I "retired" from the corporate world a couple of years ago because I wanted to experience a real life after years of 80 hour work weeks and constant travel. A year later I realized that I was having a really good time, was always busy (how did i ever fit in a job??) and needed a creative outlet to share my experiences. Now I split my time between California and New Mexico but, wherever I am, I write about delicious, fresh, local, organic/sustainably grown food.
answer....everything. i just noticed that i have been posting a lot of recipes/stories about meyer lemons...pasta...limoncello...cake... you name it. i was a bit worried that this was overkill...i mean. ..what if readers don't like lemons? but i have realized that i am writing the way i try to cook...using fresh, seasonal, local, organic/sustainably grown ingredients...and i cannot get more local than fruit grown in my garden! my lemon tree has been fruiting since december...and i continue to look for ways to use up the bounty.
i use lemons in everything...a bit of lemon juice and zest amps up the flavor in baking, vegetable dishes, fish, chicken, pasta, salads, fresh fruit, tea...i keep a pitcher of water with sliced lemons in the fridge...you name it...i use it.
our good friends richard and caitlin came to dinner on wednesday. i had tons of work to do that day, so i wanted an extremely easy menu...i made a simple pasta with almonds, garlic and peas (will give recipe in another post), roasted asparagus...and a meyer lemon marmalade cake with a strawberry/balsamic sauce for dessert....the pasta and asparagus were hits...and the cake won rave reviews. as i told you last time...my family and friends all "grade" my recipes by using the word bloggable...they are so used to me writing about everything we eat that it has become their shorthand...one bite of cake and they all said..."bloggable!" richard went for seconds...and asked if he could take some home. (for me, this is the ultimate compliment...think it goes back to my italian mom....i feel really, really happy when my friends and family enjoy my food....fyi...caitlin emailed me the following day letting me know the cake was just as good the next morning with coffee for breakfast :)
so...here is the recipe for the cake...full disclosure as to how it was developed...i make meyer lemon marmalade all the time...i have an easy (but really labor intensive) recipe that is usually foolproof. i made multiple batches one day and...for some unknown reason...one batch did not set. now i make it exactly the same way every time...the recipe only uses lemons and sugar...nothing else...so i am baffled as to what happened. but, since i love experimenting, i decided i wanted to create recipes using the unset marmalade (is that even a term?). i thought a vanilla bundt cake drizzled with the marmalade would be nice...well, it rocks. .but since i cannot give you a recipe for that, i substituted a meyer lemon simple syrup with a few spoonfuls of correctly made marmalade...works just as well...but..if you happen to be making jam and screw it up...here is an option for your creation....and a new expression"when life gives you runnymarmalade...make cake?"
i wrote about my vegan chocolate cake earlier this year and it has become one of the most popular sites from a search engine perspective...i love this cake which i adapted from one published in the moosewood cookbook. i used the same basic recipe for this vanilla cake...just tweaked the ingredients around to remove the chocolate. i love the way it turned out...think it will become my go-to summer cake used with many different types of summer fruit...and, best of all...it is super simple...can be mixed with a wooden spoon, so no mixer to clean...and the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar used makes it a bit healthier...so a bit more guilt free...please let me know what you think...
meyer lemon marmalade cake (just happens to be vegan)
(with strawberry/balsamic sauce)
for the cake
3 2/3 cups organic unbleached flour
2 cups sugar (organic will really make a difference)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp alum free baking powder
2 cups cold water
1/2 cup plus 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp pure vanilla extract (i use tahitian vanilla)
meyer lemon marmalade syrup
2 cups organic sugar zest from 1 meyer lemon, plus 3/4 cup fresh meyer lemon juice 2 cups water
2 tbsp meyer lemon marmalade
combine sugar, zest, and 2 cups water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until sugar has completely dissolved. bring to a boil. turn off heat and allow syrup to come to room temperature (keep in saucepan). when completely cool, pour though strainer into small bowl(throw away strainer contents) . stir in meyer lemon juice and marmalade.
2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries
1 1/2 tbsp organic brown sugar
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
handful of fresh mint for garnish, rough chop
(i use this sauce all summer on cakes, pancakes, waffles, ice cream, fresh fruit. .etc. feel free to substitute other berries..whatever you like)
wash, stem and puree 2 cups of the strawberries in a blender or food processor. add the brown sugar, orange zest, pepper and balsamic vinegar and puree until almost smooth. pour into serving bowl. slice the remaining 1/2 cup berries and add to bowl. taste and add a bit more sugar if needed...total amount will depend on how sweet your berries are..
step 1...make cake
preheat oven to 350 degrees. oil and flour a bundt pan and set aside. combine the water, e.v.o.o., vinegar and vanilla in a large bowl. in a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients...do not skip the sifting, you want all the small lumps removed... add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. (do not over-mix). bake in preheated oven approx. 45 min-1 hour. start checking at 45 minutes...when a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean...the cake is finished. remove from oven and place on rack. let cool for 10 minutes.
turnout cake from bundt pan onto serving plate. using a toothpick, poke a number of holes in cake top. using a large spoon, drizzle meyer lemon marmalade syrup onto cake top, about 1 to 1 1/2 cups in total. cake should look really moist...not soggy. allow to cool completely. garnish cake with large pieces of lemon peel from the marmalade (i just use a fork to strain out from the syrup mixture)
to serve, slice cake and plate...either spoon strawberry/balsamic sauce around cake...or serve plain and pass sauce separately. top serving with sprinkle of mint...as my friend richard says.."the mint is key...it wakes up the entire mouth"
today, the lemon trees are covered with blossoms...and the entire yard is perfumed with the beautiful scent...so i am going to spend some time outdoors relaxing and enjoying the flowers...because...in mere moments (just a slight exaggeration)...those flowers will become meyer lemons...and the cooking, baking, juicing will begin... again....
do you have favorite lemon recipes?...please send them my way...either as a direct email or posted in the comments section of this story...