Salmon Grilled on Cedar

Timing is everything.  I wanted to have a nice Father’s Day meal but needed to make sure I cooked something that was in my dad’s diet.  That also had a lot of flavour.  Conor from One Man’s Meat posted a wonderful salmon that immediately went on my list.

And fortunately our local kitchen store had cedar planks!  I picked a meal that could be grilled or served cold as I wanted to be able to enjoy the meal and company without being chained to the kitchen.  Luckily it was a gorgeous day so we set up a table at the bottom of the back garden in the shade.  Perfect so the dogs could be there and not bother anyone.

The longest bit of the prep is soaking the cedar plank.  I picked out a pear cider from Ireland.  I love pear and sage.

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Soak a cedar plank for at least a couple of hours in the cider. Put something to hold it down as it will just float otherwise.

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I found a lovely piece of wild sockeye salmon for this dish.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Lay a few fresh sage leaves onto the fish and then a couple of slices of lemon.  Place the empty plank on the grill to heat up.  Once the board is hot place the fish onto the plank.

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The tricky bit here is you don’t want the grill to get so hot that the board catches fire.  And you want the fish to cook somewhat evenly.  While this was cooking I also grilled steaks marinated in Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, garlic, thyme, sea salt, and pepper.  It’s my favourite marinade.

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My family loves cheese so it’s rare we don’t have a cheese plate going.

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I wanted it to be a little festive, ok a lot festive, so I made the Kir Royale with champagne and chambord.  Drop in fresh raspberries and off you go!  It’s delicious.

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The salmon was a hit among the seafood lovers of the group.  It didn’t overpower the flavour of the salmon but the pear and sage were wonderful.

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It was a beautiful day with good food and no where to be.  A perfect afternoon celebrating my husband and my dad.  What more can you ask for?

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Rosemary Garlic Pork

Apparently we missed one hell of a game last night.  We don’t have cable any more so I started the day checking out the ads from the Superbowl.  I’m guessing the game was way better than the ads.  I made the mistake yesterday of going to the grocery store to pick up a few things.  It was mobbed.  Not only was the “big” game last night but we are also now in the middle of yet another big snow storm.  So there was game shopping on top of the panic shopping people do before a storm.  This storm didn’t shift to the east this time so we’ll be getting a lot of snow today.

My husband lucked out with the travel and was able to come home safely.  I had a good time with the kids last week but it’s great to have him home with us.  I was struck the other day how much our kids are growing up.  After taking them out for a light meal we drove back and bad music was playing on the radio.  Our daughter decided that we needed to listen to some real music.  So she put on Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and she and I belted out the song.  Slightly to our son’s dismay!  She took us through the 80’s and we ended with the Cupid Shuffle dancing in the kitchen.  Then we topped it off watching Master Chef Junior.  Those kids are incredible cooks.  We are just blown away that an 8 year old can do restaurant quality dishes and an 11 year old did up a branzino.  It’s insane.

To welcome home my husband I decided to make a pork loin with garlic and rosemary.   I found this recipe from Daily Dish Magazine to use as an inspiration.

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Coarsely chop the rosemary and garlic.  This recipe takes a lot of garlic which is fabulous.  I used almost a whole bulb of garlic.  Place in a bag and add about 3/4 cup of dry white wine, 1/2 a cup of olive oil, and a few squeezes of lemon juice.  Season the pork loin with sea salt and pepper and marinate for at least an hour.

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In a skillet heat up olive oil and pan sear the pork loin on both sides.

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Finish in the oven at 350F/175C.  In a small skillet heat up the marinade and begin to reduce down.

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Add butter a tablespoon at a time until there is a nice balance of the wine, lemon, and butter.  While the pork is resting saute some swiss chard with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Slice the pork and serve over the chard.  Top with the sauce.

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It goes very well with roasted potato and parsnip.  It was wonderful catching my husband up with how our week went and listening to him tell us about his.  🙂

Losing the Battle with Ice and Lemon Thyme Cheese

It’s become a bad joke that something goes wrong right when tax season begins.  Usually my back goes out, once I was really ill, and this year I was up against the ice.  And I lost.

