Snacky

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.

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Lightning round

This morning I had my decorating class (we’re playing with gum paste this time around), but I always wake up super early regardless, so I figured I would have plenty of time to whip up these Sticky Lemon Rolls with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze. Even though it was a yeast dough, I figured it’d still be fine! So as soon as I got up, I poured myself some coffee and then I mixed up the dough, and set that up in the microwave with some heated rice pads to speed things along. While it went through its first proof, I took care of the usual chores and made sure I had everything ready to go for the class. Then I rolled out the dough and mixed up the filling and huh, this filling’s awfully runny…oops, I was supposed to let that chill for about half an hour. Except I didn’t have an extra half hour to wait, so instead I kind of poured the liquid filling all over the dough, rolled it as best I could, arranged the rolls in a springform pan, and then poured all the remaining liquid over the top (figuring it’d just soak down into the nooks and crannies). Those went into the oven to rise, and when they’d nearly puffed out of the pan, it was time to bake them.

Naturally they took longer to bake than anticipated, because that is exactly the sort of thing that will happen when one has to leave at a certain time and doesn’t have any extra minutes to spare. So as soon as they were finally done I whipped off the ring on the springform pan, smacked the cream cheese glaze willy-nilly all over the rolls with no thought whatsoever to how it might look, then pulled off a roll and pretty much inhaled it as I was dashing out the door. We shall not speak of how fast I was driving, but I did at least make it to class only 2 minutes late, so there’s that.


Notice how the cream cheese glaze cleverly covers up the fact that these aren’t spiraled so much as randomly folded due to the aforementioned issue with the filling leaking out all over the place.

Anyway, these are incredibly delicious, despite how long they take to make, and I highly recommend that you give them a try, although perhaps set the dough up the night before, though, (which is what I should have done if I’d had half a brain) so you’re not stuffing super-hot-from-the-oven rolls into your gaping maw as you run out the door, and instead have time to properly enjoy the combination of lightly lemon-touched dough, a delicate lemony filling that somehow thickened up during the entire process despite my oops, and a lovely rich cream cheese glaze.

Two (sticky) thumbs up – would definitely make again.

Lemons used: 3
Total lemons used: 28

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

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The lemon version

A lot of the recipes I’m using this month came from me doing a Google search to the tune of ‘I wonder if there’s a lemon version of ‘, which is how I stumbled across today’s recipe: Gooey Lemon Blondies. I found this one when I asked Google if there were a lemon version of a brownie, and lo, did Google provide.

While technically brownies always include chocolate, these did fit the bill – they’re a little bit chewy and they get a little crispy on the edges, and in all things except flavor, they do mimic a brownie fairly well – albeit a rather thin brownie (it’s not very much batter for even an 8×8 pan, and I did wonder about the distinct lack of any rising agent in the recipe).

I found the glaze a little overwhelmingly lemony, but Richard liked them, so that just means I get the edges and he gets the middle pieces (which have lots more glaze) and we’re both happy. This recipe’s definitely a keeper.

Lemons used: 1
Total lemons used: 25

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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