Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dirt to Table Experience: Fresh Lemon-Herb Dressing in a Jar

Growing-up bottled salad dressings were the norm. Lucky for me, I was exposed early to basic vinegar and oil dressings made at home, and not in a bottle.   Why, would you purchase store bought?  Have you taken a look at a typical salad dressing label?  Basic vinaigrettes are a cinch to make and with a quick toss to fresh salad greens, makes for a beautiful salad.

I make endless varieties of  vinaigrettes depending on what I have on hand.  No matter what the flavor combination, the only stead fast rule is use 2 parts oil, to 1-part vinegar or citrus. Salt and pepper, and a bit of Dijon mustard.  You can add any additional fresh or dried herbs that you choose, blend it together to emulsify, and it is ready.

Citrus is in season and it serves as a flavorful fresh base to dressings (My Meyer lemon tree produced over 100 lemons this season).  The garden lettuce is rocking and salads are knocking this winter at my house.

Lemon-Herb Dressing
Makes 1-cup
Recipe from Everyday Food

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon 
Season with sea salt freshly ground black pepper

In a medium jar with a tight fitting lid, combine all the ingredients, and shake to combine.

To store, refrigerate, up to 5 days.

Quick ideas:
  • Use as a marinade for chicken or pork
  • Mix with warm boiled new potatoes
  • Drizzle over baked fish
  • Brush on crusty bread to grill or broil
  • Toss with steamed or grilled vegetables
  • Mash with feta for a quick crostini spread

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fast and Easy Jalapeño Cheddar Bread

 Got chili?  Here is a perfect companion bread.  A southwest style jalapeño and cheddar bread that works every time. 

Jalapeño Cheddar Bread
Makes 1 loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg
3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease or spray an 8x3-inch loaf pan.

Sift together the flour, salt, pepper, sugar and baking powder in a medium bowl.  Add the cheese and gently toss and stir until it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine milk, oil and egg and whisk together.  Pour mixture into well in center of flour and stir mix together lightly with a wooden spoon.  Add peppers and stir just until dry ingredients are all combined.  The batter should be lumpy.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and place in the oven.  Bake until top is golden brown, and springs back when touched in the center, about 45-50 minutes.  Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and eat warm!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Friday, December 14, 2012

Lemon Brownies

If you think that brownies can only be chocolate......Then you are missing out something unique.  If you are willing to take a leap.........

Ta da......

Lemon Brownies!  Dense with a rocking clean citrus flavor.

 Lemon  Brownies
Makes 8x8 Pan
Recipe from Roz la bella vita- Via Pinterest


The Batter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Tart Lemon Glaze
1 rounded cup confectioners sugar
4 tablespoon lemon juice
8 teaspoons lemon zest

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease spray 8x8 baking dish with baking spray and set aside

2.  Zest and juice two lemons; set aside.

3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the flour, sugar, salt, and the softened butter until combined.

4.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice until combined.  Pour into the flour mixture and beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.

5.  Pour into baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden brown around the edges, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before glazing.

6.  Sift the powdered sugar, add lemon zest and juice, and whisk together the ingredients.  Spread 1/2 the glaze over the brownies with a rubber spatula.  Let the glaze set.  Spread the remaining glaze over the bars, and let it sit.

7. Cut into bars and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Chef Christo Gonzalez

Friday, December 7, 2012

Canning Goodness: Simple Preserved Lemons

My Meyer lemon tree is laden and weighted down with lemon fruit.  Duly noted that the reason this citrus tree was planted was to ensure that we had plenty of fresh lemon juice for lemon drop cocktails Lemon Drop Martini Cocktails  Still, what does a girl do with a hundred plus lemons? First, she shares  with her family and friends.  She juices lemons and freezes the juice, and is forever looking for ways to use and preserve her bounty until the next season.

I borrowed my co-worker friend's cookbook Sizzling Skillets and other one-pot wonders by Emeril Lagassee.  While perusing the cookbook, I stumbled across a simple recipe for salted preserved lemons.  Now, I am plagued by my new found romantic notions of using preserved lemons in cooking. The use of preserved lemons is most noted in Moroccan cuisine.  There is other endless possibilities in roasted meats, soups, stews and baking too.

This a perfect way to preserve homegrown lemons flavor in a unique way.

Just quarter, add sea salt or kosher salt and press to close

The lemons never have to be refrigerated, and will stay for up to a year after maturing, and their flavors improves with age.

Simple Preserved Lemons
Makes 1-quart (Can be easily doubled, tripled, etc.)
Recipe from Emeril Lagassee

4 unwaxed lemons, preferably organic, well washed and dried
1/4 cup sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, or as needed

1.  Using a sharp knife, cut each lemon lengthwise almost through to the stem end, and then rotate the lemon 45 degrees and cut so that the lemon is almost quartered; the lemon should still be connected at one end, but you should be able to open it up, much like a flower.  Spoon 1 tablespoon of the salt into the center of each lemon and press to close.  Squeeze the lemons into a sterilized jar with a tight-fitting lid (it's okay if you need to squeeze firmly to compact the lemons; they will soften over time) and add any salt that has fallen from the lemons to the jar.  Cover the jar and set aside in a cool, dark place for several days.

2.  Uncover the jar and press down on the lemons with your fingers or the back of a spoon.  Add enough lemon juice to cover them completely-the amount of lemon juice will vary depending on their ripeness( I have had batches that where no additional lemon juice was necessary because the lemons themselves exuded so much juice).  Close the jar and once again set aside in a cool, dark place for 1 month, shaking the jar occasionally to distribute the salt and brine.

3.  When the lemons are ready, the peel and flesh will be very soft and you will see that the flesh easily peels away.  Discard the flesh, rinse the peel briefly under cool water, and use as needed.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Maureen Johnson