Showing posts with label Lemon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lemon. Show all posts

Friday, May 15, 2015

Roasted Lemon Garlic Parmesan Artichokes #VegFlavorBible #Giveaway

Roasting artichokes filled with garlic and well drizzled with olive oil and lemon gives them a lovely smoky sweetness that is complemented by some salty Parmesan. 

I’ve written in this space many times before about the short year we lived in Cairo. Very little produce was imported because the Nile Valley was so richly fertile and vegetables and fruit could be grown year round. (Check out this post for a photo of the valley from space. It is amazing!) Our favorite time was artichoke season. (January/February, in case you are planning a trip.) They were so cheap that I must confess, we ate more than our share, trimmed and steamed, with garlic lemon butter to dip or pan-roasted and marinated with herbs and garlic. Occasionally here in Dubai, I see Egyptian strawberries in the stores but, for some reason, the other gorgeous produce is not imported. Goodness knows that the Egyptian farmers could use the income, but perhaps the infrastructure just isn’t there for exporting more. So, from an overabundance of fresh artichokes, we’ve gone back to having them occasionally, one each, as a treat.

A few months back I joined some fellow food bloggers in a Valentine’s Day cookbook giveaway which, through the magic of social media, ended up leading to an opportunity for another giveaway. This time it’s for a grand prize of three fabulous books, The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, The Flavor Bible and What to Drink with What You Eat! The authors, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg happened to see a tweet from the February giveaway, which included one of their books, and they generously offered to sponsor this one. Best of all, six runners-up will each win a copy of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible too so there will be seven winners in all.

Like its predecessor, The Vegetarian Flavor Bible is all about which flavors and ingredients complement others. It’s not a cookbook in the traditional sense, but a framework to build deliciousness by combining ingredients to get the best out of them all. Along with the flavor affinities, the authors also suggest cooking methods and dishes to try. The list of what best accompanies or complements artichokes is long and varied so I chose to go with some of my own favorites: lemon and garlic. But then I added Parmesan, which I had not considered before. It contributes both saltiness and flavor and kicked the artichokes several more notches up the flavor chart.

Make sure to scroll down to the bottom of this recipe to learn more about The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, its authors and to enter the rafflecopter to win your copy!

4 whole fresh artichokes
6-7 cloves garlic
Olive oil
1 oz or 28g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 lemons
Parsley for garnish, if desired

Choosing fresh artichokes: Pick artichokes with thick green leaves, no dried bits and a stem of 4-5 inches or 10-13cm. Many shops cut the stems off and so did I for many years, following instructions in cookbooks for steaming. But while living in Egypt and researching artichokes, I discovered that the inside of the stem is not just edible, but delicious.

Use a sharp serrated knife to cut the top one-third off of each artichoke and discard. Cut one lemon in half and rub the cut end of the artichokes with the lemon juice. This helps to keep them from turning brown.

Cut the very end off of the stems then use a potato peeler to take off their tough outer peels. Rub the stems all over with the cut lemon, squeezing out a little juice if necessary.

Turn on your oven to preheat to 400°F or 200°F.

Cut each artichoke in half, straight through the middle of the bulb and down through the stem. Once again, rub the cut parts with lemon juice.

Use a small spoon to scoop and scrape the hairy choke out of each artichoke half.

Squeeze in some lemon juice into the hole and rub it around to cover.

Place the artichokes halves, hole side up, in a large baking pan.

Peel and chop your garlic finely and divide it between the holes in the artichokes.

Drizzle the artichokes liberally with more lemon juice and olive oil, making sure to get some up amongst the leaves and cover the garlic.

Roast for 25 minutes uncovered in your preheated oven.

Remove the pan from the oven and turn the temperature down to 350°F or 180°F.

Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for a further 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and poke the artichokes with a fork to check for tenderness. They should be done but, if necessary, cover them again and continue baking until they are tender.

Once they are tender, remove the pan from the oven and squeeze a little more lemon juice on them.

Then sprinkle the hot artichokes with the freshly grated Parmesan and another drizzle of olive oil.

Add a little chopped parsley, if desired, for color.

