Posts Tagged lemon
Cauliflower gets a bad rap. It really isn’t fair. It’s mild, succulent, and easy to prepare, yet I know far too many people who won’t consider eating it without first drowning it beyond recognition in an unholy sauce of Velveeta cheese. Don’t get me wrong here, I love cheese, but sometimes your vegetables deserve better.
Enter cauliflower couscous. During Passover, it takes the place of grains. The rest of the time, it’s simply a favorite accompaniment to salmon or a cheese plate or anything made of lamb.
I saw this recipe in a cookbook called the Breakaway Cook and for some reason failed to buy it. I probably changed the method drastically, and added greens because everything is better with greens. Add a good dose of citrus and a touch of olive oil and you’re good to go.
1 head of cauliflower
1/3 to 1/2 lb collard green chiffonade
1/4 cup yuzu, lime, or lemon juice (yuzu juice can be hard to find, but more than worth keeping an eye out for.)
2-3 T olive oil
salt, to taste
Chop the cauliflower into florets.
Place the florets in the bowl of a food processor and pulse in short bursts until the pieces mostly range between the size of peas and grains of rice. I find this easier in small batches, a handful at a time, but if your food processor is larger and less prone to let pieces of food surf above the blades than mine, feel free to do it all at once.
Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat and add the cauliflower. Drizzle the olive oil over it and sauté for about 10 minutes.
Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the yuzu (or lemon or lime) juice. Pop a lid over the pan and steam for another 10 minutes.
Crank the heat back up to high and add the greens. Cook, stirring constantly, another 3-5 minutes.
Add salt to taste and serve piping hot. This is an amazing accompaniment to honey-braised lamb shanks, but just as good as a main dish with a plate of olives and bocconcini. It’s simple enough to be worth making even when cooking for one, and good enough to bring out for company. It’s especially useful if, like most of us, you’re used to providing some kind of grain with dinner but are feeding someone who can’t eat gluten.
You could easily mix it up to complement a different palate–make it with peas and turmeric instead of greens with Indian food, or add some diced eggplant and apricots for a Middle Eastern meal. Use orange juice and sliced olives one time, red wine and figs the next. I’ll always come back to greens, though; there’s nothing quite like greens in almost any savory dish you can think of.
Meyer lemons only seem to appear here for a scant few weeks every year. When they do, I buy more than I can use and cook up a storm in hopes that the lemony goodness will last me until next winter. It never does, but that’s all right because there are sweet, delicious Meyer lemons right now.
As much as I love a traditional tiramisu, coffee and chocolate seem to make the dish a bit too rich for my taste. Replacing them with lemon removes any heaviness from the dish, replacing it with a tart freshness that acts as a perfect foil to the slight sweetness of the ladyfingers. A sprinkling of lemon zest and shaved white chocolate provide a perfect finish.
Probably the best thing about tiramisu is how easy it is to make, and how mind-bogglingly impressed people are when you make one. I buy ladyfingers pre-made, because although they’re not difficult to make, getting the sides perfectly straight isn’t a trick I’ve mastered yet, and I have no complaints about the flavor of store bought cookies. I do use raw egg, which bothers some people, but if your eggs are fresh and clean the risk of Salmonella infection is minimal. If you prefer, you can use pasteurized eggs to remove the possibility entirely.
Other than an egg and some ladyfingers, all you need is marscapone, a touch of sugar, the juice and zest of a Meyer (or regular, if you prefer) lemon, and a splash of vodka or limoncello.
Ingredients (makes a square three-layer tiramisu, serves two)
8 oz Marscapone cheese
2 T sugar
juice of one Meyer lemon, divided use
2 T vodka or limoncello
zest of one Meyer lemon
white chocolate shavings, to garnish
Measure out 2 T of lemon juice.
Combine the marscapone, egg yolk, sugar, and 2 T lemon juice, and 1 T of vodka in a mixing bowl.
Mix until uniform in color and texture.
Whip the egg white to stiff peaks. Scoop the egg white over the marscapone mixture.
Fold it in gently to incorporate.
Set the bowl aside and combine the rest of the lemon juice and the remaining 1 T of vodka in a shallow dish. Dip three ladyfingers in the mixture for about 2 seconds each side, being careful not to oversaturate. You’ll know it’s oversaturated if it crumbles in your hands. Arrange the three cookies on a serving plate.
