Lemony Summer Squash Risotto

Aunt Suzy says . . .

There has been an abundance of beautiful summer squash at our farmer’s markets and produce stands lately, so when this recipe from the NY Times “recipes for health” showed up in my Facebook feed recently, I knew I had to make it. I’ve made quite a few of  Martha Shulman’s recipes from that column over the years and they are always reliable and delicious. (You’ll also see I made a couple of adaptations to the recipe cuz that’s how we roll here!)

If you know us at S&SK, you know how much we love lemon. You can see all kinds of “lemony” recipes, both sweet and savory, on our blog.  I predict this one will be a favorite up here in the Minnesota branch of our cooking team.  If you love risotto and love summery, lemony dishes, this one is a winner!

Ingredients

7 to 8 cups chicken (or vegetable stock for vegetarian)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup onion, diced

1 pound summer squash, diced

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup dry white wine

Zest of one small lemon

Juice of 1/2-1 lemon, to taste

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, preferably lemon thyme

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Heat the stock in a pan and keep just below a simmer for use in the risotto.

In a medium saute pan, heat the olive oil till it shimmers over medium heat and then add the onion and saute till translucent. Add the summer squash and a little salt. Turn up the heat and saute a further 5 min until the squash is just starting to get soft. Add in the rice and garlic and give a few stirs to coat with the olive oil and create the signature nuttiness of the rice in this dish. Add the wine and stir till absorbed.

Turn down the heat and add about 1/2 cup of the hot stock. Keep at a low simmer, and stir until the stock is absorbed by the rice. Repeat by adding 1/2 cup stock at a time, stirring till absorbed until the rice is just about cooked through, about 25 minutes total. Add some more stock, the lemon zest and juice, the thyme and the Parmesan. Stir to blend. The dish should be creamy, not too dry and not too wet and the rice should be al dente. Best served in bowls with a refreshing glass of lemony Pinot Grigio.

Notes on ingredients: Two medium squash added up to one pound for me with apologies for not measuring the amount of diced squash before adding it to the pan. I used one yellow squash and one striped zucchini. I used Pinot Grigio for the white wine, but a Sauvignon Blanc would work well too. Avoid anything with oak in it like a California Chardonnay. Use the best quality Parmesan that you can find for the flavor and creaminess that really makes this dish. We recommend grating it yourself vs. buying it already grated.

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Lemon Ice Cream - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

My aunt Judy lives in North Carolina, and my mom and I went to visit her several times through my childhood.  One of the times we were there, I’m thinking when I was in junior high, she served this homemade lemon ice cream.  That lemon ice cream stuck in my mind for YEARS…it was SO GOOD.  Then on one of our more recent visits, she made it again, without me even suggesting it, and it was exactly as I had remembered.  Creamy and tart, and so, so good.  But I didn’t have an ice cream maker, so I wasn’t able to make it myself.  I’ve always wanted an ice cream maker, though, with this ice cream in mind as one of the first things to make.

Well, this spring I found an ice cream maker at a thrift store…a vintage 1970’s Master Chef.  And it works perfectly.  I made vanilla ice cream first, just as a test run, and to serve with a chocolate cake I made.  But I was dying to make the lemon ice cream.  I emailed Aunt Judy for the recipe, and she sent it, along with it’s origins.

She first tasted the lemon ice cream at Maldaner’s Restaurant in Springfield, IL, when my Aunt Annie took her there when she was a teenager.  Back then, they called it Lemon Creme Sherbet, and they claim it is based on a recipe from Mary Todd Lincoln.  It obviously had the same influence on Judy as it did me, because she went home and tried to recreate it!  She says this recipe has the same flavor and texture as the restaurant’s, as far as she can recollect.  Now I kind of want to make a trip down to Springfield to check this place out, and taste the sherbet for myself!

