Meyer Lemon Muffins

100_1892 100_1893

It has been hard to squeeze in baking Christmas cookies when I have this huge basket of Meyer lemons in my kitchen.  I have frozen some of the lemons whole, to be used later for zesting and juicing, also some of the juice.  I made Lemon Curd which I hope my neighbors are going to enjoy for their Christmas treat. (I have previously posted this recipe here.)  I used leftover paper cupcake liners to dress up the lids.

100_1886

My all-time favorite way of using these lemons has to be making muffins by this recipe, because they are so yummy, but also because it uses several whole lemons, not just zest or a few spoons of juice.  Yes, you use the whole lemons, unpeeled!  I first found this recipe in the Houston Chronicle years ago.  I believe it was originally printed in the LA times.  It makes two dozen regular sized muffins, a great accompaniment to a soup or salad meal, good for breakfast, and a very tempting snack.  They are not too sweet, have only about 150 calories each, and pop with lemon flavor.

Meyer Lemon Muffins 

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar, and
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (to mix with cinnamon)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 or 4 Meyer lemons, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon ( regular cinnamon is fine)  Ceylon cinnamon can be found at Penzey’s Spice stores.

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F Combine the flour, 1 cup sugar, the baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  2. Cut two lemons into 1-inch pieces (include the thin peel, but not the white pith!). Put them in a blender and pulse until the lemon is finely chopped. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the milk, butter and chopped lemon. Stir.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the lemon mixture. Stir just until all ingredients are moistened.
  4. Spoon the batter into well-buttered cups of muffin pans, filling each half full.
  5. Combine the remaining 2 T. sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle about 1/4 t. over each muffin. I like to keep a shaker jar of cinnamon sugar in my pantry.   Cut the remaining lemons into  paper-thin slices; cut each slice in half. Top each muffin with half a slice of lemon.
  6. Bake about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Run a small spatula or knife around each of the muffins to loosen, remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm. Makes 18 muffins.

 

Squash Blossom Sauce over Butternut Ravioli

For these months leading up to and including holidays which are important family celebrations, Kitchen Keepers is celebrating the Art of Cooking, or beauty in the kitchen if you prefer!  One of the most stunning ways of feeling like an artist while working with food is the use of edible flowers!  Not just as a garnish, which is always lovely, not just for a ladies luncheon, but as a wonderful taste and tell addition to your menu.  Squash blossoms are so much fun, especially if you happen to grow your own. Since  the male squash flower has done its work when it has provided pollen for the female flowers (yep, there’s a difference – they have a longer stem and no small bulb at the end next to the vine), it is perfectly alright to pick them for using in the some fanciful and fantastic recipes. If there are no squash vines in your garden, you may find the blossoms sold at farmer’s markets or specialty stores.  There are great recipes that use the whole flower by stuffing it or dipping it in a batter to fry.  For this sauce, the flowers need to be fine chopped.

Simply trim off the stem end, spread the flower flat to brush off any tiny bug or debris, rinse and pat dry.  You can stack the flat blossoms to shred for this recipe.  I like to use purchased butternut ravioli which I cook and drain before plating with the sauce.

Adapted from Molly Wizenberg

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped
12 squash blossoms, quartered lengthwise and chopped fine

pinch of saffron

2 cups  chicken broth
1 egg yolk

1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Bring a large pot of water to boil for cooking pasta while starting sauce.

Add butter and oil to a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and parsley; cook, stirring occasionally for  3 minutes. Add the squash blossoms, a pinch of salt, and the saffron. Stir gently. Add 3/4 cup of the broth, stir gently, and raise the heat to medium. As the broth starts to reduce, continue adding more broth gradually until it has reduced significantly and only a small film of broth coats the vegetables. This should take about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk.

Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook according to package directions.. While it cooks, place the sauce back on medium heat. Measure  3 Tablespoons of pasta water and, whisking constantly with a fork, gradually add the hot water to the egg yolk to temper it.  Pour the yolk mixture into the saute pan, and stir continuously to combine. The yolk will thicken the sauce.

When the pasta is  al dente. (about 2 1/2 minutes.),  scoop the pasta from its cooking water into the sauce, and use tongs toput it into the sauce. Cook the two together for about 30 seconds, then serve in shallow bowls or on plates, topped with grated Pecorino Romano and garnish with fruit and a sprig of basil.

