Olive Piccanti

IMG_3794

Olives all by themselves are a treat, but with the addition of a few ingredients, a jar of large pitted olives becomes the star of the party!  This recipe is one I adapted from a tiny recipe book by Frances Mayes: Bella Tuscany, The Sweet Life in Italy. I have Mayes’ larger Tuscan cookbook and have used recipes in several other books she wrote, but this one was a freebie with one of the book purchases. It has lots of “want to try” recipes. This one is certainly a keeper!

Olive Piccanti

2 cups large green olives

2  hot peppers, 1 red, 1 green, minced

1/4 cup onion, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I use Meyer lemons from our tree)

1 thinly sliced lemon

Put all ingredients in a bowl with cover, mix, and refrigerate.  Best after about 24 hours.

 

 

 

Lemon Zucchini Pickles

IMG_3796

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

IMG_3797

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.

 

 

 

Chicken, Mandarin, and Pecan Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing

IMG_3208

We make a rotisserie chicken stretch into several meals at our house, and I am always trying new ways to use the “rest of the story” when I remove all the chicken bits from the bone. If time permits,  I also cook the bones and strain the broth to use in other ways. But I always pull the meat away, shredding or chopping as I go. Most of the time I have 3 two cup portions to use or freeze. This salad was a perfect lunch, using 2 cups of leftover shredded rotisserie chicken.  This makes 2 generous servings for a lunch entrée.

Chicken, Mandarin, and Pecan Salad

2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1  hard-boiled egg, peeled and sliced

3 green onions, sliced

1/2 cup chopped pecans

8-10 canned  mandarin orange slices

 

Creamy Lemon Dressing:

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Combine all salad ingredients except oranges and toss. Drizzle with Creamy Lemon Dressing, then scatter mandarin slices on top.

Eetch

IMG_2552Eetch (pronounced Yeetch) is a traditional Armenian side dish made from Bulgar wheat. It is similar to tabbouleh but much thicker and grainier, and not as tart. Its color is derived from tomato paste and tomato sauce. It is a great way to use summer vegetables, another take on salads, and you can add as much spice as you wish.  I think the next batch I make I will omit cayenne pepper, but add some chopped jalapeno!  OK, I know that is not traditional, but we could call that Texas Eetch!

Eetch – Armenian Bulgur Salad

1 medium onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon tomato paste ( I buy tubes of tomato paste rather than cans, so easy to use small amounts)

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup water (just measure by rinsing the tomato sauce can)

1 1/2 cups Bulgar

chopped parsley

juice of 1 lemon or more to taste, optional

a pinch of cayenne pepper ( to taste, and optional)

Heat olive oil in large sauce pan. Add onion, green pepper, 1 T tomato paste and salt, Cook over medium heat about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add tomato sauce, water, and when back to boiling, stir in bulgur, mixing well.  Cover, remove from heat and   let stand.  Fluff and stir in parsley plus lemon juice and cayenne if using.  Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.   This is beautiful served on a Romaine lettuce leaf with a sprinkle of chopped fresh tonatoes and green onions, but also works well as a side dish or  a stuffing for peppers.

Meyer Lemon Smoothie

IMG_1778

A few days of much warmer weather had me looking at new smoothie recipes this week. My niece sent me a link to this one posted on realsimple.com.  Their version had the Meyer lemons peeled but then added lemon zest.  Meyer lemon skins are very thin (and difficult to peel without loosing alot of juice) and I have used the whole seeded lemon in other recipes, so I simply seeded the lemons and cut them in chunks, providing plenty of zest in the blending. I am not fond of drinking buttermilk but these breakfast treats were yummy, a definite keeper for refreshing summertime smoothies. I always love adding another Meyer lemon recipe to my files.  Our tree provides us with a bountiful supply of lemons every year.
Meyer Lemon Smoothie
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Plain Greek yogurt
2 Meyer lemons seeded and cut in pieces
about 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2  tablespoons agave syrup or honey to taste
1 cup crushed ice
Place all ingredients except ice in blender beginning with buttermilk. When lemon chunks have been pureed, add crushed ice and blend a few seconds longer. Pour in 2 glasses and garnish with lemon slice or mint.

Lemon Cream and Berry Delight

.IMG_0644
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

 

Sauteed Mixed Greens

IMG_0388

The two kinds of kale, collards, and Swiss chard in this dish all came from our garden! We have a very small vegetable plot, with only 2 or 3 plants of each of the leafy greens, but that provides plenty for us.  Also, greens in this area winter nicely so these were from last fall’s garden.  Greens are cut and come back as long as you leave the roots in the ground, meaning they will happily grow new leaves to be harvested soon.

Mixed Greens

1 large bunch collard greens

1 large bunch kale, Tuscan or curly kale, or mixed

one bunch of Swiss Chard

3 tablespoons olive oil

6 -8 cloves garlic peeled and minced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3 Tablespoons Meyer lemon juice, or to taste* see cook’s note

a few dashes Tabasco sauce

Rinse collard greens and kale well, drain and strip off tough stems, separating collard leaves and kale leaves since you cook collards first. Rolling several leaves together at the same time, cut leaves into 1/4-inch strips. You should have about 8 packed cups.

Heat the olive oil in large skillet or wok, add the garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add half of the collard greens and cook, tossing and turning, for about 30 seconds, then the remainder of collards.  Add  kale and cook stirring, for about, 1 minute, until it begins to often. Add the Chard and cook, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes, until all  greens are tender. The point is to begin the cooking with the toughest leaves, adding the more tender leaves last.
Season with the salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and a few drops of hot pepper sauce.
Serves 4.

*Please note:  I either use fresh Meyer lemons or frozen Meyer lemon juice, which is sweeter than regular lemons since Meyers are a cross between orange and lemon. If you use regular lemons, you will probably want to half the lemon juice.

Meyer Lemon Loaf Cake

IMG_1803

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.

IMG_1791

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.

IMG_1788

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.
IMG_1794

Sauteed Mushrooms in Red Wine

022

Mushrooms are a delicious topping for any grilled meat or as a topping for buttered pasta.  I used lemon juice from our Meyer lemon harvest that I froze into mini muffin cups.  Each lemon “muffin” is exactly 2 tablespoons, and very convenient for adding to sauces. I picked a handful of fresh parsley from the garden to toss on top.   Note:  if you happen to have any leftovers, this is a wonderful addition to the next night’s spaghetti sauce!

Sautéed Mushrooms in Red Wine

1 lb mushroom, sliced

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup red wine

salt and pepper

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried French thyme

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Melt butter in  sauté  pan. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté over high heat until they are nicely browned. Add salt, pepper and red wine. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add lemon juice and parsley. Serve immediately.