Old fashioned Lemon Ice Cream Soda - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

I also thought this was really good in an old-fashioned ice cream soda!  When I was a kid, whenever my dad took me to Dairy Queen, I would order an old-fashioned chocolate ice cream soda.  It was my absolute favorite.  They took it off the menu when I was a teenager, and I rarely see them on menus at ice cream shops.  They should make a comeback, because they’re really good.  My dad said that when he was a kid, there was an ice cream soda stand in Peoria, IL, that had every flavor you could imagine.  I had some lemon flavored La Croix on hand, so I thought it would be fun to try a lemon ice cream soda.  I’m sure it’s supposed to have lemon syrup in it as well, but to me this was perfect.  Not to sweet, nice and tart and creamy, and the soda makes the best ice crystals with the ice cream.  Just pour some soda water over ice cream and you’re set!  Of course, I added some whipped cream, too.

Lemon Creme Sherbet

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

1 1/3 c. sugar

4 tsp. flour

1 1/3 c. half and half

1/3 c. milk

1/8 tsp. salt

****************************************

1⁄2 c. milk

1⁄2 c. lemon juice

1 1⁄2 tsp. grated lemon rind

Beat egg and yolk in medium bowl until fluffy. Set aside. Mix next five ingredients in heavy saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly till mixture thickens (10 – 15 min).

Slowly add small amount of hot mixture to eggs whisking thoroughly. Return this mixture to pan. Cook and stir 1 additional minute. Chill.

Add remaining milk and lemon juice. Mixture will be curdly. Process in ice cream maker, folding in lemon rind just before packing to freeze.

 

 

 

Salmon with Chick Peas and Mustard Greens - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

This recipe caught my eye because Randy has been talking up trying the slow-roasting method for cooking salmon. Our usual approach is high-heat roasting for a very short period of time.  We also love mustard greens; this is an unusual, but ultimately delicious, use of them.  As Margaux says, the slow-roasting yields a tender and, we felt, silky textured piece of salmon. The original recipe called for 4 pieces of salmon, but we both made it with 2, using the full quantities of ingredients for everything else. If making with more pieces of salmon, we recommend upping the amounts of the other ingredients. We served with Green Rice and a dry French rosé wine.

Margaux says…

We loved this dish!  I’ve never made salmon slow roasted, and I thought it was really tender and delicious, and not dry at all.  The sauce was divine.  I only made two pieces of salmon, but still made the full recipe of the chickpeas and sauce.  The leftover chickpeas and greens made a nice lunch the next day, and we ended up using almost all of the sauce because it was really good over the rice I made to accompany this as well.

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Mustard Greens, Chickpeas and Lemon-Mustard Sauce

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons plus olive oil
1 15.5-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 bunch small mustard greens, stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon honey dissolved in 3 tablespoons hot water
2 4-6-oz. salmon fillets
1/2 small shallot, very finely chopped
Juice of  1 lemon, or more to taste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon honey 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, patted dry
¼ teaspoon crushed red chile pepper

SALMON

Preheat oven to 250°. Lightly coat a large baking dish with oil. Place chickpeas in a medium bowl and mash about half of them with a fork. Remove skins that have come loose. Add the cumin and 1 tablespoon olive oil, stir to thoroughly combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer chickpea mixture to the prepared baking dish.

Heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mustard greens and cook, tossing, until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Add honey water and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until greens are completely wilted, 2-3 more minutes. Transfer to dish with chickpea mixture.

Season salmon with salt and pepper then arrange over greens and chickpea mixture.  Bake until salmon is opaque in the center, 25-35 minutes, depending on thickness. (Ours were relatively thin sockeye salmon pieces which were fully cooked at 25 minutes.)

Slow Roasted Salmon with Mustard Greens and Chickpeas

LEMON DRESSING AND FINAL ASSEMBLY

Whisk shallot, 1/4 cup olive oil, mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon honey in a liquid measuring cup. Season with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the lemon juice. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the capers and crushed red pepper and cook until opened and crisp, about 30 seconds; drain on paper towels.

Place the greens and chickpea mixture on individual serving plates. Top with a piece of the salmon then drizzle with the dressing and top with capers.

