I have no idea why my mother never made her own Lemon Curd, but she didn’t. I have a vague recollection of her being scared of cooking anything resembling an egg custard, so maybe that was it, although I don’t know why egg custards would scare her. Really they’re just like making cheese sauce or instant custard, and she made those all the time. The downside to her egg custard fear is that I inherited it. Similarly, I still can’t swim because my father never went near water.
Luckily for me, becoming obsessed with making the best ice cream on earth cured me of my egg custard fear in about 73 minutes; because you just cannot make the most fantastic ice cream ever if it doesn’t involve an egg custard. I just wish it hadn’t taken me as many years as it did to discover that egg custards are easy, beautiful, and making them is downright therapeutic – at least for me. I lost count of how many egg custards I had made by the time I was in my 4th month of ice cream production.
Egg custards taught me – once again – that the fear is always worse than the reality. Me and egg custards are best buds now. Egg custards are the best excuse I know to stand by the stove and do nothing except gaze lovingly into a saucepan and stir the contents. These days, when I need a break from doing, I make something that requires an egg custard; just so I can stand still for 12 minutes. Egg custards rock.
I learned very early on in life that lemon anythingthat came out of a packet, was not even in the same ballpark as that same anythingmade from scratch with real, live lemons. Lemons that used to grow on trees, and that you have to grate and squeeze to get the goodies out of them. If my memory serves me correctly I learned that the day my mother made my father a lemon cheesecake from scratch for his birthday one year. Prior to that she had only ever made cheesecake out of a packet. After that we never had packet cheesecake again. With most things the difference between homemade and packet is palpable; with lemon, the difference is nothing short of profound.
I love lemonanything. LOVE. I’ll be using this SANE Lemon Curd as a base for many other recipes down the road, so if you like lemon stuff, I highly recommend that you get this recipe down pat. We’ll be using it a lot – and not just as a brilliant topping for Blueberry Cheesecake Scones (recipe up next!) – although it IS brilliant for that.
Love lemon? This *SANE Lemon Curd will make your taste buds sing.
Pucker up, Buttercup!
SANE Lemon Curd
Author: Carrie Brown | www.carriebrown.com
7 oz / 200g xylitol (I use Xyla)
1/3 cup / 3 fl oz. lemon juice (approx. 2 lemons)
Zest of 1 lemon
4 oz / 110g coconut oil, melted
4 oz / 110g butter, melted
Whisk the eggs well with a fork and pour into a small pan.
Add the xylitol, lemon juice, lemon zest, coconut oil, and butter.
Whisk ingredients together well.
Place on the stove over a medium heat and STIR CONSTANTLY as the mixture slowly thickens. It takes 12 – 15 minutes to thicken fully. Embrace it. Be patient.
DO NOT ALLOW THE MIXTURE TO BOIL – it will curdle or you will get scrambled eggs.
When the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, quickly remove it from the heat and pour it through a fine mesh sieve into a clean glass lidded container (such as a Pyrex storage bowl). No, you cannot omit this step. It must be sieved!
Stir the mixture in the sieve until you are left with only the zest pulp and a few strands of egg. You can use a second, clean spatula to scrape the underside of the sieve as you go.
Once all the curd has been passed through the sieve, leave uncovered until completely cold, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent a skin from forming.
When cold, put the lid on the container and place in the ‘fridge.
Hello! I am writing this on a Saturday. It will be posted on a Sunday. What day of the week is it now that you are reading it? I have no clue. And more to the point, it doesn’t matter in the slightest. Food is not day-specific. We love that. Another thing we love is a Mushroom Tuna Melt.
Tuna Melt is one of those strange American things that I never really understood until I had been stateside for a while. We don’t have Tuna Melts in England. Well maybe we do now (anyone??), but we certainly didn’t when I was living there. Thinking about it, we’re really not huge tuna (pronounced “chew-na”) eaters in England; we’re way more into salmon. Americans, on the other hand, just loooooooove their tuna (pronounced “too-na”). They get all excited about the difference between the albacore and the chunk light; we Brits didn’t even know there was such a thing as albacore. Alba what?? I remember the first time I saw the dizzying array of canned tuna choices in a US grocery store. Heavens to Betsy! I just want a can of tuna, people.
Another thing that was a mystery to me when I arrived on this side of the pond was Portobello mushrooms. I don’t remember ever having heard of them in England. Portobello is the name of the world’s largest antiques market, and it’s in London. That’s all I know. Once I got to the good ol’ USA, however, I started seeing the word “Portobello” on menus and hearing people talk about it; to be honest I could never quite figure out what they were on about. Then one day I saw some ginormous Portobello mushrooms at the grocery store, and I knew I had to introduce myself.