Glazed Rosemary Onions

I love it when a photo can just about substitute for the ingredient list in a recipe!  This dish has become an all-time family favorite side dish for any roasted or grilled meat.  It is simple enough to perk up weekday family suppers, great for potlucks, and festive enough to grace holiday tables. 

Since I have read everything in her Mitford series of books , it is no surprise that I have Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader.  Even if you don’t read through cookbooks for fun like I do, you will want to spend time savoring this collection of stories and recipes.  I have adapted mine from “Cynthia’s Glazed Rosemary Onions”,  found on page 40. 

Glazed Rosemary Onions

8 medium yellow onions, peeled and quartered

2/3 cup honey

1/4 cup  melted butter

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon  sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Place onion quarters in dish carefully and pour honey and butter over them. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper.  Bake for 1 hour, or until onions are soft.

“Life and love. What wonderful blessings to have in our kitchen.”

My Kitchen Table

It would be a mistake to indicate that the only ingredients in my kitchen required for successfully and joyfully feeding my family were found in my pantry or simmering on the stove.  I will occasionally include table blessings, some “table talk”, and most important for the keeper of this kitchen: prayers.  I wrote this one as a prayer poem in 1998.

                                        My Kitchen Table

                      As I open your Word and lean here one more time,

                  Make my table a holy place with your presence, Lord…

                     This table of pecan wood, not hand crafted acacia.

              This table scratched and stained with family years and family tears.

             This table that has been a family gathering place in so many places,

                 A place of offering and receiving nourishment of many kinds.

                     A place of joy and jelly, high chairs, and holding hands.

                   Birthday cakes and boy talks, spilled milk and spilled hearts.

            A place where I have put my head down and wet the wood with tears.

                         A place where your care and feeding of my soul

                            Joined the care and feeding of my family.

                              My heart is seated at this table, Lord.

                                You make this a holy place.

                                   I worship you.

                                                      Mary Ann Parker, March 1, 1998

Sausage and Rice Supper

There are some of our family favorite meals that are asked for all year round.  Sausage and Rice is one of those, but I keep it in my mental filing folder of cool weather dishes.  The flavors of root vegetables, peppers and sausage are heartily complimented with Basmati rice.  The colors even look like Fall.  And it makes enough to satisfy the most robust appetites as temperatures begin to come down and we are working more outside.  I have no “first made” date penned on the recipe I originally used, but since it was torn from an entire Southern Living magazine page, I look to see if the magazine date will tell me. I smile as I turn the page and look at the coupons on the back of the recipe and picture:  they expire in the fall of 1982.  So it is an easy conclusion that I have brought this to the table for nearly 20 years.  Our version that has grown during this time varies little but I do change the vegetables occasionally.  This is a dish that can easily be stretched by adding up to 1/2 cup rice and additional chicken broth.  Last night I served Basil Cucumbers and a fresh fruit cup for sides. A wonderful companion dish is apples with  butter, cinnamon and brown sugar baked along with the casserole. Wonderful for potlucks, and  definitely “good food on a budget!”

                                        Sausage and Rice Casserole

                                         1 cup uncooked Basmati rice

                                          2 cups sliced carrots

                                          1 large onion, chopped

                                          1 cup chopped celery

                                         1/2 cup chopped green pepper

                                          2 cups chicken broth

                                          1 pound pork sausage.  (we like maple flavored or hot and spicy)

                        Spread rice over bottom of large casserole dish which has been coated with cooking spray.  Scatter vegetables over rice, then pour chicken broth over all.  Brown and cook sausage, then add to top of vegetables.  Cover and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven, stir well, replace cover and bake an additional 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is done.  Makes 8 large servings.

                                                         Basil Cucumber Pickles

 I like cucumbers and vinegar to keep in the refrigerator in the summertime.  My mother and grandmother always peeled and sliced garden cumbers to add with layers of chopped or thinly sliced onion, salt and pepper and cover with white vinegar.  One of our favorite Indonesian dishes is Acar which is diced cucumber, carrot, onion, and hot peppers added to vinegar, sugar and water.  These cucumbesr may be the best yet.  I use unpeeled long seedless cucumbers from Canada and slice them thinly.  A handful of basil leaves from the garden and a touch of sweet mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)  give these pickled veggies a unique flavor that was perfect with our sausage and rice.

