My triumphant return, or, My ode to minute rice

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So, all y’all who follow me on here may have noticed that…it’s been a while.

Unfortunately, life got in the way of me continuing my food blog—school, health, lots of things.  But now it’s summer again, and I’m going to try another go of it! 

One significant change in the kinds of foods I’ll be making concerns wheat.  A particularly stressful winter term triggered a wheat allergy for me and, well, I try to avoid wheat as much as I can now.  I’m not a celiac or anything, just allergic; it makes my hands get really stiff and achy, which is bad because I’m a student (typing and writing are a problem) and a church pianist.

Luckily, I’m up for the challenge.  I love experimenting with different gluten-free recipes for dinner and dessert, and I’ve found some real winners.  Some of my new recipes are pretty labor intensive, some of them are super easy.  Today I’m writing about an easy one.

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Literally all you have to do for this recipe is chop stuff (if you do it the way I do).  I guess it would be called vegetable tikka masala, but whatever you call it, man—this stuff is good.  Creamy, tomato-ey, rich, and with a really complex spice mix that I can’t even begin to describe.

A bit of background—my favorite restaurant in the world is Masala, in Iowa City.  Tons of delicious Indian food, most of which is vegan or vegetarian.  Paradise.  Anyways, so when I saw a jar of tikka masala simmer sauce at TJ Maxx, I just got ridiculously excited and had to buy it.  And when I finally cooked with it, I fell in love.

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So, this recipe is really as labor intensive as you want it to be.  I’ve never made the sauce myself because I am lazy, and, uh, I don’t make the rice either.  Here’s a little secret: I cannot make rice.  No matter how many times I try it, I just can’t get it right.  Hence, dear old Uncle Ben.  This stuff is delicious and comes in a ton of varieties, and takes just minutes to make!  Magic.  So, if you, like me, are lazy about certain things, just buy yourself a jar of tikka masala and a few bags of Uncle Ben. 

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As for the veggies, the ones listed are just the ones that I’ve tried with the sauce.  The first time I made it, I used tofu, which was fabulous.  The second time, I replaced the tofu with potatoes, which were also fabulous.  Just pick your favorite veggies and throw ‘em in.  I mean, eggplant might be a little wonky, but I really think most vegetables would be delicious.  This recipe makes about 3-4 servings.

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Here’s what you need for this recipe:

Oil (I used peanut)

Handful of red bell pepper, chopped        

Handful of sugar snap peas, chopped

Two large carrots, sliced

Handful of firm tofu, cubed

OR

Four or five red potatoes, chopped into small cubes

1 jar of tikka masala sauce (Maya Kaimal and Seeds of Change are both awesome)

Heavy cream (optional)

Rice (I like Uncle Ben’s brown basmati but really anything will do)

  1. Heat up the oil in a medium sauce pan.  Dump in all the vegetables.  Sauté everything for a while until stuff starts to get soft.
  2. Dump in the sauce.  If you want to, pour in a little heavy cream.  Leave it to simmer for as long as it takes for everything to get fork tender (depends on your veggies, so it can be anywhere from 10-30 minutes).
  3. Microwave rice.  Alternately, if you want to actually make your own rice, you should probably start your rice going before you start everything else.
  4. Scoop rice onto a plate or a bowl or whatever you want.  Scoop sauce onto rice.  Chow down.

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Okay, so this is like the easiest thing I’ve ever made.  You literally just chop all your veggies and then, like, let it stew.  Plus it’s super delicious, so you should probably just go by some tikka masala sauce already and get going.

 

 

This recipe is a gift

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This post is extra-exciting for me because it combines two of my great loves.  Baking and, uh, Teen Wolf.

Yes, Teen Wolf.  The season two finale was this past Monday, and obviously I could not let that event pass without themed celebrating.  This show and I have had a whirlwind romance (I watched almost all of the second season in one day, on my friend Alice’s couch) and clearly the only way to celebrate that properly was to make wolf-themed baked goods for the finale.

(And obviously these celebratory pastries needed to be served in a celebratory heart-shaped arrangement on a celebratory flamingo platter, which I just happened to have lying around.)

