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Posts Tagged ‘Lemon’

Lemon Blueberry Bread

Okay, so I have a confession. I ripped this recipe out from the Vera Bradley catalog. If you know me, then you know that I am not a fan of the paisley wares Ms. Bradley is pushing. But you order one too many gifts for other people, start getting catalogs and before you know it, somehow it is downright impossible to get off a mailing list. I’ve been reading the catalogs recently because they include recipes. And I am a sucker for a new recipe.

However, upon doing some googling, this is not a new recipe! The original is from Bon Appetit magazine. Or from The Cake Bible. In true Internet form, there are dozens recipes, all variations on each other, with little or no cites to a source. Sigh.

So this is my variation on the theme. I added in vanilla, pumped up the lemon zest and increased the lemon juice. Which, according to my research, was not super original. But it does make for a tasty, perfect afternoon snack bread that will brighten your day. And that is really all I want from a recipe – old or new.

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I cooked this at my parent’s house, which was wonderful. Everything looks super elegant on Blue and White plates!

This is one of my classic, go-to recipes for when I am cooking for myself. It is very light and it doesn’t take forever to put together, which is nice when you just want to eat already. This dish basically takes all that I love in the world – cooked onions, lemon and thyme – and marries them together. And it is one of those amazing dishes where the side and main are combined.

A few notes. One, the original recipe doesn’t call for potatoes, but I like to add in a few sometimes to add some more substance to the dish. Also because not everyone loves eating piles of cooked onions the way I do. Two, feel free to spice the fish something other than just salt and pepper. I recently bought McCormick’s Perfect Pinch Lemon Herb and it is amazing on fish. Finally, you can use any thin white fish for this dish. Martha recommends flounder, but any delicate fish will work well.
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Ok, so this is not the best looking, best lit, best focused photo I’ve ever taken. Actually none of the photos for this recipe are that hot, due to the fact that while I was making these, I was also making 24 cupcakes and 4 pounds of pasta salad in the span of a morning. So I was a bit rushed. Really rushed. And I thought I would take more photos of these adorable lemon bars before we ate them. But I didn’t. Because I was too busy eating them and exploding with lemon happiness. These are amazing. Don’t let my underlit photos deter you.

The only issue I had with the recipe was the size of my baking dish. All this time, I thought I had a 9 x 12 pan. But when I spread the delicious brown sugar oatmeal crust into my pan, it became apparent that my pan is much larger. Actually its 11 x 13. Who knew! So I had to modify slightly, losing the top layer of crust so that I could have an appropriately thick bottom layer. I didn’t make any extra filling and I think there was enough, but next time, I might double it for extra lemon-y goodness. Moral of the story, know the measurements of your baking dishes!

A few notes: condensed sweetened milk, aka the Nectar of the South, is a great addition to your pantry if you aren’t already using it. It is great for baking and it is very trendy these days. If you don’t have lemons, these can be adapted into citrus bars and you can substitute orange juice and zest or lime juice and zest. Or some other combination, like lemon-lime bars (ha!). Finally, I added a few thyme leaves to each bar because, well, thyme and lemon just go together. It adds a nice savory note to the creamy lemon-ness. But if you don’t like herbs in your dessert, then feel free to skip!

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Chicken Caesar Salad

Finally a use for the salad tongs I bought the Resident Frenchman ages ago. They are clearly too big for our bowl, anyone want to donate a large wooden salad bowl to us?

When I saw this recipe in Fine Cooking this month, I thought it would be perfect for this weather – much lighter than the dense food we’ve been eating all winter. Plus it looked super good. But, this recipe wasn’t just good, it was amazing. It was difficult not to eat all the croutons before they made it into the salad and lick the dressing bowl clean (okay, maybe I did do that). Seriously, I know this recipe looks a little involved, but it is surprisingly simple and the results are delicious. I’ve never made my own croutons before and it was well worth it, they tasted fresh and perfectly crunchy. And the dressing…well, I want to marry this dressing. Mmm…thick, flavorful, perfect.

