Showing posts with label lemon zest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lemon zest. Show all posts

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Easy Avocado Lemon Basil Pesto

Loaded with flavor, this creamy pesto made from avocado, basil, thyme, oregano and lemon is meant to be served over pasta. I could just eat it with a spoon!

My friend Kathy Hester of Healthy Slow Cooking has another cookbook on the shelves and I’m delighted to say that I have a copy to give away! This one’s called The Easy Vegan Cookbook (<Amazon affiliate link) and it’s perfect for folks who are short on time but don’t want to skimp on flavor. Typical of Kathy’s books, there aren’t a bunch of weird substitutions for non-vegan ingredients, just great tasting vegetable-centric meals. And who couldn’t use more of those in their diets?

Make sure to scroll to the bottom and leave a comment to enter the cookbook giveaway!

As I mentioned in my Muffin Monday post earlier this week, my younger daughter has been with us all summer. She’s been a good sport about being flexible about what she’ll eat because she is mostly vegetarian, making the rare exception for a good hamburger once in a while. “All hamburgers are good hamburgers” is another of her axioms. But we have eaten more all veggie meals while she’s been here, especially on days when her father is traveling on business. One of her own specialties is pasta with pesto to which an avocado is added just before serving so I knew that Kathy’s Avocado Lemon Basil Pesto would be a hit.

And how! This stuff is good. So good that I just wanted to eat it with a spoon and forget the pasta. But that wouldn’t be much of a meal so I restrained myself and tossed the noodles in it. Still divine - creamy, luscious, bright and beautifully green. We will definitely be making this one again!

Kathy’s instructions say not to let the specialty basil intimidate you. “If you don’t have lemon basil, you can use regular basil and add lemon zest, extra lemon juice or another lemony herb like lemon verbena or lemon balm.”

I couldn’t find lemon basil. Instead I used lemon thyme, adding a few extra sprigs, but I also added the lemon zest along with a little more lemon juice, as suggested.

Recipe ©Kathy Hester from The Easy Vegan Cookbook, included here by permission from Page Street Publishing.

1 medium-sized ripe avocado
1/2 cup (12g) fresh lemon basil leaves (or substitute regular basil)
1 (2 to 4 in [5 to 10cm]) sprig fresh thyme
1 tablespoon (3g) fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon (15ml) lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup (59 ml) water plus more if needed
1/2 lb (227 g) cooked whole-wheat angel-hair pasta (I used regular linguine pasta.)

My optional addition: dried red chili flakes

Scoop out the avocado.

Put the avocado flesh, basil, leaves from the thyme and oregano, lemon juice, salt and water in a blender and blend well until the herbs are puréed.

(I used my hand blender instead, pureeing the avocado with the lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, thyme and oregano first.)

(Then I added in the basil and pulsed again until smooth.)

(I completely forgot the water but we liked the thickness of the pesto and it coated the pasta beautifully! Just look at that gorgeous color!)

The creamy avocado lemon basil pesto with just a couple of teaspoons missing! Sooooooo good!

If the purée is still too thick, add 2 more tablespoons (30 ml) of water and blend again. Toss with the cooked pasta.

One more tip: This pesto comes together in minutes, so put your pasta in the boiling water while you make it. The pesto will be ready to toss with your piping hot, perfectly cooked pasta. You’ll be out of the kitchen before the pesto has time to get too hot!

If you’d like a sneak peek at some of Kathy’s other recipes, check out the links in this line up from some other participants in the cookbook blog tour. Good stuff! Make sure to scroll to the bottom and leave a comment to enter the cookbook giveaway! I've been wanting to try the Creole Okra Corn Soup but I couldn't get any takers at my house for anything okra. So I'm just going to have to make that when I'm home alone. Not a problem because I am sure I can eat the whole pot.

Many thanks to Page Street Publishing for generously donating one copy of Kathy's wonderful book for this giveaway. Please be aware that they will only ship to US or Canadian addresses. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Please leave a comment and tell me why YOU should be the winner of this great cookbook full of delicious recipes - Are you cooking for yourself or for friends and family? - then click on the rafflecopter for other opportunities to enter. Not leaving a comment will disqualify your other entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received one copy of The Easy Vegan Cookbook for review purposes. No other compensation was received. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Cherry Lemon Jam #SundaySupper

Juicy summer cherries and fresh lemon, cooked down with lemon zest and sugar, are the perfect jammy marriage of sweet and sharp, as delicious on a piece of buttered toast as spooned over cold vanilla ice cream or stirred into a pot of natural yogurt. 