Allow them to rest until they are cool enough to handle, then eat as you would a normal steamed artichoke by pulling off the leaves one or two at a time and scraping the “meat” off with your teeth. Once you get to the heart, with the choke already removed, the whole thing, stem and all, can be eaten! Serve with additional lemon wedges, if desired.


More about the authors and The Vegetarian Flavor Bible  
Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg are not only the two-time James Beard Award winning authors of The Flavor Bible and Becoming a Chef, but also coauthored What to Drink with What You Eat, which was named the IACP Cookbook of the Year and the Georges Duboeuf Wine Book of the Year, while also winning a Gourmand World Cookbook Award. The Vegetarian Flavor Bible has been cited as one of the five best cookbooks of 2014 based on 300+ reviews in media including Bloomberg, The Chicago Tribune, Food & Wine, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.

Connect with Karen & Andrew: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Using the flavor affinities and pairings recommended by The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, my fellow bloggers have some amazingly flavorful recipes for you today, so make sure to check them out! Here's our whole list:

And don't forget to enter the giveaway!

**Giveaway runs May 15 until May 29, 2015. Giveaway is open to anyone 18 years of age or older with a US or APO shipping address only. See the rafflecopter for more complete rules of participation.**

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: I was sent one copy of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible for review purposes. This post contains Amazon affiliate links to the books mentioned.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mennonite Paska #BreadBakers

Peel and blend a whole orange and a whole lemon to create this slightly sweet yeast bread traditionally served for Easter in the Mennonite community. The buttery sugar glaze is not optional. Neither are the sprinkles. 

This month’s Bread Bakers challenge, chosen by our creative host, Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla is to bake a traditional Easter, Passover or springtime bread, perhaps venturing into another culture or country to expand our horizons. I was determined to make homemade matzo because it’s impossible to find here and I thought with a homemade version at my disposal, I could try all the matzo-based recipes I’ve been seeing on the web like chicken soup with matzo balls, Chocolate Peanut Butter Matzo S’mores, Northern Fried Chicken and Chocolate Toffee Matzo, just to name a few. But the more I researched what it would take to make matzo at home, the more I realized that my sad, sad oven which can barely be coaxed up to 425°F or 218°C on a good day, was just not up to the task. So I started scouring the internet for something new, something different, something tasty.

According to Lovella, one of the authors of Mennonite Girls Can Cook and the sharer of this paska bread, she inherited the recipe from her husband’s grandmother and it’s one of the most viewed pages on their site. I was intrigued by the whole orange and lemon that are pureed then added to the dough. Lovella also declares, and I can confirm, leftovers make fabulous French toast or eggy bread.

Adapted from Lovella’s Paska Bread – I baked two in bread pans and one in a Nordic Ware 12-cup Anniversary Bundt pan but this could easily be stretched to fill four pans. Lovella made five to seven so they must have been smaller!

For the bread:
2 packets active dry yeast (1/4 oz or 7g each)
1 cup or 240ml warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 medium lemon
1 medium orange
1 1/4 cup or 295ml milk
1/2 cup or 115g butter, plus extra for buttering the mixing bowl before the first rise and the baking pans
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup or 150g sugar
About 7-8 cups or 875g-1kg flour, with a little extra for kneading

For the glaze:
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Good pinch salt
2-3 tablespoons milk
2 cups or 250g icing sugar

For decorating: colored sprinkles

In the bowl of your stand mixer, put your yeast, the tablespoon of sugar and warm water and allow your yeast to proof. After 10 minutes, if you have a bunch of foam in the bowl, proceed. If not, throw it all out and start over with new yeast.

Meanwhile, zest your lemon and orange with a microplane or fine grater into the vessel of your blender.

Use a sharp knife to cut all the white pith and peel off of the citrus and then cut off and discard any hard membranes between the pegs. Remove any seeds and discard. Add the orange and lemon to the zest in the blender.

Put your milk and butter in a microwaveable measuring cup and heat them in the microwave on a low setting until the butter is just melted. Add them to the blender and blend for two to three minutes.

Add in the eggs, the rest of the sugar and the salt. Blend again for a minute or two.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer (where the yeast has been hanging out and, if all is going to plan, foaming) and mix well.

