Posts Tagged ‘lemons’

Lemon-Black Pepper Cookies What about this? What about taking a great lemon butter cookie recipe and adding a peppery twist? Now take that incredible cookie dough and mix in some cornmeal for additional crunch and flavor. Sounds pretty good, right? Wait, we’re not done yet! Bake a batch of these cookies and let them cool. Here’s the best part: spread some vanilla bean ice cream or lemon gelato on the back of one cookie and take another cookie and smoosh the cookies together to make one intriguing ice cream sandwich. Whether you make these cookies for a holiday tea or make the ice cream sandwiches for the hot days of summer, you’ll be so glad you did!

Lemon-Black Pepper Cornmeal Cookies
Luscious Lemon Desserts by Lori Longbotham

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon fresh, coarsely ground black pepper (optional)
Pinch of salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup finely grated lemon zest (approximately 4 lemons)
2 large egg yolks

1. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, black pepper, if using, and salt together in a medium bowl.

2. Beat the butter, sugar, and zest in a medium bowl with an electric mixer, beginning on low speed and increasing to medium-high speed, until light and fluffy.

3. Add the egg yolks and beat to combine well.

4. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture, and beat on low speed just until blended; the dough will be crumbly.

5. Press the dough together with your hands and divide it in half. Place each half on a sheet of waxed paper and form each piece into a 10-by-1¼-inch log. Smooth each log with dampened fingers. Chill the logs, wrapped in waxed paper, for at least 3 hours, or until firm.

6. At least 25 minutes before baking, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400° F. Butter 2 large nonstick baking sheets.

7. Cut each log into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and arrange rounds 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, for 10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Makes 6 dozen cookies

1. To get 1/4 cup of lemon zest, I used 4 big Eureka lemons and 1 small Myer lemon.
2. My dough was not crumbly, but more sticky.
3. The next time I make these cookies, I will add a little bit more salt.
4. I used parchment paper instead of buttering the cookie sheets.
5. The cookbook author states, “If you’d rather, add 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger with the dry ingredients, instead of the pepper.” I personally like the idea of a peppery surprise over a more tame ginger flavor.
6. The author also states that “These are perfect with ice cream and fruit.” I agree!


Read Full Post »

Insalata di Farfalle, Zucchine E Pinoli The geometry of pasta involves pairing up the perfect shape with the perfect sauce. According to Caz Hildebrand, co-author of the Geometry of Pasta, doing so, ” . . . makes the difference between pasta dishes that are merely ordinary and truly sublime.” In this recipe, the simple lemon and olive oil dressing lightly coats the farfalle pasta, also known outside of Italy as bow-tie pasta. The fragrance and flavors of briefly sautéed slices of zucchini, shreds of fresh basil and Italian parsley, and toasted pine nuts combine to make this recipe “truly sublime.” As a matter of fact, I give it a four “S” rating for Super Special Summer Salad.

Insalata di Farfalle, Zucchine e Pinoli
The Geometry of Pasta

1/2 pound farfalle
3 smallish, firm zucchini (2/3 pound), thinly sliced in 2-4-millimeter rounds
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2/3 cup pine nuts
Oil for frying the pine nuts
A small handful each of basil and flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely shredded
Grated Parmesan, to serve, (optional)

1. Boil the farfalle until cooked as you would like them, then drain and cool under cold running water.

2. Heat a frying pan until very, very hot over a high flame. Add the zucchini, then 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil, and a little salt. Sauté for a minute or so. When half-cooked, a few nicely browned, add the garlic and cook for a minute more. When still just underdone, turn off the heat, and leave in the pan to finish cooking. The zucchini should be partly coloured, fully cooked but still slightly crunchy, and nicely dry.

3. Make a dressing of the lemon zest, juice, and remaining 4½ tablespoons of olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. To toast the pine nuts cover them with oil in a small pan and fry over a medium heat until pale amber.

5. When the zucchini and pine nuts have cooled to room temperature, toss with the pasta, herbs, and dressing.

6. Best left to stand for 20 minutes before eating plain or with a light grating of Parmesan.

1. Try to slice the zucchini so that the slices are uniformly thick. This helps to ensure that they are cooked evenly.

2. I drained the toasted pine nuts on a paper towel-lined plate. The next time I make this, I will use less oil to fry the pine nuts.

