Sometimes (Often Times) I have this in my bag …

Actually (and I hate to use that word – really hate it*), this is not terribly exciting, but it makes my day at the office (how sad is that?). It is a lemon – I know, So. Very. Exciting. sigh.

I have this habit of bringing together odd bits of food from home for my breakfast / lunch to cobble together and occasionally make a great lunch hack. I just prefer it to buying lunch out. Snob that I am, I like my cooking better than most others. Probably because I make the things I like – like right now, I am on a pan-roasted mushroom trip. Not sure why, but it works for me.

I tend to eat crackers for breakfast just to choke down the stupid mess of meds for the equally stupid lupus that has become a very crappie part of my life recently – hello, medical field – not impressed so far. Okay – enough of that.

Back to it – It is amazing what a fresh lemon can do – just the juice, since I do not have a zester at the office. Although I probably should think about getting one. Fresh lemon (or lime) zest is just lovely. What about grapefruit zest – now there is an idea. Also need a pepper grinder too, if I really want to make the lunch hack thing special (and we all want it to be special, don’t we?)

We have the “Real Lemon” juice in a bottle in the office fridge, but it is just so lame compared to fresh lemon – even if the lemon is kind of a lame, old-ish lemon from the back of my fridge at the house – that juice makes all the difference. The difference is really very telling – not a joke. cropped-dd_1784

So I have some left over rice, maybe with some artichoke hearts in it, and then I add my favorite garlicy pan-roasted mushrooms on top and heat it up. What makes it perfect? Fresh lemon juice. You see where this is going, right?

Just put a lemon in your bag. It will be fine. And it is kind of cool. Kind of like a fez.~

* Inspector Morse always hated that word too and I love my Morse (John Thaw). That’s a post for a whole other time. Or as Dr River Song would say, “That’s a whole other birthday.” Yes, a cool Dr. Who reference~. My total geek is showing.

When you get right down to it  – it is the author of the Morse stories, Colin Dexter that, I think,  hated “actually.” Understandable. But I do have to quibble with his use of “sludgy” green eyes – seems to be a recurring theme that I resent because my green eyes are said to be lovely. I was going to say hot, but only blue eyes and brown eyes are hot and to be honest, no one knows what to do with hazel eyes. Genetic randomness right there.

The Boy has lovely blue eyes that can turn grey depending on what he is wearing or even what kind of mood he is in. I did not know that could happen. But how does a child with two green-eyed parents end up with a blue-eyed child. Apparently blue eyes can stay hidden from previous generations, so I expect that is it. Way to much science for me. Hello, Gregor Mendel and principals of inheritance. See, I did learn some science in Jr. High School. Who knew?

““

Well, we just went for a wander, didn’t we? Or, I guess it was me that let this tiny brain of mine wander a bit.

Back to lemons, in your bag, to make you desk meal (lunch hack) a real treat vs. a total bore. Your call.

 

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting 

So I have been interested in cupcakes and muffins lately, and this was a request – lemon cupcakes. And I also want to use the new cupcake liners that I got from the Amazon. They are really kind of pretty. Not very fall like, but I do like the pink. dd_1645
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 Tbs lemon zest
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbs canola oil
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in lemon zest.

In a bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, sour cream, lemon juice, oil, and lemon extract. Add wet mixture to dry mixture, folding with a spatula until just combined. Do not over-mix.

Fill muffin cups half full and bake 29 – 31 minutes or until toothpick come out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Set on a rack to cool.

Frosting:
8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
juice of one lemon and zest that lemon too, if you are going for it. You should
8 ozs powdered sugar, sifted**

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and lemon juice. Once smooth, sift in powdered sugar (sifting keeps the frosting smooth).

I think next time I will leave out the lemon extract from the cupcakes. It just seems to take over. Bugger all. I really think I like lemon extract less as time goes on. No, I know I do.

 Lemon White Chocolate Chip Cookies 

I never thought this recipe made any sense. I love lemons, I know that is astonishing to everyone that reads this. But I am not a huge fan of white chocolate, or any chocolate –  for that matter …. but these cookies really work in an amazing way. It makes stupid sense. And science is involved. Cool.

We can all thank Shirley Corriher* for this recipe. And we won’t even go into her biscuits – they are heaven. I guess why they are called “Touch of Grace” biscuits. They are pretty much amazing. Another amazing recipe that kind of makes not too much sense, but is sublime. dd_1648

1 cup unsalted butter, cut in 2 Tbs pieces, room temperature 
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp light corn syrup – science
1/2 tsp lemon extract
zest of one lemon
2 large egg yolks – science, you’ll see
2 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 cup white chocolate chips

In a stand mixer, cream butter, sugar, salt, corn syrup, lemon extract, and lemon zest until light and creamy. Add yolks, one at a time, beat until blended in thoroughly.

On low speed, add flour, scraping the sides and bottom of bowl. Stir in white chocolate chips. Divide dough and roll into log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cover baking sheet with parchment. Slice cookies into 3/8 inch slices and arrange 1 inch apart on the sheet. Bake until edges just beginning to brown, about 13 minutes. Cool on pan 2 minutes, then remove to cooling rack.

*Shirley Corriher is a scientist after all. Really, a biochemist from Vanderbilt. Holy hell. That is pretty much amazing. I first saw her on AB’s show – Good Eats  – that great Southern lady with the short grey hair and all the answers and so many science facts that it kind of scared me a bit.

But then I realized she had written two cook books. Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking, and also Bakewise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking. But I fell in love with this recipe long before I knew of her cookbooks.

The Boy loves the recipe and asks me to make it on a regular basis and I completely understand. While you might think it is odd, as I first did, it comes together in, sigh, and amazing way. And who does not love a slice and bake cookie? They are pretty much my favorite kind of cookie. Yep.

Lemon Crisps

I do not even have an excuse to make another lemon cookie. Nope, none at all. So there it is.  I am doing it again. These were really good. This is a new-to-me recipe and I just could not help myself. Indeed. Sometimes I just make cookies for me and eat, like 2, and then share them. It may not make much sense, but baking, and cooking, is just experimental for me. Once I’ve tried the result, I can make a decision about what to change and adjust. Or whether to abandon the whole idea – done that several times. But not this time. dd_1608

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 Tbs lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbs lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Cream together butter and sugar and then add egg, juice, zest, and vanilla. Sift in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Drop by 1 1/2 tsp onto parchment lined baking sheet and bake 10 – 12 minutes until lightly golden brown around the edges.

Let cool on sheet one minute before moving to cooling rack.

Makes about 2 dozen.

Lemon Glaze
4 Tbs lemon juice
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Beat together and drizzle over cooled cookies.

Source: http://whisk-kid.com/2009/08/inner-child-lemon-cookies.html

“Meyer” Lemon Bars

I have this habit of asking people what they would like me to bake or cook for them. It keeps me interested in baking and cooking and pushes me outside of what I typically do. I do it at work, “what do you guys want me to make for the pot-luck?” and I do the same thing at my favorite restaurants. I think restaurant staff is not appreciated enough. Guess that comes from being a server ages ago. I hope they appreciate it, but it is more to get me to try to do different things.dd_1599

So I asked Berta, at my beach local, to tell me what she would like in the baking department, and she said my baking nemesis – lemon bars. I have not had good luck with these in the past – at all. That said, I was going to give it another go – it is a challenge after all. And I never back down from a challenge.

This is a recipe on my little USB drive of recipes that I have been working on for ages and I just sort of picked it out of the two I had. It was daunting – I have to admit that I was not comfortable trying this idea again. I did this on a Thursday because I figured if I fucked it up, I would have Friday to try again. And I am really not scared in the baking department, but you never know if things are going to go pear-shaped.

I have to say, I just cut a corner out of this and just got stupid over how good it was. That is, indeed, a good sign. I guess when I get silly about something in the kitchen, that makes me happy and pleased with myself. And that makes me think it will be something other people will like too.

Personally, I would like to keep the entire pan of these lemon bars to myself, but I won’t. But I will damn sure to make this recipe again. The original called for Meyer lemons, but I only have those when my (precious) little tree produces Meyer lemons and this is totally the wrong time of year, so I just used regular lemons. It was amazing. Stupidly so. Yeah me! yep.

Meyer Lemon Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1 – 2 tsp ice water

5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs Meyer lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and line with parchment with an overhang on the long sides. Or all the sides really.

In the bowl of a food processor, mix all purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water as needed to bring dough together. Press dough into prepared pan, pressing firmly against the inside edges. Bake crust for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly golden. Set pan on wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until well combined and paler in color. Stir in zest, lemon juice, 1/4 cup flour and a pinch of salt. Carefully pour topping over warm crust. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until set.

Set the pan on a rack to cool completely. Remove squares using parchment. Cut into bars. Dust with 3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar. Or more if you want. I use way more confectioners’ sugar than that. Just me.

I think I made a few friends with these – at least I really hope so. Berta loved them and her daughter asked for them on her birthday at the end of November. I guess there are more lemon people than I had imagined. I shared one of my favorite lemon things ever – lemon, white chocolate chip cookies – they sound slightly weird, but they are stupid good.

And then in my head – lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for another person that is a lemon person. I think we have to stick together. There just are not that many of us. Lemon People Unite – or something?  No, that just does not work. I guess you chocolate people have us outnumbered. Again.

Easter Planning

Holy cow. Easter will be here before you know it. Sorry – this year the early food holidays have just stacked up way too much. Super Bowl Sunday smashed into Mardi Gras – literally. I’m not kidding. Two days apart.

I understand that Pi Day will always fall right in line with St. Patrick’s Day.  There is no denying the calendar on that one, but they are fixed points – unlike Mardi Gras and Easter – thank you Hebrew calendar for keeping us on our toes.

I am thinking something with lemon. But that seems to be something I do a lot.  Or Asparagus. Or fresh herbs. I won’t go all crazy and say I’ll make lamb, because I won’t. I at least know myself well enough to know that will not happen. Ham, also, will not be in my future. We’re just not big fans.

What is really strange to me is I do not remember any big food traditions for my family for Easter. I’ll have to ask my dad, but no, I’ve really got nothing.

We always dyed eggs (Paas and vinegar are always linked together in my brain), had great Easter baskets, went to church, did the egg hunt thing. But that is all I remember.

Either way, I am going to have to come up with something for Easter dinner this year

D&D_9509

Carrot Cake is just so tempting for Easter.

. Carrot Cake seems to be a repeating element. But, I think I am going back to my original idea –  lemons. Yep. That is what I’ll do. No surprise really.

Tomorrow is Good Friday, so I best decide.