Spread about 1/3 of the marscapone mixture over the three ladyfingers. Dip the next three, add them perpendicular to the first stack (this add structural stability, like in Jenga), then another 1/3 of the marscapone mixture, and finish with the rest of the ladyfingers and marscapone.
Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. Before serving, grate the zest of a Meyer lemon over the top of the tiramisu, and grate a bit of white chocolate over that.
The flavor is bright but not overwhelming. The lemon is present, but takes a backseat the the creaminess of marscapone and the delightful contrast of texture provided by the ladyfingers. If you want something simple and elegant for Valentines day, add a couple of raspberries for the obligatory pink color and you’re set for dessert. In any case, make this soon. It’s amazing.
Right about now I have to stop and let you know that it is day 800 (okay, so I lost count and am guessing. It feels like 800.) of temperatures over 100°F. Until further notice, all desserts are cold and 90% of them will come in the form of milkshakes. However, my friend likes blueberries best, so there was also this.
Apparently this tart is the best thing I’ve ever made. So say my co-workers. And I have to admit, it was pretty tasty. I love this tart crust (Dorie Greenspan’s), even if it always resists my every attempt to roll it neatly and transfer it to the tart pan. It falls to crumbs. The texture that makes the chilled dough so frustrating to work with leads to such a delightful crunchy crumb once baked that I always forgive it instantly.
And then there’s the filling–as lemony as lemon curd, light, tangy, joyful, and COLD. Can I just make one of these and go live in the refrigerator until it rains or we get a cold front or both? Thanks.
Finally, top it off with piles of blueberries. Or any other fruit you like. I made a pair of single-serving tarts with the leftover crust dough, and topped mine with sliced banana and Mr. B just had his plain. But really, who doesn’t love blueberries?
Ingredients (makes 1 9-inch tart, serves maybe 10-12. )
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup superfine sugar*
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla
9 T butter
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup cream
2 cups fresh blueberries, or 3-4 sliced bananas, or a few mangoes and kiwis, sliced, or anything else you can think up.
First of all, I don’t know if you can buy superfine sugar. Confectioner’s/powdered sugar isn’t ideal here, because there’s corn starch in it. That can taste chalky, and possibly mess up the crust. To turn granulated sugar into superfine sugar, just toss 1/2 cup of sugar into the bowl of a food processor and run it for 30 seconds to a minute.
Voilà! The grains are tiny now. Add the flour and salt and pulse briefly to combine them. Add the cold butter in chunks, the yolk, and the vanilla.
Pulse in 10-second intervals until the dough comes together in a ball.
Let it chill in the fridge for at least two hours. When you get it out again, it’ll need a few minutes to soften up enough to work with. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
You don’t have to roll it, but don’t try to use all the dough to line your tart pan, either. The easiest way for me to do this is to roll out the dough and transfer it to the pan in irregular patches, then press the patches together. I had enough dough left over to line two 3/4 cup tart pans.
Cover the crust in buttered (guess who forgot that step?) foil and bake at 375°F for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 10.
Slightly burned. Just as tasty. Time to start the filling! Whisk the sugar and eggs together.
Whisk in the lemon juice and cream.
Pour the filling into the tart shell.
Bake at 375°F for about 20 minutes until it no longer sloshes.
Put the cooked tart in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. When you’re ready to serve, pile on the blueberries. Try not to eat too many berries at this time–you need enough to cover the tart.
And that’s it. You can add a sprinkling of powdered sugar if you like, or melt some apricot jam and brush it over the berries to make them shiny and glue them in place, but you don’t have to. Eat cold with a big glass of lemonade. Repeat until the weather improves.
When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the Two Fat Ladies. This was when I was still the pickiest eater in the known universe, so I might as well have been watching Fear Factor. These ladies would slather a pile of butter over an artichoke, that horrid bitter thistle (Hey, I love artichokes now, but as a kid? They were weird-looking and therefore definitely not edible.) and then they would eat it. They made muttachar, which horrified me, and not only because it included tomatoes. They ate chocolate cake without frosting, which my five-year-old mind thought was rather missing the point.
Through every episode, no matter what they were making, they were deadly serious with their admonitions against reducing calories. “The butter is a must.” “There is no substitute for lard or beef drippings–if you object, eat something else.” And always, at the end when they tried their creations, their faces conveyed absolute happiness.
So when I grew up and started eating real food, I picked up the Two Fat Ladies’ cookbooks all at once, without even looking through them. I had so many wonderful memories of their show, despite never having eaten anything they’d featured, that I couldn’t resist. Then I let the books sit on the counter for two years because, well, I didn’t want to become a fat lady.