I decided, in a random moment of “Let’s do something different!”, to marry a Portobello mushroom with a tuna melt, which after some cruising around the internet I discovered is essentially a tuna salad with melted cheese sandwich. Or something very close to that.
I grilled (broiled) a huge old Portobello mushroom, melted some cheese on it, and then, when it came bubbling and sizzling out of the oven, heaped tuna salad on top. It was fun, fast and fabulous. It was also delicious. I’ll be doing it again.
Jonathan will love this one: fish, Greek yogurt and tons of veggies – and really more assembly than cooking. Hurrah! He does love meals that don’t require more than assembly. That’s JB’s perfect kinda dish. Another thing that would make The Bailornator happy is that you can make a large batch of the tuna salad in advance and then just grill (broil) up your Portobello and cheese in 5 minutes when you get home for a super-fast, super-sane supper. I took the rest of the tuna salad as lunch the next day, along with a Romaine lettuce. Lunch splendidness right there waiting in the ‘fridge as I headed out the door in the morning. Love that.
I love how all the textures work in this Mushroom Tuna Melt – creamy dressing, silky melted cheese and crisp, crunchy veggies; all topping a sturdy, substantial super-‘shroom. I ate mine out on the terrace in the dwindling Spring sunshine. It was quite lovely.
I have now completely embraced both Tuna Salad and Portobello mushrooms. Twelve years late, but I got there eventually.
Please don’t wait that long before you try this Mushroom Tuna Melt!
Mushroom Tuna Melt
Author: Carrie Brown | www.carriebrown.com
Coconut oil spray
2 large Portobello mushrooms
3 oz / 85g strong cheddar cheese, grated
1 can tuna
1 large stick celery, finely sliced
1/2 English cucumber, sliced and then quartered
4 TBSP Greek yogurt
1/2 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP white wine vinegar
Sea salt and pepper
1/2 tsp guar gum
Spray a baking sheet with coconut oil, place Portobello mushrooms upside down on the sheet and grill (broil) for about 6 minutes until tender.
Meanwhile, in a bowl mix the tuna, celery, cucumber, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, and salt together well.
Sprinkle the guar gum over the tuna salad and quickly mix immediately to incorporate it into the salad thoroughly.
Spread the grated cheese evenly over the mushrooms and place back under the heat to melt the cheese, about 2 minutes.
When the cheese is completely melted, remove the baking sheet from the oven.
Carefully transfer each mushroom onto a separate plate.
I think pancakes must be the most requested thing on my SANE recipe to-do list. I experimented with pancakes over the holidays in December, but didn’t get anywhere close to successful. I blame being British. In England, pancakes are only eaten once a year – funnily enough on Pancake Day – and they are what an American would call a crêpe. We don’t do the thick, spongy pancakes that are a rite of passage for any good American’s weekend brunch plate. The closet thing we have to those would be Scotch pancakes, and no one makes those. And on the rare occurrence that someone does make Scotch pancakes, they eat them with butter and jam spread on them, just like toast. They are not smothered in melting butter and syrup. Neither are they eaten for breakfast with bacon, eggs, and hash browns. They’re eaten at tea time.
Anyway, my point was, I grew up eating crêpes once a year. Until I took my first trip to Canada – many moons ago – I had never eaten an American pancake. And let me tell you, when I did, I thought it was extremely peculiar. I was sitting in the revolving restaurant on the top of the Calgary Tower. That’s how memorable this whole pancake affair was. I mean, who remembers exactly where they were when they ate their first pancake? I do – because it was such an extraordinary experience. They brought me a plate with pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage and hash browns on it. Plus a dish of butter and a jug of golden maple syrup. I was clueless as to what I was supposed to do, and I was aghast that there were pancakes on the same plate as my bacon and eggs. What were they thinking?? So I snuck a peek over at the next table and watched what they did. I stared in horror as they poured lashings of sweet maple syrup over their pancakes and bacon. What in the world???
I admit, I never really got over that first strange pancake experience. There are a lot of new things I have become acquainted with since I moved stateside, and many of them I embrace wholeheartedly. American pancakes are not one of them. And while I am neither an American pancake lover nor an American pancake-making expert, I totally respect that they are a beloved breakfast staple in a lot of households. So here you are: SANE Vanilla Blueberry Pancakes. Hurrah!
They are more fragile and less flexible than pancakes made from regular flour, but those fabulous blueberries – bursting with juices – keep them moist and delicious. I am going to play with another idea to make them less fragile and more flexible, but I thought these would tide you over in the meantime. Given that I am really not a fan of regular American pancakes, I was surprised – and a little bit giddy – that I really enjoyed eating these.
