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Posts tagged ‘Meyer Lemons’

Chicken Piccata


This is pure comfort food for me.

Chicken Piccata was a standard in our household when I was growing up.  Although for a while it was referred to Tonkatsu Chicken as my brothers and I preferred to dip our chicken in Tonkatsu sauce (basically a Japanese Worcestershire sauce) rather than squeezing fresh lemon over the top.  

I digress.  This is such a simple dish…and very easy to make on a weeknight as well.  Although I don’t have a crowd to feed…it was always a crowd-pleaser.  The chicken breasts I used were humongous…I probably should have cut each one in half once I had pounded them and saved half of the meat for another meal.  But it did make for some great leftovers, so I can’t complain.

Chicken Piccata

2 chicken breasts, pounded thin
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1-2 cups of breadcrumbs (panko or regular)
2 lemons (1 sliced and 1 juiced with seeds removed)
1-2 tbsp. capers
1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
2-4 tbsp. of butter
½ cup of white wine

First, place 1 chicken breast in a gallon size ziplock bag and using a meat pounder or rolling-pin, pound each breast until it is about ¼ to ½ inch thick.  This helps tenderize the meat and will help it to cook evenly and much faster.  Next, open a bottle of wine…pour yourself a glass and leave some to help deglaze the pan.

Next, ready your breading set-up.  Shallow bowls or plates with a lip on them, or even cake pans can work really well for this.

I was gifted these a few years ago and LOVE them.  They link together so you avoid the drippy egg all over the counter and they help maximize your workspace as they fit together tightly unlike round plates or bowls would.  When breading, remember wet sticks to dry and dry sticks to wet.  So start with the flour, the next pan should have the eggs lightly beaten and the last pan is for the breadcrumbs and don’t forget to season at each step.  I heavily season the chicken breast before the flour dredge and I usually season the egg with salt and pepper as well.

Next, put your pan on the heat and add some olive oil and a pat of butter…the oil has a higher smoke point and the butter helps things to brown nicely.  Once the pan is hot, gently lay the first chicken breast down.  I turn the heat up a bit at this point because as soon as you add your chicken, the pan will cool quite a bit.  If there’s room (don’t crowd the pan), add in the second chicken breast.  I turn the oven on warm (150-180º F) so I’ve got a warm place to hold the chicken while I make the sauce.

Turn the chicken breasts once the bottom side is browned handling them gently as you want to breading to stay on the chicken.  Remove the chicken from the pan once it is cooked through and the second side is browned as well – place on a plate in the oven.

Now it’s time for the sauce.  If there is a ton of oil in the pan, run a paper towel around to remove some of it without wiping up the little brown bits.  Next, throw in half of your lemon slices and some of the capers, and cook a bit as you want them to break down.  Remove the pan from the heat, and add the white wine to deglaze the pan and use a wooden spoon to get all the delicious browned bits up and incorporated into the sauce.  Add in the juice from 1 lemon, a dash of salt and pepper let all the liquids combine.  Before two much of the sauce has evaporated, add small and very cold chunks of butter to the pan and stir them in completely before adding the next chunk.  This is called mounting the sauce with butter.  The cold butter emulsifies and thickens the sauce.  Just before serving add in the rest of the capers, another few slices of lemon and the chopped parsley.  Plate the chicken, top with lemon and drizzle the sauce over and serve it with rice.

C’est Parfait!

Panna Cotta – Under Construction! {a little help over here…please!}


Okay readers.  Clearly, I am in need of your help, your collective knowledge and wisdom, your trial and error experience with the seemingly simple (any-idiot-should-be-able-to-make-it) Italian dessert – panna cotta.

Don’t get excited…I did not make this one…

{via}

I made this one.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that a perfect panna cotta is not supposed to look like this…

Seriously…I’ve searched and searched for clues as to why it separated…and I can find none.  I repeat…NONE!  I followed the recipe exactly.

Okay not e-x-a-c-t-l-y…but very close.  Instead of using vanilla, I used Meyer lemons as the flavoring, the juice and some of the zest.  I bloomed the gelatin and heated the milk, stirred it altogether to make sure it was good and mixed…I poured it into little ramekins and let it cool a bit and then put them in the fridge.

