Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My (Mis)adventures in lemon curd

I've not blogged for a long time. It seems that work, life, and sleep have been more important, with heavy emphasis on that last one. My workout schedule has been taking a toll, and of course I haven't been baking, because well I have a wicked sweet tooth and zero willpower. I can totally not buy them in the store,  but homemade fuggetaboutit.

Any-who, I have a loaded lemon tree and about six cups of juice already in my freezer. I feel bad about throwing them about being nature's abundance and all, soooo, when life gives you lemons you make lemon curd, except this was my first time and well I kind of goofed, but again instead of throwing it out, found ways to turn my imperfect lemon curd into some sunshiny lemon goodness.

The recipe I used was called "simple lemon curd." It wasn't a bad recipe but needed to be altered; it called for too much butter(I like my lemon curd tart and somewhat transluscent) and didn't call for eggs to be tempered before adding and needless to say I was straining scrambled egg bits out of my curd, ikkkhh. I won't post the recipe for those two reasons. You can only alter a recipe so much and then it's a different recipe.

So the first thing I made was a vanilla cake with lemon curd filing and lemon buttercream. Aside from the two pieces I sent home with my daughter, this is all that's left:

My husbands been loafing around the house with a triangle of cake for the last two days, no plate, no fork just the slice; I guess he liked it. 

Vanilla lemon curd cake:


  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2  cups milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 8 inch round pans or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

altered from here:http://allrecipes.com/recipe/simple-white-cake/detail.aspx

Fill cake with about 1/2 cup of lemon curd, homemade or store bought. Then ice cake with recipe below.

Basic Lemon Buttercream
Yield: Makes about 4 cups
12 ounces (3 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened
1 lb. Confectioners’ Sugar, sifted
1/2 cup lemon curd (homemade or from a jar)
½ tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar, ½ cup at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes. (After every 2 additions, increase speed to high, and beat for 10 seconds, then reduce speed to medium-high). Add vanilla and lemon curd. Beat until buttercream is smooth. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (Bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth before using.
I cut this recipe in half and I was shy about 1/2 cup, but didn't do a crumb coat.
original icing recipe: http://slowlikehoney.net/2011/07/12/lemon-layer-cake-with-lemon-curd-frosting/

And because I still had lemon curd left, I made these little thumbprint cookies.

Recipe: (I left the lemon curd intact, but not the recipe I used for curd.)

Spoon-dent cookies with lemon curd
from Donna Hay magazine

Lemon curd*:½ cup (120ml) lemon juice
zest of the juiced lemons
125g unsalted butter, chopped
1 cup (200g) sugar
3 eggs, beaten

Cookie dough:180g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups (280g) all purpose flour, sifted
½ teaspoon baking powder

Start with the curd: place the lemon juice, zest, butter, sugar and eggs in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan if rapidly simmering water. Cook, stirring continuously, for 20 minutes or until mixture has thickened slightly. Pass through a sieve into a glass/ceramic bowl and cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cool and thick.

Make the cookie dough: preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF; line two large baking sheets with baking paper.

Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Add the egg and beat well. Using a spatula, stir through the flour and baking powder to form a dough. Roll 2 teaspoons of the mixture into balls and place onto prepared sheets 5cm (2in) apart.
Press deep dents into the middle of the balls with the back of a small teaspoon, wetting the spoon if the dough starts to stick – I though it was easier to do that with my index fingertip.
Fill each of the indents with ½ teaspoon of the cooled lemon curd and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden.

* there was some curd left – I think that ¾ of the recipe should be enough to fill all the cookies

Makes 35 – I halved the recipe and still got 24

Original recipe found here:http://technicolorkitcheninenglish.blogspot.com/2009/05/spoon-dent-cookies-with-lemon-curd.html

I think I may make little lemon meringue tarts with the rest. Phew! I guess I made up for lost time, until later, toodles.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Here goes nothing. . . .

So I deleted my previous post because I'm very self conscious about what people think and I suppose I just got scared. But my sis-in law-(a shout out to Colleen) has lovingly convinced me to put it back up.

Ya'll know I pole dance, I don't strip, I don't do it publicly; it's just for me to enjoy the movement and strength of my own body. I took lessons on and off for a couple years and now I'm mostly you-tubing it and there are some amazing pole bloggers out there as well, who I've learned much from-- a shout out to Aerial Amy- a very articulate blogger and beautiful pole dancer--little known fact many pole dancers were yes perhaps strippers at one time and then there are those of us who are working professionals during the day and pole dance at night for fun. . . .yes, it's fun, well at least I think it is.

I'm not at the competitive level, nor will I ever be due to my age(most competitive pole dancers are half my age) and I do not have a gymnast, ballet background, so I have to continue to work on flexibility and strength. And I had to overcome my worst fear, which is falling on my face and only falling(yes I'm a pole casualty-you tube pole dancing accidents-they're pretty brutal and I have to admit, hilarious) and getting back up has kind of cured me of that.

So here are a few poses. These are the poses I can hold; I'm working on some new ones, but didn't think it would be very pretty to have the crash pad underneath the shot.  (you have to excuse my amateur photography: fairly new camera, new tripod, and new user combined with a garage in the background(trying to convince the husband to convert my office into another pole space-but we're not there yet) don't make for the best photos,) but oh well here goes nothing and my instructor would point out that yes my toes are not pointed enough, another nemesis of mine.

idk, it's a fun pose.





drama queen or I like to call it the pod

the lunchbox, idk why?
Be kind and respectful, please.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

why I pole dance. . . . .

When I tell people I pole dance it's usually met with a "Good for you," or  a groan of disapproval or consternation, and a few have even gone so far as to tell me if my career doesn't workout, I will always have a back up plan. Of course men's responses are quite the opposite,(I get a wink of approval) they think it's fabulous. . . . no explanation required. It really is too bad people cannot get beyond the stigma of the strip club and see the strength,  grace and flexibility pole dancing requires. Now, before you go and pass judgement, please realize I'm neither involved in anything illicit nor am I stripping, not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you.

my pole.

I started taking lessons on a whim(two years ago), but I have continued taking lessons and practicing because of the physical challenge pole offers. If anyone knows me or knew me a child; they know I was extremely cautious. Hanging upside down from the pole and performing various aerial moves has pretty much cured me of that. The pole does something for my body that running never could, like strengthen my core and my arms; I guess holding your body weight upside down  with your arms will do that. Pole dancing has beat my body up from head to toe: bruises, scratches, muscles and tendon pulls and some scars that may never heal, haha!  It's also allowed me to work on being more graceful and I have taken advantage of the ballet classes that are also offered at my pole studio. The bonus: It's  empowered me and challenged me to face my fears.

I have yet to master this move.

Aside from all that, I have met some some amazing women. My instructor is one of them.  Her strength and stamina is so inspirational to me. Pole dancers come from all walks of life and many have been strippers in past lives, yes, but just as many have professional careers and graduate degrees. I couldn't have asked to be part of a better community of women and this is why I have a love for the sport of pole and, yes it is a sport. . . .and if you're thinking then why do they wear so few clothes? Every point on a pole dancer's body is a point of skin contact, hence a place to hold onto the pole. Sweat pants could potentially cause a nasty spill on the head.
My lovely instuctor, Michula Nunez; I hope she doesn't mind.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Chain restaurants blow and here's why. . . . .

You may be able to tell from my  understated title that this just might be a rant, haha, well maybe, but it's also complimentary to a fabulous little mom and pop Italian joint we tried tonight that just refueled the fire on my position.
I won't deny that I am a food snob and I have eaten at my fair share of chain restaurants but I'm just really beginning to tire of the mediocre food and substandard service at the big box chains. The last time we went to a burger restaurant, the name to remain anonymous (hint, hint, their mascot wears a big red bird suit) we didn't get out at under $50 and the food was meh, yeah, just kind of blah. In this economy restauraunts really should start looking at how to serve local ingredients from sustained farming and maybe even step up their service. . . . after all that's often why clientele return to their favorite chain restaurant. With that said I have decided if we're going to eat decadently, it had better be damn good.