“But what about the syrup??!” I hear you cry. That, dear readers, is a particularly good question. I am still brainstorming that predicament. This time I simply poured a little Torani’s Sugar-free Vanilla Syrup over the top. It doesn’t have the deep, amber color, or the thick, glossiness of maple syrup, but it adds moistness and flavor that finished these babies off rather nicely. You could also just slide some butter over the top and call it good. Or eat them naked. Just don’t use the maple! Or honey. Or agave.
Now I must warn you – these SANE pancakes are super filling. If you’re used to being able to eat an entire stack of regular pancakes, you might find yourself running out of steam at two, especially if you add some scrambled eggs and the odd piece of bacon to your plate. I, for one, would not want to miss out on that piece of bacon.
And just a couple of cooking notes before you race off to fire up your griddle – the flip side of these SANE pancakes cooks much quicker than the first side, so don’t flip them and walk away thinking you have time. Side two goes real fast. As you can see, mine were a little on the dark side. Just sayin’.
Happy Pancake Weekend, everyone!
Vanilla Blueberry Pancakes
Author: Carrie Brown | www.carriebrown.com
Serves: Makes 7
2 TBSP chia seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup almond flour
2 oz. / 55g vanilla whey powder
3 TBSP xylitol
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup / 4 fl oz. egg white OR 1 whole egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup / 4 fl oz. Full Fat Greek yogurt
4 oz / 110g fresh blueberries (or frozen, thawed and drained)
Torani’s Sugar-free Vanilla Syrup (if you like syrup on your pancakes)
Spray griddle with coconut oil and heat.
Grind chia seeds, sunflower seeds and coconut in coffee grinder or high-speed blender until they are very fine (careful you don’t end up with sunflower butter!!)
In a bowl put seed mix, almond flour, whey, xylitol, salt and baking powder and mix well.
Add egg white (OR whole egg), vanilla extract, and yogurt and stir just until evenly mixed. Do not over mix.
Using a ¼ cup as a measure, pour batter onto hot griddle.
Sprinkle batter with fresh blueberries.
After a minute, lift edge of pancake with a spatula to check color. When golden, flip the pancake to cook the other side.
When I was a nipper growing up in the Garden of England – aka the county of Kent (although technically I was never a nipper since I am a girl) – I was regularly served up sardines on toast for supper, as I suspect a significant number of British kids were. I’m not sure it’s as popular nowadays, but back then – YUM. I loved when sardines on toast popped up on the menu. Oftentimes the sardines were in tomato sauce. I think I loved those times even more, which is a little odd because I am not really a tomato sauce kinda gal. Except ketchup on my eggs, but that’s another tale. But I think somewhere in the back of my mind a connection between sardines and tomatoes was made, because when I started to think about sardine recipes the first one I came up with was this Tomato Sardine Salad.
Of course, these days I don’t eat the toast, but I do down sardines like they’re going out of fashion. Except, in the US I don’t think sardines have ever been in fashion. Whenever I mention sardines, noses wrinkle and a chorus of “Ewwws!” can be heard. Sardines do not seem to have much of a following stateside.
It seemed perfectly natural to me that Mr. Bailor would at some point mention the outstanding virtues of a humble can of sardines on our podcast. After all – they are one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Have you noticed how I always leave the geeky science stuff to Bailor? I chimed in with enthusiastic stories of how a tin of sardines is perfect road-trip fodder, and how you can keep a couple stashed in the glove box of your car in case of emergency. I joyfully explained how to fashion an eating implement out of the tin lid, if you were ever caught without a fork when you were about to down a tasty sardine snack.
I guess it was bound to happen once the sardine podcast aired that there’d be some sardine Q & A coming down the pike. So it was no surprise when the other week, Lorrie posted on the Life in the Sane Lane Facebook page asking for ways to eat sardines. Lorrie is a faithful reader who, with her friend Dawn, run a Downsizers Group over in Oberlin, Ohio. They meet every week to share health and fatloss success, tips, tricks, and recipes. They also have a lot of fun. I know this because they invited me to join them one evening and I Skyped into their get-together. SO. MUCH. FUN!
Turns out Lorrie was taking sardines along to the next Downsizers meeting, and never having eaten them before, needed some sardine assistance. Having been raised on the things it never occurred to me that Sardine Virgins may appreciate knowing what they might do with them, other than rip off the lid and eat them straight out of the tin. It’s like I never remember to explain to people how to open doors, because like sardine-eating, it’s just something I assume we all know how to do. You know what they say about assuming.
So I came up with an introduction to sardines via this lovely Tomato Sardine Salad.
When I am on road trips I eat sardines a lot. They are just so portable. In the evening when I get back from driving and shooting for 14 hours, I toss sardines, halved cherry tomatoes and quartered hard-boiled eggs on a plate, sprinkle with salt and call it dinner. When I am at home I make a rather prettier and greener version. This is another one of those very simple “what Carrie Brown really eats at home” dishes. It takes 5 minutes to throw together and makes you a perfectly balanced sane meal. When I get home too late and too tired for thought, this is one of my go-to’s.