(and what’s worse…I served them to my in-laws who were visiting…who were more than polite and delved right in as if eating gelatinized milk with a weird-looking yellowish layer on top was nothing other than sheer delight – luckily they are good-humored individuals!)

It tasted fine as well…but the bi-level layering and the yellowish top layer was a bit hard to get past.

So what happened, huh?

Attempt number two is happening this afternoon…but, if that one doesn’t turn out.  I may have to throw in the panna cotta towel.

{I’m counting on you, readers, to pull me out of panna cotta hell and tell me what went wrong!  Puh-lease!}

oh…and Happy Mother’s Day!

—– UPDATE—–

I made a second batch yesterday afternoon using a Mark Bittman recipe for Vanilla Buttermilk Panna Cotta.  The process varied quite a bit, and I was sure it would work out this time.  Many have thought that my issue may have been caused by the acid in the lemon juice – but yesterday’s recipe contained no lemon at all!  I was feeling very confident and pulled one out of the fridge after dinner and dug my spoon in…only to find that once again…full separation.

At this point, panna cotta and I are in a fight…a big one, and currently, I’m holding a big grudge.  We’ll have to talk it over at some point but I think right now I need some space!  GEEZ!

So I now request your help once again…or I’m going to start email-stalking Bittman himself until he discovers the error of my ways!

Help!

Minted English Pea & Lemony Feta Crostini


I love me some summer, and all the light fresh summer dishes that appear at potlucks and barbecues this time of year.  However, I have a confession.  I have a love-hate relationship with peas.  Mushy green things were a common side on my plate growing up and I remember many a night when I sat at the table long after everyone else had finished…and all I had to do was eat 3 more bites of peas.  Gross!  Then I grew up (a little) and met fresh english peas…treated with the respect that such a pretty and perfectly petite vegetable deserved.  I loved them.  I convinced myself that they were two entirely different things that shared no common traits.  I’m still wary of pea dishes and always approach them with suspicion.  This little dish is shockingly simple but more than the sum of its parts.

Minted English Pea & Lemony Feta Crostini

Ingredients:

English peas, shelled
Feta (about 8 oz.)
1-2 tbsp.’s of ½ & ½ or milk
Fresh mint
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Baguette or crostini toasts
Sea salt for finishing

Start by blanching the peas in heavily salted boiling water for no more than 2-3 minutes.  Before you toss the peas into the pot, prepare a bowl of ice water and place it in the sink.  When the time is up, remove the peas and pour into a colander and then immediately submerge them in the bowl of ice water.  This will shock those little peas and keep them from overcooking and it sets the bright, fresh green color.  Once they have completely cooled, go ahead and drain the peas.

Next, get the feta, drain it and place it in a medium size mixing bowl.  I used half of a 16 oz. package.  Using a fork, mush up the feta and slowly add the ½ & ½ or milk.  Mix it up until it is a nice consistency for spreading on toasts, err on the side of keeping it a little thicker than you think.  First zest the lemon and then slice in half and squeeze all the juice out into a bowl or measuring cup.  Add in a tbsp. of lemon juice, a tsp. of the lemon zest, a sprinkling of salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.  This is a taste-as-you-go-recipe…so keep tasting and adding ingredients as needed.  You want a creamy spreadable feta with a floral lemon notes from the zest and a bit of zing from the juice.  The black pepper can be a prominent flavor as well.

Let the spread chill in the fridge for a bit.  Now grab the cooled peas and throw them in a bowl.  Take 5-10 mint leaves and stack them on top of one another, starting on the long side, roll them up like they are a yoga mat and then slice them very thinly.  Poof!  Chiffonade!  Sprinkle the mint into the peas, add some salt and maybe just a touch of lemon juice.  We brought these over to a barbecue…so I packaged everything separately and built the crostini on location…no one likes a soggy crostini.  Oh…did I mention the crostini/toasts…yeah, make them.  (Slice baguette thinly, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet and then put in a 375º oven for 4-6 minutes – watch them carefully…you want them to dry out a bit and get just barely toasty, remove from oven, flip them over, repeat the drizzling and sprinkling and toss them back in the oven for another few minutes…maybe only 3 – cool completely and store in airtight bags.  Voilá…Crostini!)