 With that in mind, we decided to go to a little local joint in Corona called NYPD-New York Pizza Dept. It had gotten rave reviews on yelp and the owner was a East coast transplant whose claim to fame is real NY style pizza, which I didn't try this time, and of course gives us reason to return. The only Italian we have in town is the generic chain and we've been looking for good Italian that doesn't require us to drive to L.A. or the O.C. The little restaurant is in an unassuming strip mall and looked to be nothing special on the outside and the inside was not very impressive either, just looked like a little urban cafe.
However, the food was made to order and we had to wait a little while but while we waited we ate these fabulous garlic knots topped with fresh chopped garlic, o...m.....g....

I ordered the creamy fettucine alfredo with tomatoes, broccoli, and pine nuts and Mike had the stromboli and the portions were so huge we could only mow through about half of our dinners, especially after we scarfed all those garlic knots. I rarely order alfredo, because hardly anyone (myself included) gets it right, either the sauce is too thin or it's lumpy, but this sauce was so smooth and velvety, the pasta just melted in my mouth. Besides, the amazingly good(and fattening) comfort food, the owner was sitting at one of the tables with some locals drinking a little vino and talking sports and a little smack. He was loud, but funny as hell and. . . . . we felt right at home.
 When we left we told him how much we enjoyed the food and that we would be back and he told us how much he appreciated that.
So if you're  ever in the area. . . . or just driving through it's definitely worth the detour.

Until next time Ciao Bella, muah!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I shall dream in chocolate tonight. . .

So I have been the negligent blogger because I mostly blog about baking and it's been in the triple digits here in Socal., so needless to say there's no baking going on in my kitchen, but there are other things happening, which I'm happy to report on.
Sometimes, I forget that it's my blog and I'll cry if I want to, cry if I want to. . . .but in all seriousness I need to get out of this singular mindset and make my blog more multi-dimensional. I really enjoy baking, but I like to read and take pictures too, (now that I have a snazzy new SLR) among other things.
As of late(ever since I read A Moveable Feast) I've been on this Expat kick, wishing I could just pick up and move to France for a year and immerse myself in the culture of alfresco cafes, lovely chocolats,  absinth and kir at night and the Louvre and the Musee d' Orsay somewheres in between. But alas it's not meant to be, but a girl can dream, can't she? Anyways, speaking of Expats I am now reading The Sweet Life in Paris , by David Leibowitz, a famous pastry chef come author who discusses what he learned from living as an American in Paris. Although he seems frustrated with the French in regards to certain cultural habits, he does an eloquent job of conveying the beauty of their love for food, particularly desserts and chocolate and the great chocolate to be had well only in France.
Anyone who knows me, knows I have such a sweet tooth and chocolate like coffee is the bane of my existence, so I decided life is too short to waste my hard earned dollar on cheap chocolate, so I am now on a mission to find not just a superior quality chocolate, but one that's the most pleasing to my own palate. So I ordered chocolate from several chocolate producers, four to be specific( because the experts say not to sample more than five at one time because it will overwhelm the palate.) I bought some Pellegrino to cleanse the palate in between tastings. Out of the four makers, two were my favorites for different reasons: The Amadei, Porcelana is made from the Criollo cacao and more rare than the other beans which I found to be more smooth, silky and delicate in flavor, although 70% cacao no bitterness to be found. The other, the Domori, Il Gianduja was creamy, milky almost genache-like and might I say addicting. I will be doing this again until I find my favourite and will post my findings until then. . . bientot!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pop goes the tart

I feel so bad that I've neglected to post any baking projects. . . . but alas there have not been many, for three reasons: A). I eat them all, which counteracts me trying to look svelte in  my bikini for Vegas and summer Barbeques and B). Summer School and C). I've been using my iphone to snap my food pics. and it's just not suitable for still life pics. I'm hoping to have a groovy SLR in a few weeks, then I'll be a photographing--baking fool;)

Nevertheless,   I bought a huge jar of nutella, not because I like to eat it by the spoonful, the way I eat creamy peanut butter, (absolutely no self-control), but because I found this awesome pop tart recipe that looked so fabulous, I just had to give it a whirl.
I got the recipe from here: http://bunsinmyoven.com/tag/breakfast/ And the only thing I altered was the baking time.

