8/3/09

When life gives you lemons...



I

t all started innocently enough. I picked up a needle.
You're probably seeing the recklessness of my actions, but, at the time, I didn’t see the harm in it. An occasional fix was all I needed to get by —or so I thought.

This little escapade spun out of control, progressively taking over my life, as I struggled to find a more intense rush with every line.
For a while, this ineffectual road to nowhere, consumed my very soul. Disrupting work, relationships and even my health. Yes, this addiction had (seemingly) provided boundless energy, causing sleeplessness and weight loss.

The needle consequently led to experiments with Jute Twine —and even Sisal!— just a couple of spools, mind you. I went from crocheting one bag a week to one bag a day!

Give me a moment (choke!)

I've completed 6 bags so far. The one pictured was my first one. Ain't it precious?
However, being $8.37 in the hole, I've contemplated pawning away my Chia Herb Garden kit (a Christmas gift), to support this ungodly habit. I've hit rock bottom. Do I need intervention?


Update.

I'm happy to report that I've found new coping skills to resist temptation.
Praise be unto thee, Elvis.

I have dropped the devil's crocheting pitchfork, and traded one addiction for another. Baking. I quickstepped into the kitchen to play with some white stuff. Fortunately, flour washes off quite easily.

So, let me to put a lid on my A & E special, and focus instead on some favorite recipes, using lemons. Lisbon, Eureka, Meyer, whatever makes you pucker.
And hope this will help those who are still battling Martha-ism.
Unless, of course, you're one of those people who feel you can quit (tee hee) any time (snort!) you want to. ROFL!

First up is the Lemon Poppy Seed Cake. Using regular lemons in this recipe added a slight bitter edge to the cake, which I liked. But, less acidic Meyer lemons will result in a sweeter cake. Delicious, either way.




Whole Lemon-Poppy Seed Cake

For the cake:
1½ unpeeled lemons, washed well
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 large eggs
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1½ cups AP flour
2¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

For the glaze:
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice


Position rack in the center of your oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 1½ quart loaf pan*.

Quarter the lemons, and in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the lemon pieces with ½ cup of sugar, until pureed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure no large pieces remain.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and remaining sugar until smooth. Add the lemon pulp. Whisk in the melted butter to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds to combine. Gently fold into the lemon mixture until combined. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Cake is done when a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack and cool 15 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to glaze.

For the glaze: In a small saucepan, combine the lemon juice with the sugar and bring to a high simmer. Simmer 2 to 2 minutes, or until reduced by half. Brush the glaze all over the cake while it is still warm. Adapted from: The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.

*I baked these individual cakes using (greased and floured) water cooler paper cones I found at a local, restaurant supplier. I placed them in a jumbo cupcake pan for support, while they baked. Coffee mugs also work.



I


f you have ever preyed upon an entire cheesecake —and who hasn't— then lock up that guilt into the steamer trunk of your psyche and throw away the key, because this dessert will deliver a one-two punch of cheesecake-flavored awesomeness, without so much as a whimper of guilt.
You will forgive me for using the word: "awesomeness," won't you? My 10 year old has been quite the influence.

Lemon Buttermilk Ice Milk

1 ¾ cups sugar
Zest from 2-3 lemons
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 quart buttermilk
1/8 teaspoon salt

Put the sugar and zest in a medium size bowl. Add the juice to the sugar and mix well.
Add the buttermilk and salt. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved (I prefer to store this mixture in the fridge overnight, and stir again, just before freezing). Freeze in an ice cream maker, and chill 4 hours or overnight, before serving. Serves 8. Adapted from Desserts 1 - 2 - 3 by Rozanne Gold





Here's another favorite for my lemon people. These are as light as soufflés, with a delectable layer of lemon pudding.

Steamed Lemon Pudding

Softened butter for ramekins
¾ cup granulated sugar plus additional for ramekins
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup lemon juice
3 eggs, separated
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
Zest of 2 lemons, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Grease eight 4-oz ramekins with butter and coat with granulated sugar. Combine in a mixing bowl the buttermilk, lemon juice, and the egg yolks. Mix the flour, remaining sugar, salt, and lemon zest in another bowl. Whip the egg whites in a third bowl until soft peaks form.
Whisk the dry ingredients with the buttermilk mixture, and fold in the egg whites gently, a third at a time. Ladle the batter into prepared ramekins, filling almost to the top. Place the puddings in a roasting pan, and pour warm water around them until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover with lightly greased foil, and bake for 18 minutes or until puddings begin to rise slightly. Remove the foil, rotate the pan front-to-back, and bake another 20 to 25 minutes, until pudding is golden and springs back when touched. I served this with Blackberry Sorbet. Recipe: Karen Demasco of Craft.
And in case you were wondering, that's not a bat propped on the steamed pudding, but a butterfly I cut out from homemade blackberry leather, using a cookie cutter.