Slow Roasted Salmon with Mustard Greens and Chickpeas

Moroccan Baked Fish with Onions, Olives and Preserved Lemon

 

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

We made an extra-gigantic batch of preserved lemons this year, so I’ve been on the hunt for recipes.  A friend pointed out this NY Times recipe a while back, and I’ve been meaning to make it.

gigantic batch of preserved lemons

Our local salmon fisherman, Wild Run Salmon, has started catching and selling cod early in the farmers’ market season. I recently bought some from him and the rest is history, as they say! I decided to make this with cod even though it was not called for in the original recipe. This is a WOW dish –  tasty, colorful and that it’s easy to make is an added bonus. Randy and I were both happy it made enough for two meals this week.  A Sauvignon Blanc was a great match for these flavors.  (I don’t this this would be the case with a New Zealand SB – American or French have the right flavor profile.)

Ingredients for 4 servings

1  pound firm white fish such as halibut, snapper or cod, cut into 4 pieces
Salt and pepper
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped leaves and stems
2 garlic cloves, processed through a garlic press
1/2-1 serrano chile, very finely chopped, to taste
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Pinch ground cayenne pepper
1/2 preserved lemon, finely diced
1/2-1 cup green and/or black pitted olives, cut in half

Directions 

Marinate the fish in cilantro sauce

Toast 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 1 teaspoon coriander seeds in a dry skillet till fragrant.  Cool slightly and roughly grind in a mortar and pestle. Place the cilantro, garlic, chile, 1 teaspoon of the ground spice mixture and the paprika in a bowl.  Whisk the 1/4 cup olive oil and lime juice together and add to the cilantro mixture. Salt to taste. Stir to combine thoroughly. Place some of the cilantro sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Place the fish on top of the sauce, and optionally salt and pepper to taste.  Set a small amount of the sauce aside for serving at the table with the cooked fish. Place the remaining sauce on top of the fish. Cover the dish and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. You can marinate for longer, but refrigerate except for the last hour.  NOTE: 1/2 serrano packed a lot of heat in the sauce, so I say use sparingly so the heat doesn’t blot out the flavor.

Moroccan Baked Fish with Onions, Olives and Preserved Lemon

Prepare the sauteed onions

Slice the onions. I recommend cutting “pole to pole” rather than “around the equator”.  I learned this technique a few years ago, which results in firmer and less stringy onions. Place the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan and heat over a medium burner. When it begins to shimmer, add the butter. When butter is melted and slightly bubbly, add the onions. Stir to coat, then add the remaining ground spice mixture, 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, the turmeric and cayenne and stir to combine thoroughly. Turn up the heat slightly and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions just begin to brown, 10-15 minutes.  Place in an oblong baking dish large enough to hold all the fish on top of the onions. Stir in the preserved lemon and place the olives on top.

Bake the fish with the onions 

Preheat the oven to 400°F.   Place the fish on top of the onions, scraping all the remaining sauce on top of the fish. Bake on the top level of the oven for 10-15 minutes, until fish is firm to the touch.

Serving suggestions

You can place the fish on top of the onions on serving plates or alongside as shown in the photo. Place a little of the reserved sauce on each serving. You can see we served with fresh roasted asparagus – it’s that time of year!  I think roasted potatoes or some sort of rice dish would be a nice complement.

 

 

Snowy Day

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Today demanded soup, but I’m in the mood for spring now that it’s March.  I would not say spring is around the corner here in Minnesota as you can see by this predawn photo, but enough winter already!  So here’s a soup that’s, well . . .a soup, but with many ingredients that taste of spring.  Perfect for a day like today!  Both Randy and I thought we almost couldn’t get enough.  He wanted me to make sure to say that, in his opinion, this must be made with homemade stock, feeling that boxed or canned would diminish the light spring-like quality we loved so much.  He also had an initial bad reaction to the idea of lettuce in a soup, saying that it’s like putting walnuts on a salad.  After a few spoonfuls of the soup, he said that he must like walnuts on salad – hehe.  So don’t be put off by the cooked romaine lettuce – it adds a light crunch and lovely vegetal flavor.  Enjoy with a lemony Pinot Grigio and a baguette!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This recipe was inspired by one that I saw in a Food 52 email yesterday, but is highly adapted in both method and ingredients.  Serves 8 (or 6 hearty eaters)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 scallions, white and green separated and sliced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small zucchini, small dice