Start adding the flour, a cup at a time, mixing very thoroughly in between, until you have a nice soft dough. You may not need all the flour.

You can use the dough hook to knead the dough but it should be quite sticky still so I found it easier to take it out and knead it for several minutes on a lightly floured countertop.

Before kneading

After kneading
Wash out your large bowl and rub the insides with butter. I keep empty butter wrappers folded up in my freezer door for this purpose. One use only, but they work beautifully. Go ahead and prepare your baking pans in the same manner.

Return the kneaded dough to the buttered bowl and cover the bowl with a loose tea towel. Leave it in a warm place for about hour.

Before then after the rising. This dough soars.

When the dough has risen, divide it into three or four even pieces.

Press them out gently and fold them over in thirds lengthwise. Put them buttered pans, seam side down, and sprinkle on a little more flour.

Cover the pans loosely with tea cloths and put them back in the warm place for about 45 minutes. About 15 minutes before the second rising time is up, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

When the oven is preheated, carefully remove the tea cloths and place the loaves in the oven to bake.

As you can see, I could probably have made one more loaf.

Bake uncovered for 35-45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 200°F or about 134°C or the bottoms sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool briefly in the pan. Turn the loaves out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make your glaze by whisking the butter, lemon juice and salt with one teaspoon of milk. Add in the sugar and stir well. Add additional milk a little at a time until you reach your desired pouring consistency.

When the loaves are completely cool, pour over the glaze and quickly decorate with colored sprinkles while the glaze is still sticky. It will harden after pouring, making the loaves easier to wrap and carry.


Do you have a traditional Easter, Passover or springtime bread you make each year? Perhaps you’ll find a new favorite in this great list from my fellow Bread Bakers:


#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. This month Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla has chosen breads from around the world that are traditional for Easter, Passover, or Springtime. Thank you for hosting, Camilla!

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to

Sliced up and ready to become French toast

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Monday, March 9, 2015

White Chocolate Lemon Muffins #MuffinMonday

The third in my candy bar series, a white chocolate lemon bar from Movenpick was the inspiration for these fluffy, lemon muffins flavored with yogurt, lemon zest and said white chocolate lemon bar. 

I’ve been experimenting lately with some gluten-free baking because one of my friends here is gluten-intolerant. What I have found is that I can pretty much replace the normal flour with a gluten-free mix, (I like the Dove Farms White Bread Flour because it has a little added natural gum.) if I weigh the flour and use 125g per needed cup. It seems that the flours used to make up the gluten-free mix, in this case rice, potato and tapioca, must be lighter than wheat so a cup of the flour mix is just not enough flour. By weight, it's perfect.

One last change in the recipe involves method. In most muffin recipes, one adds the wet ingredients to the dry and folds until they are just combined. With gluten-free flour blend, you need to make sure no flour still shows. In other words, mix well.

I made these muffins with the gluten-free bread flour today and they were light and fluffy and, frankly, one of the best sweet muffins I’ve ever eaten.

2 cups or 250g flour (If subbing gluten-free flour mix, please use the weight measurement.)
2/3 cup or 130g sugar
For creative minds only!
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 oz or 100g white chocolate (with lemon, if you can get it)
Grated zest one medium lemon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup or 185g yogurt
1/4 cup or 60ml milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup or 120ml canola or other light oil

Optional glaze
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
About 4-5 heaping tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.  Butter your muffin pan or line it with paper liners.

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a large mixing bowl. Grate in the lemon zest and mix.

Juice your lemon.

Chop your white chocolate bar roughly with a knife. I separated out 12 pieces of white chocolate to poke in the top of each muffin before baking.  They turned brown while baking, which is not attractive, so never mind that step. Fortunately, the glaze covered them up mostly.

In another smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, milk, yogurt, juice and canola oil.

Let your helper clean out the yogurt pot for recycling.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir until just mixed through. Or mix thoroughly if you are using a gluten-free flour blend.

Fold in your chopped white chocolate/lemon bar.

Divide the mixture between the muffin cups in pan.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden.  Allow them to cool for a few minutes then remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

Ignore the chocolate bits I put on top, as previously discussed. Those should be inside the muffins.

