Light Recipes for the Holidays

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Eating Light on Christmas Morning

Christmas feast.jpg

Photo from Google.com

Devoutly religious or certainly secular, the one thing we all have in common over the holidays is the feasting. For me growing up, Christmas Eve was an elegant roast dinner – beef or lamb – then Christmas Day it was all about the bird. After that, it was left-over mania – with zero waste and zero complaints! Roast beef or turkey sandwiches, casseroles; a comforting, completely un-healthy lunch of reheated mashed potatoes drowning in gravy.

Some folks aren’t satisfied with two gut-busting dinners in a row, and what with extended or fractured families, folks coming in from abroad, and all the friends we never have time to get together with, Christmas Morning or Boxing Day brunch is now one more thing to add to the To-Do list. Not to worry; we’ve got a couple of light recipes for the holidays that are sure to lighten the workload and the menu.

Take it easy on yourself and on everyone’s tummies. Instead, think: light, bright, airy, and fresh. Skip the rich Hollandaise sauce; as yummy as it is, after all those meaty meals, it’s just too rich. Don’t get me wrong, there’s always room for homestead-fresh eggs, it’s all in how they’re prepared.

Light and Fluffy Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd over Cake.jpg

My light and fluffy lemon curd is a little tart, a little sweet, easy to whip up, and perfect with fresh sweet buns, biscuits, meringue, croissant, pancakes, crêpes, waffles or fresh fruit – blueberries and raspberries, especially. Truth be told, I’ll eat a small dish of this stuff all on its own.

As well as all the ways I’ve mentioned enjoying this above, this multi-purpose curd makes a great addition to a trifle, as a filling for tarts or tartelettes, between layers of lemon or vanilla cake, over vanilla ice cream…on and on. Make extra; some to eat and some to put into pretty little jars for gifting.

But wait, I know what you’re thinking; curd is rich, it’s made with a whack of egg yolks! OK, but I use whole eggs in my version, and that lightens it right up. It’s fluffier, more airy, and a very soft, pretty, pale yellow.

My recipe calls for vanilla sugar, which is also a bit different, but I just love the combination of vanilla and lemon. If you have it or want to make it, great. If not, regular white sugar is just fine. And please remember to wash the lemons first, since we’ll be using the zest.

Ingredients:

½ cup vanilla or regular white sugar

½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Zest of 1 lemon

4 eggs

6 Tbsp butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks

Directions:

Into the top part of a double boiler or 

bainmarie2.sm (2).jpegbainmarie, add the sugar and juice; whisk together. It’s important to use a whisk - not a spoon – to whip air into the curd.


Make sure the water is only simmering, not boiling. It’s vital to keep a close watch on the heat; the sugar and lemon juice should never be too hot, just warm. If it’s too hot, you’ll end up with a batch of sweet, lemony scrambled eggs. Use your fingers to feel the side of the bowl or double boiler.

To be on the safe side, keep another pot or bowl of ice water beside the stove. If the curd becomes too warm, dunk the bowl or top part of the double boiler into the ice water and whisk super-fast. That will bring down the temperature in a snap.

Add the eggs and whisk vigorously for the next 20 minutes or so. Whisk and every now and then, use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides to integrate the curd clinging there. 

Once the mixture is starting to thicken—about the consistency of Greek yogurt—whisk in the butter, one chunk at a time. Add the zest and whisk to incorporate.

 

Once all the butter has been added and the curd is lovely, smooth, and thick, set it aside to cool uncovered at room temperature. Once it’s fully cooled, cover and chill in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 ½ –2 cups

Chinese Egg Cakes

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If you can make muffins, you can make these really different little cakes. Even better, they’re great with my lemon curd. A Christmas miracle? Perhaps. Almost an angel food cake, but chewier and with a crispier top. Light and low fat, they’re hard to stop eating, which is a good thing, because they don’t keep well. Eat them up the same day!

Ingredients:

4 free-run eggs

1 cup vanilla (or regular) sugar, plus a little extra for dusting the tops (optional) I like to use a flavored or colored sugar sometimes.

Pinch fine sea salt

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 ½ Tbsp. neutral-flavoured vegetable or peanut oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Line a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin papers or grease and flour; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with electric beaters on medium high – high speed, beat the eggs, sugar, salt, until pale yellow and fluffy – almost meringue-like; about 1 minute.

Into another bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together, then, using a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture; incorporate completely. The mixture should be smooth, without any lumps.

Add the oil and stir well to combine.

Fill the cups to about ¼ -inch from the top and, if you like, sprinkle a pinch of sugar onto each cake.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops are golden and just firm to a gentle touch. When these little beauties are done, they will tell you with a crackling sound.

Allow to cool in the tin until they can be handled, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

 

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Signe Langford

Signe Langford

Signe Langford is the author of Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs; Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden with 100 Recipes. She is a chef, Toronto food writer and backyard chicken fanatic.

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