Category Archives: lemon

Requiem for Spring

arugula

arugula sprouts, basil and chives

This is my first post to this blog in about a year. Sorry I’ve been away for so long. 2010 has been quite the year.  Lots of transitions at work, side projects etc. Winter has finally come to NYC. Last night I was out with Mark and Nikki to see a movie and the 2 block walk to their car was a brutal 29 degrees. It has me longing for spring and relaxing on my balcony in the sun. I’ve been going through my archives of photos – many many more blog posts to come – and I found these shots of my garden. This year I went all out and planted tomatoes, a large box of arugula, several types of herbs and my ever loyal lemon tree. Miraculously everything turned out great. Though the tomatoes don’t look like much, there were delicious. The arugula was the standout star and produced several amazing salads. Even though its freezing out, the chives are still growing and flavoring my dishes.

tomatoes

yellow plum tomatoes grown on my balcony


lemon tree

budding lemons

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Curd and Coconut Butter Cream Icing

Frances’s favorite dessert flavor is coconut and lemon. This was the flavor of her wedding cake so it was only natural to make cupcakes in the same flavor to mark the birth of her new baby. These are very rich. The icing and cake are super sweet, but the very tart curd really balances out the full package. Eat these with a fork!

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Curd and Coconut Butter Cream Icing

Lemon Cake:
2 3/4 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
½ cup butter flavored shortening
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon extract
juice and zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all of the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add the shortening, eggs, milk and extracts and turn the mixer on low. Once the flour is combined turn the mixer on high and beat for at least 5 minutes so that the batter gets fluffy. Add the lemon juice and zest and stir to combine

Pour the batter into the cupcake liners and bake for at least 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes then remove them to a wire rack and cool completely.

Lemon Curd Filling:
4 egg yolks
1 egg
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 lemons, juiced and zested
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter

Beat the eggs and sugar in a medium size metal bowl until the mixture gets thicker and a lighter lemon color.

Fill a small saucepan one third of the way full with water. Place on medium high heat and wait till the water starts to bubble and steam rises.

Add the rest of the ingredients, except the butter, to the egg mixture and stir. Place the metal bowl over the hot water and keep whisking until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.

Remove the curd from the heat and slowly mix in the butter. Transfer the curd to a plastic container and press the top with plastic wrap. Cool in the refrigerator until needed.

Coconut Cream Icing:
3/4 cup egg whites
1 cup sugar
4 sticks butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons coconut extract
2 tablespoons coconut cream
¼ teaspoon salt
1 7 oz package of organic coconut flakes
2 tablespoons light rum
.1oz vile of gold pearl dust

Combine the egg whites and sugar in a metal bowl. Beat with a balloon whisk to combine. Place the bowl over a pot filled with water and heat on medium heat. Keep beating the eggs to dissolve the sugar and the mixture will start to thicken and turn white. When the grit is gone from the eggs, about 20 minutes later, transfer the egg whites to a stand mixer and beat on high to form soft peaks.

Fold the room temperature butter into the eggs and continue to beat on high. Add the salt, extracts and coconut cream and beat one last time to combine. Refrigerate the icing mixture at least 30 minutes so that it starts to harden but doesn’t fully set.

White Chocolate Lavender and Lemon Truffles

Lavender and lemon are classic French flavors. Moreover, the scent of lavender was found to be an aphrodisiac so it makes it super fitting for a baby shower. The addition of the sugared flowers to the tops of the truffles makes them look 100% professional. They add a nice crunch as well.

White Chocolate Lavender and Lemon Truffles

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
peal of one lemon, only the yellow part
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 ½ pounds white chocolate
1/2 pound semi sweet chocolate
candied flowers, for garnish

In a small heavy bottom sauce pan, heat the cream, lavender an lemon peal. Bring the cream just to scalding. Turn off the heat and let the flavors steep for at least 30 minutes. Strain out the lemon and lavender.

Chop the white chocolate into small chunks. Place it into a large metal bowl. Add the cream, extract and salt. Place the chocolate bowl over a pot filled with water on medium heat. Let the chocolate steam over the water for at least 10 minutes. Using a whisk, once the chocolate is melted, start in the center of the bowl and slowly whisk to combine into a silky ganache. Remove the chocolate from the heat and let to cool to room temperature.

Using two teaspoons, spoon out balls of ganache onto baking trays lined with parchment paper. Roll the balls into globes with your hands. If your hands are super warm like mine are, or if your ganache is still too soft, place the trays in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up the confections.