3. Before serving, I topped the dish with some freshly-grated Parmesan cheese and I also served some in a small bowl on the side for those who wanted more.


Read Full Post »

Chirping up a storm, the birds in my backyard are letting me know that their feeders are empty. I look out the window to the feeding station and see that the sunflower seeds have disappeared and all but one-inch of Nyjer seed remains in another feeder. It’s a quite a job to stay on top of filling three feeders, a suet cage, and a hummingbird feeder every couple of days. Not to mention, hauling and storing the bird seed, cleaning and filling a bird bath and making sure my husband puts only bird-safe algaecide in our fountain. It’s a lot of work, but the sweet songs of thanks I hear every time I step outside remind me of why I do it!

#1 – Repurposing Phone Booths
The other day, my husband and I were talking about things that are becoming obsolete and one of the items brought up for discussion were phone booths. Shortly after that discussion, I read about John Locke, a Columbia architecture graduate who wants to convert New York’s pay phones into sharing libraries. To date, he’s placed bookshelves and books in two phone booths with mixed results. Read about his interesting project and see additional photos here.

#2 – Got Lemons?
Wanting to save the remaining Meyer lemons in my yard from being half-eaten and left to rot by pesky squirrels, I decided to look for yet another way to save them for future use. In the past, my husband has made limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur, but unfortunately, there’s only so much limoncello we can drink! I’ve also tried juicing the lemons and freezing the juice, but it’s such a waste of flavorful rind. This year I’m preserving the lemons in a more traditional way – in jars with salt and lemon juice. Read the New York Times article on “Preserving Lemons the Traditional Way” if you’ve got lemons and want to learn the technique.

#3 – Paris vs. New York
The introduction reads “Macaroon vs. cupcake, Proust vs. Salinger, bobo vs. hipster, bordeaux vs. cosmo.” These are some of the comparisons that graphic designer Vahram Muratyan illustrated with his minimalist-style portraits and they are included in his book Paris versus New York: a Tally of Two Cities.

#4 – An Arm and a Leg
A recent email from my fitness club contained a link to the Limbs for Life Foundation. After checking out the site, I became more grateful for my healthy limbs and more aware of the difficulties amputees face. Depending on the specific type, a prosthetic limb can cost anywhere from $6000 to $65,000 and possibly even more. Due to wear and tear of the prosthetic or growth of the wearer, prostheses have to be continually replaced. Most insurance companies pay a very small fraction of the cost and usually on a once per person per lifetime basis. Many leg amputees, who cannot afford to pay their share, become wheelchair-bound. If you want to learn more about Limbs for Life click on the link above or watch the video below:

#5 – Going Somewhere?
“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you are not going to stay where you are.”
— John Pierpoint

Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend!

Read Full Post »

Picture smooth, thin-skinned, lemons swaying seductively in the breeze. They temp you with their fresh fragrance and their bright eye-catching color. Heavy with juice, that begs to be released, the luscious fruit cry out “Take me! Use me! Squeeze me now!”

A while back I wrote a short piece called Got Lemons? for a Friday Fresh Five! post that started me thinking about this fabulously versatile fruit. If your lemon tree graced you with a bounty and you’re trying to figure out what to do with them, you’re in luck. I searched the internet and created a list of thirty ordinary and extraordinary uses for lemons. If you are fortunate enough to have Meyer lemons, which are slightly sweeter than regular lemons, there are some wonderful culinary suggestions to try. Limoncello, anyone?

Using Lemons – Ordinary and Extraordinary Ideas

1. Make homemade lemonade with this basic syrup recipe: 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water. Dilute syrup to taste with water or soda water and add ice. For added flavor, include a bit of chopped crystallized ginger or fresh mint leaves or some fresh fruit.

2. Highlight your hair by mixing the juice of one lemon with one teaspoon of salt and apply to your hair with a comb. Get out into the sun for a couple of hours. Because of the drying effects of this mixture, do not use this too often.

3. Infuse your favorite olive oil with Meyer lemon peel: Warm a cup of olive oil and the peel from 2 lemons over very low heat for 15 minutes, then allow to cool for half an hour. Strain and pour into a bottle with a stopper.

4. Exfoliate and clean your feet – mix up some lemon pulp and brown sugar and rub. Rinse and moisturize. Repeated use of lemon juice can whiten toenails that have been yellowed by nail polish.

