Green Plum Cooking School – Sat, Dec 18th
Nope, we’re not in Kansas (or Berkeley, as it were) anymore. This is Houston, people! And I’ve intentionally gone off from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food and am using recipes from my own digital cookbook, “Eat Where Your Food Lives” (available at www.ChefMonicaPope.com). F*#k the yellow brick road! My way may be a little bumpy, but stick with me.
The second class already involves power cords, blender blades and eggs. Oh My! My first concern, as usual, is that there is a lot of electrical equipment up here. Too much for someone who doesn’t do equipment. And now measuring cups and spoons. That’s a new development, too. As Beth and Rachel were looking for the blender blade attachment, they discovered that I do have measuring cups and such downstairs in the kitchen and promptly snitched them for themselves to use in class. I thought they were OK with our makeshift measuring material — that is a ladle, a to-go cup or even the palm of my hand in a pinch. My feelings are kind of hurt. But we move on.
On the menu this morning: crepes and Meyer lemon curd. Right at the get-go, I realize someone has snitched my eggs….we were already low in the kitchen, but come on, I needed my eggs first!!
The crowd is expectant, watching and paying close attention. Sort of. My apostle, Allison, is back in her rightful, distracting place, performing her usual heckling routine. I ask the class if they’ve ever done crepes at home. Most say yes. Then I ask if they sucked – I like to dispense with the cockiness right away. Even if my crepes suck today, we’ll learn something rather than THINK we know everything because we’ve done it once or twice. Suddenly, it seems like a lot to take on. But once we get the right power cord for our plug, the blender blade piece and the eggs, we’re ready to go.
Meyer lemons are juiced. They have a sweet taste because we discovered they are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. They originated in China, but were made popular in contemporary culinary circles by Alice Waters. Ah, she just can’t keep out of the class, hanging out like Glenda the Good Witch, all ethereal and all. Lucky us, it’s Meyer lemon season in Houston, my favorite season of all.
The blender to make the crepe batter simply does not work. I determine to get Joe to look at that in the New Year. Back-up plan in place: Mitch will run up and down the stairs a few times to robot coupe the crepe batter (pay no attention to the man behind the curtain). The batter finally comes back upstairs ready to go, although I did have to thin it a little. The first crepe gets sacrificed. I invite a couple of people from the audience to try their hand; not bad, until Byron flipped out (literally) his crepe. It couldn’t be saved. We browned them nicely on the show side, but didn’t need to flip as they were thin enough, and (luckily) not rubbery.
It’s now time to make the lemon curd. The trick here is to double or triple the eggs and sugar with a wire whip. I’m not sure of the point of this technique (and we didn’t Google it, either). We just accept it as the way. To this beautiful mixture we added the Meyer lemon juice and the butter. We place a stainless steel bowl over the simmering water to create a bain marie. As I whisked to keep mixture from burning, the frothed mixture starts to de-froth and you can see the beautiful egg yolk color of the curd coming through. By the time it’s all curd-looking, you cook some more and check that it holds to your finger or a wooden spoon. It’s going to thicken up more when it cools. Be careful not to burn it!! It’s tart and yet sweet at the same time. We roll the crepes up, cut into 1/3’s and top with the warm curd. A little powdered sugar makes them more festive.
As always, things come together in the end. We realized everything we needed was there for us, and what seemed like a complicated endeavor (at times) was simpler than imagined — and melt-in-your-mouth delicious, to boot.
And the Meyer lemons–a gift from my oldest, longest wine broker, Kyle Britt. When looking for your heart’s desire, look no further than your backyard. There’s no place like home.