Tag Archives: Lemon

From the ruins

lavender lemon shortbread

Years and years ago, when I first moved back to London for graduate school, I was lucky enough to live in a furnished apartment. Or, almost. The one thing that was missing was a desk *, which seemed essential at the time, given that I was a student.

My roommate—who I had met through a mutual friend but not actually met in person—and her parents knew this and mere minutes after I arrived, whisked me off to Ikea. Or, it felt like that anyway.

I was still bleary eyed from the red eye transatlantic flight and the surreal experience of presenting the customs officer with a notarized acceptance letter and a bank check for thousands of GBP made out to University College London. And, I was in need of everything that didn’t fit within the confines of two suitcases. And, also, very, very tired.

By the time we got to the bays holding the desks, I was dead on my feet. But, it hardly mattered. I knew what a wanted—an understated blonde wood one that would blend in perfectly with the rest of the furniture in my bedroom. I pointed to it, my roommate’s father helped me get it down and then it sat in my flat for two days before I had the energy to open up the box and build it.

When I did, it was bright orange.

Stay with me here. There’s a point, and I’m getting to it.

I was alone in my flat and started to laugh aloud, like a crazy person. This wasn’t what I wanted at all. But, I had no access to a car, and no easy way of getting to Ikea to return the desk without one. I had no choice but to start building. The funny thing was that, as I did, I realized that aesthetically, the orange desk worked and, in fact, made my bedroom look far better than the beech wood version ever could.

The recipe below was meant to be something different.

I had visions of flaky buttery cookies sandwiched between tangy lemon curd. There would be just enough acid to counterbalance the richness and just enough heft to the cookie so that it would be easily stackable. They would be delicious.

And, then the cookies came out of the oven and they too flaky.

I tried to dollop some lemon curd between two and they fell apart. Once I got over the initial disappointment, I realized I was right about at least one thing—they were delicious and tender enough to almost melt away.

All of which is to say, from the ruins: shortbread.

Lavender Lemon Shortbread

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 TBS lemon zest
1 tsp dried lavender
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup corn flour
1/4 cup cornmeal, plus more for dusting
3/4 tsp salt

Cream the butter and powdered sugar. Add in the vanilla, lemon zest, and lavender until it is well blended. Sift the flours and salt together, then add it into the creamed butter/sugar and thirds. The mixture will appear sandy at first. Beat util a soft dough forms, taking care not to over blend.

Roll into logs about 1″ in diameter, coating in cornmeal. Cover in wax paper and refrigerate at least one hour.

When you are ready to cook, heat your oven for 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Slice the shortbread into rounds 1/4″ wide. Place on a parchment lined baking tray and bake 12-14 minutes. The shortbread will be pale. Allow it to sit for at least 10 minutes on the baking tray to crisp.

Photos courtesy of Michael Landry

*Actually that’s not entirely true. For the first two months in the flat, we were also missing dining room table chairs. How we finally got them is another story.


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We Interrupt The Previously Scheduled Recording…

.For this emergency broadcast.

Ok, fine, I might be getting a little melodramatic. But, now that I have your attention: my recaps from the Second Annual Indian Summer Picnic will continue shortly. Bear with me in the meantime, this one is good. And, actually, came about directly as a result of the Indian Summer Picnic.

Remember the Concord Grape Vodka Lemonades I told you about last week? Well, although I have a closet filled with more beer than I know what to do with and bottle after bottle of wine lining the floor of my closet—mind you, I’m not complaining, here. In fact, I’m plotting my next event—the whole bottle of Concord Grape Vodka went quickly. So quickly, in fact, that after an hour or so, Abbey (of pig-vented apple pie fame) was diluting it with plain-old-vodka to keep the cocktails coming.

Luckily, since Concord grapes are still in season, and I’m determined to consume as many as I can while that’s the case, I had some frozen grapes on hand. Which meant that could make more. And, since I was making a trip to the liquor store to get more cheap vodka anyway it seemed like a good idea to get a handle, in order to continue on infusion making kick.

This time, I had my sights set on Limoncello, a logical progression following the lemonade making of the day prior. Naturally, as I was zesting this batch of lemons, it occurred to me that, had I planned this better, I could have started the process the day before, when I was making the first batch of lemonade. This is really a convoluted way of saying that Limoncello calls for the lemon zest only, so you’ll need to plan accordingly. lemon Bars or lemon curd are both good options. Or, you could make another batch of Concord Grape Vodka Lemonades.Personally, I’m going for the latter.

Recipe courtesy of Giada de Laurentiss

10 lemons
750-ml or 3 cups of vodka (Cheap vodka is fine here)
3.5 cups water
2.5 cups sugar

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the lemons for another use). Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature.

Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Transfer the limoncello to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 month.

Makes 7 Cups

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We Break for Drinks

I’m afraid that the picture below is the best that you’re going to get of the recipe that follows.

It was taken during the frantic part of the evening—guests were arriving and, well, you already know time management skills when it comes to event planning. So, I was trying to pull pork and greet my guests and get them drinks and well, you get the idea. I was also trying to seem relaxed. After all, no one likes a harried hostess (least of all the hostess herself).

