Lemon Zucchini Pickles

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I have loved this recipe for a long time and have always made it with zucchini. However,  it is a great refrigerated cucumber pickle as well. We have a bumper crop of Meyer lemons so I am delighted to say my granddaughters went out to the tree the day before Thanksgiving and brought in a bucket full of lemons for our holiday cooking. This is a perfect side for so many meals,adds a fresh veggie touch that is more condiment than salad, but so good that you want to eat a bowlful!  It keeps in the refrigerator for 3 weeks, but never lasts that long around our house.

Lemon Zucchini Pickles

5-6 medium zucchini, sliced very thin.  Do not peel

1 green pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon sea salt

2 teaspoons celery seed

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1 lemon, sliced very thin into rounds, then halved

Cut thin zucchini slices and combinewith green pepper, celery seed, onion, and salt in large bowl.  Toss gently and allow to stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Combine sugar and lemon juice and stir to dissolve. Pour over vegetable mixture and add lemon slices. Stir gently to blend, cover, and refrigerate at least 24 hours. This will keep up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Texas Pecan Pie Bars

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Maddie helped with baking Pumpkin Pie and Pecan Pie Bars for our Thanksgiving feast. She is recently very interested in history, so it was fun to talk about the history surrounding this recipe. I found the recipe in a cookbook I bought over 30 years ago while visiting Colonial Williamsburg, a wonderful living history site. The Williamsburg Cookbook, compiled by Letha Booth, is one of my most favorite cookbooks. It is a collection of nearly 200 traditional and contemporary recipes adapted for home kitchens – a good way of remembering my trips to Colonial Williamsburg.  I have never tried a recipe from this collection that was not delicious. Not surprising, since many of these are served in different Inns there.  Christian Campbell’s Spoonbread and Chowning’s Tavern Brunswick Stew have become family favorites as well as Williamsburg Inn Pecan Bars. I adapt this recipe to include Texas pecans and Meyer Lemons grown in my back yard. Pecan pie in small bites!

Texas Pecan Pie Bars

      Bottom layer, or crust

3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

zest of 1 whole Meyer lemon

3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat overn to 375 degrees. With baking or cooking spray, coat 2 nine inch square baking pans.  Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, lemon zest and mix.  Add flour and baking powder and add to creamed mixtures.  Combine well. Pull dough into a ball and chill for 15 minutes to provide easier handling.  Divide in half and press each half into bottom of baking pan.  Bake 12 -15 minutes but remove from oven before browning. Add pecan topping which can be assembled while crust is baking.

        Pecan Topping

1 cup butter

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 cup honey

1/3 cup whipping cream

3 cups of pecans, chopped coarsely

Change oven setting to 350 degrees. Combine butter, sugar, and honey in a heavy saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cool 5 minutes, add cream and pecans and mix well.  Spread topping evenly over baked crust with a buttered wooden spoon.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Cool and cut into 1X2 inch bars.

 

 

 

Lemon Cream and Berry Delight

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For Ben’s birthday I made Peanut Butter Pie –  no baking, no heating up the kitchen.  For Joe’s birthday last week we enjoyed another cool sweet for the birthday “cake.”  I found a recipe for this layered dessert in the most recent Food and Wine magazine, titled Lemony Layered Cheesecake.  It does have mascarpone cheese, but is more light and fluffy than any cheesecake . It looks complicated and would certainly be elegant enough to grace a table for guests, but by some clever application of plastic wrap, it turns out like magic  Oh yes,  it is absolutely delicious!  This combination works well especially when berries are in season, but other combinations are great, too..  Try using the  cream paired with raspberry preserves spread between layers of chocolate wafer cookies, or mix apple butter with the mascarpone, layer with ginger snaps, and sprinkle with minced crystallized ginger.

Lemon Cream and Berry Delight

1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup homemade*  or purchased lemon curd

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

20 whole graham crackers

Berries for topping’- blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries

Line a 9X5 inch loaf pan (I used pyrex) with plastic wrap, leaving 5 or  inch overhang on all sides. In bowl of electric mixer, combine mascarpone and cream and beat on medium speed until smooth and beginning to be firm . Don’t over beat.  Fold in lemon curd and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt.

Spread a thin layer of lemon cream over the bottom of plastic wrapped pan. Arrange a layer of single graham crackers on top of this, breaking some to cover.  Repeat the layers of cream and graham crackers 5 or 6 times until you have just enough cream to spread on top.. Wrap the dessert with overhanging plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator, unwrap top pieces of plastic wrap, place flat serving dish on top and invert pan.  Remove all plastic wrap, decorate with berries as you wish, and serve, adding berries alongside.

*see my recipe for lemon curd in a November 3, 2011 post

 

Meyer Lemon Loaf Cake

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I love this lemon cake.  My husband has decided it is favorite cake.  I like it because it doesn’t call for 7-Up or lemon jello or lemon extract, just fresh Meyer lemon juice.  Since we have an abundant harvest almost every year from our one small Meyer lemon tree, I really like using the juice in zest!   I adapted the recipe for specific use of the Meyer lemons from Ina Garten’s recipe on her Barefoot Conntessa Food Channel program.

