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.)
A classic American sandwich, with a twist: Kimchi Pimento Cheese Patty Melt. It’s a thin burger topped with caramelized onions, served on griddled rye bread slathered with spicy Kimchi Pimento Cheese. A happy, if messy, marriage between a burger and a buttery grilled cheese sandwich, this is the ultimate five-napkin dinner.
Even though I grew up in New York, I’d never had a patty melt until just a few years ago. The classic version (a thin ground beef patty topped with either Swiss or cheddar cheese and grilled onions on rye bread, pan fried in butter) was said to have originated in Southern California in the restaurant chain of William “Tiny” Naylor in the 1940s or 1950s. It’s become a staple of diners, bars and dives all over the U.S.
Basically a happy, messy mashup of a grilled onion-topped burger and a grilled cheese sandwich, as soon as we made our first batch of Kimchi Pimento Cheese, we knew what we wanted to do with it.
Pimento cheese doesn’t have to be eaten in a sandwich – and neither does it need to contain pimento. Say what?! Before you flay us alive for our heresy, let us hurriedly explain that we replaced the pickled pepper with fermented home-made kimchi. And we, frankly, think it’s even better.
Pimento cheese, the iconic spread of the American south, turns out not to be very southern at all – at least in terms of its origins. It’s so associated with the south that it’s hard to imagine the spread (a mix of cheddar cheese, cream cheese, mayonnaise and diced red pimentos) as coming from anywhere else, but our friends at Serious Eats did a little digging and discovered that pimento cheese actually got its start up north, in New York, as a way to market the burgeoning production of cream cheese.
In the 1870s, New York farmers started making a soft, unripened cheese, similar to Neufchâtel, that eventually evolved into cream cheese. Around the same time, Spain started exporting canned red peppers — or “pimiento” — to the United States. Eventually a combination of the cheese, peppers and mayonnaise became the spread we know today and like any good origin story, the lore soon outgrew its humble beginnings and pimento cheese became a staple of church picnics and neighborhood potlucks and fancy restaurants all over the southern U.S.
While most loved between two slices of bread, the cheese spread is versatile enough to lend itself to a variety of uses – as a dip, as a topping (think cheeseburgers, or our favorite, patty melts), and even as a stuffing for meats like chicken breasts, or pork chops.
Stinging nettles aren’t just for stumbling into with painful consequences. We’ll show you how to use the leaves safely to make a delicious and super healthy nettle risotto. Flavored with green garlic and Taleggio cheese, this is a knock-out Spring dinner. But don’t worry if you don’t have nettles and green garlic, you can make it with spinach and regular garlic too!
As a kid growing up in a vaguely-rural part of England, I quickly learned that if there was one plant that resisted your attempts to live peacefully with nature, it was the stinging nettle. Wherever it was most fun to run around in the woods, that’s where they lurked. If there was a perfectly tempting blackberry bramble by the side of the road, you could bet your last Rolo that there’d be a patch of nettles right in front of it. Children and nettles existed in a sort of uneasy symbiosis. We would fall into them, and they would sting us … actually, that’s not really a symbiosis, is it, it’s just how both nettles and children tend to work.
We were always encouraged to grasp the nettle! (meaning, just go for it, and it probably wouldn’t sting you, which was a lie). I wonder if many childhoods would have been changed for the better if we’d been encouraged to eat the nettle instead.
This Summer Berry Tart with Lemon Mascarpone Cream is supermodel gorgeous, rich and creamy, balanced by the bright citrusy flavor of lemon curd. And super-duper easy to make!
[We’ve been running around this week literally spinning plates and juggling knives, so here’s a repost from a few years back. It’s one of our absolute favorites from the blog, and is an absolute crowd-pleaser whenever we make it. It’s super-easy, and, other than the crust, doesn’t need baking. We just planted our own redcurrant bushes this year, so we’re hopeful that within a couple of seasons, we’ll have enough gorgeous berries to decorate a tart entirely from our garden.]
Besides being nerdy about movies, television and all things culinary, Matt and I both share a dorky fascination with etymology (the history of words).
I’ve written about my most hated words in a previous post (which had to be titled Asian Cabbage and Fennel Salad because Matt despises the word ‘slaw’). Now I thought we’d list some of our favorites (join us and write yours in the comments!).
Emily: Luminescent, gloaming, nixed, defenestration
Matt: Ramble, button, spandrel, pickle
“Great,” you mumble. “But can I have the recipe for that tart now?”