Temps were hovering round freezing this weekend and it rained.  Not a good combination.  I tried to get my son to his snowboarding lessons only a couple of miles away.  There were detours and accidents and we never got there.  We had to turn round and make our way back.  We were lucky.  We weren’t in the numerous pile ups and we weren’t stuck for hours.  Just a miserable day.

The next morning it was sunny and the ice was glaring.  We have stone steps off our porch.  The top step was clear.  As I took the next step I started to say to my husband that it was good when suddenly I found myself flipped up in the air like Charlie Brown when Lucy takes away the football.   Two things happen.  First time speeds up and there is nothing you can do.  Second, time slows down.  Enough to think of every curse word ending with the thought “this is really going to hurt” before landing.

I landed on my back hip and arm.  On the plus side, nothing broke and I didn’t crack my head.  Thank goodness my husband was there.  He was able to get the dogs, though Guinness took the opportunity to lick me, a lot.  Dog slobber cures all.  I was on the right side and I realised how cold it was so I carefully rolled over onto the left to let the ground ice the hip.

It is absolutely fascinating how colourful bruises can be.  Ah well, it will heal. Maybe next tax season I’ll have better luck!

The other weekend we were on a cheese making kick.  My husband made more camembert and I wanted to make a quick cheese.  I chose to make a lemon cheese with thyme.  This is super easy to make and a great beginner cheese to try.  Again we use raw milk.  Flavour is better and the proteins are still in the milk.  Ultra pasteurized kills the protein.  And we have a local source that is safe.

The recipe I use comes from Home Cheese Making from Ricki Carroll.

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In a large heavy bottom saucepan heat the milk to 185-200F/85-93C.  Keep stirring so it doesn’t catch on the bottom.

Turn down the heat and add about a 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice.  You should see the separation of the whey and curds starting.

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Cover and leave be for 15 minutes.  Then check to see how separated it is.

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You want the whey as clear as possible but I’ve found that sometimes the whey will stay milky.  Add a bit more lemon juice and set a few minute more if it is too milky.

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Once you get as much curds as possible spoon the curds into butter muslin and drain.

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Wrap up and drain over the sink or large pot until the whey stops.

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Break up the cheese and add cheese salt and fresh thyme to the cheese to taste.

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Serve over salads or fresh bread like ciabatta.

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This will keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.  And better than store bought.  🙂

Sweet Potato, Apple, and Pork

With trying to branch out in our cooking and the gluten free experiment I have to get creative in how I use the ingredients.  That includes trying to use veg that I really don’t like.  Being a supertaster I’ve been limited because things like squash, sweet potato, zucchini, etc can be bitter to me.  Fortunately I’m having success in making these ingredients palatable for me but still letting some of that flavour that my family likes through.  Which is great because I’d love to be more seasonal with the local foods.  Kind of makes me wish I tried this before!

There was some sweet potato and rutabaga in the fridge that needed to be used up plus a bin full of apples.  I chopped up the sweet potato and rutabaga and covered with two cups chicken stock and 1 cup water.  Cook on a high simmer until they are about half cooked.

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Add some sage and lemon thyme and one chopped apple.  Finish cooking the sweet potato and rutabaga.

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While this is cooking, brown the pork in a skillet and finish it by baking.  Mix some olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.  Set aside and chop up some mustard greens.  In a food processor spoon in the sweet potato, rutabaga, and apple leaving the liquid in reserve.  Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.  Pulse while adding the cooking liquid a bit at a time until you get the consistency you want.   Layer the pork over the puree and top with the mustard greens.  Dress with the olive oil and lemon.

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Next time I would use a little less rutabaga but we had to use it up.  Other than that I can say I like sweet potato.  In some things.  😉

Picnic Perfect Chicken Salad

Sunday we had a wonderful crazy day of celebrating 5 family birthdays with a family get together at the lake.  The only thing wrong with the day was that my husband is travelling for a couple of weeks so he couldn’t be with us.  The kids had fun swimming.  I thought they were nuts given how cold the water was!  But hey, they had a blast so who am I to argue.  It took them a long time to actually get in though.