Mary Ann’s notes:

I juiced lemons and put juice in the freezer last year, as well as freezing some lemons whole, so we are still using last year’s fresh juice.  If you do this, a good way to have small amounts of juice available for cooking is to freeze the juice in ice cube trays or mini muffin baking sheets.  If you need zest, a whole frozen lemon zests even more easily than unfrozen ones.  The “naked” lemons can then be thawed and used even though they are very mushy.

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Before a predicted hard freeze in December, we harvested what we thought were all of this year’s lemons.  Last week after some foliage had been cut and removed,we discovered one solitary lemon which my granddaughter Skye picked to add to our photos for this post. I will harvest on a much more as needed basis in the future.

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Meyer Lemon Loaf Cake

2 sticks butter

 1/2 cups sugar (2 cups for batter, 1/2 cup for simple syrup)

4 large eggs

1/3 cup grated Meyer lemon zest 

3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice, divided

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3 1/2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice

 

Set out butter, eggs, and buttermilk to allow to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees . Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may line the bottom with parchment paper, but this is optional.


Cream room temperature  butter and 2 cups sugar with electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves. When the cakes test done, remove from oven and  allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cooled cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.
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Citrus Salad with Pomegranate and Spiced Honey

009Winner of “most beautiful dish”  on our holiday table could also take the competition for “most delicious.”   You might think this was a layer cake or hand decorated cookie – no, this fruit salad beat them all.  I altered the recipe according to ingredients I had  in my kitchen, but the original recipe with an enticing photo was found in December 2013 issue of Southern Living magazine.

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1  cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 medium-size oranges
  • 3 mandarin oranges
  • 2 Ruby Red grapefruit
  • 2 limes or Meyer lemons
  • 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
  • Fresh mint leaves for garnish, if desired

To make the spiced honey, bring first 6 ingredients and 1/2 cup water to a boil, stirring, Simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and let stand 30 minutes.

Peel citrus, cutting away white pith. Cut each fruit into thin rounds. Arrange on a serving platter, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Pour honey mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer and discard pieces strained out.. Drizzle fruit with spiced honey. Top with mint leaves.

Remaining spiced honey may be used many ways. Try a bit in your next cup of tea or mix with melted butter to brush on top of hot rolls.

*Pink or red peppercorns may be substituted.

Note: Salad may be made up to a day ahead. Prepare as directed; cover and chill up to 24 hours.

Zesty Zucchini

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We are eating more vegetables than ever since I started trying so many vegetables to roast, and  different ways to make them special.  Don’t get me wrong, a simple brush with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper gets delicious results.  But the addition of lemon zest, shredded basil, and a few cherry tomatoes definitely makes zucchini that is a favorite to add to any easy summer supper.

Zesty Zucchini

3-4 medium zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

zest of one lemon

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

olive oil for coating

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.  Place zucchini and tomatoes in ZipLoc bag with enough olive oil to coat.  Lay zucchini halves on  baking sheet, cut side up with cherry tomatoes on top and around them. Sprinkle with lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Top with lemon zest and basil.  Sprinkle with olive oil and place in oven to roast for about 25 minutes, or until squash is fork tender.

There are many variations and combinations that work to make this one of the most versatile side dish for your summer meals.  Try mixing yellow squash or any other summer squash with chopped thyme and sliced lemon.  Fresh mint and a squeeze of orange juice is a bright, fresh taste for a change.  You can also use your outdoor grill for roasting if you prefer.

Pasta and Peas in Lemon Cream Sauce

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Pasta and Peas in Lemon Cream Sauce

adapted from a recipe found in Bon Appetit magazine, 2003

3 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter

3-4  large shallots, minced

1 cup  chicken broth

1 1/4  cups whipping cream

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste

2 cups fresh or  frozen green peas, thawed

2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice (I used frozen Meyer juice from last year’s crop of lemons. If using regular lemons, reduce to 1 tablespoon and add 1 Tablespoon orange juice)

16 ounces farfalle or penne pasta

12 thin slices prosciutto, may substitute with crumbled bacon

Shaved Parmesan cheese

Melt butter in large skillet, add shallots and sauté about 2 minutes. Add broth. Simmer over medium heat until mixture is reduced to 1/4 cup, 2-3 minutes. Add cream, lemon zest , and cayenne. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Add peas; simmer t until heated through, stir in mint and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

While preparing sauce, cook pasta al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain; return to pot and toss with sauce.

Divide pasta among serving plates. Drape prosciutto slices on top and sprinkle with shaved Parmesan.  This is a wonderful Spring or Summer supper served with crusty French bread and  fresh slices of melon or tomato quarters.