If you want to add glaze, put your tablespoon of lemon juice in a small bowl. Add powdered sugar a couple of tablespoons at a time and stir well, until the glaze is a good drizzling consistency.  When your muffins are cool, drizzle on the glaze.


The Candy Bar Series

1. Dark Chocolate Toasted Sesame Muffins using Lindt Dark Chocolate Roasted Sesame

2. Pecan Caramel Chocolate Muffins using Frey Pecan & Caramel

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Petit Croquembouche Citron Framboise #ValentineCroque

Both an edible centerpiece and a festive celebration, this choux pastry bun turret is filled with fresh lemon custard and held together with crunchy when dried royal icing, thereby fulfilling the croque part of its croquembouche or "crunch in mouth" name. Fresh red raspberries add a burst of color and a wonderful juicy counterpoint to the choux buns and lemon custard.

Traditional croquembouche are tall, tall towers constructed of choux buns filled with vanilla pastry cream and are held together as much by faith and luck as the spun caramelized sugar. When my friend Jenni, from Pastry Chef Online  - of Fearless in the Kitchen fame - challenged me to make one as part of a group event, I signed up in haste and repented in leisure.

I knew that I wouldn’t have the time to make a towering tower. But I have a hard time resisting a challenge, especially one of a baking/food nature. So I thought to myself: How about a small turret? A turret would be totally doable, right? But what about the unattractive and painful sugar burns that are almost always the result of spinning caramelized sugar?  Wouldn’t royal icing work instead? If it can hold together a gingerbread mosque, surely it could cement a few choux buns in place, providing the necessary eponymous crunch in the process. Channeling Jenni and her fearlessness in the kitchen, I plowed ahead. I’ll let you be the judge of the results - it's not the straightest of turrets - but I can tell you that it was delicious.

Come join me and all my croquembouche building friends as we leap outside our comfort zones for your amusement. Make sure you scroll down to the bottom to see all the links. This is a long post because there are three recipes to make and then assemble but you can do it too!

For the lemon custard:
1/4 cup or 50g sugar
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 pinch salt
1 cup or 240ml milk
Zest 1 lemon
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten (Save the white for the royal icing!)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon butter
Plus another teaspoon or so of lemon juice to slightly loosen the custard after chilling, if necessary.

For the choux pastry:
1/4 cup or 50g butter
1/2 cup or 120ml water
1/2 cup or 65g plain flour
1 pinch salt
2 eggs, at room temperature

For the royal icing
1 1/2 cups or 190g pure icing sugar, sifted
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Tiny pinch salt
Pinch cream of tartar

I made the choux buns a couple of days before I needed them and kept them fresh and dry in a Ziploc bag. I read somewhere online that as long as you let them cool completely before bagging, the drier, two-day-old choux buns are actually better for assembling your croquembouche because they stay crisp longer once filled with custard or pastry cream. The custard and royal icing can also be made a couple of days in advance. Just keep them well covered in the refrigerator to prevent them from drying out. Fill the buns and assemble the croquembouche no more than a few hours before serving lest they soften too much and risk collapse.

Lemon Custard Filling
In a small saucepan, not on the stove or with the stove turned off, combine sugar, flour and the pinch of salt. Stir in your milk, a little at a time, whisking until smooth.

Turn on the stove and bring your mixture to the boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Boil 60 seconds and then pour about a 1/4 cup or 60ml of the hot liquid into the beaten egg yolk while you whisk constantly. This warms the egg yolk so it doesn’t cook when you add it to the saucepan. Now add the heated egg yolk to the saucepan gradually, once again, whisking all the while and then keep stirring until mixture starts to bubble again. Your custard should be quite thick now.

Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, zest and butter. Stir well until the butter is melted and the butter and juice are fully incorporated.

Put the custard in a bowl and cover the surface with cling film so a skin doesn’t form on top as it cools. Chill in a refrigerator until ready to use.

Preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C and prepare your baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper stuck down with a little non-stick spray or a silicone baking mat.

Choux Pastry Buns
Sift together your flour and a pinch of salt and put it right next to the stove in readiness.