1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and ground black pepper

9 cups chicken stock

1 small can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

zest of 1 lemon, Meyer if available

1 1/2-2 cups cooked green beans, cut in 2-inch pieces

2 cups cooked shredded chicken

1/4 cup each fresh mint and fresh parsley, chopped (or more to taste)

2 cups dried pasta, small shapes (I used gemelli)

2 cups shredded romaine lettuce

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven.  When shimmering, add the white part of the scallions and the celery.  Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until softened.  Add the garlic  zucchini, salt and pepper and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring.  Add the chicken stock and chickpeas and simmer for about 10 minutes to blend flavors.

Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

Add the chicken, green beans, herbs and lemon zest to the soup pot and simmer till heated through, about 5 minutes.  Be careful not to over-stir.

Right before serving, stir in the lettuce and lemon juice.  Cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.

To serve, place a handful of cooked pasta into the bottom of a soup bowl.  Ladle the soup into the bowl over the pasta.  Garnish with a few slices of the green part of the scallions (and a few red pepper flakes if desired).

Meyer Lemon Bars

February 27, 2013

Sweet and Savory Kitchens Meyer Lemon Bars

Margaux says…

I am always looking for recipes using egg yolks or egg whites, to use up whichever I have sitting in my fridge, begging to be made into something. Like I need another sweet sitting on my counter…this time of year it’s birthday after birthday in my family, so I’m on a cake baking spree from the beginning of January until late February. But, no matter, these lemon bars were a nice break for us in our parade of cakes. I love Meyer lemon season, and try to make things with them as often as possible, including savory things with preserved lemons in them like this and this. Oh, and this.  I also usually make a batch of the preserved lemons to have on hand for the year.

Sweet and Savory Kitchens Meyer Lemon Bars

Meyer Lemon Bars

Make sure you keep a close eye on the crust while it’s baking…I would recommend starting to check it at about 22 minutes.  The first time I made these, I just set the timer at 25 minutes and didn’t pay attention and they got rather brown.  Still yummy…but much better when they’re golden!  These can easily be made with regular lemons, and would probably be very good with limes as well.

Shortbread Crust

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more to sprinkle on the finished bars
pinch of salt
8 Tbls unsalted butter, still cool and cut into 8 pieces
Cover a 9-inch square cake pan with two sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil or parchment paper, perpendicular to each other. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
Put the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor and process briefly, about 2 seconds. Add the butter pieces and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then process until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second pulses. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared cake pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire pan bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Set aside.
Meyer Lemon Filling
7 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 cup + 2 Tbls sugar
2/3 cup meyer lemon juice (from about 4-5 medium lemons)
finely grated zest from the lemons
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tbls unsalted butter, cut in to 4 pieces
3 Tbls heavy cream
In a medium saucepan whisk together the egg yolks and whole eggs until combined. Add the sugar, meyer lemon juice, zest and salt until well combined, about 30 seconds.
Add the butter pieces and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the curd thickens to a thin sauce-like consistency (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), about 6 minutes.
Immediately pour the curd through a fine-mesh steel strainer set over a medium bowl. Stir in the heavy cream and then pour the curd into the warm crust.
Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Remove the bars from the pan and transfer to a cutting board to cut into squares.  Use a sifter to sift powdered sugar onto the top.  I’d recommend doing a couple of layers of the powdered sugar, because the bottom layers will just melt into the lemon curd (as you see mine has done in the photo).  I actually prefer them without the powdered sugar at all, but put a small amount of it on there for Jason’s sake.  🙂

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

This past week, the New York Times had a group of risottos in it’s “Recipes for Health” column that combined different grains or rices with the traditional risotto rice, Arborio.  They all caught my eye, but I started with this one because I have wanted to make something with farro for a while and have not.  This dish is a WOW!  The herbs and lemon add freshness to the taste and the farro creates a wonderful  chewy mouth appeal.  We served with an Italian Orvieto white wine and a green salad.  This falls into the “easy” category except for the need to stand at the stove and stir for about 40 minute.  Totally worth it!