                    1/4 cup sugar

                     1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

                      3 tablespoons mirin

                      1 tablespoon sea salt

                      1 English cucumber, sliced into thin rounds

                        1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

Whisk vinegar, mirin, sugar, and salt in a non reactive container.  Add cucumbers and basil and toss, covering as well as possible with the vinegar mix.  Refrigerate 3 or 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

Elbows on the Table

Pasta was not a word in most families’ food vocabulary in 1940’s East Texas. However, they did eat noodles in chicken noodle soup and occasionally buttered instead of potatoes with a meal. Appearing also at family meals, macaroni, specifically small elbow macaroni, was the star in macaroni and cheese (not Kraft dinners) and a potluck favorite called simply Macaroni Salad.

The latter was favored by a woman who not only made it for her table at home, but also bore it proudly to Sunday School luncheons and church potlucks. Opal grew up on a farm, picked cotton, packed tomatoes and proudly sold tins of Cloverine salve to buy her first set of pots and pans. A hard worker at any of those jobs, she set herself to perform well at any task, cooking included. Opal’s blue eyes snapped with both humor and determination when she decided to do something. Permed curls bobbing, hands on her hips, arms ready to hug she demonstrated wit and will as well as how loyal and loving she could be. Raised in the Great Depression, she was thrifty to the bone while being generous with what she had. Food she made in her kitchen in the little house on Sunset Street in Jacksonville, Texas was prepared with what she had on hand. Macaroni Salad was no exception.

After tying on a brightly colored apron trimmed with ric-rac sewn on her Singer, she hard- boiled eggs in an aluminum pan whose handles had long ago burned off. With the cooled and peeled eggs set aside, she rinsed the pan and brought salted water to a boil for the little crooked macaroni elbows. She never worried that they needed to be al dente! Once she had drained the noodles into a metal strainer, she dumped them into a Pyrex bowl. Next came the chopped eggs and whatever other ingredients that were available. Most of the time, celery was in the icebox to be scrubbed and diced, along with American Cheese sliced into small cubes, chopped pickles, and a small squatty jar of pimiento pieces. Opal’s skinny, bespectacled young daughter often peeled eggs, pulled strings from celery and forked out pickles. Sometimes she cut onion into small pieces while tears ran down her cheeks.

Perhaps there was a recipe Opal learned from working in a cafeteria before her girls were born. Or there may well have been directions on the Skinner macaroni package. More likely, Opal helped Clyde Terrell, her own mama, so she knew how to make this for her husband Howard Teal when they married in 1931. Or it could be that Clyde’s gift of a cookbook was the source of the all those macaroni salad filled Pyrex bowls. There is a recipe for Macaroni Salad in a worn copy of The Service Cookbook by Mrs. Ida Bailey Allen,  inscribed “From Mamma, Dec. 25, 1933.”

Opal Terrell Teal was my mother. Until very near her death in 2006, one month shy of her 93rd birthday, she claimed Macaroni Salad by saying, “I always liked it.” No longer young or skinny, still bespectacled, and ever grateful for growing up loving to be in the kitchen, I like it too. My granddaughters like to wear the ric-rac trimmed aprons.

Macaroni Salad

2 cups cold cooked elbow macaroni
½ cup diced celery
½ cup finely chopped American cheese
1 Tablespoon minced onion
½ cup French dressing
½ teaspoon salt
A few grains paprika
Lettuce
Mayonnaise

Combine the macaroni, celery, cheese and onion; marinate with the French dressing, and season with salt and paprika. Chill; arrange in individual nests of lettuce; and garnish with mayonnaise and a little paprika.

Note: I don’t remember Mother using paprika, nor do I remember any nests of lettuce. Boiled eggs do not appear in this recipe, but they did appear in the Pyrex dishes.

 

 

   Opal Terrell Teal’s cookbook.        The apron on which it rests belonged to Clyde Terrell.

Welcome!

Welcome to Kitchen Keepers, a blog for sharing good memories, good stories and good recipes.  I have been asked to record family recipes which have been favorites for many years, adding to their story every time they are prepared and enjoyed as well as those newcomers which have their own story.  Since I believe growing and preparing your own food is not only a pleasure but an art which is worthy of passing on, I am pleased to begin.

  Gathering around our table has been so much more than providing physical nourishment for me.  For as we gather, whatever the table shape may be, we form a circle, a place of conversation and knowing and caring.  Expressing our gratitude for the provision of food and family, giving thanks for bread and baker, we enter a sacred space.  Welcome.