Luckily, I had help—Alice and I got together to bake, eat, and to watch the finale.  (Which was totally awesome, in case you were wondering.)  We’d settled on making a smaller version of bear claws—only ours were called wolf paws, obviously.  Wolf paws are really delicious, and pretty easy to make.  I love almond extract so much, which is why the second time I made these, I threw some extract into the glaze for added awesomeness.  They weren’t too sweet, but they were definitely satisfying–perfect for munching while watching TV!  The only problem with them was that they were maybe a bit too delicious, because between the two of us, we managed to eat all them.  Whoops.

I guess I’m not surprised that we ate all the pastries, because really, this show–especially the finale!–is so stressful sometimes.  And when you combine stress with a lot of feelings and themed baked goods to celebrate those feelings–well.

The original recipe confused me the first time I made it (that’s right—the first time.  Because I totally made more the next day).  Why does it call for both icing and a glaze?  I don’t know.  We decided to just make the glaze because glazes are awesome, but also because the glaze ended up looking like the kanima’s paralytic poison that features so heavily in the show (don’t worry if you have no idea what I just said, it really is not important to this post at all).  See?  It definitely looks strikingly like nasty paralytic goo!  But it is actually very delicious!  We decided to simplify the recipe a bit and leave off the icing.

Wolf paws

Filling:

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

1 cup plain breadcrumbs (apparently you can buy breadcrumbs, who knew?)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons butter, melted

¼ cup water

2 teaspoons almond extract

Dough:

1 can crescent rolls or 1 can seamless dough sheet

1/3 to ½ cup sliced almonds

Glaze:

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup water

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

½ teaspoon almond extract (optional, but highly recommended!)

Icing (in case you want both?):

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons water

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, beat the egg.  Pour about half of the beaten egg into a smaller bowl—beat the milk into this bowl, and set aside.  Add the rest of the filling ingredients to the medium bowl, mixing until combined.
  2. In a pot on the stove, combine the ingredients for the glaze.  Heat to boiling and then set aside to cool.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, press your canned dough into a 12×8 inch rectangle.  If you’re using the crescent rolls, make sure you press together the seams!
  4. Spread the filling in a 12×2 in strip down the middle of the dough.  Fold one side of the dough over the filling, and fold again so the seam is on the bottom.  Alongside the filling, on one side press the dough flat about an inch—this will become the claws.  Cut the filled dough into eight equal sections.  For each wolf paw, cut the flattened inch of dough into three sections.
  5. Put the sliced almonds on a plate.  Brush each pastry with the egg-milk mixture, and press the pastry into the almonds.  Place the pastries almond-side up on the baking pan.  Shape the claws so they actually look kind of like claws.  Sprinkle the remaining almonds on the pastries.
  6. Bake for 13-18 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then glaze.
  7. If you want to ice them, here’s how: mix all the icing ingredients until smooth, then drizzle over the wolf paws.

I can’t wait to try out different variations of this recipe.  Chocolate filling?  Fruit filling?  So many options!  Of course, every time I make them, I will probably be super tempted to watch Teen Wolf, not that that’s a bad thing.  It’s not that often that I get so excited about a show (or a pastry, for that matter).  Now, I just have to wait a year for season three…

 

And now for something completely different

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Twenty points to anybody who gets the reference in the title.

I’m a little appalled at how bad I am at updating regularly.  There are really no excuses.

However, I come bearing a totally non-dessert recipe!  It’s a delicious cold soup full of vegetables.  There’s some cooking required, but it doesn’t take long at all.  This soup is perfect for eating during the summer because it’s cold, light, and filling all at the same time.

It’s a Russian soup called kefir okroshka which, predictably enough, features kefir as the soup base.  Kefir is a sour, almost buttermilky yogurt drink that is super healthy because it has tons of probiotics and, curiously enough, almost no lactose.  I think it’s really delicious, but if you’ve never had it before, you should probably give it a taste before making this soup.

Kefir okroshka (recipe adapted from the July/August 2012 edition of Vegetarian Times)

Ingredients:

3 cups plain kefir

4 green onions, finely chopped

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill

½ pound red potatoes, cut into ¼ inch dice

6 oz. carrots (2 medium) peeled and cut into ¼ inch dice

1 Persian or ½ English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into ¼ inch dice

1 cup radishes, halved and thinly sliced

1 cup arugula or radish leaves, coarsely chopped

  1. Stir together kefir, dill, and green onions.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Chill for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
  2. Steam potatoes and carrots in a steamer basket over boiling water for 7-8 minutes or until tender but still firm.  Transfer to a bowl to cool. 
  3. Stir together the potatoes, carrots, cucumber, radishes, and arugula.  Pour the kefir mixture over the vegetables, stirring to combine.