One of my pet peeves is waste. That’s not to say that I don’t throw out my share of things in the refrigerator that somehow manage to work their way to the back, get forgotten, and grow legs on occasion, but it makes me sad when that happens. Especially when it’s something I really love to eat.

Here in Dubai, where temperatures rarely fall below an average low winter temperature of 57°F or 14°C, growing cherries, which require a chill time of 700-800 hours in order to flower and produce fruit, is just not an option. So all of the cherries that appear in our supermarkets are flown in at great expense from countries that enjoy near or freezing temperatures in winter. As you might guess, those costs are passed on to consumers and cherries are crazy expensive to buy here. So one of my favorite summer rituals is buying and eating my not inconsiderable weight in cherries when I am in the States on holiday.

As I packed up to head back to Dubai this summer – and if you follow me on Instagram you know I mean that quite literally – I still had a big bowl of cherries on the kitchen counter. There was just no way I could leave those behind! So I got out the cherry pitter and went to work. Jamming is so much more satisfying than packing suitcases!

Jam making is really easy, with the right tools.
A digital scale and a thermometer are going to simplify the process. One of the secrets to easy fruit jam, that is jam that sets, is to add something acidic, like lemons which have natural pectin, and to cook the fruit with an appropriate amount of sugar until it reaches a temperature of 220°F or 105°C. And since the amount of sugar depends on the weight of your cooked fruit, I’d like to suggest you buy a digital kitchen scale. < Amazon affiliate link to the one I use, but, honestly, any scale which can toggle between metric and imperial measures will do, giving you the freedom to use recipes from all over the world. (You can measure by volume but weighing is a lot less messy.) And if you don’t have one, may I suggest you get a thermometer as well? < Once again, that's an affiliate link to mine - costs about $14 and I use it ALL THE TIME. A thermometer takes the stress and worry of “will it set?” completely out of the jam making equation. Reaching the proper temperature hasn't failed me yet.

A bunch of cherries (mine weighed 2 lbs 5 oz or 1050g unpitted, with stems, 2 lbs 1 1/2 oz or 950g without pits and stems)
2 small lemons (about one per pound or half kilo of other fruit)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
Sugar - an amount equivalent to 3/4 the weight of your cooked cherries and lemons and their juice – this batch was 2 lbs 2 1/2 oz or 978g – so I used 3 1/2 cups or 734g sugar

Sterilize your jars and lids and put them at the ready, metal teaspoon in each, canning funnel perched in one, before you begin. Sterilize your ladle as well. The amounts given above made two pint jars and one half pint.

Pit your cherries and put them in a large non-reactive pot. (If you have a scale, go ahead and weigh the empty pot first and make a note of the weight for later.) Grate in the zest of your two lemons.

Cut the peels and pith (the white stuff) off of your lemons with a sharp knife. Remove all the seeds and chop the flesh into small chunks.

Scrape the chopped lemons and any juice on the cutting board, into the cherry pot.

Add the extra two tablespoons of lemon juice into the pot.

Cook the pitted cherries and lemons, covered, over a medium flame for about 15 or 20 minutes, until they have released some juice and the cherries have softened.

Use a potato masher to mash them lightly, leaving some cherries whole.

Measure your cooked fruit, juices and all, by volume or weight and then do a little math. Add 3/4 that amount of sugar, along with the salt.

My calculation looked like this:
Pot weighs 1300g empty.
With cooked cherries and lemon, it weighs 2278g.  2278-1300 = 978g.
Weight of cooked fruit and juice = 978g x .75 = 734g or about 3 1/2 cups sugar to add

Cook the fruit, sugar and salt over a medium to high heat, uncovered, till the mixture starts to thicken. Stir frequently and set your thermometer in the pot. Cook quickly until the temperature reaches setting point for jam: 220°F or 105°C.

Quickly ladle the hot, sweet jam into your prepared jars and screw the lids on as tightly as you can manage.

Turn the jars upside down and leave to cool. The scalding cooked fruit further sterilizes the jars and as the jam cools, a suction forms and the lids are firmly sealed. The little circles on the lids should pop in and keep the jam safe for consumption for many months. If any of the seals don’t create a sufficient vacuum and the circles don’t pop in, store those jars in the refrigerator.


This week I am delighted to be hosting Sunday Supper with my friend and fellow blogger, Heather from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks. It’s our goal to encourage everyone to Save Summer Harvest with a number of methods, and in keeping with the mission of Sunday Supper, to enjoy the bounty of summer around your family table for months to come.