I don’t care if I do anymore. Not that this particular dish is unhealthy in the least. Quail are such little birds, even if you cooked them in their weight in butter they’d still be little more than snacks. This version, with honey and lemon, is simply delightful. I adapted the recipe from this book only slightly, to add more garlic. I changed the method to make it a one-dish affair, because my dishwasher is broken and I don’t want to deal with it. It was perfect.
Ingredients (serves 2 with a generous helping of steamed vegetables)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T honey
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt to taste
Heat the oven to 450°F
I get my quail frozen, in packs that encourage the ice to cement them together like tiny poultry bricks. If I don’t thaw them completely before separating the birds, they will end up missing limbs. Fair warning.
I always remove the wingtips, not because I worry that I might accidentally try to eat them, but because they have a tendancy to stick straight up in the oven and then they burn. I dislike the smell of burning. Here is a wingtip:
Here is no wingtip:
There, that’s much better.
Melt the butter in a cast iron pan (or another heavy, oven safe pan), sauté the garlic until it begins to brown. Add the lemon juice and honey and stir briefly, then toss in the quail.
Brown the quail on all sides, then toss the whole pan in the oven for 10 minutes.
I decided to toss about 1/2 a cup of white wine into the pan after removing the quail and reducing it with the honey-lemon remnants for a quick sauce.
Serve with loads of steamed vegetables, preferably with lemon to complement the lemon on the quail, and bread to mop up your sauce. Delicious!
All right. I finally used those last two lemons. I had to break a cardinal rule to do it (Thou shalt not make bar cookies in a pan smaller than 9×13), and I regret not having the extra lemons I would have needed to double these, but dear God are these things delicious.
I started out with David Lebovitz and his whole lemon bars from a week or so ago. I also remembered Smitten Kitchen’s delightfully fluffy Austrian shortbread and thought I just had to use that as the crust. Topped off with a bit of powdered sugar, these babies are soft and gently sweet with everything you’d expect from the meyer lemons. I’m addicted to them now, by the way. Hopelessly so. And my regular grocery store does not carry them. What am I going to do?
Well, to start with, I’ll tell you how to make these lovely things.
For the Crust
8 T (one stick) of cold butter
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
zest of 1 meyer lemon
For the Filling
1 whole meyer lemon
juice of a second meyer lemon (you know, like the one you just zested for the crust)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 t salt
2 T melted butter
Directions: Shortbread Crust
This could not be easier. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pile all of the shortbread ingredients into your food processor and pulse until crumbly like damp sand.
Pour the sandy stuff into a foil lined 8×8 pan and press down very gently on the shortbread. You still want it to have some airiness.
Then bake it for about 20 minutes at 350°F. The finished crust should look like this:
While it’s baking, you should wash your food processor, ’cause you need it again, and start making the lemony filling.
Directions: Lemon Filling
Chop up the whole lemon, scrape off the seeds, and plop the chunks into the food processor. Juice the zested lemon and add the juice, too.
Pulse until it looks like double thick orange juice. Yum, lemon puree!
Add sugar, eggs, flour, salt, and butter. Pulse these together, too. The mixture should be fairly smooth, but there will be a few lemon skin and pith bits floating around. Don’t worry about it; a little texture never hurt anyone. Pour this wondrous liquid over the hot shortbread, reduce the oven temperature to 300°F, and bake for 25 minutes. The center of the filling should jiggle a bit when you shake the pan, but no longer be liquid.
When baked, they have this amazing moon-crater texture. You can tell how light and airy they are just by looking at them.
Chill them for two hours to set the filling. Then the only really annoying part comes. You have to turn this:
which involves runing a butter knife very gingerly (ooh, ginger would be good) between the foil and the bars. This would probably have been easier if I had used heavy-duty foil, but I didn’t have any. As it was, I tore the foil in about nine places and yelled at it at least twice. Peel the foil away from the bars, and cut them into 16 2×2 inch squares. Then watch them try to run away as you try to take a picture, because Mr. B absolutely could not wait another 1/500th of a second to eat one.
I was tempted to use part brown sugar, but I’m glad I didn’t. Those lemons really deserved to shine, and this recipe absolutely lets them. I have made a great many citrus bars, and these are by far the best. Even better than the world’s sourest lemon-lime bars. They’re delicate and sweet and taste more like lemonade and cookies than anything else.