Have any lemons left? How about making Deviled Eggs, for dessert?

You could try a Sour Cream Pound Cake or the Whole Lemon Poppy Seed Cake recipe, above. Bake them in a greased and floured egg-shaped pan. Ice them with simple confectioner's glaze (substituting a little lemon juice for the water), and topping them with Pierre Hermé's delightful Lemon Cream, piped from a 4B pastry tip, or any large star tip.
Serve with a side of (cherry) ants. You'll need 3 cherries for each ant. Just run a toothpick through the cherries for the body. Then, save all the curved cherry stems you can find for the legs, and insert into the body, as shown. You'll also need stems for the "feelers." That's it. Kids, like me, love this stuff.



Lemon Cream

1 cup sugar
zest of 3 lemons, removed with a zester and finely chopped
4 large eggs
¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (10 ½ oz) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, softened

Getting Ready: Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the lemon juice.

Set the bowl over the pan, and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180°F. As you whisk—you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling—you'll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180°F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point—the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don't stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience—depending on how much heat you're giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.

As soon as it reaches 180°F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140°F, about 10 minutes.
Turn the blender to high (or turn on the processor) and, with the machine running, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed. Once all the butter added, keep the machine going, for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving it a little rest between beats.

Pour the lemon cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. (The cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days and, or tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to 2 months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.)



Oops. J'ai oublié. Mesdames et Messieurs, would you care for caviar, oui? But something happens to me whenever I think of Pierre Hermé. I'm gonna marry that man someday. Restraining order be dammed! Forgive my French!

The "caviar" was piped from tinted Piping Gel, and allowed to dry up (uncovered), for several days. The caviar may take longer to set up, if it's hot and humid where you live.



...so, in conclusion, when life gives you lemons, rejoice! Or, send them to me.


I'd like to take one quick second to thank Monique, Joey, Carol, and Canarybird, for allowing me a little time away. And to all of you guys (you know who you are) who kept an eye on me, with the patience of angels. Thank you all!

43 comments:

La Table De Nana said...

And here I am already!! You see..I follow you and am alerted when you spring up..in beauty as always!!!!!!!!!

Quel joli petit sac/panier..I have had addictions like that and I love them:) I do..I love getting lost in something new..

And you? Who has something to come back to when the fingers have booboos.. like sublime baking?

Je suis si contente de te revoir..ainsi que toutes tes belles créations et photos:)

Miam miam..
And the added touches of yours..are uniquely Ensoleillées~

Mari at Once Upon a Plate said...

Oh my GOSH!! I love everything you've been up to (as always.) :)

Cute, beautiful, delicious-looking, so creative ~ your talents obviously know no end. Bless your heart for sharing your creativity with us.

Gorgeous photography~ absolutely lovely! xo~m

Dishesdone said...

Glad you're back, Sol, you've been greatly missed! and to quote young Mr T, you have creative AWESOMENESS! A prefect word for you and your talent!

I tried crochet once. Does your son have a word for extremely lousy? LOL!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I'm glad you are back to baking! I've been missing your posts...

I'm addicted to lemons too! Everything you made looks luscious! What great creations!

Cheers and have a great week,

Rosa

Marysol said...

Messy bird coop my dear Monique! I'm glad to be back.
I'll confess I only nailed about half of your comment, but what I got sure sounded positively-wonderful to me.

Mari, I understood everything you said. And I think I must be dreaming! Pinch me. XO


Carol, one of Mr. T's most often used quotes is "Get your own!" Which he quips whenever he's busted for hogging any and all the ice cream in the house. His favorite treat.
I'll tell you his top quote soon. That kid is nothing but trouble x 3.
And, btw, I also suck at crochet. Which would explain the basic chain stitch used throughout the entire bag. It's all I know how to do.
I ought to post my "creation" in some active, needlecrafts forum. It should keep the pros amused, at least until my next project.


Dear Rosa, it was a childhood friend Gladis A.K.A. The Lemon Pusher, and her sister Teresa A.K.A. Lemon-Aide, who got me hooked on lemons.

While the three of us walked home on a sweltering summer day, it was Gladis who dared me to suck on a lemon sprinkled with salt.
Well, what kid in their right mind would pass that up?
A gag and a shriveled-up face later, I discovered (much to my surprise) I actually liked it. Weird story, but true.


Thanks guys very much! I've taken some time off to relax and check out what you've all been up to - can't wait to indulge.

Marysol

Justine said...

All these lovely lemon recipes are inspiring me to go buy a large bag of lemons!