5. Roast quartered slices of Meyer lemon with olive oil, rosemary and whole shallots; serve simply, with slices of grilled bread.

6. Sooth a sting by mixing the juice of half a lemon with water and apply to area.

7. Stuff the cavity of a chicken with lemon and onion wedges before roasting it.

8. Freshen up your dishwasher by placing half a lemon onto one of the spikes before you run a wash cycle.

9. Squeeze the juice from lemons and freeze it in an ice cube tray; once frozen, store the cubes in plastic bags in the freezer.

10. Freeze lemon zest. Zest lemons before juicing them; freeze zest in a small, plastic bag or a small, airtight container. Use in salad dressings, soups, roasts, pasta dishes, seafood, dips, baked goods and more!

11. Make Meyer limoncello by steeping lemon peel in a bottle of vodka for two weeks. Then strain the infused vodka, mix with simple syrup and more vodka, and bottle the result.

12. For the perfect cold remedy, add the juice of half a lemon and a pinch of cayenne to a strong pot of tea.

13. Make a lemon candlescape: Cut lemons in half crosswise. Cut a small bit off the ends to create flat bottoms. Carefully ream out juice; scrape shells clean with a spoon. Place a small votive or tea light in each shell, carefully set in a pretty bowl, fill with a small amount of water, and light candles.

14. Relieve dry and achy hands by massaging them with a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil.

15. Make Meyer lemon vinaigrette with extra virgin olive oil, Meyer lemon juice, a splash of champagne vinegar, sea salt, cracked black pepper and a little lemon zest.

16. Slice a few lemons and put them into your bath with a sprinkle of lavender and rosemary.

17. Perfume your sugar bowl by stirring strips of lemon peel down into the sugar.

18. Dry lemon slices for decorations or potpourri: Cut lemons crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Leave any seeds in place. Discard ends. Place on wire rack in baking sheet. Dry in 170-degree oven 4 hours. Remove; leave on rack to air dry.

19. Rinse your mouth with lemon juice and then swallow it for longer-lasting fresh breath. The citric acid in the juice alters the pH level in your mouth, killing the bacteria that cause bad breath. Rinse with water after a few minutes, because long-term exposure to the acid in the juice can erode tooth enamel.

20. Make a lemon Bellini with Prosecco, Meyer lemon juice, a little simple syrup and strips of peel.

21. Hollow out the interior of whole Meyer lemons, fill them with Meyer lemon ice cream or lemon sorbet. Freeze.

22. Ant-proof the kitchen with lemon juice. Squirt lemon juice on thresholds and window sills. Squeeze lemon juice into any holes or cracks that the ants are entering. Scatter small slices of lemon peel around door entrances. Ants do not like the lemon fragrance and will not enter your home. Lemons are also effective against roaches and fleas. Reader’s Digest suggests a mixture of ½ gallon (2 liters) of water and the juice and rinds of four lemons. Wash the kitchen floor and the counters with this mixture and watch the insects leave.

23. Make a dipping sauce for grilled fish or shrimp from Meyer lemon juice, fresh chopped cilantro, basil and mint, minced garlic, ginger and chilies, and fish sauce.

24. Lemon juice is a mild alternative to bleach. Soak colorfast garments in a mixture of baking soda and lemon juice for ½ hour prior to washing. Lemon juice is much safer than bleach for whitening delicates.

25. Top blueberry pancakes with a spoonful of Greek yogurt and grated Meyer lemon zest.

26. Remove tough food stains from your cutting board by rubbing with lemon juice and baking soda. This will also kill germs and freshen the board.

27. Remove warts by applying lemon juice to the site daily until the wart falls off.

28. Potatoes, rice, and cauliflower will stay white by squeezing a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice into the cooking water.

29. Make those dull aluminum pots and pans sparkle. Rub the cut side of half a lemon all over them and buff with a soft cloth. For copper pots, rub them with a paste of juice and salt; rinse well with clear water; dry with a clean, soft cloth.

30. To clean cheese off of a grater, rub half of a juiced lemon over the grater.

For more information about lemon usage, read the original articles from which these tips were collected:

LA Times

Hippy Shopper


Reader’s Digest

Crunchy Betty

Local Foods

Cooking Junkies

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: