Still Life, With Cats

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Last night I made ice cream. Or rather, I *tried* to make ice cream. The ice cream maker base was thoroughly frozen, and all my ingredients (cream, milk, sugar, juice of six lemons) were thoroughly chilled, but it just churned and churned and never changed. So I poured it into a container and put that in the freezer and hoped for the best.

Today I made lemon pizelles. Or rather, I *tried* to make lemon pizelles. The cookies themselves turned out just fine, it’s just that there is no lemon flavor at all. They don’t even smell like lemon.

Luckily, the ice cream firmed up in the freezer, into something incredibly rich and delicious, and plain vanilla pizelles were the perfect accompaniment.

Lemons used: 6
Total lemons this month: 51

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

A Year of Cheese – the pizza edition

Last month, for our monthly #BakingSisters video hangout, my sister and I made Smearcase, which is this sort of weird hybrid between a Danish and a cheesecake and something else, and as we were chatting, she suggested that we do a Year of Cheese. Naturally I agreed, because cheese, so this year, every month we will do some sort of cheese-related baking. And this month’s theme was pizza.

Naturally, both of us has made pizza a bazillion times before, so the challenge here was to find things we hadn’t tried. My sister decided to do, among other things, a sweet apple pizza with a cheddar crust, pizza rolls, and a Chicago style pizza. I, meanwhile, decided to also make the pizza buns, but along with those, I also made bacon, egg, and hash brown pizza, sausage, apple, and thyme breakfast pizza, and, because it’s lemon month, a roasted broccoli and Meyer lemon pizza.

To prepare for this, I made a double batch of my regular pizza dough, which then goes into the fridge for a slow rise. Thankfully, the dough was finished mixing before this happened.

Yes, that is my dough hook, snapped in half. Luckily we live in a time when replacements can be ordered via phone, so a new one is winging its way to me, and the longest part of the process was trying to figure out where the heck they put the model number on my mixer. Phew.

Anyway, onward to the food! First up was the hash brown, bacon, egg thing. I cooked up some bacon, then mixed hash browns with an egg and formed it into a rough circle. That went into the oven to bake, and when that was done, I sprinkled it with crumbled bacon, and carefully cracked three eggs on top. The whole mess was topped with cheese, and back into the oven it went.

Verdict: it tastes fine, but it’s an awful lot of fuss for just some eggs and hash browns. Save yourself the bother (and all the extra dishes to wash) and pass on this one.

While this was baking, I got started on the apple, sausage, thyme pizza. For that, you cook thinly sliced apple and onion, and scramble some eggs. These get piled onto a pre-baked crust which has been brushed with a mix of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Top that with crumbled sausage, and a mix of mozzarella and smoked Gouda, then pop it back into the oven until the cheese gets all melty.

You will note how I forgot to mention the thyme? Yeah, guess what I forgot to add to the eggs when scrambling them. But it turned out delicious anyway.

I thought I took a picture of the whole pizza but apparently I didn’t, so here’s a slice. This is going to be breakfast for the next couple days. Yum!

On to the pizza buns. The concept is simple. You pretend you are making cinnamon rolls, except using pizza dough and sauce and toppings instead of sweet dough and butter and cinnamon.

If I ever make these again, I will probably bake them in a pan where they will be holding each other up, because these clearly didn’t hold their shape.

As for the taste, well, it’s pizza. In a roll. I’m not sure what else there is to say.

As for the last pizza, I admit I was just as skeptical as you probably are. Broccoli and lemon on a pizza? But trust me, it really works. You brush the crust with a mixture of minced garlic and oil, then top it with thinly sliced onions, tiny broccoli florets tossed in the remaining oil, thinly sliced pieces of whole (yes really) lemon, and a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese, then bake until the crust is done and the broccoli is just starting to get some color.

Isn’t that pretty?

Verdict: this was surprisingly tasty. In fact, I actually have to admit it was my favorite of all the pizzas I made, and I liked that apple sausage one a lot. I would happily make this one again.

Lemons used: 1
Total lemons this month: 42

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

A bowl of comfort

I had my decorating class this morning (we are playing with gumpaste, and it’s a lot of fun), and I performed in a concert this evening, so I knew today’s lemon thing would have to be quick.

So what better thing to make on a cold, damp, winter day than soup?

This soup has exactly 4 ingredients: chicken broth (you could easily substitute vegetable broth to make it vegetarian), orzo, lemon juice, and eggs. The eggs are separated, and the whites whipped separately, before folding the yolks and lemon juice back in. You then slowly incorporate boiling broth (in which you’ve cooked your orzo) to bring the egg mixture up to temperature, then blend the whole mess together, being careful to stir constantly, so as to avoid random bits of cooked egg.

It is an odd looking soup, but it is incredibly delicious, for something so simple. This is one I will happily make again.

Lemons used: 1

Total lemons used: 41

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

A little flame

A couple recipes over the past week have involved egg yolks but not egg whites. I suppose I could have done something with meringue again, but been there, done that this month. So instead, today I took a couple of those leftover whites and turned them into marshmallows.

Making marshmallows is actually very similar to making meringues, in that you start with a boiling sugar syrup, which is poured slowly into well-beaten egg whites, then whisked until smooth and fluffy. But where things differ is that marshmallows also require gelatin, in order to hold their shape. So instead of juggling two separate things (egg whites in mixer; syrup on stove), you are juggling three (egg whites in mixer, syrup on stove, gelatin soaking in tiny pan). All three eventually come together, and then you pour the whole mess into a foil-lined pan which has been well-sprinkled with powdered sugar and cornstarch. Those sit out to dry overnight (or in my case, all day, since I made them this morning), and then you turn the block out onto a well-sugared board and cut them into pieces.

But what, you might ask, does one then *do* with a pile of lemon marshmallows? Well, how about lemon marshmallow s’mores?

We tried a couple variations, all in the name of science. We used saltines instead of graham crackers, because I figured they would need the little kick of salt. And instead of dark chocolate, we tried two different things: white chocolate, and lemon curd.

The combination of marshmallow, saltines, and lemon curd was a definite hit – as long as we didn’t go overboard with the curd. But the white chocolate just didn’t do it for us. Maybe if the chocolate had melted a little, it might have been better, but… eh, someone else can give that a try.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, homemade marshmallows do not toast up like store bought. They have more of a tendency to just melt, without getting that lovely outer shell that a regular toasted marshmallow achieves when you introduce it to flame, and they do that at much lower levels of heat (which is probably one reason why the white chocolate didn’t melt).

Lemons used: 2
Total lemons this month: 40

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

All things good

After last night’s double fail with both cake and fondue, tonight was a welcome relief. Because tonight, I made risotto, and it was soooo good.

I am not sure if I have actually made risotto before, as usually the only rice we have in the house is the brown variety, but I have seen it made oodles of times on various cooking competition shows. It is not a quick meal, since you are basically cooking the rice very slowly in a skillet, but it’s worth it.

This particular recipe starts with a finely chopped onion, includes lots of lemon juice, and ends with butter and parmesan cheese, and a dash of cream, and honestly, there is just no way this could have gone wrong.

The recipe for the risotto claims it makes only two servings, but they must be feeding giants, because this could easily feed two to three times that many people.

In deference to health, we had it with a side of broccoli, steamed and then tossed in a lemon, garlic, onion, butter sauce. The sauce recipe came from a collection of vintage recipes which also includes this particular gem.

Someday I may have to make this, just for the amusement factor, because how could I *not*?

Lemons used: 2
Total lemons this month: 38

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

Side effect

While making the ravioli yesterday, I got frustrated with how poorly they were turning out, but there was still a lot of dough left. So instead of fussing about with more of the stupid ravioli, I turned it in to spaghetti.

It turns out spaghetti is super easy to make if you remember to flour the dough in between each step of feeding it through the pasta roller (it’s also far less likely to clump later). Coincidentally, guess what I *didn’t* do when assembling the ravioli. Hmm, I am sure there is no connection to how those turned out.

Four servings of fresh pasta.

This ended up being the perfect accompaniment to tonight’s lemon-themed dinner, which was Lemon Chicken Piccata.

This was a pretty simple dinner to throw together. Chicken is cut into smaller pieces, then dredged in flour and pan fried. Then you make a sauce of lemon juice, garlic, and broth, which is finished off with butter and capers.


We followed this rather delicious dinner with a bonus lemon thing – Lemon Mug Cake. I’ve made that before, and it’s a lovely way to use up another lemon, and to end a meal.

Lemons used: 2
Total lemons this month: 33

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

I shall call them ‘artisanal’

Today is President’s Day, and for the first time in more than a decade, I actually had the day off. So I decided to celebrate by making something fiddly and time-consuming (because this is what weird people like me do for fun): I made ravioli.

I was feeling pretty confident about this because last year’s tortellini turned out so well, so surely ravioli wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Yeah…. let’s just say it didn’t go as well as expected.

Making the dough was easy – just follow the directions. Then I mixed up the filling, using the remains of that underwhelming lemon cheese I made earlier, and I started rolling out the dough and that’s where things started to get a little tense. The dough kept tearing, the filling was probably too runny, and I am apparently completely incapable of cutting out uniform raviolis. Plus I am pretty sure that not a one of these sealed completely on the sides.

Shh, it’s not that I can’t make ravioli; it’s that they are…uh… rustic.

I let them dry and then popped them all into the freezer. And then, because I was worried they would all just burst open in the boiling water, I decided we should try baking them instead. So half of them got coated in bread crumbs and tossed in the oven for about 10 minutes, and then we had that for dinner with the lemon sage butter sauce from the original recipe.

I think that on their own, or maybe with a simple red sauce, they would have been fine. And the sauce by itself, with some plain pasta, would have been fine. But the combination of the two was just not that great. On the plus side, though, they used up two more lemons, so at least there’s that.

Lemons used: 2
Total lemons this month: 31

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.


What do you do when you are having a bunch of people over to play board games and you need to make something with lemons, but you really aren’t in the mood for something sweet?

You make dip, of course. Or more specifically, this Lemon Garlic Chickpea Dip.

It’s basically a hummus, except without the tahini, which I am perfectly okay with because tahini smells absolutely revolting. You rinse and drain a can of chickpeas, then toss those in the blender with some garlic, the juice and zest of one lemon, and (since this is a Rachel Ray recipe, this next ingredient is a given), a couple splooshes of extra virgin olive oil. Blend it all together and poof, you have dip.

It was probably not as smooth as it should have been, but everyone seemed to like it, so I am calling it a win. And should I ever be in need of a quick party food and happen to have a lemon lying about, I could certainly see making it again.

Lemons used: 1
Total lemons this month: 29

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

In paper or the equivalent

Today’s recipe comes from something that came in a Hello Fresh box years ago. We saved all the recipe cards from the ones we really liked, and quite a few have become part of the normal dinner rotation, but for some reason this one has languished at the bottom of the pile until now.

The recipe is titled ‘Cod en Papillote’, which translates to ‘cod in paper’, although amusingly the original recipe had us do this in aluminum foil. This time around we used tilapia, because any mild white fish would be appropriate.

Anyway. You spray the center of a square of parchment paper or foil with some non-stick spray, and then you top that with a filet of fish. Sprinkle with dill and minced garlic, top with thinly sliced lemons, then fold the top of the paper or foil together and curve the sides so the juice doesn’t escape, and pop the packets into the oven on a sheet pan for about 10 minutes, or as long as it takes for the fish to cook through.

We had it with a side of roasted brussel sprouts and some roasted potatoes, and topped it with a lemon butter caper sauce.

Cooking ‘en papillote’ basically steams the fish, so it had a lovely, buttery texture and just flaked apart when touched with a fork. This was even more delicious than we remembered.

(Oh, and in case you were wondering, lemon lava cake is just as good the next day.)

Lemons used: 2
Total lemons used: 24

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

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).


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.