Barbara Jacksier said...

Having just returned from the Amalfi Coast where lemons reign supreme I'm with you. I'll be trying all of your recipes right away.

Here in Virginia it's near impossible to find any other kind of lemons than your basic supermarket ones. I already miss the giant sfusato ones that can be eaten sliced as a salad.

As for my other addiction, I attended a Prince William Purlers knitting club meeting Monday night. Sharon Babbin from Furnace Mountain Alpacas brought her yarns and I went home with a bag filled with 9 skeins of gorgeous yarns in natural fleece colors. I spent far more than I should have, so perhaps, I should have stayed home and baked.

Marysol said...

Justine, if you try any of these recipes at all, I hope you'll try the Lemon Buttermilk Ice Milk first; it's my absolute favorite!
Ok, Pierre's Lemon Cream is pretty sinful too. Oh, who am I kidding, try'em all!


Barbara, I have only heard, but have never actually seen a sfusato locally. I cannot believe their colossal size, and would love to stumble upon this fruit, someday.
If I ever do, I'm going to plant some and hope they make it in my neck of the woods. I believe in miracles.

In regards to your Purlers knitting club, I'm a little jealous, because I was taught the very basics of knitting when I was about 8.
And I've used the same basic stitches since. It'd be great to break out of basic mode, and create something other than bags and scarves, but the instructions I've found online, and in books, have always been Greek to me.

Thank you all for dropping by!

noobcook said...

welcome back, gosh I missed your posts! and oh my, you came back with so many lemon goodness - and all so beautifully captured. Loved your food styling and excellent photography.

I've been trying to self learn crocheting for a long while now. Can't even crochet a flower :( Your bag is so gorgeous, and it inspires me - hope I am able to pick up the skills to make a bag too! ;)

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

Wow, you are a ball of creativity in every way.

Karine said...

All these recipes look amazing! Thanks for sharing!

Dhanggit said...

Oh my goodness those are fantastic way to make use of lemon! I love all your recipes! Thanks for sharing!

Katerina said...

I love your photos especially the cone shaped lemon cake, so creative! Great blog, keep it up.

Marysol said...

NC, you're being modest. If a single, basic stitch can be conquered by someone as anti arts-and-crafts as me, anybody can conquer this and more.
I thought the rustic-looking bags were kinda cute. Some I've kept, some I've given away. None have been returned...yet.

Jessica, I greatly appreciate your adjectives. It's very flattering to hear. Sadly enough, I've often been accused of being ballsy—lies, all lies!— I'm actually rather quiet and subdued...;-)


You're very welcome Karine! And thank you for stopping by!

Dhanggit and Katerina, et al, I hope you'll give one of these recipes a try.

I appreciate all of your comments, and I have to say, it feels good to be amid other citrus lovers. I wonder if there's a club for people like us.
Thank you guys!

Kathleen said...

Welcome back! I have missed you and your creativity! And these treats look wonderful!
Jute makes me itch, jute don't want to make me itch, do you?
Lemon makes me tingle..tingle is better than itch!
Thanks for your visit, and now that I think I have cured the dating service from giving my blog cooties, I've added you back, so I know when you've been in the kitchen!

Marysol said...

Kathleen, you're a dear, but jute complain too much. Although I might also take a tingle over an itch.
But what do I know, I flunked Home Ec.

Have a great weekend!

Canarybird said...

Beautiful photos and creations Sol!

I have to close my eyes a little as I'm doing no sugar no starches (and have just lost 14 lbs) for quite a while yet but will copy and paste.

Nice to see you back!

Sharon.

Y said...

Hooray for lemons! What beautiful creations! Honestly, I wish the same would happen for me whenever I pick up a needle :P

Thibeault's Table said...

Sol, I'm so glad you are back posting. I've missed you.

joey said...

Oh dear Marysol, you have touched my heart in so many ways ... lemons being one since I can't live without them :) You ooze with talent and humor, a rare gift. A perfect post and title. I will tuck these treasured recipes away, thinking of you each time I prepare them (though mine will never be as beautifully presented as yours ...) Hugs surround you and may humor never let either of us down!

Jackie at Phamfatale.com said...

I learned something new today. I didn't know that the paper cones were oven-proof. I'll keep this in mind. btw I love the lemon poppy seed cake. The color contrast and shape make the dessert look fantastic!

Talita said...

Gorgeous pics!! So lovely the way you embelish everything!

Marysol said...

Congratulations Sharon! Losing 14 pounds by avoiding favorite foods, takes a lot of self-control and determination. I have the opposite problem. All I have to do is think of sweets, and I gain 14 lbs.


Y! Step.away.from.the.needle.;-)


Dear Ann, I'm so very happy to see you here - thank you!


