Lemon Curd Ice Cream

Open my freezer these days and, along with the usual suspects, you will find the cannister for my ice cream maker. And if you're lucky, a partial tub or two of homemade ice cream might be stashed there, too. When we decided to include ice creams in the cookbook, it was essential that we have an ice cream maker to test recipes with. I happily volunteered to purchase the Donvier ice cream maker, in the interest of research, of course....

Many people have ice cream makers, but often the machines are tucked away in the basement, essentially forgotten. Just pull it out of it's hiding spot today. If it's handy, you can have homemade ice cream in just about the same time it will take you to run out to the grocery store.

Lemon Curd Ice Cream

We took a litre of this ice cream, along with a wild blueberry pie, to our friend's house for dinner not long ago. Brenda called a few days later and said that she had served the remaining ice cream to a group of mothers. One of the women commented, "If that ice cream was in my freezer, I wouldn't have shared it!" Makes about 4 cups.

1 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 egg yolks
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups whipping cream

Prepare an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.
Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a low simmer.
Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl. Add a tablespoon or two of the hot lemon juice to the egg yolks and quickly whisk together. Repeat this step two more times before adding the egg yolks into the saucepan with the lemon juice.
Stir continuously until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the the pan from the heat. Add the butter and stir until dissolved. Strain the lemon curd through a fine sieve. Chill the mixture thoroughly before proceeding with the recipe.
Blend the whipping cream and lemon curd together. Freeze the mixture according to the manufacturer's directions.
Store in the freezer. Allow to thaw slightly before serving.


Progressive Dinners

When I started telling people that we were going to be part of a progressive dinner, I was surprised that many people had no idea what I was talking about. Of the people who did know about progressive dinners, most hadn't thought of them in years.

The progressive dinners that I remember from my childhood were casual affairs, which took place on the beach where we grew up. It was an "adults only" event. In a small, enthusiastic, and progressively rowdy herd, the participants would walk from house to house according to the meal schedule. These memories started me wondering why I don't hear of progressive dinners anymore? Perhaps, we don't feel comfortable enough with our neighbours to initiate the idea or, quite often, our closest friends and family don't live in the same town. Regardless of the reason, logistics seem to be the main barrier.

We were intrigued to find out that our church holds an annual progressive dinner, and we decided to join the fun. Alan & I signed up to host an appetizer course. Three couples showed up at our door at 5 o'clock sharp. I served a warm spinach & cheese appetizer (see The Good Egg, June '09), smoked trout dip (see The Good Egg, Dec. '07), a white bean, roasted red pepper and feta cheese spread, crostini, and crudite. Everyone enjoyed the food and each others company until about 6 o'clock, at which point this progressive dinner took an interesting twist. We said our goodbyes and Alan & I went on to the next course at an unknown address (we had no idea who our next hosts would be). We were greeted by three new couples and enjoyed pumpkin soup and pizza soup amidst good conversation and wine. After an hour, we were on to our next destination, greeted once again by new hosts and two more couples. This was the main course and we were served stuffed pork roast, mashed potato & sweet potato casserole, and vegetables in a cheese sauce.
The last stop on the progressive dinner was back at the church with everyone for a dessert buffet and coffee. With the lights low and candles lit, this was the perfect way to end what had been a thoroughly enjoyable evening. The point of the evening was to get to know people and it was certainly a success.

Accommodating a large amount of people in a progressive dinner is a substantial undertaking. However, you can keep things on a much smaller and simpler scale. Why not plan a progressive dinner of your own with your friends, co-workers, or neighbours? Get the food cooking, the wine flowing, and let the socializing begin.

White Bean, Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Spread

This recipe is great to serve with veggies, crackers, crostini or fresh pita triangles. For a smoother consistency, puree the mixture an extra minute and add another tablespoon of olive oil.

1 cup dried white beans (or 1 - 17 ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained)
2 sweet red peppers, roasted
1 garlic clove, minced
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

If you are using dried beans, this method eliminates the need to soak the beans overnight. Place the dried beans in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Let sit for 1 hour. Drain the water from the pan and cover the beans with fresh, cold water. Bring the water to a boil. Simmer the beans on low heat for 30 minutes, or until the beans are cooked through. Drain the beans.

Combine the cooked beans, roasted red peppers, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in the work bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture comes together and continue pureeing until the spread is smooth. Add the feta cheese and puree just until incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

A Barbie Birthday Cake

My daughter, Ellen, had been thinking about her 5th birthday for, literally, months before the day. I listened to the ideas she had for a party and decided I better jump into action quickly. The idea of a tea party was born and Ellen was soon dreaming of tea cups and party dresses.

As with any party I have the slightest influence over, the food was the highest priority. Besides a few groceries, most of the party gear was easily found around the house, so it was just a matter of putting it all together. The morning of the party, I was feeling less confident than I should have been. Sure, Oprah says that love is in the details, but those little details really eat up a lot of time. It was suggested that I cut back on the number of menu items, but that would have been a last resort, in my mind. I would just have to work smarter and quicker.

The work began just after 8am. Tablecloths needed ironing. The china tea cups were dusty and needed to be hand-washed. The cake I had made the day before had not turned out and I had to bake another one. Two batches of sugar cookies needed to be rolled, cut-out, and baked off. The tea sandwiches needed to be made. And here’s a tip – do not make egg salad just before having guests over. It's an unpleasant smell that will greet your guests at the door before you do. Luckily for us, the fresh-baked scones masked the smell of the boiled eggs, but it was a close call.
Then there were bubble baths and beautifying for both Ellen & I. The ironing of dresses, the picking out of jewelry, the application of lipstick (for both of us)… this was not going to be just any party! And let’s not forget the general tidying up that needed to happen before 3 o’clock when our guests were due to arrive. When you have two furry dogs, there is never a day without vacuuming (well, there shouldn’t be…).

The guests arrived after school, wearing their pretty dresses and Sunday best. It was quite a sight. Faced with an event of this caliber, the kids were also on their best behavior. It isn't every day that they have a chance to drink tea from real china tea cups!

The Barbie-on-a-stick that we bought for the cake was a real hit. Between the tea sandwiches, the mini scones with clotted cream and homemade jam, strawberry tea and hot chocolate, they probably didn’t have much of an appetite left for the cake, but it was enjoyed by every one. And then it was time for their one and only activity – decorating sugar cookies. With ten different types of pretty candies and coloured sugars and lots of little bowls of royal icing dyed with the most vibrant of colours, the temptation to snack would have been too much for some of them to stand with an empty stomach. There were letters, dinosaurs, Christmas items, farm animals, fruit, and lots of hearts. It was a decorating extravaganza. Each child was able to design several cookies to take home with them.

What a day. I hope Ellen enjoyed her first real birthday party. I know I will remember each and every minute.

A Barbie Birthday Cake

Barbie dolls for cakes are available in most good cake decorating stores or craft stores (try Micheal's). There are many different ways to make and decorate a Barbie cake. Ellen's cake was simply three 8-inch layers of white cake (see The Good Egg Blog, March '08). I recommend spreading thin layers of strawberry jam between the cake layers (a safer bet for kids). Using a serrated knife, trim the top edges of the cake until they are rounded and are in the shape of a ball gown.
Before you make the icing (recipe follows), decide on what Barbie will be wearing. She only needs a shirt or coat, as her bottom half is the pick that sticks into the cake. Ellen chose a pink and blue hounds-tooth jacket that looked great with a pink "skirt". We decorated the cake with silver dragees and star-shaped candles.

Butter Icing

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Food colouring

Whip the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the icing sugar, a cup at a time, until it is fully incorporated. Add the whipping cream and vanilla and continue beating for 1 minute. When the icing is completely smooth, add a little bit of food colouring and beat it into the icing. Continue adding more, a little bit at a time, until the desired colour is reached. Use the icing immediately or cover with plastic wrap until needed.

When icing a cake, it helps to do a crumb coat first. A crumb coat is a thin layer of the icing that seals the cake in and keeps the crumbs off of the outer layer of icing. I remove a cup or two of icing from the large bowl and use this as the crumb coat. If crumbs become mixed in with this small amount of icing, no problem. After you have applied the crumb coat, it helps to chill the cake for 15-20 minutes to set the first layer. Then apply the main layer of icing and you won't have any problems with pesky crumbs on Barbie's dress.


The New 'Moira Sanders Blog'

I'm happy to announce that I'm officially back online... returning to blogging! For those of you who were followers of 'The Good Egg', you may have a few questions that you would like answered...

Where have you been?
For the last 8 months I have been working away on The Harrow Fair Cookbook, with my sister, Lori, and our cousin, Beth. We had a deadline with our publisher of December 31st, and since then we have been working through the editing process. The book is currently being designed and will be ready to launch at the Harrow Fair (Sept. 2-5, 2010). We are very excited about the cookbook and we cannot wait to see it in person!

What are you working on now?
I am launching a new website: http://www.moirasanders.com/
At the heart of the website will be a blog which will feature new and original recipes. The recipes will still be family-oriented, with a focus on simplicity, deliciousness, and using seasonal and local ingredients. Basically, the Moira Sanders blog will be what you have come to expect from The Good Egg, but hopefully even better.

What is going to happen to The Good Egg?
The Good Egg blog will still be available whenever you want to access a favourite recipe or re-read an old story. It can be accessed via http://www.thegoodegg.ca/ or http://www.moirasanders.com/ Many of you have expressed sadness at losing The Good Egg blog. I promise that it isn't going anywhere. The new blog will contain the same elements that you had come to expect and enjoy about The Good Egg.

And now, I would love to hear from you! What would you like to read about on the new blog? Email me your suggestions and ideas - moira@thegoodegg.ca