Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Seven Ways to Use Preserved Lemons and a Fast, Easy Recipe

Preserved Meyer Lemons

Ever since Patricia Wells made preserved lemons look so easy, I’ve kept a jar in the refrigerator. I love the sunny, salty, citrusy kick they add to dishes.

The important thing to remember about cooking with lemon confit is that you will need to adjust (and perhaps eliminate) any additional salt in the recipe. This is when you must salt to taste.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Recipe for Orange and Fennel Bread for #baketogether

An easy bread with fennel seeds, fennel pollen, orange zest and candied peel.

Some days I think bread is my favorite food group.

I was raised on biscuits and cornbread, sometimes both at one meal. We also ate our share of “light bread” — Bunny brand being my favorite — which was used for sandwiches or breakfast toast on the rare occasions when there were no biscuits.

A loaf of light bread was requisite alongside fried fish dinners and take-out barbecued beef. Slices given to children had their crusts discarded while the fluffy white insides were rolled into a ball and eaten.

Because this was the 1970s, whole grain loaves made their way into the pantry and I eventually developed a preference for them, and the more grainy the better. Somewhere along the way, the preponderance of commercial loaves caused us to forget how truly good bread can be.

Enter the bread renaissance at the turn of the 20th Century. From individual kitchens to small businesses to commercial enterprises, Americans have rediscovered bread. And that’s a good thing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Recipe for a Chunky, Creamy Tomato Soup

Chunky, Creamy Tomato Soup

Not until adulthood did I like tomato soup. You know that whole tomato-soup-and-grilled-cheese thing that makes people go all warm, fuzzy and nostalgic? Lost on me. I wasn’t fed that as a child, and every time I confess it, I get these rather sad looks in return.

We did have soup when I was growing up, but not a soup in which tomatoes had a solo. We had vegetable soup canned each summer from whatever was in the garden at that time.

Yes, I saw those Campbell’s commercials, too. The only store-bought soup at our house was cream of mushroom and it was used primarily as a cooking ingredient. Truly a mother’s little helper, a can or two was slipped into all manner of dishes.

The tomato soup revelation hit me at Food Dance Café, where its creamy tomato soup has a near cult-like following. A bright tomato flavor, just-right chunky texture and rich creaminess won me over.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lemon Butter Cookies with Citrus Marmalade Ganache Filling

We all know cooks who keep home-made cookie dough on hand. Sometimes there’s more than one variety of dough, nicely tucked in the freezer, legibly identified, just waiting to be called up for action.

I want to be like that, armed with dough for whatever occasion strikes.

Take my friend D. Upon hearing of a church member’s life-threatening illness, she commenced to mixing dough for cranberry walnut oatmeal cookies. It relieved her anxiety. She knew there would be something to nibble on —  either for a time of sorrow or for rejoicing. She told me this as we cleaned the kitchen after the memorial service.

These tender, lemony, not-too-sweet butter cookies would be good for any occasion, and because they’re of the slice and bake style, easy to store and prepare. The recipe is taken from Paris Sweets -- a recipe Dorie Greenspan adapted from Pâtisserie Lerch.

While I was at the stove, my kitchen assistant jumped in to help fold the linens.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Lemon, Lime and Clementine Icebox Pie with Little Meringue Buttons

Lemon Icebox Pie with Lime and Clementine and Little Meringue Buttons

I’ve never met a man who didn’t like lemon pie. Especially Lemon Icebox Pie with its sweet and crumbly graham cracker crust, the very (very) tart lemon filling, and a topping soft meringue or billowy whipped cream.

And for those in charge of preparation, the recipe could not be easier. It’s the kind that you remember, with no need for written directions. Lemon juice, egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk. Mix it up, pour in a crust, and let it chill. That’s it.

Lemon Icebox Pie is usually thought of as dessert for spring and summer months, but I made one last month while I was in central Louisiana visiting family. My sister’s Meyer lemon tree yielded a dozen sweetly fragrant fruit and we used some to make a pie. What remained of the pie went home with our parents because lemon pie is Daddy’s favorite dessert.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

From Paris Sweets: Sablés Korova

If chocolate is your drug of choice, try a Korova Cookie.
As I mixed the dough for these intensely chocolate Korova cookies, I could not help but think about other uses for the recipe. Pie dough, for one, the most obvious choice. The proportion of ingredients is essentially that for pâte sablée, the cookie-like crust used in many French pastries.

Yes, this recipe would make a fine tart crust to hold a multitude of sweet fillings. It is just as (or more) intensely chocolate as crusts made from chocolate sandwich cookies, but not quite as sweet.

As a cookie, it is awfully good. Slightly sandy as a shortbread like sablé should be — but with contrasting bits of bittersweet chocolate and the occasional hit of salt crystals from the fleur de sel. I’m not a raw cookie dough fan (cake batter is my weakness), but I really liked the pure chocolate flavor of this dough.

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