If you’re new to sardines, try this Tomato Sardine Salad first. I really think you’ll like it. And Jonathan and I will be so very happy to get some more of you on the sardine trail with us.
Tomato Sardine Salad
Author: Carrie Brown | www.carriebrown.com
Serves: 1 – 2
2 small tins sardines
8 oz. / 225g cherry tomatoes
3 hardboiled eggs
Sea salt to taste
1/2 English cucumber
Ground black pepper
Drain the sardines, chop into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl.
Halve the cherry tomatoes and add to the bowl.
Cut the eggs into quarters lengthwise and then each quarter into 4 pieces.
Add to the bowl with the tomatoes and sardines and mix gently.
Salt to taste, mixing as little as possible to avoid the sardines and eggs becoming mushy.
Spread fresh spinach on a serving platter on 2 plates.
Little did I know when I created – in utter desperation one cold, wet and wild November morning – a hot cereal to fill the gigantic void left by a bowl of porridge (oatmeal), that it would be turn out to be 1) the most popular recipe post of all time, and 2) become the starting point for a number of other recipes, including this Creamy Lemon Coconut Cereal.
You lovely, lovely people just LOVE that Hot and Nutty Cereal. I’ve had notes from all over the world about how it makes your porridge-less mornings delicious again – and that makes me feel all warm and goofy inside. Not only that, but you’ve bombarded me with ideas on how to use that same mix in different ways. You’re awesome!
I used it as a starting point for my Cinnamon Raisin Muffins, which is also a Top 15 most popular recipe, and I have another couple of recipes I am working on. This Creamy Lemon Coconut Cereal idea came when Lori, a delightful and wonderfully enthusiastic follower in California, posted that she had woken up craving my Hot and Nutty Cereal one day, but because it was a warm day she wanted something cold. She stirred the Hot and Nutty Cereal mix into a cup of Greek Yogurt and voilà! Lori’s favorite cereal – but cold. Not to mention the added protein. Needless to say, as soon as I heard that I ran off to try it. Delicious!
Since I am me, my brain promptly exploded, and lots of ideas for bright, sunny flavors started ricocheting around all over the place. I am always thinking about coconut these days – I blame studio time with Bailor for that one – so I started there and went with my favorite citrus flavor to make a cold, creamy bowl of sunshiny cereal for you.
This Creamy Lemon Coconut Cereal is one of my new favorites, and easy to whip up in bulk at the start of the week, spoon into lidded bowls and stack in the ‘fridge to grab on the way to the office each week-day morning. It’s extremely filling, but with a light, refreshing taste. Would also make a great summertime dessert.
Thanks, Lori, for getting me started on this one!
Creamy Lemon Coconut Cereal
Author: Carrie Brown | www.carriebrown.com
1 TBSP chia seeds
2 TBSP sunflower seeds
4 TBSP unsweetened shredded coconut
1 oz. / 28g vanilla protein powder
1 TBSP xylitol or erythritol (add more to taste)
1/2 TBSP lemon zest (1/2 lemon)
1/2 tsp lemon extract (essence)
1 cup / 8 fl oz. Greek yogurt
1/4 cup / 2 fl oz. unsweetened thin coconut milk
Grind chia, sunflower seeds and coconut until very fine in a coffee grinder or high-speed blender (be careful you don’t end up with sunflower butter!).
In a bowl add ground seeds, vanilla protein powder, xylitol or erythritol, and mix well.
Add the lemon zest, lemons essence, yogurt and coconut milk and stir thoroughly until completely mixed.
Sprinkle extra lemon zest on top to serve.
Measuring out and grinding all those seeds every day got old really fast, so here’s an instant mix that you can make in bulk and store in the ‘fridge ready to go when you want it.
10 TBSP chia seeds
1 1/4 cups sunflower seeds
2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
10 oz. / 280g vanilla protein powder
10 TBSP xylitol or erythritol
5 TBSP lemon zest (5 lemons)
In batches, place chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and coconut in a coffee grinder and grind until fine. (If you use a blender such as a Vitamix be careful you don’t end up with a paste!) Pour ground mix into a large bowl, add vanilla protein powder, xylitol or erythritol, and lemon zest. Mix very well until completely blended. Store in an air-tight glass jar in the ‘fridge.
Then, when you stumble into the kitchen, bleary-eyed from your 7 hours of shut-eye, here’s the recipe for 1 serving of instant Creamy Lemon Coconut Cereal:
1/2 cup instant cereal mix
1/2 cup / 4 fl oz. Greek yogurt
2 TBSP unsweetened thin coconut milk
1/4 tsp lemon essence
Place cereal mix in a bowl, add yogurt, coconut milk, and lemon essence and stir very well.