Friday, January 29, 2010

When Life is a Lemon

In the crazy of the last month...or should I say the crazy in my head in the last month, I have not cooked, baked, simmered, or steamed with lemon.
I have zested my water with lemon (when limes were not around.)
And I have resisted the urge to lick my lemon curd hand cream.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Lemonade with Rose Water

Scott makes fresh lemonade for Isaac all the time.
So- he had made a glass of lemonade with about 1/4 cup lemon juice, ice water and sugar to taste.   This particular evening we added about 6 drops of Rose Water and a splash of Gin.  Lovely!! Would be great on a hot summer day.  The rose water is really distinctive and goes so well with Hendricks.  It also is fine without the alcohol (Isaac approved.)  

Lemon Pasta

Adapted from the recipe:

Pasta with Peas, Ricotta Salata, and Lemon

Gourmet  | August 1998

    * 6 ounces dried pasta such as farfalle (we used rigatoni)
    * 1 cup frozen peas
    * 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
    * 3 ounces ricotta salata cheese*
    * 1-2 lemons
    * 1 1/2 tablespoons basil oil
       Fresh terragon (if you like it)  for garnish

* good quality cheese and ingredients make a huge difference with an ultra simple sauce

Fill a 4-quart kettle three fourths full with salted water and bring to a boil for pasta and peas.

Tear basil into bite-size pieces and break ricotta salata into about 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Into a large bowl finely grate zest from lemons and squeeze enough juice to measure 2 tablespoon. Add basil, cheese, and oil. Cook pasta in boiling water until almost al dente. Stir in peas and continue to cook until pasta is al dente and peas are tender. Drain pasta and peas well. Add pasta and peas to bowl and toss to combine. Season pasta with salt and pepper (if you like fresh terragon you can add some at the end... we don't, so we skipped it). 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The English call these fairy cakes but I call them poppy seed prozac

As all of you know by now, I live in a tomb size room on the top floor of a Chinese church in central London with one window that has an incredible view of the back of another building. Thankfully, I have the bright and sunny London weather to cheer me up. Oh wait.... In any event, I packed a few recipes in my bag when I left the states after Christmas break including this recipe for lemon poppy seed butterfly cupcakes. It came from the one and only Jacquie Church Young in a deck of cupcake cards perfect for my small suitcase situation. They have everything one needs to put on her rain boots and face the London weather. i.e. - lemon curd, whipping cream and poppy seed goodness

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup buttermilk (the more fat the merrier)

Lemon filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Whipped topping:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

* powdered sugar for dusting

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F. Line 12 muffin tin cups with paper cupcake liners.

Make cupcakes:
In a large bowl beat butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth and light in color (about 1 minute). Add the eggs one at a time beating until each is blended (about one minute). Mix in the vanilla, lemon zest and poppy seeds. At low speed mix in half the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt just to incorporate it but do not over beat. Mix in buttermilk and blend it. Mix in the rest of the flour until the batter is smooth.

Fill each cupcake liner with a scant 1/4 cup of batter to about 1/2 inch below the top of the liner. Bake until the top feels firm and toothpick comes out clean. (about 18 minutes). the cupcakes should rise just above the liner top. Cool the cupcakes and remove from pan.

Make lemon filling:
In a saucepan, heat the butter and lemon juice over medium heat until the butter melts and the mixture is hot.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together and then mix in the dissolved cornstarch. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the egg mixture into the hot butter mixture. Stir until it comes to a boil and thickens (about 6 minutes). The sauce should look clear rather than cloudy. Remove this from the heat, strain into a bowl and stir in the lemon zest. Press the plastic wrap onto the surface of the sauce and use a toothpick to poke a few holes in the plastic to allow steam to escape. Refrigerate until cold.

Make whipped topping:
In a large bowl mix cream, powdered sugar and vanilla on medium high until firm peaks form (make sure they are firm or the wings will fall down and you will have a dead fairy). Use a rubber spatula and fold 1/4 cup of the lemon filling into the whipped cream. Add 1/2 cup of the filling and swirl leaving yellow streaks visible.

Assembling the fairy cakes:
Cut off the top of each cupcake. Dust the tops with powdered sugar and cut in half. Mound whipped topping onto cake bottoms. Place the cut cupcake tops on the whipped topping with the cut halves facing out and up so they resemble wings. Spoon or pipe the remaining lemon filling between the wings.

Serve or cover and refrigerate.

I'm not going to lie to you. This takes a loooooong time to make but the end result is so worth it.

If you are short on time I suggest making the whipped topping and lemon filling and eating them with a spoon or your finger.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Who's game?

So, who all is in?  And Courtney-- is the first topic Lemons?  And how long do we have?  A month? or till the end of January?  I ask these questions in part for clarification and in part to make sure I could log out of my own blog and post here.  Seems like I might be able to! :-)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Lemon

I was hoping to come up with some grand motive for beginning our blog with a lemon.  The truth is, the blog decor made me think....lemon!  And there you have it.  Perhaps subconsciously I thought we could all use a little citrus sunshine to get us through the winter.  In any case, I was looking through a poetry book the other night and I came across a Pablo Neruda poem called A Lemon.  The very last line of the poem reads "the diminutive fire of a planet."  I just had lemon curd tonight and I think he may be right.