Monthly Archives: February 2016

Lemonpalooza

On-pillows-light

California Dreamin’ on Such a Winter’s Day

Lemonpalooza: n. a celebration of all that is warm, bright and tangy; hope in the home stretch of winter; antidote to a common addiction amongst native Californians and Floridians; yum.

As I was packing a shoe box of Meyer lemons in to my checked baggage, my sister suggested: “You need lemon rehab.” A day earlier I had packed a flat rate priority mail box with lemons and had just returned from the home tree with another batch. Earlier she had bottled a batch of lemon syrup for me, and the lemon possets for dessert were cooling in the fridge. Gnawing on the peel of a juiced half lemon (dentists everywhere are recoiling) I nodded. “You might be right.”

But there is no kicking this addiction. As I boarded my plane back to NH I could not help but have a pang for every Meyer lemon left unpicked in the family tree and in the entire Bay Area megalopolis. I take solace in knowing I did my best.

Here’s a small sampling of how those lemons will be worshiped this week:

The first recipe comes from “The Lemon Cookbook” (of lemon cauliflower couscous fame) which I gave to my sister. The book’s chicken and toasted bread salad has been among their family’s Bring-It staples ever since. It’s sturdy, hearty, delicately and boldly flavored (can that be? Yes, oh yes!) with co-roasted lemons and shallots. And here’s the real kicker—it’s even better the next day.

The ease of rotisserie chicken notwithstanding, reading and re reading all the steps makes the entire recipe a pain in the butt to make the first time. That said, virtually all the labor (and flavor) is in the dressing. So we’re going to take just that element on now, and it will make for many happy salads with or without chicken and toasted bread. 

The other recipes are ridiculously easy: Meyer lemon simple syrup is a juice-intensive staple to brighten tea, seltzer, pancakes, vodka, etc; and lemon posset is a sweet, tart, creamy, perfectly textured pudding/custard with no eggs or special techniques involved.

As good as these recipes are, they are merely a gateway to all the transformational possibilities of Meyer lemons in winter. Roast them, juice them, preserve them (Pickled lemon chutney? I’m looking at you next!), and let them bring a little sunshine in to your life.

Roasted Lemon-Shallot VinaigretteLemon-salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon, halved and seeded with the tip of a sharp knife
  • 8 oz shallots peeled and halved if large
  • 3 large cloves garlic unpeeled
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
  • 2 ½ tsp kosher salt, divided
  • juice of one lemon

Method:

Preheat oven to 400. Toss lemon, shallots, garlic and 2 sprigs thyme in 1/4 cup oil and 1 tsp salt. Spread in baking dish in one layer, with cut sides of lemon down. Cover with foil and bake 45-55 minutes or so, until shallots are caramelized and lemons are totally soft. Remove from oven and let cool.

When cool, remove lemon pulp from peel and put it (minus peel and any remaining seeds) into the blender. Add shallots, garlic insides (squeezed from skin), lemon juice, and any accumulated liquid to the blender. Process until smooth. Add remaining oil in a stream. Stir in thyme leaves from remaining sprigs and salt to taste.

Say tuned for a pro version of the chicken and toasted bread salad, pictured above, which is leftover roasted chicken tossed with arugula, plumped currants, rustic bread—torn, tossed with oil and oven-toasted— and this dressing.

This next recipe comes from Cooks Illustrated, so even though it is super simple of course it has some crazy essential step. In this case it is measuring the hot liquid until it is the proper volume. They have a workaround which is even more complicated, so let’s just stick to Plan A. It’s no big.

Lemon Possetposset

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 6 Tbsp Meyer lemon juice
  • Fresh blueberries or raspberries

Combine cream, sugar and zest in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Heat, stirring as mixture boils. Boil, stirring frequently, for 8-12 minutes, until reduced to 2 cups (pour it off into pyrex measuring cup to check when it’s there). Remove from heat, stir in juice and let cool 20 minutes. Strain into bowl or directly into six individual ramekins/posset containers (see at right. who knew?). Discard strained zest, or eat it when nobody is looking. Chill possets uncovered until set, at least 3 hours. Wrap and store in refrigerator for up to two days. To serve, unwrap and let sit at room temperature 10 minutes. Garnish with berries.

 

Meyer Lemon Simple SyrupSyrup-tree

2 cups strained fresh Meyer lemon juice
2 cups granulated sugar
zest of 3 Meyer lemons

Wash and gently scrub lemons. Using a zester or vegetable peeler, remove strips of zest from fruit, being careful to remove only the yellow zest, none of the bitter white pith.

Combine sugar, zest and lemon juice in medium saucepan. Heat until simmering over medium heat, stirring to completely dissolve sugar. Increase heat and bring to a gentle boil. Remove saucepan from heat. Cover and set aside to steep 10 minutes. Strain into glass containers. Discard zest, or, you know what I’d do.

