Lemon Curd Shortbread Tart.

Whenever I visit my cousins in Denver, we do A LOT of cooking and baking together. I’ve been here for 3 days and we’ve already made so many good things. I wish I had photographed our dinner a few nights ago, elote chicken salad, but I spaced. I did manage to write down the recipe, though, so it’ll make it up on the blog someday. This afternoon, we wanted something sweet and tart, and lemon curd came to mind right away. This recipe is a team effort between my cousin Summit and me; she made the shortbread crust and I made the curd. The curd is exactly what you’d expect: tart, sweet, deliciously lemony. And the crust was a nice surprise, a bit denser than we thought it would be but still a really nice shortbread (it was everyone’s favorite part!). A warning for those who try this recipe themselves: as soon as our tart came out of the fridge, a feeding frenzy ensued. Be prepared.

Lemon Curd Tart | KellyintheKitchen | Ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, ground almonds, flour, water, parchment paper

INGREDIENTS

for the curd:
1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsp) softened butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs, and 4 egg yolks
1 1/3 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice

for the tart shell:
1/2 cup finely ground almonds (or use almond flour)
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
8 tbsp cold butter
3-5 tbsp cold water

DIRECTIONS

Start with the curd. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. One at a time, add the eggs and then the yolks, stirring to incorporate between each addition. Once all the eggs are incorporated, stir another minute or two until creamy and smooth. Then, add the lemon juice and stir. Don’t freak if everything is separated and curdled-looking! You’re doing it right.

At this point, I started the tart shell. Stir together the ground almonds, flour, and sugar. Then, use a fork or pastry cutter to cut the butter into the dry ingredients, until the mixture resembles slightly clumpy sand. Add the water one tablespoon at a time–you want to use as little water as possible to hold the dough together. Once it holds without crumbling too much, transfer it to whatever you’re using to bake the tart. We used a cake pan lined with parchment paper, but this would be adorable in a traditional tart pan, too. Press the dough into the pan and then refrigerate for at least an hour.

While the tart shell refrigerates, cook the curd. Pour the lemony mixture into a saucepan and heat over low, stirring occasionally, until the curd is heated through and the mixture is uniform (i.e., no separation). Now, turn the heat up to medium and stir constantly for about 10 minutes, until the curd is thickened and beautifully glossy.

Lemon Curd Tart | KellyintheKitchen | Ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, ground almonds, flour, water, parchment paper

Turn off the heat and transfer the curd to a bowl. Press plastic wrap right onto the top of the curd (this prevents a gross skin from forming on top) and let it cool to room temperature. Then, move it to the fridge to cool all the way.

Back to the tart shell. When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 400 F and use a fork to poke a few holes in the base. Ideally, you’d set baking weights or dry beans inside the shell on a layer or parchment, to weight it down while it cooks and keep its nice shape, but we didn’t have this and obviously everyone survived. If you’re using weights, bake with weights for 8 minutes, remove the weights, and finish for about 10 minutes. If you’re going naked (without weights) like we did, just bake for about 15 or so minutes until the shell is set and browning. Let it cool.

Okay, the final step is assembly. Take your cooled tart shell and your beautiful cooled lemon curd. Pour the lemon curd into the shell. Smooth the top. And if you can bear to wait, it’s probably a good idea to refrigerate for another hour or so, now that everything’s assembled. But if you can’t wait to dig in, that’s okay, no one’s judging.

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Once it’s cooled and fully set, you’re good to go. I definitely recommend serving this with whipped cream or ice cream. Keep refrigerated so the curd holds together nicely. Yum. And thanks for being my co-baker, Summit!

Back from Scotland! and a Strawberry Custard Tart Recipe.

Hello again! I am safely returned from an amazing adventure in Scotland. Good whisky, otherworldly fish and chips, fun people, and gorgeous hills and sky everywhere you look—not to mention, my calves still burn with the effort (and satisfaction) of summiting Ben Nevis, the British Isles’ tallest mountain. Here are a few highlights of the trip (culinary and otherwise)…

First, some gorgeous sightseeing with my family, who hosted me for a night of authentic Scottish food and great fun!