Time to assemble the toasts:  spread on lovely layer of feta, place the peas over the top, add a little lemon zest, a little mint and finish with some flaky sea salt.

The other parts of this barbecue are SO worth mentioning…we grilled some white salmon that marinated in 3 mustards, tarragon, olive oil and a little vinegar. we’ve been lucky enough to cook some white king salmon once before!

It’s hard to make asparagus better than when it is lightly oiled and thrown on the grill!

This is Juno, the sweetest Doberman we’ve ever met…she makes our Cleo dog look like a miniature breed.  They are good friends and neither one of them minded when they got to nibble on a little of the cooked salmon skin!

We used some foil under the salmon as we could not bear the thought of losing even the slightest morsel to the slots on the grill.

We finished the salmon with more fresh tarragon and some fresh lemon.  And if you look really closely in the upper right hand corner of the photo…you’ll see some delicious sautéed fennel!  Unfortunately…no other photos are available of the complete dinner since I must have been on a trampoline when I took them – they were THAT blurry!

Sometimes, enjoying the meal with friends, while it is actually hot, is more important than getting the perfect shot!

Bon Appétit!

Meyer Lemon Limoncello!


Because who can say no lemons and alcohol?  I mean, really????

Back in late winter, we had more lemons than we could think of things to do with them.  Until some friends of ours, mentioned that they make their own limoncello, and that it was quite a simple process.

Remember all those lemons!

We used our microplane and grated the rind off of A LOT of lemons and then you put that in alcohol.  We went with vodka.  Next, you let it sit in a cool, dark place for a couple of months.  Yep, just let it sit there.  Give the jar a shake every so often, this helps distribute the essential oils from the peel and zest.

Last week, it had been a few more than a couple months…probably at least 6 months…I decided it was time.

The time had come to strain the peels out from the vodka.  A few recipes I looked at recommended using cheesecloth, I substituted a coffee filter and fine strainer which worked well.  In the meantime, I made a simple syrup – with equal parts water and sugar…and simmering until the sugar has dissolved.  Let the simple syrup cool completely.

Once cool, add the simple syrup (ratio of 1:1) to the infused vodka, and pour into clean bottles or jars that will seal tightly.  Make sure to leave some head space if you plan on putting the mixture in the freezer.  The alcohol content should keep it from freezing solid, but it will still expand.

To take it one step further…you can make a limoncello crema by adding milk to the mixture.  I first mixed the vodka with the simple syrup and then added milk to the mixture as well before bottling it.  So the ratio is probably 1:3 milk to vodka/syrup.  Again, leave plenty of head space in the crema bottles, as this mixture will expand a bit more than the simple limoncello.

Once bottled, place in freezer.  You’ll want to let this mellow and marry for at least two weeks before tasting.  Typically, limoncello is enjoyed post-meal, ice-cold and in small doses.  You may need to let it sit on the counter for five minutes to make sure it is defrosted enough to pour smoothly.

Disclaimer:  We have yet to taste this fabulous creation…but we expect nothing but greatness.  Also, I may have just read a book which mentions that Meyer lemons should not be used for limoncello as they are not tart enough…oops!  We’ll find out soon enough.  All things considered…I highly recommend Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It – an amazing book that I am eager to make more recipes from.

Have you made your own limoncello before?  Tips, thoughts, ideas…???!!!  Comment below.  I foresee many more endeavors into the makings of limoncello!

German Pancake (aka Best. Breakfast. Ever.)


This is my stand-by…my go-to…my ringer.  Rarely will you not have all the ingredients needed on hand.  It is impressive hot out of the oven, and yet takes hardly any effort or time to make.