NOTE:  I like this blog post from The Chef In You about farro and how to cook it.  I found “pearled” farro in bulk at our local coop.  It also comes in semi-pearled and non-pearled varieties, the latter of which needs to be pre-soaked. If you can’t find it locally, you can order from Amazon or here.

Makes 6 servings

6 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock (I used chicken)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed thoroughly of sand

Salt to taste

2 plump garlic cloves, minced

2/3 cup Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 cups cooked farro (1 cup uncooked)

2 cups chopped fresh herbs, like parsley, basil, chives, thyme (I used a cup of parsley, a cup of basil and 2 tablespoons lemon thyme)

Freshly ground pepper

2 ounces grated Parmesan (1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Cook the farro according to directions and set aside.

Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan, then turn the heat to low.  Make sure this is on a burner handy to the main pan you will cook the risotto in.

Heat the oil a large saute pan or heavy saucepan on medium heat.  Add the leeks and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes.  Add a generous pinch of salt, the garlic and the rice. Cook, stirring, for about 3 more minutes.

Stir in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until absorbed and almost evaporated. Next, stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock – enough to just cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly (adjust heat accordingly). Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful or two of the stock and continue to cook in this fashion, not too fast and not too slowly, stirring often and adding more stock when the rice is almost dry, for 15 minutes.

Stir in the farro and more stock to cover and continue to cook, adding more stock as necessary and stirring often, for another 10 minutes or until the rice is cooked through but al dente.   If it is still hard in the middle, you need to continue adding stock and stirring for another 5 minutes or so. Taste and adjust seasonings.  NOTE:  Make sure you watch for dryness and stir often as the mixture tended to stick once the farro was added.

Stir in the herbs and fresh pepper (be generous), add another ladleful of stock and continue to cook, stirring, for a minute.  Finally, add the Parmesan and the lemon juice, stir together and remove from the heat. The risotto should be creamy; if it isn’t, add a little more stock.  Stir once, taste and adjust seasonings, and serve.  Prepare for your taste buds to be delighted!

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

This recipe was in the same April 2012 issue of Bon Appetit as the Spicy Chicken with Rhubarb Salsa and looked to me to be the perfect accompaniment – and it was!  This was fairly easy to make and I have a hunch it will be in regular rotation along with our other favorite rice sides, Green Rice and Sparkle Rice.  All three are great served with chicken and fish.

Makes 4-6 servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons black, brown, or yellow mustard seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 small onion, minced

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 large or 2 small Fresno chiles or red jalapeños, cut into thin rings

2 cups white Basmati rice

4 2×1-inch strips lemon peel (yellow part only)

3 cups water or chicken stock

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 cup roasted cashews

Heat the oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the mustard seed and tumeric and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring, until the mustard seeds start to pop.  Add the onion, garlic and the chile and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly to make sure the tumeric doesn’t burn.  Add the rice and stir to thoroughly coat.  Add the lemon peel, the liquid and the salt.  Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer over low heat until the liquid is completely absorbed, 15-20 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.  Let stand 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and stir in the cashews.

Lemon Cake

April 8, 2012

Margaux says…

I’ve been on a serious cake baking hiatus lately because I haven’t personally had the appetite for one. I’m 19 weeks pregnant, and sweets are the last thing I’ve been wanting to eat. Plus, I’ve been super tired, so just getting dinner on the table every night has been the extent of my abilities. I’ve really been missing baking, though, so when someone asked me to make a cake for their Easter dinner, I jumped on it.

I wanted to make a bundt cake because they’re a whole lot easier than fancy layer cakes (in my opinion), and right now I still need things to be easy. I’m not one of those pregnant women that gets a huge surge of energy in their second trimester and feels better than they ever have in their life. No way…I’m the opposite. I’m one of those pregnant women that wants to just lay down and sleep for 9 months, and I’m really good at complaining about it as much as possible. Luckily I have a very patient husband. 🙂

This cake, another winner from one of my cooking heroes, Ina Garten, is one of the most lemony and buttery cakes you will ever have. It has a moist pound cake texture, with bright, sweet lemony flavor. It’s pretty easy to make, and is great for company, like all bundt cakes are. I served it with raspberry sorbet, and the flavors were perfect together! It’s also, of course, great with vanilla ice cream.