In a medium pot, combine the butter and water and bring to the boil. Pour the flour/salt mixture into the boiling water/butter all at once.

Stir vigorously until the mixture forms a ball and pulls right away from the sides. This takes just a minute or two.

Now take the pot off of the stove and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well with your wooden spoon in between. It looks like the egg won’t mix in and the dough starts to fall apart but keep mixing and after a couple of minutes of hard labor, the dough comes together again and it’s time to add the second egg.

After both eggs have been added in.

After the last egg has been incorporated into the dough, put it by spoonfuls into a piping bag with a large tip.

Pipe the soft dough on the parchment paper in 1 inch or 2.5cm circles about an equal measure apart from each other.

Poke down any pointy tops with a damp finger.

Bake in your preheated oven for 10 minutes then turn the temperature down to 350°F or 180°C and bake for a further 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and poke a hole in one side of each choux bun with a toothpick. This allows the steam to escape and helps the choux bun keep its shape as it cools. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Royal Icing
Sift your icing sugar into a medium sized mixing bowl and add the pinch of salt and cream of tartar.

Beat your egg white until it’s a little frothy and add it along with the lemon juice to the icing sugar.

Mix thoroughly. Cover the icing with cling film to keep it from drying out.

Building the Croquembouche
When you are ready to build your turret, take the custard out of the refrigerator and give it a good stir to loosen it up. Put a test spoonful in your piping bag with a filling tip and see if you can squeeze it out. If it’s too stiff, add one teaspoon of lemon juice to the bowl and stir well to completely incorporate it. Mine was borderline so I decided to just power through and squeeze hard.

Note: The Wilton site says that the filling tip doesn’t work with a coupler but I didn’t read that until after, so I made it work with a coupler. It wasn’t easy but I got that sucker all screwed together properly. Amazing what one can do when one doesn’t know one can’t.

Fill your piping bag with the lemon custard. Use the filling tip to poke a bigger hole in the choux buns where you put the toothpick to let the steam out. I ended up with 7 oz by volume or 240g, which was enough to fill 19 of my 21 buns. I used 17 of those in the croquembouche.

Put your royal icing in a piping bag with a small round tip. I used the Wilton #3. Pipe some icing onto your plate in a circle to anchor the filled choux buns.

My bottom layer had only six in a circle initially but then I realized as I built up that one in the center of the bottom was needed for structural integrity so the layers are as follows, with royal icing between, under and on top of each:

Bottom – seven choux buns

2nd layer – five choux buns

Leave the croquembouche to set for about 20-30 minutes at this point, in a cool, dry place, which allows the royal icing to harden.

3rd layer – four choux buns

Top – one choux bun

Use the royal icing to fill small gaps between the choux buns and drizzle decoratively, generously, on the outside.

Allow to dry for a further 20-30 minutes, or longer.  When you are ready to serve the croquembouche, stick the raspberries on the reasonably horizontal bits with more royal icing. You can get them to stick to the sides if you have time to hold each one on till the icing hardens but I am guessing ain’t nobody got time for that.

Enjoy! Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?

If you are looking for inspiration for Valentine’s Day, start with this great link list of croquembouche. There’s even a savory version for those who aren’t crazy about sweets.

Welcome to our Valentine Croquembouche Challenge (#ValentineCroque). We are a group of intrepid bloggers who occasionally like to push ourselves well out of our comfort zone to meet baking challenges fearlessly.

We are here to show you that you do not always have to be bound by tradition, so we created croquembouche that adhere to the spirit of the dish if not the actual letter. You’ll find all sorts of combinations of flavors here (including a savory version) that will hopefully expand your idea of croquembouche. Not all of our croques were wildly successful, but we all learned something, and we all pushed ourselves. Besides, blogging shouldn’t always be about aspirational and often unobtainable Pinterest moments. It should also be about the near misses and the journey we take when we take a chance. Thanks for joining us today.

If you’re interested in participating in future challenges, please contact Jenni.

Follow our Valentine Croquembouche Pinterest Board for more Croquembouche inspiration.

Going with French tradition, I served the croquembouche for my dear mother-in-law's 81st birthday dessert, instead of cake. And for family, here's two shots of the birthday girl enjoying her treat. 


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