I “learned” to make this very early on…I use the term very loosely.  I remember waking up early on Mother’s day when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade and my brother and I went into the kitchen to make ‘breakfast in bed’ for Mom.  We knew there were eggs, and flour and milk involved…and we threw in some combination of these things…we may have also added baking soda, baking powder, maybe a little sugar…ya know, we used things that you bake with.  We put it in the oven at some temperature, and then took it out when it looked done…and proudly served it on a tray with a single flower and orange juice to Mom…in her bedroom.  I distinctly remember her looking very pleased and excited, and then asking us to go get something that was missing…like the salt shaker, or honey for her tea, or a napkin or a knife.  The point is…it was all about making us leave the room…so we wouldn’t necessarily see her face when she took the first bite and realized it was not unlike a pasty, eggy, brick of clay with no distinct flavor and powdery clumps of flour bursting intermittently in your mouth.  “Amazing” she would say…and then add something like “It’s so good, I’m full already.”

I feel I have since mastered the proper method of making this almost-as-simple-as-rice-krispie-treats breakfast dish and despite a slight hesitation of blowing the ‘Wow’ factor of any future breakfast guests…the recipe is as follows.  Don’t go sharing it with everybody you know…or else your “I woke up at 5 am just to slave away over a hot oven to make you this” act won’t be believable!

German Pancake

6 Eggs
1 cup Flour
1 cup Milk
Pinch of Salt
2-4 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter

*Note: This recipe is very adaptable – the ingredients are very easy to manipulate based on how many people you will be serving.  For example, the pictures below show the makings of a 4 egg German Pancake (2/3 cup of milk, and 2/3 cup of flour).  You can make a mini-version with just 2 eggs…and double the recipe even…but I would cook it in two separate pans…otherwise it might take over your oven.*

Crack eggs into bowl, and whisk until light in color and a bit frothy.

Add in flour, beat with whisk until all lumps are gone…the thicker the batter, the easier it is to beat out the lumps.

Add in the milk and beat again until you have a smooth consistency, add in just a pinch of kosher salt.

Turn oven on to 450ºF and let it preheat.  At this point, choose a baking dish and place it on the oven to preheat as well.  Almost anything will work.  For a full recipe, a 9×13 pyrex is great, cast iron skillets work, ceramic bakers, square, round or oval, etc.  The important thing is that the pan/dish have sides that rise up at about a 90º angle.  I haven’t tried a pie dish…but it would probably work as well.

The batter is purposefully resting while the oven is preheating.  Once the oven is hot, drop the butter into the hot dish sitting in the oven…just watch it and let it melt…no need to swirl…once it is bubbly and the edges are starting to turn a toasty brown…its time.

Give your batter once last whisking, open the oven, pull out the rack and pour the batter into the hot buttery pan.  Push the rack back in, close the oven and set the timer for 20-25 minutes.

And…wait for it…wait for it…DON’T open the oven…be patient…and all of a sudden, 20-25 minutes later…POOF!

German Pancake!  I know, it’s magic.  Delicious magic!

Now, there are a couple different theories on the proper accompaniments to this wonderful, voluminous breakfast.  My older brother always preferred the lemon juice and powdered sugar route…while I was a stickler for sautéed apples with a bit of cinnamon, butter and a little brown sugar.  I love both options now, and the lemon and powdered sugar is the quicker topping.

Meyer Lemon Cake


We still have lemons.  Many lemons.  Apparently we have one of the most productive ever-bearing Meyer lemon trees on the planet.  And it is now flowering again…and being pollinated and will therefore be producing more fruit in the near future.  So my hunt continues for interesting and creative ways to juice, squeeze, preserve, cook with and bake with Meyer lemons.  Thoughts, recipes, ideas are welcome!  I found a recipe for this Meyer Lemon Cake in this book.

It is worth the time and many steps involved in making this cake…and I think that it might end up being a very simple cake to make…if I made it all the time.  Chez Panisse Cooking may not look like a very exciting cookbook with it’s lack of drool-inducing photographs of each recipe and ingredient…but the value of it’s actual substance – food philosophy, recipes, techniques and insight into Alice Waters – is huge.  I highly recommend all of the Chez Panisse series.  The illustrations are even worthy of frames hung on a wall. (See below for full recipe.)

First, start with Meyer lemons, zest them, and juice them.  The recipe calls for approximately 8 lemons.  I must have some really juicy lemons, because I only juiced 3.5 lemons and had more than enough juice for the cake.

