Salt Cured Eggs

I feel like I’ll be a broken record on my blog this year saying the phrase: “Because of the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge, I decided to make [fill in the blank here]” over and over again, but so be it! I’m so enjoying being part of the FIJ challenge and I’ve already made several food items because of it that I wouldn’t have attempted otherwise. Who would have thought three years ago when I retired this blog that I would revive it again and basically only write about food for a while! But it’s been great.

Back to the catch phrase above…this time around (because of the Challenge) I decided to make salt cured eggs. This is a thing that I didn’t know was a thing until the challenge. But February was salt preserving month and alongside the Salt Preserved Lemons that I jarred, I decided to do some salt cured eggs as well. I don’t know what it was about them that appealed to me, maybe it was their golden colour and the fact that I knew they were going to harden and become grate-able after drying in the fridge. That seemed yum and I decided to take on the challenge.

First things first: I had to get some eggs. But I didn’t want to use just any old eggs from the grocery store. I wanted home grown eggs and the biggest eggs that I could find. Well, scratch that, I could have gone for goose eggs and I didn’t do that. What I did source out were duck eggs, available from my friends at Cast Iron Farm in Sooke. I got six of the beauties and, while not enormous, were big enough to be bigger than large size chicken eggs that I usually buy at the store:

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Cracking into those duck eggs was a challenge, I’ll tell you! The membrane in duck eggs seems to be a lot thicker than chicken eggs and so it was a tricky exercise to get the yolks out of the shells in one piece, gently!

I laid the yolks out on a bed of salt, following the recipe on the hunter-angler-gardener-cook website. (I mean doesn’t the photo of the cured egg at the top of that post make you want to make them? It reminds me of old cheese wheels.)IMG_1861

I covered them with salt and let them rest in the fridge for the required time. When I took them out it was like hunting for small nuggets of gold – and they were easy to find as the salt had hardened around them. I brushed the salt off each one as best I could, considering they were fairly tacky to the touch and quite a bit of salt stuck behind on each one.

The next step involved wrapping them in cheesecloth, trying to get them all individually cosseted in cloth, and hanging them in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

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Now this is where I’d do something differently in the future because not only were they a pain to wrap, I didn’t wrap them well enough (with enough cheesecloth layers in between, or hang them all individually – yeah right) and a few of them stuck to each other during this stage. After two weeks in the fridge like this (note: they weren’t drippy so the bowl turned out to be totally unnecessary) I had to pry some of them apart and some are still tacky to the touch. However…

Some are totally grate-able! I grated part of one over a recipe of sausage, turkey, orzo and rice and it was totally delicious. Salty yes, but it added a zippy flavour, making the dish sing. Here you can see the grated egg on the meal and the eggs themselves in the container behind:IMG_2030

I do have one more thing to do on this little project, due to some of the eggs still being tacky as I mentioned. I read in the FIJ Facebook group that some people didn’t hang their eggs to dry in the fridge, but dried them in the oven (or a dehydrator) instead. Not having a dehydrator I think I might try the oven step to finish off the last tacky eggs that still need to harden up. Then I can return them all to the fridge to store them for (apparently) quite a long time, grating them here and there to add some deliciousness to appropriate meals.

Will I make them again? Probably not. Although apparently delicious, I think they’re just too, too fussy for a regular recurrence on my making schedule. But it was fun to try them this time and do something totally different.

Lemon and Lime Curd Tarts

A few months ago we were preparing to have people over and I was looking for a simple dessert to serve. I stumbled across Jamie Oliver’s Rainbow Jam Tarts and absolutely loved working with the sweet dough of the recipe; it is probably the easiest dough I’ve ever rolled out in my life! I think at the time I offered plum, strawberry and some other jam-type middles – these miniature tarts were all a hit with the visiting friends.

Fast forward to 2017 and all my intersections with various citrus fruits via marmalade-making and otherwise. I had seen the Meyer Lemon Curd recipe in the Food in Jars book and had been mentally comparing it to the lemon curd that I’ve already made for years; Marisa’s version looked a lot creamier and I was intrigued. But rather than making another Lemon Curd (I already had made my “go to” recipe from Cooking Light around this time), I thought I’d try her Zesty Lime Curd recipe (Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round Cookbook, pp. 91-92.)

The lemon curd tarts are the glassier looking ones.

The Zesty Lime Curd turned out great and it is indeed sweeter and creamier. However, it’s also a lot more finicky due to the straining of the zest so I’m not sure how often I’ll rush to make this one. It made three 250-ml jars of lime curd and I popped them in the freezer to wait for my parents to arrive for a visit. I had this idea that I could make the jam tarts base and put lemon or lime curd in them instead of jam, and serve them to my citrus-loving father while he was here.

So that’s what I did. I made the Jamie Oliver tart base and pulled a lime curd jar out of the freezer to plop in lime curd in half the shells. I made another Cooking Light lemon curd recipe and put that in the other half of the shells. I think the favourite of my family was the lemon curd over lime (although I think my dad found its “light” version a little tart; maybe I’ll make Marisa’s Meyer Lemon Curd recipe for him next time). I myself had no trouble eating both indiscriminately!