Then in Edinburgh, my fabulous traveler friend Caroline and I met up. We had a very tasty breakfast and great cup of tea at an adorable cafe called Urban Angel (note the butter portion):

   

My first souvenir purchase was, of course, Nigella Lawson’s new book Nigellissima (which I love with every centilitre of blood in my body, despite the book’s use of the metric system).

We tried haggis

…and devoured it!

And we couldn’t say no to my favorite Irish late-night classic, garlic cheese chips:

One of my favorite parts of the trip was our visit to the battlefield at Culloden Moor near Inverness. Not only was it very moving and historically cool, but you could pretty much turn your camera in any random direction and still end up with a gorgeous photo:

Then in Fort William, we befriended an Aussie and a Kiwi, and together we climbed Ben Nevis in a rather impressive 6 hours flat! I’m pretty proud of us. Fans of The Simpsons will appreciate the similarities between Ben Nevis and Springfield’s Murderhorn (“yes, that’s it….just to the right of the one you’re looking at.”) Who needs PowerSauce Bars?

And another favorite moment was our glorious high tea at Stewart Victorian Tearooms in Glasgow. Mmmmm. Clotted cream.

It was a fantastic trip.

But my hands were itchin’ for the kitchen by the time I got home, and this was the first treat I prepared: my own birthday custard fruit tart. This tart is inspired by a custard from Laura Calder and a shell from Ina Garten, and it’s every bit as good as you’d expect a dessert from those two to be. It was super easy even though I did make the shell myself, but if you really want to streamline the whole process, you can buy a premade pie shell and simply cook the custard and top with berries. Creamy and light and a great alternative to birthday cake!

INGREDIENTS

for tart shell:
12 tbsp cold butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
water, if needed

for filling:
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
splash of vanilla
1 scant cup Greek yogurt
pinch of ground nutmeg
2 cups strawberries, sliced
lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

First, prepare the tart shell. In a food processor, pulse butter and sugar until just combined. Add the vanilla and pulse. Then combine the flour and salt in a bowl and add in two batches, pulsing until just combined. The dough should just hold together when pressed, so if it doesn’t at this point (mine didn’t), add a few drops of water and pulse until it reaches the right consistency. Turn the dough out onto wax paper and press into a disc. Wrap in paper and let it rest in the refrigerator at least half an hour.

Take the cold dough and carefully roll it out to to the size of your greased tart tin or pie dish. Press the dough into the dish and up the sides. Put it back into the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Take the tart shell out of the fridge and carefully lay a sheet of parchment paper over the dough. Fill the parchment-lined shell with dried beans, or fit another smaller pan into the shell. This will help it keep its shape while it bakes.

Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the beans or pan and use a spatula to touch up any thin or slipping parts of the shell base or sides. Prick a few times with a fork and place it back in the oven to cook another 13-17 minutes until golden brown.

Remove shell from heat and set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the custard. Whisk together eggs and sugar. Then add vanilla and yogurt and stir until smooth.

Pour the custard into the shell through a sieve so that it’s totally smooth. Sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg.

Bake 18-24 minutes, until set. Let cool completely.

When the tart is completely cooled, arrange the strawberry slices on top of the custard. Top with a squeeze of lemon juice and enjoy! Happy birthday to me.

Shepherd’s Pie.

It’s been a year and a half since I last went to Europe, and it is definitely time to go back—and for this trip, it’s Scotland that’s calling my name. The first time I visited Edinburgh and the Highlands, I spent just a short weekend there, while I was at college in Ireland. This time, I’ll have a good 8 days of listening to those dreamy Scots accents—and I don’t think I can survive the month I still have to wait! Ever since we booked out tickets, my travel buddy and I have been getting together to plan and just get excited about our trip, and this weekend, our afternoon took a culinary turn, in the form of this shepherd’s pie. That, plus two bottles of homemade mulled wine with brandy, a couple of Yorkshire puddings, and Braveheart. Anything worth doing is worth doing right.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 lb stew beef, cubed
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced into coins
1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp tomato paste
3/4 cup red wine (we used a cabernet sauvignon)
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1/4 tsp curry powder
3 medium potatoes, washed and cut into large cubes
whole milk
2 pats of butter
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Season the flour with salt and pepper and place in a bowl. Toss beef in the flour, shaking off the excess. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large pan and cook beef until just browned on all sides. I cooked the beef in two batches so as not to crowd the pan. Set the beef aside.

Add more oil to the pan and add the carrot and onion, with a sprinkle of salt. Cook until softened, then add the mushrooms and cook an additional 5-7 minutes. Add the beef back to the pan with the tomato paste, bay leaves, wine, stock, and curry powder. Stir well, bring to a boil, and then cover and turn down to a simmer. Cook until the beef is fall-apart tender, at least 2 hours.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a pot full of cold salted water. Bring to a low boil and cook until fork tender. Drain potatoes, then mash with milk and butter, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Mix in most of the shredded cheese and the parsley and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a casserole dish or pie pan. When the beef is cooked to your liking, remove the bay leaves and pour into the dish. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the top and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Place the dish on a tray, in case it bubbles over in the oven.

Bake until the cheese is melted and the potatoes start to brown a bit on top, about 25 minutes. Highly recommend serving as we did: with yorkshire pudding, mulled wine, and Braveheart. Aye, it’s quite a feast!

Vegetable Pot Pie.

Growing up, my family used to make chicken pot pie using the easy recipe on the back of the Bisquick box. But the dish we’d end up with always turned out flavorless and dough-heavy. This recipe is your cure for the common pot pie! And you won’t miss the chicken at all; it’s so robust and flavorful that even the manliest carnivore won’t miss the meat!

INGREDIENTS

crust: (if you don’t want to make one, buy a pre-made crust–just make sure you have both a top and a bottom layer)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup wheat flour
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 cup cold butter
1 cup milk
egg wash: 1 egg and a splash of water or milk

filling:
1 cup quinoa
1 cup water or broth (I use homemade chicken stock)
olive oil
1 cup red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/2  tsp cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup sweet potato, diced
1 cup spinach, julienned
1 cup frozen green peas
2 tbsp wheat flour
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp red wine
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup milk

DIRECTIONS

First, prepare the crust. Let the butter sit out while you mix the dry ingredients. Combine the flours, sugar, salt, pepper, and cumin with a fork. Then cut the butter into cubes and break it into the flour mixture, using a fork to combine. Chunks of butter are okay! They melt and make the crust flaky and good.

Slowly stir in the milk. You might not need it all–add just enough until the dough holds loosely together. Cut the dough in half, cover, and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

Cook the quinoa. Bring one cup quinoa and one cup liquid to a boil, then turn down to simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook onion, garlic, rosemary, paprika, salt, cumin, and pepper until onion starts to soften, about 3 minutes.

Add celery, carrot, and sweet potato and cook until veggies start to brown, about 8 minutes.

While the veggies cook, prepare the bottom layer of crust. On a floured surface, roll out half the dough until it’s slightly larger than the size of your pie pan. Drape the dough over the pan, and press it into the sides to fit. Trim the edges. Bake the crust for about 8 minutes and then remove from the oven.

Back to the vegetables. Stir in the flour to evenly coat the veggies. Cook out the raw flour taste, about 2 minutes.

Now add soy sauce, red wine, and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Cook for another minute before adding milk. Simmer until the milk becomes like a gravy or sauce, and remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked veggies, spinach, peas, and quinoa. Fill your pie crust.

Now prepare the top crust. On a floured surface, roll out the second half of the dough so that it will fit easily over your pie. Trim the edges and crimp the two layers of crust together using the prongs of a fork.

Make the egg wash by scrambling the egg and adding a splash or water or milk. Brush it over the crust, especially along the crimped edge.

Poke a few holes in the center with your fork and bake for 15 minutes. Brush with egg wash once more, and return to the oven for 10-15 more minutes, for a total bake time of 25-30 minutes. Let it cool a bit and enjoy!