Molten

Hey, remember how we were going to make Lemon Lava Cakes earlier but it turns out we didn’t have all the ingredients? Well tonight was going to be something else but neither of us felt like making it, so instead I made the Lemon Lava Cakes, because the missing ingredients had been acquired.

This recipe is pretty straight-forward. You melt some butter and white chocolate together, and then stir in flour and sugar and a shockingly large number of eggs (four whole eggs plus four yolks). To that you stir in some lemon juice and an entire tablespoon of lemon zest, plus half a cup of lemon curd (and hey, conveniently, I have a jar of homemade curd in the fridge!). Then you pour the batter into some small ramekins and pop those into the oven, and bake them until they are just set.

Here they are, out of the oven.

After letting them set for a couple minutes, you then carefully invert them out onto a plate, and sprinkle with a little powdered sugar. And then the moment of truth – you take a bite. If all went well, the cake should have an outer shell, but a molten center, which should ooze out upon cutting.

Oh hey, look at that! You can actually see the outer cake ‘shell’ in this picture – it was perfectly uniform all the way around. I am always pleased when recipes turn out exactly as they are supposed to, and this one definitely did.

Verdict: SO VERY YUMMY. The cake part is very light and the filling is creamy with a lovely light lemony flavor. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

But now I have another four egg whites that need using up. Hmm. What *shall* I do with those…..?

Lemons used: 2 (they were small)
Total lemons used: 22

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

Posted in Baking | Leave a comment

Unnecessary effort

Last night after I got home from rehearsal, I cut up three lemons, juiced them (saving the juice for later), and stuck them in a pan with 2 cups of water, which I brought to a low boil. Then I turned off the heat, stuck a lid on the pan and let it sit for a day, so that it would be ready for this evening’s dinner – Lemon Water Pasta.

The general idea for this pasta is that instead of boiling the noodles in a big vat of water, you instead cook it more like risotto – in a big pan, adding the lemon-infused (and strained) water a little bit at a time until the noodles are done. I ended up having to add another cup of water during the cooking process because the two cups (500 ml) of water just wasn’t enough to cook 8 ounces of spaghetti, despite what the recipe claimed, but eventually it got there. Then at the end, once the pasta’s finally cooked, you stir in a bunch of cheese, to make sort of a sauce.

While I took care of the pasta, Richard set up Roasted Lemon Chili Broccoli (because we needed to use up at least *some* of the lemon juice from those three lemons).

Dinner!

So how were they? Well first, it’s a good thing the pasta was fairly bland, since the broccoli recipe includes three *tablespoons* of chili paste, which is…a lot of chili for the amount of veggies. The pasta itself had a very faint lemon flavor (more of a scent than a flavor) but was otherwise unremarkable. Luckily the two things together mostly cancelled each other out, so it was an acceptable meal (plus, despite what the pasta recipe claims, that was four servings, not two, so there’s leftovers for another day).

The broccoli might be worth trying again, with half the amount of chili paste, but the pasta recipe – eh, probably not. It was an intriguing concept to try but honestly, I think you’d get the same effect by boiling the lemons in the pot with the pasta, then just using some of the pasta water to make a sauce later. Not sure it was worth all the fuss, and I won’t be making it again.

Lemons used: 3
Total lemons this month: 20

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

Posted in Life | Leave a comment

Light as air

A couple weeks ago a friend came over for some kitten therapy, and brought me this, which she’d found when clearing out a family member’s things. She knew I liked baking, so thought I’d appreciate it.

It’s a wonderful little book, published in 1954, and I had a lovely time thumbing through it that night. There’s quite a few recipes I’m going to have to make out of this book, but one in particular I bookmarked specifically for this month: Lemon Meringue Lady Fingers. Because after making creme brulee and ending up with a lot of egg whites, the best way to use them up is to turn them into meringues!

The book provides a recipe for basic vanilla meringue cookies, as follows:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Boil the sugar and water to 250 degrees F, or until it forms a soft ball when a little is dropped into cold water. Beat the egg whites very stiff. Beating continuously, add the syrup very slowly; when all the syrup is used, add the vanilla. Fold in the confectioner’s sugar.

Butter a baking sheet and dust it with flour. Spoon the dough in strips 3 1/2 inches long and 3/4 inch wide or, better still, force the batter through a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tube. Bake 20 to 30 minutes and keep the oven door slightly ajar with a wedge of paper.

After that, there’s several different varieties (chocolate, orange, coffee, and lemon), with directions for how to modify the original recipe. For the lemon variety, you substitute 1 tablespoon lemon juice for the vanilla extract, and you stir in 1 teaspoon lemon zest when folding in the confectioner’s sugar.