Preserving in oil or butter
And for even more help and support

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter every Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 p.m. ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat.

To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Nutella-filled Raspberry Muffins for #MuffinMonday

Every week my fellow Muffin Monday baker, Anuradha and I have an email discussion about which ingredient we should feature.  Sometimes we are organized and decide a month of ingredients in advance (rarely) and sometimes we are scrambling on Thursday or Friday to make a decision (more often) for the next Monday.   This week we chose Nutella, that wonderful cocoa and hazelnut spread, and since it’s an ingredient we’ve both used before, I knew I had to do something different with it.  So I piped the Nutella into the raspberries and froze them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet!   Then I folded them gently into a lovely batter with lemon zest, vanilla sugar and Greek yogurt.  I am pleased to report that the Nutella-filled raspberries held their shape (and Nutella) beautifully through the baking and the flavor combination was fabulous.

N.B.  The only drawback if that you do have to fill your raspberries and allow plenty of time for them to freeze before making the muffin batter.  Several hours might do but I left mine overnight to be sure.

I make my own vanilla sugar by adding a couple of split pods to
fine sugar and letting it stand for a few weeks. 

2 cups or 250g flour
3⁄4 cup or 170g vanilla sugar (or substitute normal sugar and add 1 teaspoon vanilla to the wet ingredients)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
Zest of one medium lemon
2 eggs
1 1⁄4 cups or 300g plain Greek-style yogurt
1⁄2 cup or 120ml canola oil
6 oz or 170g raspberries
About 1/4 cup Nutella plus more for decorating, if desired
Powdered sugar for decorating, if desired

Start several hours or even one day ahead by putting your Nutella in a piping bag with a small hole decorating tip (Wilton 3, 4 or 5) and then filling all of the raspberries.  Lay them out on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper and put them in the freezer until frozen solid.

When you are ready to make the muffins, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your muffin pan by greasing it or lining it paper muffin cups.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, vanilla sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Grate in the zest of one lemon.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, Greek yogurt, canola and vanilla extract, if using.

Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold them together until just mixed.

Remove the Nutella-filled raspberries from the freezer and fold all but 12 of them into the batter.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Top each muffin cup with a filled raspberry.  I put some up and some down because I rather thought the Nutella would ooze out and possibly make a mess.  As you can see, my fears were unfounded!  So put them all with the Nutella showing if you’d like.

Bake in the preheated oven about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool on a rack for a few minutes and then remove the muffins to cool completely.

Top with some extra Nutella or a sprinkle of icing sugar to decorate.


Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street, a culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop her a quick line to join her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.

Plus learn all you ever need to know about muffins at Muffin 101.
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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lemon Poppy Seed Sweet Bread for #SundaySupper

We are all about citrus this #SundaySupper!  Our host for this Easter Sunday is the delightful Jen from Juanita’s Cocina and, like me, she would choose lemony desserts over chocolate ones.  Because we are special like that.  When I read the theme for this week, I knew I wanted to bake bread because I am still in Providence visiting my daughters and I can buy fresh yeast at the neighborhood market.  I just love that stuff!  I’ve called this sweet bread because it’s got some sugar, but it’s not cinnamon-roll-sweet-dough sweet, if you know what I mean.  The sugar is just enough to offset the tart lemon juice and zest.  This loaf is delicious with a smear of butter or to accompany a wedge of goats’ cheese.  I wish I could bottle the aroma as it bakes.

1 packet (1/4oz or 7g) active dry yeast or .6oz or 17g cube fresh yeast
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup or 180ml very warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups or 375g flour
1 egg plus 1 yolk (We’ll use the white to glaze before baking.)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup or 60g butter, melted then cooled
Grated zest from 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons poppy seeds plus extra for sprinkling, if desired

Put yeast in a large mixing bowl with 1 teaspoon sugar and pour in the warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes, then add in the vanilla. (If yeast doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Nice and foamy.  The brown is from the vanilla.

Add in one-third of the flour and the rest of the sugar.  Mix well.

Divide your second egg and save the white in a small bowl.  Add the melted butter, the other whole egg plus the yolk to the batter.  Mix well.

Then add the lemon juice and lemon zest and poppy seeds and mix again.

Add in the last two cups of flour, one at a time, mixing with each addition.

When the dough gets too stiff to use a spoon, turn it out onto the counter top and mix by hand.

Continue kneading until the dough is elastic and supple.

