.
Eggplants are peaking right now, in our garden and in the markets, so I wanted to share a round up of quality eggplant recipes to inspire you! Here’s a tip for picking a great eggplant at the farmer’s market or store: find one that is relatively heavy for its size. It will have less seeds and more delicious flesh. Papa Bird (our family’s resident farmer) says homegrown eggplants are ready to pick when you push in with your thumb and it leaves an imprint. He recently put up a shade barrier to protect our growing eggplant from the strong San Diego sun. For more tips on cooking eggplant, check out this post.
EGGPLANT RECIPES FROM BABY BIRDS FARM
Some of my family’s favorite, “regular rotation” recipes highlight eggplant.
Baba Ganoush: a garlicky dip, similar to hummus, and delicious with veggies to dip. Makes great baby food, too!
Maria Nasir of foodaholic is a Pakistani home cook and caterer turned international food blogging star. She has lot’s of delicious eggplant recipes from around the world. But this kid-friendly appetizer caught my eye:
Eggplant Roll Ups: kid-friendly but with a delicious vinaigrette to please picky foodie parents.
Another international blogger I follow, Azlin Bloor of Lin’s food, recently shared the above treat featuring aubergine (eggplant with a British accent):
Summer in San Diego means the Del Mar Racetrack is open and an abundance of mint in our garden. Both were the inspiration for “mint julep” kale krunchies, our latest variation on kale chips. Using the same technique and creamy cashew base as my Cilantro Lime Kale Chips, these kale crunchies are flavored with the summer drink ingredients. Yes, even a splash of bourbon.
Mint Julep Kale Chips Recipe
1 head of kale
3/4 cups of raw cashews, soaked in water for at least one hour, then drained
handful of fresh mint, washed
1-2 tablespoons of agave or coconut nectar
1 teaspoon of bourbon (optional but fun)
1/2 teaspoon of salt, or to taste
a little water, if needed, to process in the blender
1. Wash the kale in cold water. Holding the end of the stem in one hand, firmly and quickly slide your other hand down the center rib. The leaves should tear off of the rib in one move. Dry the kale very well and rip any large pieces into smaller bits.
Or – Purchase a bag of kale pre-washed and cut. Just make sure to remove the thick center ribs as they do not dehydrate well. (Little Bird likes to help rip and sort the kale.)
2. Blend the rest of the ingredients in a small food processor, like a Magic Bullet, or blender. If the blender struggles, add a little water, a tablespoon at a time, until it blends well. Blend at highest speed until smooth, scraping down the sides at least once. Keep in mind the more water you add, the longer the chips will take to dry out in the oven.
3. Preheat oven to 200° F. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, massage the “sauce” into the kale. Then spread it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake for 45 minutes or so, checking and gently stirring the kale occasionally, until it is dried but not overly toasted.
Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls, or gỏi cuốn, are also called salad rolls or summer rolls. They are light and refreshing, and much healthier than fried spring rolls. Over ten years ago my friend, Quentin, invited me over to dinner at his mother’s house. She is originally from Vietnam* and put out a spread of delicious ingredients for us to roll our own fresh spring rolls. I’ve never forgotten it. (*Similar to how I’ve learned a lot of Mexican sweets living in San Diego, we also benefit from a large Vietnamese population here.)
You can’t get more straightforward instructions than the back of the packaging!
Here are my suggested fillings, feel free to only use what you like and to get creative:
Grilled Shrimp, Leftover Chicken, Steak or Tofu
Fresh Herbs including Thai Basil, Mint, Cilantro , Scallions and Lemon Basil (use a LOT of herbs)
Cooked Rice Vermicelli or Raw Zucchini Noodles
Bean and Pea Sprouts and other raw veggies
Dipping Sauces for Salad Rolls:
The most common is a peanut sauce, easy recipe follows.
Another traditional is called nước mắm pha, which is a clear, sweet and sour with a little fish sauce. A girl I once worked with gave me her mom’s recipe, I’ll have to hunt around and see if I still have it.
That’s it! Warm in a sauce pan over low heat to mix easier. You can add a little water to thin, if needed.
True story: When I first made these rolls at home, I went to a Vietnamese market in search of peanut dipping sauce. I asked the young man stocking where it was. He didn’t think they had it and asked his grandmother. She laughed and (with her grandson translating) explained they always made it. She swore all you needed was these two ingredients. I usually can’t restrain myself from throwing in a little sriracha and nước mắm, but try it as is!
The best prices are in Asian markets. These ingredients are pretty common, so you can usually find them on the “ethnic” aisle of big grocery stores. If you can’t find them easily, I’ve included some affiliate links to Amazon. Have fun and let me know if you have any questions!
Hi! I started Baby Birds Farm after the birth of my first daughter. I started sharing seasonal recipes featuring produce from our garden, eggs from our chicken, and homemade cheeses from our goat milk co-op. Fast forward a few years, another daughter, another business, and now we are just surviving and enjoying our busy life and food as much as we can. Join our journey of good food, farm-to-table restaurants in San Diego and healthy living!
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Abigail Burd, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Psychotherapist, provides women's mental health in San Diego, CA. Specialities include managing anxiety and depression during pregnancy, postpartum and parenting. Learn more about my practice, Burd Psychotherapy, in Clairemont (San Diego) at www.burdtherapy.com.