I didn’t feel like fussing around with trying to make perfectly shaped logs of dough, so instead I used my largest star tip and a pastry bag and piped out individual cookies that way.

I thought they were rather tasty – nice and crunchy on the outside with a chewy middle and a delicate lemon flavor – but everyone else I offered them to went crazy over them, so clearly this recipe is a keeper. I am definitely going to have to try some of the other variations at some point – the coffee one intrigues me.

Here is where I now admit that I actually made these yesterday, because what with carting kittens to and from the vet to get fixed, work, and rehearsal in the evening, I knew I wasn’t going to have any free time to bake. So take it from all the members of the local Lacy Knitters Guild chapter, as well as the members of Vox Musica – these are worth giving a try.

Lemons used: 1
Total lemons this month: 17

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

Posted in Baking | Leave a comment

Another type of curd

This is a two-day post because yesterday was super busy, what with the decorating class in the morning and then a full afternoon of gaming. Plus there isn’t all that much exciting to say about yesterday’s lemon thing, except for its application to today’s.

Anyway. Yesterday I took these two ingredients.

And I turned them into this.

Yup, that’s right. I made cheese. Lemon cheese, to be exact. When trawling the internets for ideas for this month I came across this recipe and thought, eh, why not give it a try. So yesterday morning I got up, poured myself some coffee, and then heated up a half gallon of milk to about 180 degrees F. Then I juiced a lemon and stirred that into the milk. Roughly 15 minutes later, I poured the resulting mess into a cheesecloth-lined colander. I jury-rigged up a cheese draining system involving an empty pitcher, some heavy glass jars, and the kitchen faucet, and let that sit for an hour or so while I did my usual morning chores, and when it was all done, I had cheese. Or some loose approximation thereof.

Trust me when I say this sounds more exciting than it actually was. The cheese itself has practically no flavor at all, although the container does smell faintly of lemon after a day in the fridge.

But once one has cheese, one needs to use it in baking things, so since I happened to have a sheet of puff pastry in the freezer that needed using up, I decided to turn the cheese into these Lemon Puff Pastry Packets.

They’re pretty simple to throw together. You just mix up the filling, roll out and cut the puff pastry into something vaguely resembling squares, egg wash them, fill them, fold and crimp the edges, toss them into the fridge to chill for half an hour, and then after another egg wash and a sprinkling of sugar on top, pop them into the oven. A short time later, you get these.

The result was…passable. There’s a very faint lemon flavor but only due to the zest and juice added to the filling, and not due to the cheese itself. We both agreed they were lacking *something*.

In the meantime there’s yet more bland lemon cheese in the fridge to use up, so expect it to show up in a couple more recipes this month. And I think it’s safe to say I won’t be bothering to make either of these recipes again.

Lemons used: 2

Total lemons this month: 16 (still so many in the fridge. SO. VERY. MANY.)

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

Posted in Baking | Leave a comment

The crack on top

Happy Friday! In honor of it being the end of the week, I decided to make Lemon Lava Cakes. However, upon further inspection, it turns out we didn’t have the necessary ingredients, so instead I made Lemon Creme Brulee.

Creme Brulee is one of those fancy desserts that looks super difficult, but really isn’t. There are a couple places you could go horribly wrong, but if you just follow the recipe you’ll be fine. Basically you heat up some cream (and lemon zest) and then whisk that into some egg yolks (and in this case lemon juice), and then pour the mixture into some little ramekins. Then those go into the oven in a water bath, which helps ensure that they bake at an even temperature. After they’ve baked, you put them in the fridge to cool for a couple hours, and shortly before serving, you sprinkle some sugar on top and hit that with a kitchen torch. Voila! Creme Brulee.

If you did it all right, you should have a tiny little bowl of velvety custard topped with a thin layer of caramel, which should crack when you tap it with your spoon.

These turned out quite yummy, with just a hint of lemon flavor. If I were to make them again, the only thing I would change is to strain the lemon zest out of the cream before adding it to the yolk mixture. Creme Brulee is supposed to be silky smooth, so I wasn’t a huge fan of the little bits of zest.

Lemons used: 4 (they were very tiny!)

Lemons so far this month: 14

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

Posted in Life | 1 Comment

Fresh air

I had something else planned for today but I was tired and not in the mood to bake. So I consulted my list of lemon possibilities and decided to make these.

You take some lemons and some whole cloves.

And then you proceed to stab the cloves into the lemon until you have either run out of cloves, or else created a pattern.

Ta da! Lemon clove air fresheners.

I made the one on the left, and Richard made the one on the right. When it starts to get gross we can turn it around so the other side shows.