I was surprised by how filling this soup is.  Plus it’s ridiculously healthy, refreshing, and simple.  I threw together different parts of the soup throughout the day, stashing everything in the fridge until right before dinner.

 

Peanut butter + brownie batter = magic

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Today’s post is an extra-special-awesome one for many, many reasons.  These reasons are as follows: 1) I totally invented this recipe! 2) I made these with my friends Vicky and Emily when they visited me. 3) Vicky took all the pictures, which is probably the MOST exciting thing because she is actually like, a professional photographer.  You guys should all check out her photography page because she’s amazing and you won’t regret it!  4) Buckeye brownie bites.  Yeah.

The idea for buckeye brownie bites was born after Vicky found out about my Take 5 cookies.  She immediately requested that I make a recipe that would mimic Reese’s cups.  So I began thinking.  Right from the get-go, I knew I would use something similar to buckeye filling for the middle.  But the chocolate part kept me thinking for literally a month.  At first I thought I wanted it to be chocolate cookie dough.  But that didn’t seem quite right.  Finally, it came to me—brownie batter.  In a mini-muffin tin.  Perfect!

Anyways, enough of me rambling on.  Have a recipe!

Brownies:

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate

½ ounce semisweet chocolate (1/2 a square)

½ cup unsalted butter

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

½ cup flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Filling:

1 cup powdered sugar

½ cup peanut butter

1 scant tablespoon milk (really I didn’t measure, whoops, but I think it was about this)

Just a warning: because I haven’t had the chance to refine this recipe yet, you’ll have a lot of filling left over.  But it’s totally delicious so I’m sure you can find lots of fun recipes to throw it in.  Or, if you’re like me, you can just eat it plain.  Yeah, that happened.  I regret nothing.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the unsweetened and semisweet chocolate and the butter.  Set aside to cool.
  3. In a bowl, beat eggs and sugar until light and creamy.  Mix in the vanilla.
  4. Mix in the flour, salt, and melted chocolate.
  5. In a separate small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, peanut butter, and milk.
  6. Dig the mini-muffin pan out of the depths.  Place mini-muffin papers in each cup.  (I should note here that I did not use papers for my brownie bites, but I definitely should have.  These guys stick.  Please, learn from my mistakes.) Using a ladle, fill each cup about halfway full.
  7. Using a spoon, carefully place a somewhat flat dollop of the peanut butter mixture in the middle of each cup.
  8. Cover the peanut butter dollops with the remaining brownie batter, squashing down any dollops that show above the batter.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out with only a few crumbs.

Okay, so they’re actually a little labor intensive.  I’ll admit it.  But they’re totally delicious and therefore worth all the trouble!  They’re chewy and rich and so chocolatey.  And the peanut butter does the most magical thing—it bakes into the brownie walls, forming a tiny little hollow in the middle.  We had 24 brownie bites.  They were all gone by the next day.  All of them.

If any of you guys decide to make these, I’d love to hear about it!  Or if you have any ideas for how I could make these even better, I’m all ears.  Happy baking!

Excitement, and a departure from lemon!

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Boy, the past couple weeks have been a whirlwind for me.  I’ve been haring off to another town for piano lessons, but in between lessons I’ve been hanging out with some of my school friends.  First Vicky and Emily came to my house for a few days, and then I drove up to Emily’s for a super epic bluegrass festival.  So you could say I’ve been a bit preoccupied–hence the silence on here.

But now I’m home and I’ve recovered from my long drive, and I come bearing some extremely exciting news!  Oh, and a recipe for lime sugar cookies.
Candy over at lovely buns has nominated me for a blog-on-fire award!

I am so excited to have been nominated, and extremely honored as well.  However, there are some rules to accepting this award, and they are as follows: I have to tell you guys 8 things about myself and nominate 8 of my favorite blogs for the award.  So, here goes!