Back to the tart base recipe, yes it does make about 32-36 of them (the recipe says 30) but I’ve found that baking 24 (because that’s the size tart tin that I have) and freezing the remainder as a ball in the freezer for a couple of weeks before I bake the last dozen of or so works just fine. A tip around rolling them out – don’t be afraid to make them too thick. For ones that I rolled a little thinner, they somewhat broke on the bottom later when I was lifting them out of the tart pan. (It was totally legitimate as the baker to eat those!) The half inch thickness that Jamie Oliver recommends is about right.

The neat thing about these curd tarts is that you really only want just one or two, that’s enough. If you got carried away and ate a few, I think you’d pay for it later in terms of fullness or at the very least would need a ton of water to wash the sweet taste away! An easy and impressive dessert, and one that you could make ahead of time and freeze quite easily and pull out when you need it.

Meyer Lemon Tangelo Grapefruit Marmalade

When Alex wrote about her Meyer Lemon Grapefruit Marmalade on the Food in Jars website in January I feel in serious like with the tangerine colour of the jarred marmalade and knew I had to make that recipe.

I had already made one batch of the Cara Cara Orange and Vanilla Marmalade in January myself but had been reading so much in the Food in Jars Facebook community about every other marmalade under the sun that other people were making (remember, the people in this group come from various parts of the world, places where citrus fruit is growing on their trees right now) that I just wanted to try some other flavours. Enter meyer lemon and grapefruit and then, because I ended up not having enough lemons (one was rotten and I didn’t notice until after I got home from the store), I substituted in a tangelo that I already had in the fridge.

In the end, this recipe was finicky and I’ll say right up front that I probably won’t make it again. It tastes OK but it’s really not absolutely delicious like the Cara Cara Orange and Vanilla Marmalade recipe – which I really love and has probably ruined me for all other marmalades from this point forward. And the prep work on this one was onerous: first I had to take all the rind off all the fruits and cut it into thin strips, then supreme the fruit, then bundle all the membrane and seeds up in a cheesecloth sack and boil them with the marmalade. It just took longer than the other recipe because of all the various steps, whereas the other recipe allowed me to use the entire fruit: rind, pith and all.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat my Meyer Lemon Tangelo Grapefruit Marmalade and I’ll enjoy it because I made it with my own two little hands! It will be delicious on a toasted bagel and I’m sure other ways. But my heart has been stolen by the mushy combination of Cara Cara oranges, lemons and real vanilla bean…so much so that I’ve already made another batch of that first recipe to tide me over until next January!

Salt Preserved Lemons

I’ve already mentioned that I’m doing the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge this year, and this month is focused on salt preserving. I have a couple of projects on the go and one of them is salt preserved lemons.

I can’t say that before this challenge I’d ever heard of salt preserved lemons before but apparently they are quite big in Moroccan cuisine.

img_1856I used this recipe from Serious Eats and it was very easy to  make. I used organic regular lemons and they were super juicy. I didn’t need to top up the lemons in the jar with any additional liquid as I’ve read is sometimes common to need to do. The recipe says that it takes 15 minutes to make these lemons and that is pretty much accurate. The worst part was the “ouch” that the salt and lemons gave to my hand that is healing from eczema right now, but under normal circumstances pressing the salty lemons into the jar wouldn’t have been a big deal. It was actually kind of fun to squish them all in there and see how many I could get in. I think in the end I was able to press 6 1/2 lemons in this 1 quart jar.

I will say that the mention in the directions that “the next day, lemons will have released a lot of liquid” wasn’t quite true in my case, so maybe my tossing the night before wasn’t really as vigorous as it should have been, but it didn’t seem to matter. When pressed into the jar they released a lot of liquid, it was just fine. There was enough to cover the lemons, which is necessary to do.

Also contrary to the recipe, I let the jar sit out on the counter for a week before I put them in the fridge. I’ve been reading posts in the Food in Jars Facebook community and other recipes seemed to include this “out of fridge” curing step, so that’s what I did. Apparently the more you leave them out of the fridge the more they have a bit of a funky flavour to them. I did have to shake them up a bit a few times over the week to distribute the salt so it didn’t all settle in the bottom of the jar.

It’s probably time to taste them and see what they’re like – I’ll report back when I have used them in a new-found recipe!

Chili Salt

I bought myself the preserving book Batch, written by the (Canadian!) folks at Well Preserved, and have been enjoying going through all the great information it has within. There are so many quick recipes for things that you can make with bits and pieces of food you have left over in your kitchen. One of those things is chili salt.

For a couple of months I’ve had some bird’s eye peppers in the freezer after needing 2-3 of them for some recipe I made and having been “forced” to buy a whole pack of them at the grocery store. What am I going to do with 14 chili peppers? I thought to myself at the time, and so I put them in the freezer to give myself time to figure it out later.