Lemons used: 2

Lemons used this month: 10

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

Posted in Life | Leave a comment

Morning sun

This morning I got up, poured myself some coffee, and immediately got to work making lemon scones.

I have made scones a bazillion times in the past, because they’re one of those stupid-easy (as long as you keep the butter cold and don’t overwork the dough) breakfast foods that everyone loves. However, I hadn’t ever tried making lemon ones because most of the lemon scones I have tried in the past have been far too lemony – unpleasantly so. But this month is all about the lemon, so I figured I might as well give it a go.

The scones are mixed and then shaped and baked, and then you let them cool for about 15 minutes before you top them with a thick lemon glaze.

Fifteen minutes, by the way, is plenty of time to go hang out with tiny three week old foster kittens.

This recipe uses a lot of lemon – nearly six tablespoons of juice (including what’s in the lemon glaze on top), and several teaspoons of zest, but yet weirdly it wasn’t very lemony at all (and most of what’s there is from the glaze on top and not the scones itself). I don’t know if maybe the lemon flavor will become more pronounced as they sit, or if it’s because I used Meyer lemons instead of regular ones, but I was quite relieved. I would definitely make these again (although perhaps I might cut them into smaller pieces next time).

Lemons used: 3

Total lemons this month: 8

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

Posted in Baking | Leave a comment

Comfort food

Tonight was another busy night, so I made this Creamy Lemon Pasta with Peas and Ham.

Basically, you cook up some pasta, and toss some frozen peas into the pot near the end (after first removing a cup of the pasta water for the sauce). Meanwhile you toast minced garlic and red pepper flakes in oil, then add in the zest and juice of one lemon, along with the pasta water, and a little bit of cream, and let that reduce. If you want to add ham (which we thought was an excellent addition), you mince that up and toss it in a separate pan to brown, and then at the end, you stir everything together with some parmesan and serve.

The recipe calls for orecchiette pasta, but I used mini elbows because that’s what was in the cupboard. Plus I inadvertently toasted the garlic a little too far, so I ended up straining the sauce prior to thickening it, to remove the charred bits (oops). But despite that little mishap, it turned out quite tasty. This is one we’ll definitely make again, although next time I will significantly decrease the amount of olive oil used, since it was a little on the greasy side.

Lemons used: 1

Total lemons this month: 6

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

Posted in Life | Leave a comment

The only snow we’ll see

Tonight is a rehearsal night, which means I didn’t have much time to make anything complicated, so I made Lemon Snowball Cookies.

I stumbled across this recipe a few weeks ago, in King Arthur Flour’s social media feed, and have been looking forward to trying them ever since. They have some similarities to Mexican Wedding Cakes, but these don’t have crushed nuts. They go together pretty quickly – just cream the butter and zest a lemon, and add in powdered sugar and a couple of other ingredients. Once out of the oven, they cool for a few minutes, and then get rolled in powdered sugar.

The recipe calls for the addition of lemon powder to the powdered sugar coating, but I don’t have any, or know what it is, and since the primary goal is to use up actual lemons, not lemon substitutes, I just ignored that bit.

They are delicate, and a little bit crumbly, and there’s a light lemon flavor that gives just a hint of brightness without being overwhelming. Over all, they are a perfectly acceptable cookie. Will I make them again though? Eh, probably not.

Lemons used: 1

Total lemons used: 6

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

Posted in Baking | Leave a comment

Little jar of sunshine

Today has been a very busy day. I got up and set up dough for sandwich rolls, and then while that was sitting, I made a peanut butter coffeecake from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (which included as a rather perky note (this version was published in the 80’s) that this would delight my coworkers when served to them at break time. Um, since I now work 100% from home, sorry, cats, you don’t get to be delighted, but it was pretty delicious). I also made dinner rolls to go with the soup we have planned for later this week, and finished off a piece for the next Lacy Knitters Guild newsletter, and paid some bills and did some cleaning, and laundry, and got to hang out with a friend who came for some kitten therapy. Oh, and also I made lemon curd, because there are still a bazillion lemons in the fridge.

It is inevitable, when you are looking at how to use up lemons, that lemon curd will happen. I have made it many, many times in the past and will make it many more times in the future. All it takes is butter, sugar, and the juice and zest of a couple lemons, plus twenty minutes of your time. I have seen recipes that indicate that you can get away with just stirring occasionally, and sure, that will work just fine if you don’t mind little bits of cooked egg in your curd, but I would rather just stand there and whisk it the entire time, because it’s worth it.

Most of this is earmarked for recipes later this month, but we couldn’t help having just a little tonight. After all, we still have extra crepes that need using up, and a dollop of fresh lemon curd is a delightful way to do so.

Lemons used: 3

Total lemons used: 5

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

Posted in Life | Leave a comment