  1. I recently acquired an orchid, which I hope I won’t kill.
  2. It poured at the bluegrass festival and I stuck around anyways.  In the rain.  Without an umbrella.
  3. Cats are my favorite.
  4. I read nonfiction books for fun.
  5. I’m really disappointed because my Avengers coffee mug is apparently not dishwasher safe–half of Captain America’s arm has gone missing, which is such a shame.
  6. I just really really love superhero movies.
  7. Peaches are my favorite fruit, but only when they’re in season.
  8. I also have a somewhat sad love of Arthurian legend.

And now for my 8 favorite blogs…

  1. Acorn in the kitchen
  2. Made by Mike
  3. allesverjazzt
  4. Baker on the Rise
  5. The Daily Etude
  6. Sunshine and Sparrow
  7. Emily Cooks Vegan
  8. Charming Trinity

Once again, I am so happy to have been nominated.  Thanks, Candy!

Now.  On to the cookies!

I made these after my parents came home from a Summer Solstice party raving about some lime sugar cookies that had been served.  Lime-flavored cookies.  Weird.  But intriguing, so I promptly began googling like a fiend.

And I found this recipe.  The cookies turned out crisp and slightly chewy–and a lot puffier than I expected.  I want to find a way to make them more chewy than crispy, but these cookies are great!  However, I was still really confused by the fact that my cookies tasted like lime.  I don’t know why.

Lime sugar cookies

3/4 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar, divided

zest of 2 limes

1/2 cup sour cream

2 large egg yolks, room temperature

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 1/2 cups flour

  1. Beat together butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and zest until creamed.  Add sour cream, beating until blended.  Stir in the egg yolks and lime juice.
  2. Slowly add flour, salt, and baking powder.  Beat until blended.
  3. Chill dough for at least one hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350.  Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Put the remaining sugar in a little bowl.  Form dough into small balls and roll in the sugar.  Use a fork to press the cookies down, creating hatch marks on the tops.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the the edges begin to brown.

This is a great summer cookie, and I’m so glad I tried it!

Return of the Madness: Meyer lemon curd doughnuts

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A couple summers ago, I went through this phase where I just fried things.  Candy bars, doughnuts, beignets, funnel cakes, popcorn, hot dogs.  The thing is, even though everybody knows that deep fat frying anything is health-wise not a good idea, my taste buds beg to differ.  Fried things are delicious.  And the way I see it, as long as I don’t eat fried foods too much, it’s totally fine.

So I’ve made doughnuts before.  I’ve made plain doughnuts and pudding-filled doughnuts.  Doughnuts are awesome.  They are probably one of my favorite foods.  And so when I came across this recipe for Meyer lemon curd filled doughnuts…well.  Of course I had to make them.

These doughnuts took a long time to make because not only do you have to make the doughnuts, you also have to make lemon curd.  And things have to rise, and cool, and fry and—okay, it’s kind of labor-intensive.  I also wouldn’t recommend making these on a really hot day because yes, you do have to stand over the cooking lemon curd and stir the whole time.

But it’s so worth it!  I promise you, these doughnuts are beautiful and delicious and definitely in the top five of Things I Have Made.  The doughnut itself is soft and a little dense, with just a hint of cinnamon.  And the lemon curd…don’t even get me started.  It’s so good.  Tart and sweet and creamy and the prettiest light yellow I’ve ever seen.  I had a bunch left over because I didn’t fill all my doughnuts, and so for the next few days I put lemon curd on everything.  Sometimes I even just ate it with a spoon.  Ahaha.

I was worried while making these because, for one, when I mixed the yeast and warm water, nothing happened.  I just had weird brown water that smelled kind of funky.  I dumped out the first bit and tried again, but when the same thing happened, I just used it.  It worked fine for me.  The next minor freak out I had concerned the lemon curd.  I was actually kind of mildly terrified that I would end up with lemon flavored scrambled eggs, which sounds ridiculously disgusting.  Luckily, this didn’t happen, because I stirred the whole time it was cooking.

But now enough of me rambling.  I’ll let the doughnuts do their own talking…

Meyer lemon curd filled doughnuts

For the lemon curd:

½ cup Meyer lemon juice

2 teaspoons Meyer lemon zest

½ cup sugar

2 large eggs

½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Pinch of salt

  1. Put everything except the butter in a metal bowl and whisk it all together.  Add in the butter and place the metal bowl over a small pot of simmering water.  Keep stirring so you don’t end up with lemony scrambled eggs.  Check the temperature—when it gets to 160°, it’s done.  Run the curd through a fine mesh sieve into another bowl, pressing the curd through with a spatula.  Cover the bowl, let it cool, and then stick it in the fridge for later.

For the doughnuts:

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons warm water (105–115°F)
3 1/4 cups flour, plus some for rolling
1 cup whole milk at room temperature
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar + 3/4 cup to roll the finished doughnuts in
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Oil for frying

  1. Stir yeast and water together.  It should get foamy, but mine worked just fine even though my yeast refused to foam.
  2. Beat together flour, yeast mixture, milk, butter, egg yolks, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.  Beat until a soft dough forms and then beat for another 3 minutes.  Scrape the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with a clean towel (not terry cloth) and let it sit in a warm place until doubled, 1 ½ to 2 hours.
  3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and, using a floured rolling pin, roll to ½ in thick.  Use a round cookie cutter to cut out as many rounds as possible.  Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 30 minutes.  Note: The original recipe says not to reroll the dough.  I didn’t and just fried up a lot of crazy shaped doughnuts (like this little guy).  Next time I’m going to try rerolling it, since I only ended up with 11 round doughnuts.
  4. Now the fun part.  Heat enough oil for frying (about 2 ½ inches deep) in a 4qt pot or an electric skillet.  Heat to 350°.  Carefully place 3-4 doughnuts in the hot oil.  Use a mesh skimmer or slotted spoon to turn.
  5. When they’re done, the doughnuts should be puffy and golden brown.  Place doughnuts on a paper towel-covered plate to drain.  Let them cool completely.
  6.  To fill the doughnuts, use a pastry bag with a nozzle, plastic squeeze bottles, basters—basically, whatever works.  I used a pastry pipe.  Basically just fill up your instrument of choice, poke it into the doughnut, and squeeze.
  7. Roll the doughnuts in sugar.

I think I ate five of these in one sitting.  Which should be disgusting but they were just so delicious that I kind of can’t be bothered to care.  Besides, it’s summer.  It’s time to live a little.

Return of the Madness: Meyer marmalade

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I’ve been trying so hard to find recipes for my Meyer lemons that use the whole lemon.  None of this “½ teaspoon of zest and 3 tablespoons of juice” business because then that leads to me going completely crazy and zesting a bunch of lemons into a little Tupperware container which is now living in the freezer.  I refuse to waste one little bit of these beautiful lemons.

I vaguely remembered that there was such a thing as marmalade.  This remembrance led to the realization that marmalade has strips of peel in it.  I quickly dug up a recipe and rejoiced when I discovered that marmalade uses the whole fruit—including the seeds!

Marmalade is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting of jamlike spreads.  Yes, it’s extremely sweet, but the flavor is a lot more subtle than regular jam.  It’s a little bit bitter, a little sour, a lot sweet.  Plus it has the added benefit of looking like a jar full of goldfish.

Anyways, I made marmalade.  I thought it would be extremely difficult but no, not really.  I made a few rookie mistakes, like cutting the peel a little too thick (although this does mean that I get beautiful chunks of candied lemon peel on my toast) and possibly cooking it too long (which is probably why I ended up with two jars instead of three).  However, it’s super easy!  Basically it’s just cutting stuff up and then cooking it.

I halved this recipe because the thought of having six jars of marmalade sitting around made my teeth hurt a little bit.  If you want to go ahead and can the marmalade like in the original recipe, go for it.  I decided not to.

This recipe requires some special equipment: cheesecloth or a coffee filter, plain white cotton thread, and three (or in my case, two) ½ pint Mason jars.

Meyer lemon marmalade

3 Meyer lemons

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

  1. Cut lemons in half and remove the seeds.  Use the cheesecloth/coffee filter and string to make a little bag for the seeds.  Quarter each lemon half and thinly slice.  Put everything (including the seed bag) in a 5-qt nonreactive pot with the lid on, and let it sit at room temperature for at least 24 hours.
  2. Remove the seed bag and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes or until the mixture has reduced somewhat.
  3. Add sugar to the mixture and bring it back to a boil, cooking until a dollop of the mixture gels on a cold plate.
  4. Spoon marmalade into the jars and place lids on top.  Allow to cool completely before putting in the fridge.

