Tag Archives: Lemon

Lemon Poppy Seed Baby Bundts

holding platterThis Spring , Universities and Colleges all around the world, released into the wild the latest crop of new grads. My daughter, newly minted herself in May, is among the hordes. She moved back home with us, just for a few months, while she considers her future. It has been a joy having her home again, although her angst at figuring out what comes next is sometimes painful to witness.

She asked me if having her home again was cramping my newly aquired empty nester status. I had to let her in on the cold hard truth that with her home, I felt like I had to be a responsible adult again and plan a proper nutritious meal. Without her there, I could be quite content with a glass of Prosecco and a bowl of Kettle Brand Sea Salt Baked Chips (my guilty pleasure), and call it dinner.

She was telling me about a dream she had. We were up at our cottage and she was outside. Suddenly, she was being chased by a tiger and a bear. Running into the cottage, she locked the door behind her turned to her parents, pleading for help. My husband, a take charge kind of guy, immediately reached for the phone to call animal control.

As she was relaying the dream to me I started analyzing it in my mind. How sweet, I thought. Even though she’s all grown up, she still needs and counts on her parents for protection and assistance.

Then, she continued on with her dream. The folks at animal control told my husband that there was really nothing they could do. Wild animals were having a rough time making it on their own in their natural habitat, because  humans had wreaked havoc with it . We would just have to learn to live with the animals. My daughter was distraught and asked her dad what his next step would be. He just looked at her and admitted defeat. She looked at him with such fear and sadness. Her protector was no longer able to keep her safe.

My keen analytical mind quickly did a flip as I realized the significance of this dream. The baby bird is about to be turfed from the nest and she’s on her own to make it in this big world. For sure it’s an exciting time, but doubtless, quite scary as well.

These Lemon Poppy Seed Baby Bundts are a perfect metaphor for this story! Tiny in stature but bursting with huge lemon flavour, these baby cakes can hold their own in a world of towering mega cakes. Finely textured, rich, moist and buttery, these minis deliver a puckering burst of fresh lemon flavour.mise en place

lemon juice and zest

scooping batter into pans

glazing Thickly coated with a tart lemon glaze, the inside is vivid yellow from flecks of zest. The tiny  specs of deep indigo blue from the poppy seeds, add a wonderful crunch as you bite into them. Mini things are so adorable and these diminuative cakes are no exception! They keep well, wrapped in an airtight container for up to 5 days, although they didn’t last that long at my house.Take one sq 625

last one

Click here to print recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Baby Bundts.

on stand with lemons at base 1



Finding Religion in a Lime Pie.

Pie on cakeplate 625aYesterday at spin class, when I climbed down off my bike after an especially gruelling 55 minute class, I noticed a few drops of water under my bike. I checked to see if my water bottle was leaking, but no, the lid was screwed on tight. Suddenly it dawned on me that the liquid on the ground was my own sweat. If you are not a spinner, you may not realize the significance of this discovery. It is the athletic equivalent to a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

There is a right of passage in the Jewish religion known as a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.  When a young boy turns 13 he has a Bar Mitzvah and we say “Today you are a man.” For girls the age is 12 and it is called a Bat Mitzvah (we mature faster!).

Today, after spinning consistently 3-4 times a week, for the past 6 months, I have finally worked hard enough to produce an actual puddle of sweat, albeit small, under my bike. I would have shouted, “Today I am a spinner” but I had not one ounce of energy left to even utter mazel-tov.

When I got home, all I could think of was celebrating with something sweet and salty to replace all those precious calories I sweated away. And then I remembered the “Oh My God” pie recipe my friend Marla had sent me. It seemed a fitting way to commemorate this milestone in my life.

Marla found this recipe on NPR’s series, Found Recipes. Cooks, bakers and food writers share dishes that have surprised or delighted them. Katie Workman, author of “The Mom Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in her Back Pocket”, shared Chef Bill Smith’s recipe for Atlantic Beach Pie.

This is a traditional pie, served all up and down the North Carolina Coast. Similar to a key lime or lemon meringue pie, but with a twist. The difference is in the crust. Instead of a traditional pastry or graham wafer crust, this crust is made from saltine crackers. Bill parted with tradition and topped his simply, with whipped cream, instead of the traditional meringue topping.

slice on pie serverBill said that when he was growing up it was common knowledge in his part of the world that you would get very sick if you ate dessert after a seafood dinner. This pie was the only exception and it was served in all the seafood restaurants on the North Carolina coast.