Chop the semi sweet chocolate and place it into a medium size metal bowl. Place it over a pot of water on medium high heat, stirring with a rubber spatula intermittently. Let the chocolate melt completely. Pick up some of the melted chocolate with the spatula; drop it back into the pool of chocolate. If the falling chocolate sinks into the rest of the melted chocolate the temper is broken. If it still piled up on top of the surface, continue to heat the chocolate. Once the chocolate is fully melted, move the medium size bowl into a larger metal bowl that is a quarter full of ice and cold water. Continue to mix the chocolate, paying special attention to mix in the hardening chocolate that is sticking to the sides of the bowl. Test the chocolate to see if the temper has returned, life some of the melted chocolate out of the bowl and drizzle it back into the pool of melted chocolate. Once the temper has returned, the chocolate will stack up on itself as opposed to sinking back into the bowl.

Drop the ganache balls into the melted chocolate. Roll them to coat and extract them using two small spoons. Place the coated truffles onto the parchment paper. Once you have finished dipping the truffles, break up the sugared flowers into nice size petals. Place a small bit of melted chocolate on top of each truffle and use it to affix one petal. Cool the finished truffles in the refrigerator. Store the truffles in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Squidy Goodness

Squid is one of my favorite foods. However, I try to order it for takeout in my hood and it is always sub par. I ordered this once from the Italian takeout joint around the corner and it was so lack luster that I had to make it better myself.

Sautéed Calamari

5 slices of thick cut bacon, chopped
½ onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
½ tablespoon Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
1 pound squid, cut into rings
10 black olives, chopped
½ lemon

Heat the bacon in a large skillet on medium high eat. Sautee until its crispy and golden brown. Drain off most of the fat and add the onions and garlic. Keep stirring and cooking until the onions are translucent and soft. Add the tomatoes, seasoning and salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes until the tomatoes turn into a sauce. Add the squid and olives and keep cooking, for about 5 minutes, until the squid looks done. Squeeze the lemon over the squid and serve.

Sugar High

I didn’t get any chocolates yesterday. This is probably a good thing as I’m feeling really sick today. So I want something sweet to help me feel better and give me energy. I want to taste springtime so I made this cheerful lemon pound cake. It goes great with a cup of soothing tea.

Iced Lemon Pound Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus 1/3 cup
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
juice and zest of 3 lemons
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use the wrappers from the butter to butter a loaf pan.

Beat the butter at high speed in a stand mixer till fluffy. Add the sugar and continue creaming the mixture. With the mixer running at low speed, add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla, the salt and the baking powder.

Fold in the flour and the zest, making sure the scrape down the bown. Beat the mixture on high speed until light and fluffy and fully incorporated. Mix in the juice of one of the lemons.

Bake the loaf for 65 to 75 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. In the mean time mix the 1/3 cup of sugar with the juice of 1 ½ of the lemons. Set aside.

Cool the cake in the pan for about 15 minutes. Remove it and cool on a rack over a pan. Baste the cake with the lemon sugar mixture, until all of the syrup is soaked up, including the syrup that falls off of the cake.

Mix the remaining juice of ½ a lemon with the 2 cups of powdered sugar to form an icing. Drizzle this icing over the top of the cake. Once the cake is fully cooled, slice and serve or store in the refrigerator.

Luscious, Light and Elegant

Cheesecake is one of the easiest desserts to make. As long as you have enough time to cook it and cool it, it requires hardly any effort.

Lemon Cheesecake

1 cup roasted ground hazelnuts
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
16 oz sour cream
3 – 8oz packages of cream cheese
2 cups sugar
juice and rind of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons lemon extract
5 eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the hazelnuts, graham cracker, powdered sugar and butter in the bottom of a 10-inch spring form pan. Once it is all combined so that the butter is evenly distributed, press it into an even layer at the bottom of the ban and about ¼ to ½ inch up the side of the pan.

In a large stand mixer, beat the sour cream. By starting with the sour cream, the cream cheese will not stick. Add in the cream cheese, starting on low then moving til hi till the dairy products are lighter and fluffier and not lumpy. Add the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and lemon extract. Keep beating until it is as smooth as possible. Turn off the beater and add in the eggs. Turn the mixer on to medium and beat just long enough to combine. It is important to only mix the eggs a minimal amount so that the cheesecake won’t crack when baking.

Place the cheesecake in the oven for 1 hour, until the top is lightly brown and the cake is puffy. Chill the cake on a rack to room temperature then in the refrigerator over night.

Cookies

Cookies

Yesterday I had to write a venture idea for my Social Entrepreneurship class. Of course I wrote about a bakery. And to cement that, I baked a batch of cookies, cherry chocolate chip. I discovered that if I slightly modified the base for Nestle Toll House Cookies, that it could be made into anything. The key is to use organic butter and a tiny but more salt and baking soda. So I’ve done this with white chocolate and macadamia nuts, or white chocolate and lemon… I think that the sky’s the limit. The cookies where really well received, the professor alone had 5. I love it when people enjoy the things I make.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

Directions:
PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. 

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.