This stuff is great on toast.  It would probably also be delicious on biscuits.  In addition to tasting fantastic, it’s also a beautiful color—bright yellow.  It’s probably the most summery marmalade I’ve ever seen.  Enjoy!

 

Improvising on a walnut cake: Return of the Madness

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That’s right—it’s back.

It’s just, all I could think about was cooking with Meyer lemons.  Obviously this was an easily remedied problem, so I come bearing a whole new batch of Meyer lemon recipes.

This time, I went to the Sunkist website to see if they had any special recipes.  I figured since they were the ones selling the Meyer lemons, they should have some good recipes.  When I found this recipe for walnut cake, I was equal parts intrigued and excited.  How can you make a cake with only four ingredients and no flour whatsoever?

The lack of flour was definitely a plus for me, since I’m constantly on the lookout for recipes that are gluten-free or are easily adaptable to be gluten-free.  Cakes are really tough because gluten-free flour tends to give them a really weird texture.  Even those no-flour chocolate cakes kind of weird me out, although they’re still delicious.  I was surprised that one of the things I liked best about this cake was the weird texture.

I had no idea what this cake would taste like.  Walnuts, sure, but other than that?  I just didn’t know.  It ended up tasting nutty and slightly sweet with a hint of lemon.  The lemon syrup that goes over the top really makes it special.  We ate it with lightly sweetened strawberries over the top—so good.

But this recipe didn’t come without a boatload of trouble, which, for once, was totally not my fault!  While I was mixing everything up, I realized that they had me adding sugar in twice, when the recipe only called for a teensy bit of sugar added in when you grind the walnuts.  I wanted to check out similar recipes to see how they handled the sugar.  Maybe the recipe was right, but I’m still pretty sure Sunkist got it wrong.  As a result, I added ¼ cup of sugar to the egg yolks.  My cake turned out lightly sweet, which is just what I wanted—a nutty, lemony cake with a hint of sweetness.

I also encountered a surprise when I was baking the cake.  All the recipes I saw said that walnut cake bakes for 50-60 minutes.  After about 30 minutes I checked on my cake and was extremely confused when it looked done.  I tested it with a toothpick and, sure enough, it was done.  I have no idea what happened.  My advice for anybody who decides to make this cake is to check on it regularly from 30 minutes on, just in case yours decides to be difficult and bake super quickly like mine did.

Meyer lemon walnut cake

3 cups walnuts

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon white sugar

4 large eggs, separated

1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest

¼ teaspoon salt

Meyer lemon syrup

½ cup Meyer lemon juice (about three lemons)

6 tablespoons sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.  Spray a 9 inch round cake pan with cooking spray.
  2. Using a food processor, grind up the walnuts until they look kind of like sand—not too much or you’ll get walnut butter.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest, and salt to make a thick batter.
  4. Beat the egg whites with a mixer until stiff peaks form.
  5. With a rubber spatula, fold about ¼ of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.  Add the walnuts and stir until combined.  Gradually add in the rest of the egg whites, making sure not to overstir.
  6. Pour into the pan and bake for 50-60 minutes—but start checking on it after 30 minutes.  It should feel firm to the touch when done.
  7. To make syrup, combine lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stir a few times, and remove from heat.
  8. To serve, cut cake into 12 slices.  I’d recommend serving it with strawberries.  Drizzle the syrup over everything.

This wasn’t exactly a snap to make.  However, it was worth it for the delicious end result.  I was definitely excited to get back to cooking with Meyer lemons.  More to come soon!

One sandwich to rule them all

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Meet my new favorite sandwich—the Green Goddess.

Yes, it’s actually called that.  Although I’m not sure the name really works in my case, since the sandwich recipe is an adaptation of green goddess salad dressing. Because the pesto (in the fashion of green goddess dressing) uses anchovies, and I don’t eat meat, the pesto the original recipe recommends wouldn’t work for me.

No problem, though, because there are plenty of pestos around with nary an anchovy to be seen.  I just bought some pesto from Walmart and it was fantastic!

This sandwich has all the good things—pesto, avocado, spinach, mozzarella, feta, fresh basil, and olive oil.  It’s salty and cheesy and creamy and garlicky and absolutely decadent and delicious.  What’s not to love?

