Friday, May 21, 2010

How to make a butcher block counter top

In our new kitchen we are installing beautiful copper counter tops that will age and patina naturally. While I love the living finish of the copper I have my concerns about rolling and kneading bread dough on the bare counter and getting the verdigris all over my delicious bread. So instead I talked my husband into doing a section of butcherblock for my baking area, but on our VERY tight budget a brand new john boos block was absolutley out of the question. Ikea has very affordable butcherblock, but the nearest Ikea is about 5 hours away and by the time we shipped it or drove there we could have had a really nice brand of block. So instead I decided to keep my eyes out for a used quality butcher block kitchen table on craigslist. So for $30 I got something like this but with a thinner top

So we brought it home removed the beautiful legs, which I'm going to use to make a farmhouse style table, but that will come later...
Anyhow we cut it to fit and Jessie added some beautiful mahogany to the edge to give it some contrast and durability. We sanded it down, stained it a darker tone and sealed it. Installing it was a breeze, and now we have a custom, butcher block that looks like it was very expensive for about 75 dollars!

Here it is before we stained/sealed it we were dry fitting it make sure it fit nicely

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and here it is all installed and waiting to get it's beadboard backsplash

Can you see that beautiful black beauty in the lower corner of the pictures, that's my new dishwasher! My mother's day gift. This house had never had one installed and I was VERY tired of doing dishes twice a day.

well I'm off to unload the dishwasher, a task I will never complain about!

Peace notice I do not have dishpan hands

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Relaxing Meyer Lemon and Cheese Tart

Sadly I have no Meyer lemon tree of my own...which is probably a good thing because I would be making lemon curd daily and slathering it on everything in sight. Despite that, everyone I know understands just how much I love Meyers so when the season comes around people start showing up with brown bags full of the sweet little beauties. I cooked up this lovely treat last week for a friends birthday and it was delicious and relatively simple. I say relatively because I love to bake, so I enjoy doing things like stirring constantly for 10 minutes. To me it is like chopping wood or bailing hay, a meditative experience that helps me relax. Plus with 2 small children it's is kinda nice to hold still for a few minutes. I make up a larger batch of lemon curd and then use it for several little treats throughout the week. I do not strain my lemon curd because I like to add some of the lemon zest to the recipe but you could always strain it and then add the zest, but alas I am lazy and I don't really mind the little bits of egg that sometimes appear .For the crust I use an old Martha Stewart recipe for pate sucree. All you have to do is toss a few things in a food processor and you have a perfect crust

lemon curd:

8 egg yolks
1 c. Sugar
almost 3/4 c. Fresh squeezed lemon juice(I prefer Meyers)
zest of 1 lemon
1 stick plus 2 COLD tablespoons SALTED butter cut into small cubes

-Whisk sugar, yolks and lemon juice in a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat slowly until well thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in butter i-2 small cubes at a time waiting until the cubes are completely melted and combined before adding more. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 week. good luck getting it to last that long.

Here is the Martha Recipe for pate Sucree:

Makes one 11-to 12-inch or two 8-to 9-inch or two 14-by-4-inch crusts
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup ice water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and sugar. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, 10 to 20 seconds.
In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolks; add ice water. With machine running, add the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator, and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.
Instead of forming a disk I simply smoosh the dough into my spring-form pan and about 3/4 of an inch up the sides of the pan. Then I refrigerate the entire thing for a half hour and bake it off at 350 with pie weights/ dry beans until it is all golden brown on the edges. It takes my Wedgewood about 13 minutes to to this, but it is a quirky old Wedgewood so your oven may vary, just pay attention to it, you'll know when it is golden brown and delicious looking.

Cream cheese filling:
I package cream cheese (low fat is ok)
1 c. sugar
1 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. Vanilla

In a stand mixer combine Cream cheese and sugar and mix until well combined. then add in the vanilla and heavy cream and mix with whisk attachment until you have a thick spreadable mixture. If you would like you can also add lemon zest to this recipe, it is amazing either way . Refrigerate until ready to assemble.

To assemble:
Spread a thick layer of the cream cheese filling onto the cooled tart shell,(Eat about 3 spoonfuls of filling) then spread a layer of Lemon curd over the cheese filling and refrigerate until ready to serve. I serve mine just like this but the tart would be delicious if topped with fresh berries or candied lemon slices.
With this dessert I like to serve Some Earl Grey tea but, it would also be delicious with a blueberry tea or even coffee.Enjoy!

Peace and crackers!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rainy day love

I thought I'd share a few photos of my beautiful boys. Today is my oldest son's birthday. He is five today, and in my opinion five is one of the best ages anyone cold be. What do you remember about being five?

Peace and raindrops!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Because my poor husband needed more to deal with

So the past 2 weeks of my life have been positively consumed with KIDNEY STONES! Apparently the CD/UC meds I'm on have a nasty little side effect of causing kidney stones. My wonderful husband has dealt with the additional baggage with amazing patience and I am reminded every day of how happy I am to be married to this man. And to make me feel even better I received a brand spankin new DISHWASHER for Mother's Day. IT is beautiful and black and if it wasn't installed in the kitchen I'd snuggle with it in bed at night. So thanks honey I love you!

Peace bring me a pillow!
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