Recently, Katie was dining at Bill’s Chapel Hill North Carolina restaurant, Cook’s Corner. After an amazing dinner of shrimp and grits, fried oysters and hush puppies, Katie says  she was stuffed and had no room for another bite. But then Bill brought out a slice of this pie. Katie took one bite and had her “When Harry met Sally” moment. All she could utter, between bites, was “Oh my god, Oh my god, Oh my god!”

What makes this pie so outstanding is the crust. Crushed saltines, a bit of sugar and softened butter are transformed into a thick, dense, crispy, salty crust. No dough rolling, just press it into a pan and pre-bake the shell, while you prepare the filling.crushing crackers

pressing crust into pie plateThe filling is made with lime (or lemon) juice, sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks.squeezing limesI learned a great trick for whipping cream ahead of time from pastry chef Anna Olsen. Her secret is to add 1 tablespoon of skim milk powder for each cup of whipping cream at any point during the whipping process to stabilize it. She says, “It doesn’t impact the taste or texture, but it stabilizes the whipped cream. You can pipe it, you can dollop it, every swirl and swish will stay in place for a full 24 hours. If you ice a cake you can cut it and you get these clean perfect slices and the whipped cream stays whipped.”whipping cream I decided to get fancy with my whipped cream and I put it into a piping bag, fitted with a star tip, to  top the pie. You could just spread the whipped cream over the pie with a knife, or even serve it on the side, with a slice.piping whipped cream

on wire rack

This pie is a study in contrasts. The crispy crust is in perfect balance with the silky creamy filling and the billowy whipped cream topping. The saltiness in the crust is utterly complemented by the tanginess of the lime and the sweetness of the condensed milk. This is beautiful harmony in a pie. slice on a plate 2Click here to print recipe for Oh My God Pie.

Crisp Roasted Chicken with Chickpeas, Lemons and Carrots

There has been quite a bit of buzz (well in the culinary world at least), about New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark’s new cookbook, Cook This Now. My kitchen shelves are bulging with cookbooks and I resolved not to buy anymore, but I did order one to give as a gift to my sister. When it arrived, of course I had to look through it. Melissa organizes the book by month, which ordinarily irritates me. My husband can provide anyone interested with the entire litany of little things that irritate me, but let’s  keep it pleasant and not go there today. As I was saying, ordinarily, I prefer when cookbooks are organized by traditional categories (ie: appetizers, breads, chicken etc…) However, Melissa had me hooked from the very first January recipe, “White Bean Stew with Rosemary, Garlic and Farro.” She had me at farro!

So of course, I kept the cookbook for myself and ordered another one for my sister, plus a bonus book (Momofuko’s Milk Bar) as my penalty for being late. Bo, if you’re reading this, now you know why your gift was late.

And rebel that am, I skipped right past the first 2 January recipes and boldly tackled the 3rd one first!  Full disclosure here, I’m really not that much of a rebel, I just happened to have a whole chicken defrosting in the fridge.

Melissa likes to play a game when she looks through food magazines. She doesn’t read the recipes. Instead, she looks at the photos and imagines what she thinks the recipe should be. She says that her track record is pretty good at guessing accurately, but sometimes she’s way off base. And that’s how the recipe for crisp Roasted Chicken with Chickpeas, Lemons and Carrots was born. Melissa explains:

“The photo was of a roasted chicken on a bed of chickpeas and what I thought were tiny cubes of carrot. I could taste the dish in my head. The chickpeas were crunchy and salty next to the melting, sweet carrots and everything was suffused with chicken fat from the roasting bird.

    In fact, the carrots turned out to be bits of orange bell pepper (definitely not in season in January in New York) and the chickpeas were added to the pan during the last few minutes of cooking so they would stay moist and soft, without the time to absorb much in the way of chicken essence. I’m sure it was a perfectly good dish. But I liked my own idea better.”

Her description was very persuasive. I set to work right away. Lemons are sliced into little wedges and then mixed with chickpeas and garam masala, an Indian spice blend. I happened to have rainbow carrots and some parsnips, so they got thrown into the pan as well.

More garam masala is rubbed all over the chicken and then the chicken is seasoned with salt and pepper and then stuffed with more lemon and some fresh thyme. Melissa suggests rubbing the chicken with softened butter, but I left this step out as I didn’t want the extra fat. The stuffed chicken is placed on a rack, above the carrots and parsnips and roasted in a 400° F oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, the chickpea-lemon mixture is added to the bottom of the pan and the chicken gets about another hour in the oven. While it was roasting I prepared the gremolata garnish.

This dish is pure roast chicken goodness! Moist and succulent and intensely flavourful.The carrots and parsnips turned dark brown and had a wonderful sweet caramelized flavour. The chickpeas turned all crispy from roasting in the chicken juices. The only part of the dish we didn’t love was the roasted lemons. Melissa says they are edible, but we found them to be too bitter. Next time, and there will be a next time very soon, I will add only the zest of the lemons to the chickpeas.

Click here to print the recipe for Crisp Roasted Chicken with Chickpeas, Lemons and Carrots.

Frozen Lemon Mint Vodka Mojito

Ok, so Sept 1 is probably not the ideal time to be posting about frozen lemon mint mojitos. I mean, come on you slackers, it’s back to school, back to work, time to clean out your closets , dust those summer cob webs off your brain and get serious about life again.  On the other hand, maybe just one more mojito and then we can get serious about life again. After all, we still have Labout Day weekend coming up, so summer is not quite officially over yet.

The inspiration for this drink came from a popular non-alcoholic Israeli beverage. Ice, lemonade and mint are blended into a slushy brain freeze inducing concoction known as Limonata. In 2009 I had the good fortune of visiting Israel 4 times. My daughter was spending the year there and, what can I say, one of us had terrible separation anxiety issues! Each time I visited I would drink a Limonata and think to myself, “Oh, this would be so good with some vodka!” Then I would get home and forget all about it. Perhaps too much vodka?

Last weekend my sister, brother-in-law and kids were visiting at the cottage. My brother-in-law (I’ll just call him Mr B.) is a blender virtuoso. I do believe he might have been a professional mixologist in his past life. it was cocktail hour and we were looking around the kitchen for something to create. The day before we made Bellinis and I could just tell that Mr. B. was a bit disappointed with that choice. Too pedestrian and ordinary. He was itching to create.

My sister had prepared a batch of simple syrup earlier in the day and it was chilling in the fridge. I looked in the freezer and unearthed a bottle of Lemon vodka that my son and his friends had not yet discovered. Suddenly I remembered the Limonata and we got busy creating. I squeezed some lemons, chopped some mint and we were on our way.

When I handed Mr. B. a measuring cup and asked him if he would mind keeping track of quantities, he got that wounded look on his face, like when his sainted Toronto Maple Leafs lose to the Ottawa Senators. Measuring is not in the lexicon of a culinary creative genius. When I explained to him that I wanted to feature him and the drink in my blog and that I needed to provide an exact recipe to my readers he perked up a bit and forgave me for my slight. He was excited to be featured in Salt and Serenity!

Our first batch was a bit too tart. The second batch, not quite enough mint. We hit perfection on the third batch. I’m warning you, these go down mighty quickly!

Click here to print the recipe for Frozen Lemon Vodka Mint Mojito.

Day Six: Lemon Coconut Cookies

On the sixth day of holiday baking, my true love brought to me a microplaner to zest lemons.  These lemon coconut cookies may look Plain Jane,  but once you bite into one you will realize they are anything but.  They have a complex depth of flavour.  So tender, they just melt in your mouth.  Betcha can’t eat just one!

This recipe comes from the May 1993 issue of Gourmet magazine.  Gosh every time I even have to type that name I feel bitter.  I am still mourning the loss of that wonderful publication.  I have moved from denial to anger on the grief hierarchy, so I guess that’s progress but I am still a long way off from acceptance.  I am still hoping for a rebirth!

I have adapted the recipe slightly.  The original called for sifting icing sugar on the finished cookies but I found that really took away from the delicate flavour of the lemon and coconut.  The recipe also calls for lemon zest and lemon extract.  I am not a lemon extract fan.  It’s scent reminds me of Lemon Pledge.  However, I have tried it with and without, and in this cookie it adds a zing of flavour that is not overpowering.

It’s a simple slice and bake cookie dough, which I love when I am really strapped for time (like Day 6 of my baking adventure).  They keep well in the freezer for several weeks.

Roll the dough into logs, slice and bake.

To print this recipe, click here.