My favorite part is probably the avocado.  Or the feta.  Or the—okay, the whole thing.  I honestly can’t pick my favorite part because this sandwich and all its ingredients just work so well together.  Plus, besides being delicious, it was really filling and satisfying—always impressive for a simple grilled cheese sandwich.

Green Goddess sandwich

2 pieces of bread (I used whole wheat but anything works)

2-3 tablespoons of your favorite pesto

2 slices of mozzarella cheese

A handful of spinach

A couple leaves of fresh basil

¼-½ of an avocado, sliced

1-2 tablespoons of feta

Olive oil or butter

1.     Smear the pesto on both slices of bread.  Put a slice of mozzarella on each slice.

2.     Place the spinach and basil on one slice of bread.  Lay the avocado slices on top of the spinach.  Sprinkle the feta over everything and then put the second slice on top.

3.      If you have an olive oil spritzer, spray a small skillet and each side of the sandwich with olive oil.  Otherwise, just slather some butter on each side of the sandwich and put it in a skillet over high heat.  Fry on each side, using a spatula to press the sandwich down.  When the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted, it’s ready!

I’ve wanted to try this sandwich for so long.  Usually I’m kind of skeptical of sandwich recipes because, well, a sandwich is a sandwich and everybody is going to do the same sandwich differently.  Case in point: the heated arguments I’ve had about which kind of jelly is right for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (for the record, it’s concord grape).  That’s why I decided to leave the amounts of ingredients up to you guys.  I know I don’t follow recipes for sandwiches precisely. My advice for this sandwich is really just to make it what you want.  Throw another kind of cheese on there, try it with sundried tomato pesto, whatever, just make it your own.

Meyer Madness Round 3: Lemonade

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By now, it’s probably pretty obvious that I have fallen in love with Meyer lemons.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore regular lemons as well, but there’s just something very special about these.  I love that they’re just the slightest bit less sour and acidic.  They’re delicate.  Summery.

The problem with summer is that it’s hot, which means that sometimes it just isn’t that fun to spend time around a hot oven.  I usually don’t mind too much, but today I decided to take a break.

You know the saying: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Well, life didn’t exactly give me these beautiful Meyer lemons, and instead I made lemon bars and scones.  Finally, I decided I should make lemonade.

The great thing about Meyer lemons is that they’re a lot softer than regular lemons, which means you hardly have to work to get all the juice out.  I expected making lemonade to be like the time I made freshly squeezed orange juice (now that was labor-intensive).  Instead, it probably took me ten minutes tops, and I am totally willing to spend that time for delicious lemonade.

I actually have a bit of a problem with the recipe I used.  This might just be me, but I like my lemonade more on the tart side than the sweet side.  ¾ cup of sugar seemed like an awful lot to me, but I went for it anyways.  After following the recipe exactly, my lemonade was way too sweet, so I added another cup or two of water and (this part is really appalling) about a teaspoon of regular lemon juice to cut the sweetness a bit.

These Meyer lemons have brought plenty of learning opportunities, and now I know that making lemonade is an extremely subjective experience, not to be taken lightly, and always to be tasted frequently while making.

Maybe you prefer your lemonade sweet—if you do, this is the recipe for you.  If you like it more sour, try less sugar.  Maybe mess around with what kind of sweetener you use.  Honey?  Agave?  You are the master of your own lemonade.

Meyer lemonade

4 or 5 Meyer lemons

Water

¾ cup sugar (or however much you want to use)

  1. Cut the lemons in half.  Juice into a container.  I find it easiest to put a little strainer over the mouth of the container to catch seeds and pulp, but you can also just fish these things out with a slotted spoon.
  2. Dissolve the sugar in a cup of hot water.
  3. Pour 4 cups of cold water into the container with the lemon juice.
  4. Pour the sugar water in.  Give it all a good stir.
  5. Taste.  Adjust as needed.
  6. Chill until serving.  I kind of like mixing some mint leaves in there for a little extra oomph.

I was really surprised by how much lemonade I managed from my four little lemons.  Don’t get me wrong, I am totally excited about having homemade lemonade for the next few days.  It’s just crazy that I got a whole pitcher-full from probably about 4 tablespoons of juice.

So that finishes off this round of Meyer Lemon Madness.  I highly doubt that I’m done with these little beauties though—I still have three months of summer left!