We planned a potluck and I wanted a light dish without mayo as it was going to be warm.  I came across an idea to use slices of apple instead of using crackers with chicken salad.  The chicken salad they had was mayo based so I used my own but I loved the serving idea of fruit.

I marinated chicken breast in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper then grilled the chicken.

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Let the chicken completely cool.  Chop up the chicken into small pieces and toss with olive oil and lemon juice.

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Finely chop a shallot and add a few teaspoons of fresh thyme.

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I got all excited when I saw the co-op was selling individual celery stalks.  I only need two so it was perfect!  Thinly slice the celery and mix in with the chicken and then season with salt and pepper.  I made this the day before which allowed the flavours to meld together.  Slice the apples and top with the salad and then add a nut of your choice.

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Easy, delicious, and fun!  And perfect for a picnic.  🙂

 

A Raspberry Twist

Does the Easter bunny exist or not?  That is the question! And I think our 9 year old son has been hedging his bets just like Santa Claus.  Every child goes through the transition wondering what the scoop is.  Going from absolute belief to the realisation that the school yard gossip is right.  And if you are the eldest like our daughter you have to go along with it all.  To have some fun with the kids my husband suggested a scavenger hunt with the plastic eggs the kids have.  We did up clues and placed the eggs round the house with them all leading to the chocolates.  It was fun for all of us!

In addition to the chocolates I wanted to make an after dinner treat and thought cupcakes would do the trick.  I had some raspberries and lemons so I knew I wanted to make some lemon curd and use the raspberries but I didn’t have buttermilk to make the lemon meringue cupcakes.  I went through my cupcake pins to see what I could use as a substitute.  Turned out to be harder than I thought it would be.  Several required buttermilk and I was surprised at how many recipes called for box cake mix!  I mean really, I don’t get that.  That step is more expensive and it’s just as quick to make it from scratch.

I found this recipe to use for the cupcakes and I only made a small change here and there.  Which is bold for me when it comes to baking.  I generally don’t mess with the recipes as there is a definite science to baking.  But the cupcakes came out just fine.

I did up the lemon curd several hours ahead of time so it had time to cool and set.

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.  Line the muffin tins and this recipe makes 12 cupcakes.

In the mixing bowl cream together 1/2 cup of butter and 3/4 cup of sugar.

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Add two eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and mix well.

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Add 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder.  The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of milk.  These two ingredients need to be added a 1/3 at a time, mixing well each time while scraping the sides of the bowl.

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Fill the liners 2/3 thirds full and bake for 20-25 minutes.

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Once they are cooled scoop out the top.  Cut the pointy end off of the top so you can place it on top of the curd.  Before filling with curd put a fresh raspberry into the cupcake.

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Fill in with the curd, put the top back on and dollop some fresh whipped cream on top.

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It’s simple, it looks pretty, and raspberry and lemon make a great pair.  And it leaves room for chocolate!  🙂

 

When Life Hands You Lemons Make Grilled Cheese!

Thank you for those that watched my daughter’s episode, the feedback made her smile.  🙂  As you know the trick of adding acid to a dish was mentioned though the surprise was to add it to grilled cheese.  Never thought of that.  But I loved the idea.  Of course I had to wait until the show came out so I didn’t spoil any surprises.

Last night I gave it a go.  When I asked what kind of grilled cheeses I should make our son piped up with ham and pineapple!  Crazy kid but I said sure.  I bought some fontina cheese to go with it and he loved it.  For the rest of us who aren’t as adventurous I thought I would do a mushroom grilled cheese.

I slices up a few mushrooms, chopped about 3 large cloves of garlic, and prepped some fresh thyme.

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I heated up some olive oil in a skillet and sauteed the mushrooms first until they started browning.  Then I added the garlic, thyme, and a few teaspoons of lemon juice.  I think Luca likes to add a bit of lemon juice while you are cooking the actual grilled cheese but I wanted to incorporate it into the mushrooms.

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Once the garlic is cooked set aside until you are ready to assemble the sandwiches.  We were also do sweet potato and regular potato fries to go along with the sandwiches and that bit can take awhile!  Especially when we are using a saucepan to fry.  For our mushroom sandwiches I used Jarlsberg.  Butter the outside of the bread and layer the cheese and mushrooms.  We use our homemade sourdough for this.

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To grill we used our cast iron griddle and press.  Make sure both are hot and cook until golden and the cheese is melted.

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My daughter and I added some ham to ours.  This got a thumbs up and our son hopes we make his again as well.  😉  A fun dinner for a laid back weekend.

The Cherry Tops It – Madeira Cake

Today was an exciting day for our daughter.  She had the opportunity to be on a local cooking show done by our friend Luca.  It was exciting to watch the process as well.  I have to say I’m a bit envious of her having this chance but more than that I’m very proud of her.  And she had a blast.  When the link to the show is available in about a month I will share it with everyone. 

I can be found occasionally saying to people I take requests for my blog posts.  I say it a lot to my family as it very often sparks ideas and keeps things fresh for me.  Sometimes when it gets crazy busy as it will now with tax season my creativity gets a bit blocked.  So I ask.  And yes someone took me up on that!  Our friends up in Scotland, Dianna and Hugh, mentioned they really like baked goods with cherries along the lines of madeira cake.  Sounds good to me.  🙂

To give you an idea how the cold I had muddled my brain I was thinking I needed to find the wine.  Which obviously I didn’t but man the cold just made me ditzy as can be.  Thank goodness that is passing!  But this cake goes well with the wine, hence the name, but is also a lovely tea cake.  Denser than a Victoria sponge but very light nonetheless.

There are several recipes available for this cake but I chose to follow the one from the BBC.  I added the glacé cherries.  They went very well with the lemony cake.

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C and lightly grease and flour a 8″ cake pan.

Because this is an English recipe it calls for self-raising flour, which I don’t have, so I had to make my own.  There are what seems like a million versions on how to make self-raising flour, all different mind.  Using the dart board method I went with a tsp and a smidge of baking powder and a pinch of salt to the 9oz called for in this recipe.  Definitely weigh the ingredients for this recipe.  Set this aside.

In a mixing bowl cream together 6oz of softened butter and 6oz of sugar.  While that is blending together, take about 3-4oz of glacé cherries and soak them in warm water to get rid of the excess sugar. 

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Add 3 eggs one at a time and beat until blended.  As the last egg is being beaten into the mixture slowly add the flour mixture a bit at a time until well blended.  It will be a bit stiff but then add 2-4T of milk one at a time to the mixture.  Depending on your flour you may need to add more milk.  You don’t want it runny but it needs to be smooth enough to slowly fall off the spoon or mixer paddle. 

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Take a clean organic lemon and zest it into the the batter.  Be careful you don’t dig into the pith, try to just do the yellow bit, so it’s not bitter but you have a nice bright flavour. 

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Drain the cherries and pat dry.

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Lightly coat them in flour and add to the mixture.

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Spoon out into the baking pan.

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This needs to bake 30-40 minutes depending on your oven.  I went the full 40 minutes.  Once it is nice and golden and the toothpick test comes clean remove and let cool for about 10 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.

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Slice and enjoy.  It’s been a hit as there is only one slice left!  Fortunately it is really easy to make perfect for tea or wine.  Your choice.  🙂

Lemon Rosemary Chicken – Will it cure heatstroke?

It’s a scorcher out there!  Though I suppose it had to happen as it is summer.  I feel a bit bad for our kids as they are doing a Revolutionary War camp here in town and they had to go to the farmers market to barter with goods they made.  In their costumes.  And they are making soup for all of us tomorrow.  It’s a great camp, they learn about the 18th century, make food like butter and jam, and crafts.  But as A/C wasn’t invented then they have to find other ways of keeping cool.  But they love it and I think this is their 3rd or 4th time doing this.

Last night I wanted a quick dinner and as my daughter and I love salmon that was on the list.  I bought some wonderful wild sockeye salmon for us and some chicken for my husband and son.  I needed to come up with a marinade that would work for both proteins.  Just needed to keep it simple!

To make the marinade I mixed fresh lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and rosemary together.