Lemony Cupcakes

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Final touch for our Easter dinner!   Cupcakes have risen to new glory recently.  No longer plain flavors with plain frosting and a stuck on decoration, these hand held confections have delicous combinations for taste and some very fancy names.  Skye helped me bake two kinds* for our Easter celebration, and our cupcake wrappers made them even fancier.

First, we made lemon cupcakes with the addition of a surprise flavoring ingredient.  In addition to fresh lemon juice and lemon zest, these cupcakes have a bit of limoncello, an Italian liqueur, which adds another layer of mouth watering lemon essence.  I found several recipes online for these cupcakes, but most seemed to originate from one posted at http://www.browneyedbaker.com.  This lady knows good things about cupcakes!   My adaptation omits the filling several recipes included, lemon curd.  I love lemon curd, but after a huge meal, I thought that would be gilding the lily!  It also made the preparation much simpler. We used our home grown Meyer lemons from the freezer.  Here is our version.

LEMONY CUPCAKES

For cupcakes:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces butter
4 ounces cream cheese
2 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
1/4 cup limoncello
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
1 cup buttermilk
zest of 2 Meyer lemons

For frosting

2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon limoncello
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set butter and cream cheese out to soften.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

With electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar on medium speed 3 minutes, or until light and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add limoncello and mix briefly. On low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively. Add lemon juice and zest and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter between 2 twelve cup muffin tins. If you have extra, bake in a small loaf pan.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. Cool.

For frosting,  beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until light and creamy. Add the limoncello and beat for an additional minute. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add sifted powdered sugar and beat until  smooth.

To frost, fill a quart size Ziploc bag with cream cheese frosting.  Cut a small tip off one corner and use this to squeeze a dollop of frosting onto each cup cake, refilling bag as needed.  If you wish, use a  pastry bag with a star tip to pipe frosting onto each cupcake. Decorate with a lemon slice or berries if desired.

* Our second batch of cupcakes were Red Velvet!  Another day, another post!  What is your favorite cupcake?  Why?

Lemon Upside Down Cake

We haven’t tired of using our Meyer lemon crop, so I hope that you haven’t either!  This recipe is a reminder of my Mother’s favorite cake, Piineapple Upside Down Cake, and is made the same way.  We voted it a keeper, so I am passing the recipe along, wishing there was a way to taste it online!  Very easy to make in Old Faithful iron skillet, and oh, so delicious with a cup of coffee or a glass of cold milk.

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Lemon Upside Down Cake     Adapted from LA times test kitchen recipe

4 Meyer lemons

1 1/4 sticks (6 Tablespoons) butter, divided

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 vanilla bean, split

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

Cut 3 of the lemons into very thin slices, removing seeds. You will have about 30 lemon slices .Zest 1 teaspoon lemon peel from the remaining lemon. Put zest into small container and save for batter, save the rest of the lemon to use later.

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Use the butter wrapper to wipe the sides of the skillet! Add the brown sugar, mix with the butter and spread it into an even layer. Arrange the lemon slices, slightly overlapping, to cover the bottom of the skillet. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine  flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Cut the remaining 6 tablespoons butter into a mixing bowl. Scrape seeds from the vanilla bean with the point of a knife onto butter. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter untiil creamy. Add sugar and lemon zest and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add half the flour mixture and beat until blended. Add milk and beat until combined, then add the remaining flour mixture and beat until blended.

Spread the batter over the lemons in the skillet to cover evenly. Bake 35 minutes, or until the cake is golden and tests done. Let stand 5 minutes, then invert the skillet onto a platter. Slice into wedges with a sharp knife.  Best served warm!

Meyer Lemon, Olive ,Rosemary, and Goat Cheese Pizza

Our Meyer Lemon tree’s branches are so heavily laden with lemons that some are bent to the ground.  I love going out to check the ripening fruit as it changes from lime green, mottles with yellow, turns yellow all over as if it is saying “Wait, wait, not yet.”  The right time for harvesting is when the lemons turn egg yolk yellow blushed with orange.  Since this variety is sweeter and thinner skinned than other varieties of lemons, there are many ways to use them.  I have a list from the LA Times that lists 100 ways to use Meyers which I previously posted as a link during last year’s harvesting.

I have used a number of those suggestions.  This week I tried one more:  pzza topped with Meyer Lemons, green olives,  rosemary, and goat cheese.  The recipe is all in the title!

1 12 inch thin pizza crust

2 Tablespoons olive oil

4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

1 Meyer lemon, washed and patted dry,very  thinly sliced

Green olives, sliced

1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Place crust on round pizza pan or baking sheet and brush lightly with olive oil.  Add goat cheese crumbled evenly over the top. Remove any seeds from lemon slices and scatter them over the goat cheese.  Add olive slices and sprinkle with rosemary.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until crust is browned and cheese is melting. The lemon slices will caramelize slightly.  Variations:  Add chopped artichoke hearts, a small amount of additional cheese such as provolone or mozzarella, or pine nuts.