To speed up the cooking of the chicken in the salad, I pounded the chicken into paillards. Paillards literally means flattened meat in French. They are what you would use in chicken piccata. Paillards are a great – they cook up extremely quickly, which is nice when you are short on time. You can buy them at the grocery store, but they are extremely easy to do on your own, especially when you have a meat mallet and some frustrations to work out. In case my directions and photos are not enlightening, Martha, of course, has a slide show on how to make them. Oh Martha, I love you even though you might run me over if I was in your way.

Pre pounded Post pounded

A few notes: Fine Cooking recommends grating your own cheese. I’m sure that is amazing, but store bought grated is just fine, as long as it is decent quality (i.e. not Kraft). Try to find more coarsely grated cheese to add texture to the salad and dressing. If you do grate your own cheese, use the food processor. Don’t skip the anchovies. They may look gross, but they give the dressing the classic Caesar flavor and don’t add fishiness. Finally, the dressing has a raw egg yolk in it. I buy organic, cage free eggs and we go through them regularly. The Salmonella rate for eggs is extremely small (0.005% to be exact). If you buy quality fresh eggs, a raw yolk will mostly likely not make you ill. If you disagree, then coddle the egg by placing a room temperature egg in its shell in boiling water for 45 seconds to slightly cook it.

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Lemon Thyme Savory Cakes

I saw this recipe and was immediately intrigued. Lemon and thyme, with a sugar icing? How on earth would these taste? The answer is amazing – lemon and thyme obviously work well together and in cake form, they are delicious. And what on earth should these be called? These aren’t quite cupcakes and they aren’t quite muffins. I went with savory cakes, really for lack of a better term. The savory/sweet combination makes these the perfect brunch food. One day, I am going to wake up really early and make brunch and these are going to be on the menu. The cakes are very fluffy and airy and the icing is sweet, yet zesty. Mmmm…I wish the recipe had made more than 12. Probably for the best though.

The original recipe calls for making this in the blender. I do not have a blender. We hardly have any storage or counter space and I don’t drink too many frosty drinks, so I never really saw the point of the blender. So I used the appliance I do have, the Kitchen Aid, and it worked out just fine. My cakes were more muffin-y looking, with domed tops, compared to more flat topped cakes. I also don’t have a muffin tray (no storage space!), so I used silicon muffin cups on a baking sheet. Worked out fine, just lengthened the baking time. If I’ve learned anything from keeping this blog so far, it is that cooking, and even baking, is very adaptable and that you don’t need every gadget under the sun to make quality food.

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I’m not sure why, but I very much associate this dish with New Orleans. I think it is the pecans and excessive use of butter. And because, like most food in New Orleans, it tastes out of this world. I guarantee, there is no better recipe for trout out there. This is it.

This recipe pretty much defines why I miss Gourmet. It is deceptively simple. It takes a few simple ingredients and completely transforms them. And unlike a lot of Gourmet recipes, it takes very little time to prep and cook. It will seem like you are Martha, but secretly, you are Rachel Ray, i.e. 30 minutes or less.

P.S. Don’t be afraid of the butter. I’ve reduced it some from the original recipe and it probably can be reduced again, but don’t take out too much. Butter=flavor here.

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Holy December Batman! Where did this year go?

I hardly ever make cakes and I don’t know why. Cakes are magical. Sure pies and tarts are awesome, but the ingredients you put in are pretty similar to what comes out. Cakes are more transformative. The batter is ugly and lumpy (well mine is). But the end result – so delicious! Apparently this is the first cake that French kids learn to bake. This means that somewhere across the ocean, a French child is probably making a better cake than I am.

This recipe called for a 10 in. cake pan, which astoundingly enough, I do not have. Neither does my mom, which is the even bigger surprise. So I found an adorable star shaped pan which worked fine. Any type of fruit should work in this, but I am a berry girl and blackberries were on sale. Finally, I used Liberte Lemon Yogurt because it has curd and zest in it, but any yogurt should do. As an aside, I love those yogurts! And in cake form, they are truly awesome.

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