Luckily, my usual cast of characters is used to this. And, somehow all end up serving as, much appreciated co-hosts. So, this past Saturday, after Andrea had helped me cook, and Rajni started handling greeting guests, Abbey joined me in kitchen, with simple statement, Drinks. I can do this!

She could, and with aplomb, taking my originally idea, and tweaking it so that it was so much better. When she discovered that there were frozen concord grapes, those went into the glasses as inspired ice cubes. Then she cut squeezed in a lime wedge. The acid of the brightens the drink, she said. Or something like that.

Honestly, none of us cared what it did. It just made the drink that much better.

Included below are recipes for homemade lemonade—if you’re going through the trouble of infusing your own vodka, then you might as well make everything from scratch, I think. And for a single cocktail. You can tweak the alcohol to your liking, based on how strong you want the vodka’s flavor to be (and how lethal the drink). This recipe is easy to make in batches, so perfect for a party.

Concord Grape Vodka Lemonade
1 oz Concord Grape Vodka
6 oz Lemonade (recipe follows)
1 lime wedge
2-3 frozen concord grapes

Mix well, and garnish with a squeezed lime and 2-3 concord grapes.

Serves One

Recipe courtesy of All Recipes
1.75 cups white sugar
8 cups water
1.5 cups lemon juice

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Remove seeds from lemon juice, but leave pulp. In pitcher, stir together chilled syrup, lemon juice and remaining 7 cups water.

Makes 9.5 cups

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Once More, With Lemon (Macarons, Take #2)

And, so, the quest continues.

I’m happy to report two things here.

First, I have not gained ten pounds, yet. Although I suspect that if I continue to bake batch after batch of macarons, in time, I might. This, dear, reader, is a risk that I’m prepared to take, but only on your behalf.

Second, lemon curd.

Fine, that’s not the most articulate reportage. Forgive me, I get a little excited when it comes to things like this.

Trying again, then, what I meant to say is this: should you decide that using your egg yolks to make ice cream isn’t for you, I’ve come up with a macaron variation that still manages to make good use of them: cookies lightly studded with lemon zest and sandwiched with lemon curd.

I make this lemon curd on the tart side, allowing its sharp edges to be mellowed out by the sweetness of the cookie. Of course, you can always add more sugar if you want something with a little less punch. Either way, you’re likely to have extra lemon curd, which can only be a good thing. It should keep for about 2 weeks in your refrigerator, if it lasts that long.

French Macarons with Lemon Curd

To make the macarons:
1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 cups almond flour
3 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
2 TBS lemon zest
Food coloring (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sift confectioners’ sugar into a bowl and whisk in the almond flour. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until they’re foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar, still whisking, until the whites reach medium soft peaks. If you’re using food coloring, add it the beaten egg whites, combining well.

Sprinkle half of the sugar-almond mixture over the beaten egg whites and fold until just incorporated. Then add the rest of the sugar almond mixture and the lemon zest, folding until everything is combined.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag and pipe the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Each cookie should be 1.5″ in diameter and at least 1/2″ apart.

Allow the cookies to rest for at least 30 minutes, until they are no longer tacky when touched.

Bake, rotating halfway through, until macarons are slightly firm to the touch and can be lifted from the parchment, 20-25 minutes. Remove from the baking sheets and allow to cool completely.

To make the lemon curd:
3 egg yolks
2 lemons juiced and zested (1/4 cup of juice total)
3/4 cup sugar
4 TBS butter (1/2 stick), cut into 1 TBS pats and chilled

In a double boiler with simmering water, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the sugar has dissolved completely. Add in the lemon juice and zest, whisking constantly until the mixture has thickened, approximately 8-10 minutes. The mixture should be light yellow in color and coat the back of a spoon.

Remove the curd from the heat, and stir in the butter 1 TBS at a time, allowing the first TBS of butter to melt completely before adding the next one.

Move the curd into a clean container, placing plastic wrap directly on the surface in order to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the macaroons.

Makes approximately 1 cup

To assemble the macaroons:

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On Bulk Shopping

The thing about shopping at Costco is that it seems like a good idea at the time.

And then, suddenly, there are five pounds of lemon and only one of you.

If you peruse the archives, you’ll see that I often use lemons when I cook. Just not nearly as many as I thought.

In other words, if I didn’t want the five pounds of lemons I had just purchased to go to waste, I was going to have to get creative.

So, lemon bars.

What I like about these is that the lemon curd, with it’s tangy bite, cuts through the richness of the shortbread. I played around with the original recipe, adding vanilla and upping the sugar just slightly in the filling to create a more mellow flavor.

I’ll be making these again soon (3 pounds of lemons left to go!), along with lemon sorbet, lemonade, lemon-vinaigrette….

What I mean to say here is: if you have some suggestions to use up my lemons, post them in the comments.

Lemon Bars

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who in turn, adapted it from Ina Garten

For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

For a the layer:
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup flour

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9″x13″ baking dish.

For the crust: Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until it is light in texture. Add in the vanilla extract and combine. Add the flour and salt and turn the mixer onto its lowest setting. Mix until the dough is just combined. It should be shaggy.

Press the dough into your well greased baking dish, creating a half inch edge on all sides. Chill for at least 15 minutes.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let it cool and, in the meantime, prepare your lemon layer. Leave the oven on.

For the lemon layer: Using a whisk or mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice. When that is combined, add in the flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar.


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