Eggs are separated and whites are whisked until you have stiff, but not dry, peaks.  Copper bowl is not required…just fun to use if you have one.  I had to ask Woody if I could use his – as it was a Christmas gift after a very long and extensive search for a true copper round bottom bowl that wouldn’t break the bank – he’s always wanted one.  Permission was granted.

Eggs, lemon juice, sugar – beaten and frothy.

Sugary, lofty egg whites.

Flour added to egg yolk and sugar mixture.

I know you were dying to see the inside of my oven…so here it is!  I used a mini-bundt pan and a regular sized bread loaf pan – the proportions look very strange in the photo above if you weren’t aware of the mini-bundt.

Pulling them out of the oven and unmolding them revealed a delicious and perfectly toasty golden color to the cake.

This was perhaps the 4th or 5th glazing…all of it pooled on top would sink right into the cake and it would once again look as if it had just been taken out of the pan.  Don’t let your glaze cool too much, otherwise it won’t be viscous enough to soak in.

Also, you should poke more holes than you think you should.  Poke the skewer in 8-10 times and then poke it again and again and again!

Voilá!

I had plans to candy the thyme…but funny enough, I ran out of time.  HA!

Meyer Lemon Cake
from Chez Panisse Cooking

for the cake:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

for the glaze:

1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice
1 2/3 cups confectioners sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Melt butter in a saucepan, set aside to cool. In a mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks with 1 cup of sugar, until thick and light in color. Beat in the buttermilk, lemon juice, and zest. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks are formed. Add the remaining quarter cup of sugar, then continue beating until stiff peaks are formed.

Alternately fold half of the flour into the egg yolk mixture, followed by half of the egg whites. Fold carefully as not to deflate the batter. Repeat with remaining portions. Take approximately 1 cup of batter and stir into the melted butter. Gently fold the butter mixture into the cake batter. Pour into a buttered, and floured, 9-inch cake pan, springform pan, bundt cake pan, bread loaf pan – really any pan will do.  Bake for 50-60 minutes – this time varies depending on the type of pan you use.  Always test the cake for doneness with a toothpick or skewer.  No one likes a dry cake.

While the cake is baking, make the glaze. Combine the lemon juice and confectioners sugar. Heat in a saucepan just until sugar is melted. Set aside until cake is done.  I found that the volume of glaze was more than I needed, but I am also a little hesitant about soggy cake.  I probably could have used more.  It’s delicious stuff!

When the cake is done baking, cool for 5 minutes in pan. Turn the cake out on a cooling rack, and invert. With a long toothpick or skewer, poke the top of the cake making small holes. Slowly spoon on the glaze. Wait for the glaze to sink in, then add more. Repeat process until all of the glaze is used.  Cool cake completely, and enjoy!

For an extra ooommph at the time of plating – drizzle the glaze over each slice and top with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

Cole’s Smoked Trout Spread


Recipe tested twice and definitely worth a post.  We came up with this one on our own – originally for a Superbowl party…nothing says Superbowl like a small delicate tin of smoked dainty rainbow trout…we thought we’d add some diversity to the gathering.

Very basic ingredients – onion, scallions, mayo, lemon, cream cheese and smoked trout.  You can use any smoked fish…we’re a little partial to the Cole’s Trout.  Make sure to set the block of cream cheese out on the counter to soften up which will ease the mixing process.

We used 3/4 of a brick of cream cheese.  Add the fish to the bowl, we took the time to pull the skin (not visible in the photo) off the fish and used a little bit of the olive oil from the tin in the mixture.  Finely diced onions, a squeeze or two of lemon juice, salt, pepper, parsley, minced green onions…mix all together.  If the mixture if too stiff, you can add a small spoonful of mayo, or a little more lemon juice – either one will loosen it up.

Pack the mixture into a ramekin, package for travel, become hit at party for bringing yummy spread.  We ate it on triscuits…but thinly sliced baguette, flat breads, really any cracker would work well.  I don’t discriminate when it comes to crackers.  I like crackers a lot.  Dips, spreads, cheese…all an excuse to eat crackers.

Meyer Lemon Martinis

Meyer Lemon Martinis - go down a little too easy!

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