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I only marinated the chicken and salmon for about an hour.  I got the grill going, cleaned it off, left it for twenty minutes while I did laundry, and came back to find it was only just warm.  Barely hit 300F.  Something was up.  I gave it a shot anyway and put the chicken in to see what would happen.  I had the baked potatoes ready to finish off as well.

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After awhile I gave up and heated up the toaster oven for the chicken.  I kept the potatoes in there and put the salmon on the grill as that doesn’t have to get as hot as the chicken.  Fortunately it all came together.

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It was a delicious light meal for the heatwave we are in the middle of.  🙂

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

When I was growing up there were two special treats mum would make.  Lemon meringue pie and lemon curd.  They were amazing.  Poor mum would be over a hot stove making the curd, canning it, etc and I would come along and just gloop the stuff on my toast.  It was the best!  I’ve had store bought but I gave up buying it as it wasn’t the same.  And the pie was just cool looking to a little kid.

So when I was pinning various stuff on Pinterest I came across this recipe for Lemon Meringue Cupcakes from King Arthur Flour and knew I just had to make them.  It flashed me back to when I was small having the lovely treats.

Now the recipe calls for making the lemon curd in the microwave.  I was sceptical to say the least but Maria Dernikos posted the other day about this method and said it worked.  So I gave it a try.  It is very tasty.  Not the same as mum’s homemade mind you but it does the trick.  I made the whole recipe today but I recommend doing the curd the day before.  Nothing is overly difficult but there are many steps to this.

First I baked the cupcakes.  So I pre-heated the oven to 400F/204C and lined a muffin tin with cupcake paper.  The recipe calls for a light spray of oil so I did that as well.  Not sure whether that is needed but as these are my first real cupcakes (not just using cake batter in muffin tins and keeping fingers crossed) I followed the directions.

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In a mixing bowl add 1 1/2 cup flour, 1tsp, baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup butter (room temp), 1 large egg, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/3 cup buttermilk.  Mix all together.  It will be dry at first and you’ll need to scrape the sides as it mixes.  But it will smooth out.  Then add another 1/3 cup of buttermilk and mix until smooth and blended.

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Spoon batter into the cupcake paper filling about 2/3s full.

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Bake 15-18 minutes until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.  Put the cupcakes on a cooling rack to cool fully.

Next I made the lemon curd.  I bought some lovely organic lemons from our new local co-op for this.

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You will need one cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice, one cup sugar, 1/2 cup of melted butter, and 2 large eggs.  Use a fairly large bowl for this as the curd tends to expand near the end of cooking.  Mix all of this together.

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Now King Arthur recommends cooking in the microwave one minute at a time with stirring in between.  This is because every microwave is different and it could be done quickly or if your microwave is old like ours it can take awhile.  But you need to stir each time.   As it gets close to being done it will rise up quickly in the bowl so I found towards the end I was doing 20 second intervals.

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The curd should coat the back of the spoon like a syrup.

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This needs to chill for a few hours to thicken.  Another reason to do it the day before.  Once the curd is ready it should look a bit like this does.

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The recipe mentions a cupcake corer.  Clearly I need to learn more as I had never heard of such a thing.  I just used a knife to take out plugs of cupcake which left little cones for the curd.

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Spoon in the curd into the little cones.

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I then put the cupcakes into the fridge to set some more while I did the meringue.  For the meringue take 3 egg whites and 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar and put it into a clean mixing bowl.

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Whip until you have soft peaks.

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Add 1/8 tsp of salt and mix it in.  Then add 6T of sugar, one at a time, as the mixer whips it into a lovely meringue.  I did this on high speed until I got the stiff peaks and it was “light and billowy” per King Arthur.

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It mentions then piping it onto the cupcakes.  One that just leads to more dishes and two I like the random peaks, just like the pie.  So I spooned the meringue onto the cupcakes and created the peaks.

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Then place under the broiler until golden.  This happens very quickly as I learned today as, ahem, some came out more toasted than the others.  Oops.

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Once you slice into this lovely lemony dessert the curd should be slightly runny but not too much.

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Well worth the effort.  Though the only bad part about this is it only makes 12!  Sigh.  🙂