Homemade Nutella or, Because it’s there

by Caroline

I guess I feel about recipes the way some people feel about mountains. It’s there in front of you, so why not give it a shot? There is really no pressing need to make nutella (you could push it and say there’s no pressing need to eat nutella, but I won’t go so far), but when you find a recipe that looks so easy, and promises a result so delicious, why not? Besides, it’s summer. And in summer, we say yes.

1 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 10-11 minutes, or until fragrant. Wrap them in a kitchen towel and rub them to remove the skin; use your fingers as they cool and do the best you can — it won’t all come off. Let the nuts cool.

Grind the nuts in the food processor until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and continue blending until smooth and spreadable.

This keeps at room temperature for three days, apparently, or in the fridge for two months, but we wouldn’t know.

Grapefruit Ginger Curd

by Caroline

Although Lisa’s and my focus here is primarily on the food we cook and eat with our families, every once in a while I, at least, cook something I know no one else will like. Sometimes, I don’t even much care. A recipe strikes me because it has one of those appealing words (mmm, caramelized) or usefully uses up lots of produce, or just has a pretty picture accompanying it.

Sometimes, I simply need to be in the kitchen cooking, and the result is really far less important than the process. So it was Saturday morning. A writing project was preoccupying me, but I wasn’t ready to sit at the computer yet and tackle it. I needed to busy myself with something slow and methodical, something that would give me some time to think. It was too rainy to go out for a run — my usual habit when I’m mulling over an essay — and I could have baked bread or chopped vegetables to start a pot of soup (like I did just this time last year) but this recipe for grapefruit ginger curd had just arrived in my inbox. And so, perhaps weirdly, I made curd. I even did the tedious step of grating a knob of ginger and pressing the grated pulp through a strainer to produce fresh ginger juice — that’s the kind of distraction I needed. It’s worth it, really. It’s delicious. And the ten minutes at the stove stirring it were just enough to get me back to my writing, now with a piece of fresh toast spread with this sunny, citrusy curd on top.