Makes 3 cups. The syrup will keep 1 week in the refrigerator, 6 months in the freezer.

granite-lemons

Southern Comfort in the Granite State

 

 

 

 

Follow? Like? Share? Yes please!:

The Souper Bowl

Souper Bowl of green goodness

What if all your favorite ingredients jumped in pool of green goodness? It could happen.

It’s tough being a Raiders fan. But it does take the pressure of having to ever get worked up over the Super Bowl. This year, once again, I have no skin in the game, which clears the way to concentrate on snacks.

This “soup” is more of a pesto-like base that is diluted with hot water to become the venue for a pool party of your favorite ingredients. Ever since seeing it on a list of  “best yet most ignored recipes of 2015,” I’ve been wanting to make it. It’s got it all—fresh greens and savory herbs, spicy ginger, hot peppers, edgy garlic, creamy almonds and a sweet touch of honey. A severe lack of both exercise and vegetables has only intensified my desire to have a batch of green goodness on hand.

Disclaimer here: This is not for everyone, as attested to by some haters in the comments on the original recipe. If you want a thick creamy soup that is filling on its own, make yourself a batch of the best squash soup ever. This make a thin, flavorful broth which can be sipped like therapy on its own, or used as the backdrop for all manner of yummy things. I also find it pretty irresistible in its undiluted form where it can be used like pesto: spread thinly on toasts, bruschetta style; dabbled atop burrata; swirled into hot grains, pasta or roasted veggies, etc.

I totally support  the pursuit of tradition. Go boldly into the meaty, cheesy, creamy core of the Internet to find classic super bowl snacks. But while you’re getting chips and cheese and potato skins and fixin’s for chili (don’t forget the killer cornbread) and seven layer dip, throw some greens and citrus, ginger and peppers in your cart. Whir up this concoction in the food processor it will sit quietly ready for when you crave an instant bowl of health and comfort.

With a thorough tour of the produce department and very little time or effort you can make a supply of this and know you have paid your health insurance premium through winter.

Souper Bowl with Roasted kabocha squash

Roasted kabocha squash filled with green goodness and topped with frizzled shallots and toasted seeds. Can you say extra credit?

The Souper Bowl of Green Goodness

AKA Heidi Swansons Spicy Green Soup

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (1 liter) water
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup (20 grams) firmly packed basil leaves
  • 1 1/4 cups (35 grams) firmly packed cilantro leaves and stems
  • 1/4 cup (7 grams) lightly packed mint leaves
  • A thick 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small serrano chiles, stemmed
  • 1/2 cup (45 grams) sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey (Vegans- do your workarounds)

Options for Making it Awesome:

  • Poached eggs, hot white beans, soba noodles, or brown rice, to serve
  • Chopped black olives, lemon wedges, toasted almonds, shaved green onions, or roasted, sliced mushrooms (or other oven-roasted vegetable), to top

Method:

  1. In a saucepan, bring water just to a simmer.
  2. As the water heats, combine the garlic, basil, cilantro, mint, ginger, olive oil, chiles, almonds, salt, lemon zest, and honey in a food processor. Blend until smooth, thinning with a couple of tablespoons of cold water and scraping down the sides along the way, until the mixture becomes as smooth as possible.
  3. Taste and adjust to your liking; the paste should be strong and spicy.
  4. Just before serving, add the paste to the simmering water and stir well. Dial back the heat at this point; you don’t want it to return to a simmer, but you do want it very hot.
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning—a bit more salt or a squeeze of lemon juice. (Editors’ note: Don’t skimp on the lemon!) Ladle into bowls with your chosen accompaniment and enjoy on its own or topped with any of the suggested toppings.

Bonus Recipe

I ran across this recipe for Vegan bouillon (see way below). I have not made it yet, but the fact that it includes miso and nutritional yeast—two totally weird tastes that I love—made me put dried mushrooms at the top of my shopping list. It’s an umami bonanza.

Vegan Bouillon

By Joe Yonan The Washington Post

Makes 1 cup; enough for sixteen 1-cup servings of broth. The bouillon paste can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 to 6 weeks or refrigerated for 3 to 4 months.

Ingredients

1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/4
cup porcini mushroom powder (may substitute 6 tablespoons shiitake mushroom powder; see NOTE)
1/4
cup white miso
1/4
cup canola or other neutrally flavored oil
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon granulated garlic (powder)
1 tablespoon celery seed
2 teaspoons sea salt

Method:

Combine the nutritional yeast, mushroom powder, white miso, oil, soy sauce, onion and garlic powders, celery seed and sea salt in a food processor; process to form a thick, smooth paste.

Use right away, or transfer to an airtight container.

Note: Make your own mushroom powder by crumbling dried mushrooms in a blender, food processor or a clean electric coffee grinder and processing until finely ground.

Follow? Like? Share? Yes please!: