Tuesday, January 14, 2014

12 Days Of Meyers - Artichokes and Panna Cotta

I just can't believe the 12 Days of Meyers has already come to an end this year. I would like to extend a HUGE thank you to the following bloggers who took time from their lives and their own blogs to be guest writers for me: Katie, Mary Helen, Hilah, Elizabeth, Addie, Suzanna, Kristin, Kathryn, Michelle and Kate. You are all so amazing and I have had so much fun reading the variety of recipes and stories that you all sent. It just goes to show that if you ask your friends for a favor they will jump to help you every time.

As my tree starts its winter rest preparing for the next bloom in the spring, I will continue to reap it's benefits well into the summer. I've juiced the rest of the lemons on the tree and now have loads of juice packed in the freezer. Over the years I have made many recipes both sweet and savory with these lovely Meyers, but the beauty of citrus is that its versatility, mixed with imagination, provides endless recipe possibilities to explore.

The last two recipes that I am posting were really recipes that I have been pondering in the back of my head for some time. They are super simple and yet, they have great taste and offer a great presentation for entertaining. If you have been following the 12 Days of Meyers then you should know by now that the benefits of citrus are both healthy and delicious. Who knows how many lemons our lovely tree will produce next season, but you can bet that if it continues to be as prolific as in the past and you live near me, you might just get a visit from the Meyer Fairy and find a box on your porch... I'm jus' sayin'!

Meyer Lemon & Lavender Panna Cotta

2 packages of Knox Gelatin
2/3 Cup of Fresh Meyer Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup of Sugar (I normally use Coconut Sugar but chose white so that it would not change the color to brown) 
1 Can of Coconut Cream
1 Cup of Coconut Almond Milk
1 Tsp. of Culinary Lavender leaves
*Optional garnish - Candied Meyer Slices and Lavender flowers 

In a separate bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the lemon juice and set aside to bloom.
Combine the rest of the ingredients - sugar, milks and lavender - in a pot and bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer. Simmer 6 minutes then turn off heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Put 1/3 cup of the hot milk into the bowl (using a strainer so that the lavender leaves will not go through) with the gelatin and whisk to melt the gelatin. Once the gelatin is incorporated, whisk in the remainder of the milk (using the strainer). Once all is incorporated, pour into a large mold or into ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight. Serve by inverting onto a plate and carefully running a knife around the outer edge of the panna cotta. Garnish as desired. 

Roasted Meyer lemons and Artichokes with Olives & Garlic

1 Meyer Lemon Sliced
2 Small Globe Artichokes
1 Cup of Mixed Olives
1 Head of Garlic (broken in cloves peels can stay on) 
Salt & Pepper
Fresh Thyme and Sage
Olive Oil

Trim and halve the artichokes (quarter if you are using large artichokes) and scoop out the thistle. Takes one Meyer slice and rub on the inner heart of each artichoke half. Place in a large baking dish leaf side down. Place sliced olives on top. Sprinkle olives, garlic cloves and fresh herbs around the artichokes. Drizzle olive oil all over and sprinkle with Salt & Pepper. Place in a preheated 350` oven for approximately 35-45 minutes. Serve as a tapas plate.
Before going into the oven.

Monday, January 13, 2014

12 Days of Meyers - Gluten Free Meyer Buttermilk Cake

This wonderful blogger and dear friend is also one that is very dear to my heart. I first met her several years ago at the first Austin Food Swap. Back then, I was not sure what a "food swap" was all about. Kate explained it with such ease and her sense of hospitality was warm and open. The swaps have gotten bigger and better over the years, but my fondest memories are of those first small swaps. Since that first meeting, I have picked loquats with this lady and enjoyed tea on her lovely patio. Her hospitality is no secret to locals as she is the author behind 'The Hip Girls Guide To Homemaking", a spin-off from her hugely popular blog. Along with her wife  JoAnn and their sweet little pup Isobel, she lives in a super cool house in East Austin where you will most likely find her canning, writingrepurposing or getting ready for a class to teach.  She is as lovely as the ideas in her book and I'm so excited that she took time out of her busy schedule (finishing the second edition of Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking) to whip up a Meyer creation for this series. She bakes gluten-free so no surprise that she made this tasty cake for this post. Enjoy!

This is a variation on the buttermilk cake I make often, both as a last minute dessert and as a brunch party special touch. I've also doubled the recipe and made cream cheese frosting to end up with a birthday layer cake. I adore this cake and have Julia to thank for turning me onto it. You can use the flour combination in my original post or use a gluten-free flour blend like Pamela's [Artisan] or basic I have a few temporary dietary restrictions so I've substituted out the dairy buttermilk and the sugar (indicated in the recipe in parenthesis). I dare say you can't mess up this forgiving not-too-sweet cake.

Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Cake (gluten-free)
by Kate Payne

1. Grease an 8- or 9-inch baking pan of any shape. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Combine your dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl:
1 cup gluten-free flour mix (that doesn’t contain leaveners, baking soda/powder)
1/2 cup sugar (I used coconut palm sugar)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3. Combine your wet ingredients in a separate bowl:
1/2 cup buttermilk  (I whisked together 125ml almond milk, 25 ml coconut milk, 2 tsp strained Meyer lemon juice)
1 egg
1/2 stick (or 1/4 cup) butter, melted
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (or Meyer limoncello if you have it!)
  finely grated zest of 1 large Meyer lemon

4. Add wet to dry, and mix to combine so there are no more dry flour-y patches. Pour into prepared pan.
5. Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for about another 10-12 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when a toothpick poked in the very center comes out without dough-y goo. Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon curd, Meyer lemon marmalade or strawberry jam!
Store at room temp, sealed in a parchment bag for up to 3 days or freeze.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

12 Days of Meyers - Sweet & Savory

This next blogger is a relatively new friend of mine. I had the pleasure of working with her on last summer's AFBA Cupcakes & Cocktails fundraising event. During one of our committee meetings, the subject of Meyer lemons came up and she swooned over them. Being that she cooks quite a bit of Persian cuisine, I had a feeling she would be a perfect choice to guest write for the 12 Days of Meyers. I love that she decided to stretch her lemons out and try a whole bunch of recipes from sweet to savory. Michelle's blog Beyond Picket Fences explores a lot of Middle Eastern foods. In fact, she scouted out a bunch of Persian restaurants here in Austin for the AFBA City Guide.  She loves baking and cooking for friends and family. I hope you enjoy her Meyer dishes as much as I have.

The Meyer Lemon Fairy, (aka Kristina of Girl Gone Grits) bestowed a large box of delicious, bright yellow, juicy Meyer lemons upon me a few weeks ago and I have been in a lemon frenzy ever since. My Vitamin C intake has dramatically increased, which is good since cold and flu season hit me hard. I decided to make a few special lemony recipes, but mainly I substituted the Meyers for other acids I use regularly, with delicious results!

Meyers are less tart that your average lemon and, to me, have a more complex citrus flavor than standard lemons you find at the grocery store. They work really well in sweets, but I used them primarily in savory dishes over the past few weeks.   I made a lot of things with the Meyers. I may have gone a little overboard, but I’m not complaining. Here is an abbreviated listed of what I made:

Braised leg of lamb with Meyer lemons and pomegranate
Roasted red snapper with Meyer lemons and fennel
Meyer lemon and balsamic salad dressing
Meyer lemon meringue pie

As you can see, I’ve had a tasty past few weeks. The lamb was the biggest hit. We made it for Christmas dinner and I’m sure it’s going to become our regular Christmas meal going forward. Melt in your mouth lamb with the sweet and sour of the pomegranate complemented by the brightness of the Meyer lemons. Yum!  I used this great recipe from BBC Good Food. I adjusted it slightly and added the lemon zest as well as the juice to the recipe, which was a noticeable improvement.

The Meyers worked really well with the red snapper. So often lemon can take over the taste of fish, but in this case the flavors blended perfectly. I made the fish up very simply with olive oil, Meyer lemon slices, fresh fennel (bulb and fronds), and salt. I roasted it in a 375 degree oven covered at first and then finished it uncovered for the last few minutes to brown. Perfect, flakey, lemony fish!

The salad dressing is of my own creation. I whisked ¼ cup of Meyer lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, ½ cup of olive oil, and salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Mix in a bowl and whisk until emulsified. I used it to dress a simple salad of spinach, arugula, cremini mushrooms and fresh chevre.

I most recently made a lemon meringue pie. I couldn’t find my grandmother’s recipe and the only ingredients I remembered from hers were lemons and condensed milk, so I googled all of the lemon pie recipes that have condensed milk in them and found this great one from Paula Deen. I doubled the amount of zest she listed and I’m glad I did. So tart and sweet and refreshing! I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of that pie. One word of advice: let the pie set properly in the fridge before you do the meringue. If you don’t, the pie will be a bit runny. Still delicious, but not very pretty. It didn’t stop me from enjoyed three slices of it, though.

I think the best part of my Meyer mania was figuring out how versatile this fruit is. I found myself squeezing a bit of lemon juice on just about everything or always zesting a lemon into every dish I made. This lemon risotto recipe from Nigella Lawson I just found is set to be the last hurrah of my Meyers. I’m down to my last couple of lemons and I think I’m about to go into withdrawal. They’ve become such a great addition to my kitchen.