Lemon Cake
Adapted from ‘Barefoot Contessa Parties!’

Yield: 2 loaf cakes (or one bundt)

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup plus 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted.

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8 1/2-by-4 1/4-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper. If using bundt pan, spray with baking spray with flour JUST before pouring the batter in. This prevents the oil from pooling on the bottom.

2. Cream butter and 2 cups sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Mixing at medium speed, add eggs, one at a time, and lemon zest.

3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, buttermilk and vanilla. Add flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to butter and sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Divide batter evenly between pans, smooth tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean (I would check at 40 minutes…my cake was done at that point).

4. Combine 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan, and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves.

5. When cakes are done, let them cool 10 minutes. Poke holes in the top of the cakes (still in the pan) with a toothpick and spoon about 1/3 of the syrup over the cakes. Let sit for a few minutes. Invert them onto a rack set over a tray, poke with holes, and spoon rest of lemon syrup over cakes. Let cakes cool completely.

6. For glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar and remaining 3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a whisk until smooth. Pour over top of cakes, and allow glaze to drizzle down the sides. If needed, after about 10 minutes, brush more of the glaze that has pooled underneath over the cakes with a pastry brush.

Happy Easter!

 

Aunt Suzy says . . . .

This is a fast, easy and delicious meal-in-a-bowl that I learned in my early 20’s.  I lived in New York City at the time and was taught this dish by a friend whose husband was originally from Spain.  My friend, who called this Pisto, learned it from her mother-in-law.  You might note I’m not calling it this, which is because I’ve understood since that Pisto usually refers to the Spanish version of ratatouille.  Although, I just looked up Pisto to find  in the Spanish dictionary that it cites a secondary definition as “hodgepodge”, which could be used to describe this dish.  Whatever it’s called, I’ve been making and loving this all my adult life.  I had not made it recently, but was reminded about it by my brother John, who cooked it last week.  It’s a dish that once I’ve got it in front of me, I can’t get enough of.  I hope you enjoy the unusual blending of flavors in this hodgepodge of rice, artichokes, roasted red peppers and a healthy dose of garlic – all drenched in lemon.   And as Randy said − “great mouth appeal”.  Serve with a salad with lemon-olive oil dressing and a nice lemony Sauvignon Blanc or Albarino.

This recipe serves 6 and can be cut in half

2 cups white or brown rice

3 1/2 cups water or chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 15-ounce cans artichoke hearts (NOT marinated), 10-11 medium

1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, about 2 large

4 cloves garlic, minced

2-3 tablespoons butter

1 8-ounce ham slice, diced

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 lemons, either Meyer or Eureka

Place the rice and liquid in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer till done.  (White rice about 20 minutes, brown rice about 40 minutes)

Meanwhile, cut the artichoke hearts in quarters.  Cut the roasted peppers in 1 x 1/2-inch strips.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  When just starting to bubble, add the garlic and stir for a minute.  Add the artichokes and roasted red pepper.  Turn heat down to medium low and simmer until the rice is done.

Meanwhile, in a small saute pan, heat the olive oil till shimmering.  Add the ham pieces and saute on medium high heat for 5 or so minutes until it starts to brown.  Add the ham to the artichoke mixture and stir to blend.

When the rice is done, place in a large bowl, add the artichoke-ham mixture and stir to thoroughly blend all together.  Serve with lemon wedges.  People can squeeze juice from 1-2 wedges over their individual servings.

NOTES ON INGREDIENTS:  I almost always make this with brown rice, but white is good and quicker if pressed for time. I almost always use chicken stock or part stock/part water for a richer taste.  Look for smoked ham with the least amount of sugar and definitely not one where maple syrup has been used in the curing.  I prefer Meyer lemons, but regular Eureka lemons are delicious as well.  I learned to make this with butter (even more than I called for!), but I think olive oil could be substituted.