Strawberry Lemon Curd

Strawberry Lemon Curd: A balanced spread, not too sweet, not too tart, that lets all the fruit shine through. 

Getting a reputation can be a mixed blessing. I once revealed to the cook in our local deli that we own chickens, and from that day on, whenever I walk through the door, she yells “Hey, chicken man!”. Over the years, we’ve made several friends in Beacon through introductions to our lemon curd. We’ll meet a new person, tell them about Nerds with Knives, and then their eyes will light up and they’ll exclaim “I made the lemon curd! It was so lemony!” It’s very flattering, but it does mean we feel that we have to keep ahead of expectations. After all, we can’t coast on lemon curd forever. So it’s a good thing that we have a glut of garden and local farm strawberries, because that means we can make Strawberry Lemon Curd! (It’s like normal lemon curd. But with strawberries.)

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Arepas with Pulled BBQ Chicken, Cheddar, Pickled Onions and Avocado

Arepas with Pulled BBQ Chicken, Cheddar, Pickled Onions and AvocadoCrispy on the outside, pillowy and creamy in the middle, Arepas make the best sandwich ever, with easy BBQ Chicken, shredded Cheddar cheese, pickled Red Onions and Avocado. 

In 1994, I had just graduated college and was living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. During the day I worked my first job in the film industry. I was interning in the editing room of a film called Surviving the Game (starring Rutger Hauer, F. Murray Abraham, Gary Busey and Ice T. Yes, you read that list correctly.) At night and on the weekends, when I wasn’t bartending, I was attempting to make a living as a custom hand-bound book artist. This is the long way of saying I was ridiculously flat-out broke.

My friend, Adriana

My partner in book-binding, loft-living and cooking on a budget was my best friend from college, a beautiful and talented artist from Colombia named Adriana, who sadly passed away in 2004. She and I spent countless hours in her loft (a former fish-canning factory which, worryingly, always smelled a little like anchovies when it rained). We laughed at a million stupid jokes, bound hundreds of books, and watched many episodes of the X-Files. We also ate a gazillion Colombian-style arepas, slathered with butter and salt (or sharp cheese and guava paste, Adriana’s favorite).

Not to get too emo on you but looking back, I realize what a formative and precious time those years were. It taught me that I can make anything, including furniture. I learned that film editing is basically magic. And most importantly, I learned that when you cook with people, what you learn from them stays with you forever, so they’re with you forever.

Whenever I miss her I make arepas. I make arepas often.

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Croque Madame (Le Creuset Style)

Two croquet madames in a frying pan

The croque madame is a quintessential dish in the French culinary canon. Essentially a ham and cheese sandwich, this beauty is elevated by two generous layers of creamy béchamel, broiled until bubbly and golden, and topped with a perfectly fried egg. With a little help from our friends at Le Creuset, we’ve used both their new recipe book and their bakeware to put together a perfect brunch dish.

We’ve mentioned before in the blog that there are certain kitchen items that we can’t do without. We just can’t, we’d be lost and flailing. A microplane for fine grating, a silicone spatula for mixing cake batter: these critical objects are non-negotiable. Another, of course, is a good, heavy, enameled cast iron skillet. You can pre-heat it on the stove to get it to a high temperature for quick cooking, you can transfer it to an oven or broiler for a finishing step, and if you take care of it, it will last forever. Also, if you choose well, it can be beautiful enough to be the centerpiece on your table.

We’re always keen to find new ways of using our pan, and when Le Creuset asked us to make a recipe from their new cookbook (which you can buy from their site through the link) our decision wasn’t hard: we wanted to make our favorite Parisian lunch, croque madame.

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Blueberry-Lemon Curd Tartlets with Almond Crust

Blueberry-Lemon Curd Tartlets with Almond Crust

The perfect use for our gorgeous pink blueberry lemon curd, these pastry tartlets are flavored and decorated with almonds. Each tartlet is a miniature delight, yet sufficient to share with a loved one (or keep to yourself, of course, you gannet).

When we saw how striking our blueberry lemon curd turned out, we knew it wouldn’t be enough simply to slather it on some toast (as delicious as that might be). Something that gorgeous and cheeky deserved to be showcased – and this was our solution: adorable little blueberry lemon curd tartlets. A shortcrust base generously flavored with ground almonds and a little fresh rosemary, pre-baked, cooled, and filled with the curd, which we decorated wth more ground and sliced almonds, some fresh blueberries and a few flowering mint sprigs.

Blueberry-Lemon Curd Tartlets with Almond Crust

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Cheesy Zucchini and Corn Fritters with Herb Sour Cream

Zucchini and Corn Fritters

If you grow your own summer squash, or belong to a CSA, the weekly glut of produce can be overwhelming. Our solution? Shred it, squeeze it, mix into a cheesy batter and fritter it away. Literally. 

If you grow your own summer squash, zucchini can sometimes feel like a plot device in a horror sci-fi movie. At the beginning of the season, you carefully harvest the first zucchini, cradle it like an infant and rest it with pride on the cutting board. The next day, you have two more, and with the proud thrill of the backyard farmer, you slice and grill your summer bounty. The next day you have two more, and two more the following day. By the end of the first week of peak zucchini, you’re nervously eyeing the stack of squash that has built up on the kitchen counter, wondering how many more friends you can gift your harvest to before even they stop answering the door.

And woe betide you if you skip checking for a few days – when you return to the garden and lift up the lowest squash leaf, you’ll inevitably find one monster marrow lurking like a squat green fiend.

Note: We originally blogged zucchini fritters back in 2013, when we were all a little more fresher of face and bouncier of step. We make these fritters all the time in the summer, and we’ve adapted the recipe by adding fresh corn and cheese, so we’ve been meaning to re-blog this recipe ever since. So finally, here is the updated article.

This recipe is part of our ongoing series with Serious Eats

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Extra Crispy Chilaquiles with Salsa Verde, Chorizo and Egg

Extra Crispy Salsa Verde Chilaquiles with Chorizo and Egg

Tortilla chips don’t get no respect. Most often bought in bag form and dipped into hot cheese, their potential to form part of a tasty meal is overlooked. Combine home-made chips, salsa verde, spicy chorizo and eggs, serve up with fresh radishes and vinegary pickled onions, and you have yourself a chilaquiles dish that’ll make you think twice the next time you’re tempted in the snack aisle.

Note: This recipe is part of our ongoing series with Serious Eats

We’ve been fascinated with tomatillos ever since we first grew them in our deck herb garden a few years back. We bought two seedlings from a farm sale, and watched them grow and develop their papery husks, like hanging lanterns, eventually to get filled out by the fruit within them. Unfortunately, one plant was unceremoniously trampled by a backyard chicken, so we didn’t get quite the yield we would have liked – but fortunately, pollination had already taken place (tomatillos, unlike tomato plants, cannot self-pollinate, so you’ll need more than one to grow fruit). We had enough to make ourselves a really tasty salsa verde – the green cousin of a tomato salsa. Tomatillos share the same growing season as tomatoes, so at the beginning of summer we’re still too early for local varieties, let alone in our backyard, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find them at the grocery store. 

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde
Tomatillos remain geen, even when ripe

Salsa verde is packed with tomatillos, chilis, and love-it-or-hate-it cilantro (guess which way we go?), and you can add as little or as much heat as you like by varying the variety and amount of hot chili peppers. We usually opt for jalapeños, but if you want a little more fire you can look for serrano peppers. This time, we decided to use the sauce, not as a dip, but as a base for chilaquiles – a Mexican dish combining freshly-made tortilla chips with salsa and toppings – kind of like nachos, but saucier and paired with eggs.

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