Homemade Nutella Pop-Tarts
For the dough:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons cold milk
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt for 10 to 15 seconds. Scatter the butter over the top. Mix on low speed for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or just until the flour is no longer bright white and holds together when you clump it. Lumps of butter the size of pecans should be visible throughout the dough.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and milk until blended. Add to the flour mixture all at once. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds or until the dough just barely comes together. It will be a shaggy mess.
Dump the dough onto an unfloured surface and gather it into a tight mound. Using your palm and starting on one side of the mound, smear the dough bit by bit, starting at the top and sliding your palm down the side and along the work surface. Do this once or twice on each part of the dough, moving through the mound until the whole mess has been smeared into a cohesive dough with streaks of butter throughout.
Gather up the dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and press down into a disc about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using. The dough will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge or 1 month in the freezer.
For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
For the Glaze:
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons water
Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.
To assemble the Pop-tarts:
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it in half. On a lightly floured surface roll the first half of the dough into a 28×11 inch rectangle. Using a paring knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into eight 3 1/2 x 5 1/2 inch rectangles (about the size of an index card). Brush four of the rectangles with the egg.
Spoon 2 tablespoons of the filling on top of each of the 4 egg washed dough rectangles. Top with the remaining 4 rectangles of dough. Use a fork to lightly press the edges together and seal them together. Place each Pop-tart on a parchment lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
Repeat the same process with the remaining half of the dough.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops of the pastries are golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.
Brush the tops with the glaze. Add sprinkles if you want to feel happyl. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the glaze to set before serving.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Makes 8 pop-tarts.

With the leftover dough I made Nutella pinwheels(4 of which I devoured after I glazed them); my grandma used to make these w/butter, cinnamon, and sugar.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Yes, I am a cupcake snob.

It's been almost a month since my last posts; as always life got in the way and things are winding down again, only to pick back up when summer school starts in a few days. Yes, I'm working summer school.  What was I thinking?! Doh!

Okay, but to the reason I'm posting today, I think I may very well be a cupcake snob and here's why.  I'm not proud to admit this, but  I've tried a variety of cupcake establishments starting with Magnolias,(which made cupcakes popular in New York) and Sprinkles-the chain that make cupcakes popular in Socal., Casey's-our local joint, Sweet Lady Janes-cupcakes is not neccessarily their specialty, and my all time fave-Crumbs-in L.A.( a must try-and they ship nationwide) and a few other places in the L.A. environs.

But, a new place just opened very conveniently located (just down the street) and had they been good, it would have been very bad for my waistline.  But, sadly they weren't. Now,  where do I begin? They did little advertising before they opened? I didn't know they were even open, Hello, Internet!!  They serve their cupcakes in plastic clamshells, GASP! They don't wear cute little outfits or uniforms, or are not unform in any way, period. Their cupcakes tasted like a box mix and the only two offerings of cake were choc. and yellow and the icing was, well, for a lack of a better term, runny. I really wanted to like them, but they pretty much missed the mark. Cupcakes are not a neccessity, they are a luxury bakery item( selling at $3-$4 a pop) and should be treated as such.

 My cupcake criterion: I want my cupcakes to taste delicious: for my foodie palate, be aesthetically pleasing: presentation, and packaged cute: again presentation. I want my cupcake servers to be professional, dressed uniformly, even if it's in a skirt with knee-highs and pink aprons: atmosphere,(See Casey's) and the whole experience to be, in a word:  heavenly=)  Am I asking too much?!