Put in a greased bowl (use butter or canola oil) and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, 30 minutes - 1 hour.

Before rising.

After the first rise.
Punch down and divide in half.

Make two sausage shaped rolls with the dough and then twist them together.

Tuck the ends under.

Put your loaf on a greased baking sheet.  Allow to rise again in a warm place until almost doubled – another 30 minutes – 1 hour.   I set mine on top of the oven because I had vegetables roasting in it for dinner.  If you don’t already have something cooking in our oven, when the time is almost up, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Whisk your egg white with a fork or small whisk and brush it on the loaf with a pastry brush or clean paint brush.  Sprinkle with extra poppy seeds if desired.  I know it looks like the poppy seeds are showing and extra wouldn't be necessary, but somehow when they bake, the inside ones don't show as much.

Bake your loaf in the preheated oven about 30 minutes or until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when you thump it.


As you read this, I will be high above you, winging my way back to Dubai, leaving my baby girls behind.  I am sad thinking about it since I won't see them again till graduation time in June. I wish you all many blessings for Easter.  Please pray for traveling mercies, if you are so inclined. 

And make sure to have a look at all the fabulous citrusy recipes the Sunday Supper group have made for you today!

Sunday Supper Movement

Better with Citrus Breakfasts:
Orange Ricotta Pancakes from Gotta Get Baked

Big On Citrus Breads & Condiments:
Honey Lime Dressing from Ruffles & Truffles
Lemon Poppyseed Sweet Bread from Food Lust People Love
Meyer Lemon Pistachio Loaf from The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
Moroccan Preserved Lemons from MarocMama

Make You Pucker Salads, Sides, & Main Dishes:
Ceviche from Cookistry
Cilantro Lime Rice from Crazy Foodie Stunts
Citrus Ginger Chicken from Kudos Kitchen
Easy Indian Lemon Chicken from Soni’s Food
Grilled Orange & Lime Chicken Thighs from Big Bear’s Wife
Meyer Lemon-Garlic Shrimp & Asparagus with Brown Rice from Daily Dish Recipes
Orange Chicken from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Red Cabbage and Red Pepper Salad with Citrus Dressing from Family Foodie
Seared Cod with Grapefruit Fennel Slaw from Magnolia Days
Tangy Lemon Rice with Grated Mango & Roasted Cashew from Sue’s Nutrition Buzz

Sour Citrusy Sweets & Desserts:
Blood Orange Sorbet from My Cute Bride
Broiled Oranges with Toasted Coconut from Neighborfood
Clementine Curd from Small Wallet Big Appetite
Creamsicle Cupcakes from The Meltaways
Dairyfree Key Lime Meringue Bliss from The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
Fresh Lemon Mousse from Comfy Cuisine
Frozen Lemon Dessert from Gourmet Drizzles
Gluten Free Orange Pound Cake from Simply Gourmet
Honey and Lemon Cake from Happy Baking Days
Key Lime Biscotti from Juanita’s Cocina
Key Lime Cheesecake from Flour on My Face
Key Lime Cookie Bars from Supper for a Steal
Key Lime Truffles from What Smells So Good?
Lemon Blueberry Polenta Cake from Vintage Kitchen Notes
Lemon Coconut Cinnamon Rolls from Chocolate Moosey
Lemon Cookies from Basic N Delicious
Lemon Cream Pie Push Pops from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Lemon Layer Cake from Crispy Bits & Burnt Ends
Lemon Ricotta Cake from The Urban Mrs.
Meyer Lemon Snack Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting from Peanut Butter and Peppers
Mini Meyer Lemon Pies from Cravings of a Lunatic
Mini Orange Cream & Lemon Cream Scones from The Foodie Army Wife
No-Bake Lemon Cheese Cakes w/Blueberry-Lemon Sauce from Momma’s Meals
Olive Oil Cake with Orange Marmalade from Hip Foodie Mom
Omiyage California Citrus Cake from Ninja Baking
Orange Cake with Orange Syrup from The Lovely Pantry
Pink Grapefruit Pie from In the Kitchen With Audrey and Maurene
Pink Lemonade Pound Cake from In the Kitchen with KP
Sugar-Free Lemon Meringue Pie from Webicurean
Tarte au Citron from That Skinny Chick Can Bake

Sour Sips & Drinks:
{DIY} Arancello and Limoncello from girlichef
Orange Creamsicle Smoothies from Mama.Mommy.Mom

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter on Sunday, March 31st to talk all about citrus recipes! We’ll tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm EST. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more delicious recipes and food photos.

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