When I read the oh-so-simple recipe for chili salt in Batch, my mind went immediately to my freezer-living chilis. And so that’s what I did, I chopped up all my frozen chilis and made a batch of chili salt in a matter of minutes. So easy. If you can chop up stuff (a food processor makes the job faster and easier), mix things together, and then shake your jar every so often, you can make this salt.

You’ll find the recipe here on Well Preserved’s website and here are some photos so you can see the super easy steps:

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Note that I added an extra step recently from what the recipe says, namely to roast the salt in the oven for an hour (check three times) at 150 degrees. This is because the chopped up chilis still seemed kind of damp after about 3-4 weeks in the jar in the cupboard, so I wanted to dry them out a bit. I also added more salt before I did this, because it seemed pretty “chili-y”.

I haven’t tried my salt yet but I did give some away to a friend. It made quite a bit (and it’s pretty hot!) so I still have a cup left. I think roasted potatoes are in my near future, hot in more ways than one…

Lemon Curd

Many years ago I learned about Cooking Light magazine and started making recipes that they featured. I had a couple of their compendium-type cookbooks for years, I only got rid of them in a recent move when I was downsizing some of my cookbooks. Since all of their recipes are available free on their website it seemed unnecessary to keep old cookbooks from 15 years ago. It’s funny to think back on this, but I remember being thrilled at that time that I could type in ingredients into Cooking Light’s website recipe finder and recipes featuring that ingredient would pop up. Amazing! They certainly seemed ahead of their time then.

Cooking Light is still one of my “go to” sources of recipes that aren’t too fatty or calorie-ridden but now I mostly do my searching of their site through my Paprika app on my iPhone, so I can save recipes right into my app for later.

A recipe that I started making a long time ago is this lemon curd. Truthfully, I don’t make it often, and it’s been years since I have made it, but I decided to pull it up the other day. January was all about thinking about citrus due to the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge feature on marmalade, and talk of curd came up. It reminded me to search out this old recipe and revive it in our household.

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The recipe is very easy to make, no double boiler necessary (unlike a recent lime curd that I made, which I’ll tell you about later) and it’s literally a ten minute job. To use the curd, in the past I’ve made a nice tart-like crust, poured the curd in and put blueberries on top. A great dessert for really not much effort.

This is how much the recipe made, about 1 1/3 cups.

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This time I used regular lemons for my curd but I still have on my to do list to make a version with Meyer Lemons. Marisa from Food in Jars has a recipe in her cookbook for one, and so I might do a taste test to see which one I like better. Hers looks creamier and definitely not a “light” version so I’m curious.

Oh, I should tell you that this lemon curd comes with a warning: it won’t last long after you realize how delicious it is by the spoonful. I had grand intentions to make jam tarts with the curd this time but it didn’t make it!  My daughter, who had never had curd before, took one taste and loved it. At one point she went looking in the fridge for it and…it wasn’t there. “Mommmyyy!” was the pained cry. I might have had something to do with that. 🙂

Caramelized Balsamic Cipollini Onions

I was getting some fruits and veggies at one of my favourite Victoria food stores the other day and ended up bringing home an unexpected addition. If you haven’t been there, the Root Cellar on McKenzie has an amazing array of produce, and I always end up coming out of there with at least a full bag-full, even though I only went in for one thing!

When I was looking for Meyer lemons for the marmalade earlier this month I knew I could get them at the Root Cellar. And I have a kimchi recipe that I’m planning that calls for Asian pears, and I saw them there too. I forget what I was heading in there for this time but just happened to be in the neighbourhood and used the opportunity to go in.

I wasn’t planning on buying cipollini onions but I saw them there last time I went and this time noticed them again. I was at the Granville Island market last year in Vancouver and saw the cipollini onions bathing in balsamic at one of the vendors, and I’m not sure I even knew what they were at the time. I saw them again recently at the new Whole Foods in Victoria and just had to try them. They were amazing! Why buy them though, when I figured I could probably very easily make my own?

img_1849I used this recipe from Snapguide and it was really helpful. Loved all the explanatory photos and it was easy to follow from my iPhone in the kitchen. I won’t go through all the steps again here, you can see for yourself over on that recipe, but it was very easy to make and they tasted delicious. They were softer than they were when I bought them from Whole Foods, but probably because they were warm. I varied from the recipe with the chicken broth because I just had 1 1/4 cup leftover from something else I had made, not the 3 cups the recipe called for, but this was just fine. (I actually don’t think that all that liquid could have boiled down in the 1 1/2 hours it said, as I cooked mine on the stove for almost that amount of time and it seemed just right.)

Here’s what they looked like in the end:

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We had them as a side dish to some stuffed pork roast that my husband had won in a local meat draw. (I know – a meat draw! We definitely live in a small town now.) Now they’re living in the fridge for a bit until we eat them again. Not sure how long they’ll last (if you know, please tell me) but I’m going to guess just a week or two.

Who would have thought that this girl that hated onions growing up (I used to take the onion out of onion rings and eat the fried batter only) would make onions as a complete side dish one day!