Joey, once again, your kind words have rendered me powerless to articulate my thoughts and gratitude. If you had said that to me in person, I would've stammered a good 20 minutes through a simple Thank You.
But, you must know you've also touched my life in more ways than I can count —and while I can't crochet worth a darn, I can count pretty damn high— Hugs to you my sweet friend.


Jackie, I have baked with the paper cones in a moderate 350°F oven, and as high as 375°F. The vessels come out of the oven as white as when they go in. They just really need to be greased and floured well, particularly the pointy tips.


Talita, I was a tiny (and very finicky) kid when I began playing with my food, and it is something I have never outgrown [G]


Thank you guys for hanging out with me. And as always, your comments are very much appreciated!

Marysol

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

Mmmm that lemon buttermilk ice milk looks soo refreshing!

Just the Right Size said...

So much Sol, and all at once! I don't know if I can handle the strain! LOL!

I was wondering what deep, dark recesses you wandered into. Beautiful work girl!

So many lemons, so little time!

Marysol said...

Marc, it is.

But Kathy, that is precisely why I went on vacation, to run away from the "dark recesses," and it helped. So, the chatterbox is back on.

Thank you both, Marc and Kathy!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Thanks for the kind comment XD!

Cheers,

Rosa

Leslie said...

Prey upon cheesecake??? Far too often!!!
Beautiful creations

Kathleen said...

I came back for another look at your treats, and just noticed your cherry ants! I missed that the first time..so clever!
I know you have white dishes, so I am glad you are going to try to join the White Party..:)

Maureen said...

Oh god Sol, it all looks sooo sooo good and I may just dig the ice cream bowl out of the freezer for that ice milk. I used to make a cantalope ice that was very similar. I think the recipe must be somewhere around this house...

Thank you for the comments on the sad events in our life. It's how it is, but it's getting easier. HUGS to you sweet one!

farida said...

Amiga, welcome back! So nice to see you blogging again.Loved your lemony creations. Everything you make looks so elegant and neat. And this is not a compliment:)

I get addicted to baking from time to time too:) So I totally understand. Crocheting must be fun but it seems to me it requires some patience and delicate hands, two things I think I sort of lack, especillly the hands part:)))

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Here I thought you had retired from blogging to find that you had befriended a crotchet hook! As long as it hold lemons it holds my attention! Actually, I used to love to crotchet little stuffed animals for my kids.

Not only did you reappear with a Big Bang but I am enthralled with every little delightful conal shape and delicacy that you've created.

Delightfully done!

Marysol said...

Maureen, you're nothing short of wonderful. Hugs to you.
Oh, and if you love me (well, you do, dontcha?), you'll share your recipe for cantaloupe ice.

Susan, you're right. My blogging mojo definitely needed a major kick in the pants, but it was a promise I made to a friend that will keep this blog going (even if in slow-mo); retirement is not an option.

Group Hug!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Have a great end of week! Here it is to hot to cook or bake ;-P!

Cheers,

Rosa

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

Hey Marysol,

Should I come over and give you that kick in the pants? I am waiting to see what new crazy gorgeous concoction you have up your sleeves!

Marysol said...

Dear Rosa, it's been way too hot to cook here as well, but I've been in the kitchen the last few days because I'm certifiable.

Jessica, sure, if it'll help [G].
But I think what I really need is to be roundhouse kicked by Chuck Norris.

I hope you all have a darn good weekend! And I'll be back in a few. No, I didn't mean a few years. Wiseguys.

Nicisme said...

You have been busy, and what gorgeous desserts you've made. The bag is cute too, thanks for posting your photos for us!

Sophie said...

Oh, I love all these lemony treats, so pretty! :) Picking up the needle is perfectly okay, creativity of all kinds is a beautiful thing! I've been so busy lately, moving, painting, sewing etc :P. Thank you for asking though, I hope you're having an awesome summer :).

Marysol said...

Hi Nic! I'll be just as busy when Thumper goes back to school, in a few weeks. But, I'll have quite a bit more time to hang out here.

Sophie, I hope the move is going well, and you fall head over heels in love with your new home!
I've been busy painting and staining furniture, and a few other tasks around the house. Sometimes it seems like a never-ending job, but I enjoy it. Just don't let word of this get out.

Thanks to both of you for stopping by!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

You are so lucky to grow your own tomatoes! Unlike many people, I only buy them when they are in season, otherwise they are bland and a total heresy...

Cheers,

Rosa

Anonymous said...

Kara and Ricky both love lemons, I cut them up in slices and they suck on them.
Love, your niece, Kathy

Marysol said...

Kara and Ricky obviously took after me [G] Love ya Kathy!

chriesi said...

WOW!!!