Meyer Lemon Martini

Every year I say that I am going to make something with Meyer lemons but always seem to miss them. I am happy to report that I was able to get them this year and put them to good use. 🙂

This recipe for this bright and fresh cocktail was adapted from Food Network.com, contributed by Scott Leibfreid. I’m a lightweight, so I drank mine over ice. It was simple, perfect, and minimally sweet.

Yield: 1 cocktail

  • 2 ounces vodka (I used lemon vodka)
  • 1 ounce Meyer lemon juice
  • granulated sugar on a small plate to coat the rim of the glass
  • 1-2 Meyer lemon slices, for garnish
  1. In a martini shaker, combine all ingredients except the lemon slices and sugar with a generous amount of ice.
  2. Shake vigorously for a few seconds.
  3. Rub the rim of the glass with a lemon slice and coat with sugar.
  4. Strain the libation from the ice into a martini glass.
  5. Serve over ice and garnish with a lemon slice, as desired.

Cookies & Cream Meringues

These meringues elevate classic Oreo cookies- transforming them into chewy and light deliciousness. With minimal ingredients, the recipe is beyond simple too.

This recipe was adapted from a Food 52 “Community Pick” recipe. I used a cookie scoop to ration the dough.

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies

  • large egg whites
  • pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 18 Oreos, finely crushed in a food processor
  1. Crush the Oreos in a food processor into fine crumbs. Reserve 1/4 cup of the crumbs for the topping.
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, whisk the egg whites and salt until light and foamy.
  3. Gradually add the sugar, spoonful by spoonful, until you’ve got firm peaks—bright, white, and shiny.
  4. Gently fold in the Oreo crumbs, (keeping 1/4 cup reserved) just barely- so you have ribbons of “cookie” amidst the “cream”.
  5. Scoop (with an ice cream scoop) balls of the meringue mixture onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, then sprinkle the leftover Oreo crumbs on top unevenly, messily.
  6. Bake at 275°F for 45 minutes to 1 hour until dried out but not totally crisp. These meringues should be like chewy cookies ‘n’ cream clouds when you bite into them.

Vanilla Poached Pears

This is an elegant and light dessert for a special occasion. Years ago, we were served this dish at a neighbor’s dinner party and my husband and I made it quite often for a few years. We loved it. I made this updated version to serve my family on Thanksgiving Eve this year. I thought that it was a perfect dessert for the evening before a day of indulgence. An added bonus was that the pears could be poached ahead of time and stored in the poaching liquid.

This recipe was adapted from Alton Brown via Food Network.com. I poached the pears cut in half rather than whole, and, as my neighbors did when they served this dish, added freshly whipped cream and crushed amaretti cookies as toppings. Lovely.

Yield: 8 servings
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle white wine, Riesling or Viognier (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 ounces vanilla sugar, approximately 3/4 cup
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 4 firm Bartlett, Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored (preferably using a melon baller)
  • freshly whipped heavy cream, for serving
  • crushed amaretti cookies, for serving
  1. Place the white wine, water, sugar and vanilla bean and pulp into a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Peel, halve, and core the pears.
  3. Decrease the heat to medium low and place the pears into the liquid, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the pears are tender but not falling apart. Maintain a gentle simmer. Remove the pears to a serving dish and place in the refrigerator.
  4. Remove the vanilla bean from the saucepan, increase the heat to high and reduce the syrup to approximately 1 cup of liquid, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Do not allow the syrup to turn brown.
  5. Place the syrup in a heatproof container and place in the refrigerator until cool, approximately 1 hour.
  6. Remove the pears from the refrigerator, spoon the sauce over the pears. At this point, the pears can be stored overnight.
  7. Place a pear half in a bowl and drizzle with sauce, top with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, and sprinkle with crushed amaretti cookies. Serve.

Zebra-Striped Shortbread Cookies

I made these “Art Deco” vanilla & chocolate shortbread cookies as part of my Christmas cookie assortment, but the colorful sanding sugar edge could easily be modified to suit any occasion. Pink and red would be amazing for Valentine’s Day! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I doubled the recipe, in two separate batches, making the process even easier because I kept one batch to use for the vanilla stripes and the second batch for the chocolate stripes. I also used egg yolks to coat the cookies instead of a whole egg. Wonderful.

Yield: Makes 40-48 cookies

  • 2⅓ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1½ tsp Kosher salt, divided
  • ⅓ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 1 egg yolk or 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • ¼ cup sanding sugar (any color)
  1. Whisk 1⅓ cups flour and ¾ tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Whisk cocoa powder, remaining 1 cup flour, and remaining ¾ tsp. salt in another medium bowl. These are the bases for your chocolate and vanilla doughs.
  2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. (Do in 2 separate batches if doubling the recipe, making the vanilla dough first.)
  3. Add egg yolk and vanilla to the butter and sugar mixture and beat until smooth.
  4. Divide (for 1 batch) mixture between the 2 bowls of dry ingredients (about 1 cup in each). Scrape vanilla mixture back into stand mixer bowl (save the mixing bowl) and beat on low-speed just until combined. Return to reserved bowl.
  5. Repeat process with chocolate mixture.
  6. Arrange 2 large sheets (per batch) of plastic wrap or parchment paper on a work surface. Dollop one-quarter of chocolate dough in the center of each sheet and pat into rough 6×2″ rectangles. Dollop one-quarter of vanilla dough on top of each chocolate slab and pat into rectangles the same size and shape so that you have 2 layers each. Repeat entire process so you have 4 alternating layers.
  7. Tightly press stacked dough into cylinders about 1½” wide and 8″ long, using the plastic wrap or parchment to help you.
  8. Wrap logs in plastic wrap and chill until very firm, at least 2 hours. I chilled my dough overnight.
  9. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°, preferably on convection.
  10. Working one at a time, unwrap dough and brush with egg. Carefully sprinkle surface with sanding sugar and roll logs in sugar to coat well (really press dough into sugar so it sticks).
  11. Slice into rounds a generous ¼” thick, rotating after every few cuts to keep slices round.
  12. Arrange cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2″ apart.
  13. Bake, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until edges are just set, 12–14 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets.

Note: Dough can be made 3 days ahead; keep chilled. Cookies can be baked 5 days ahead; store airtight at room temperature.

Portuguese Rolls

My husband came home from work with special homemade rolls that one of his co-workers had brought in for a pot luck celebration. We couldn’t believe that any of them were leftover! They had an amazing texture and were absolutely delicious.

Thankfully, she was happy to share the recipe with me. 🙂 I’ve made them several times. Easy and perfect.

Yield: 8 rolls

  • 250g bread or all-purpose flour
  • 200g cold water
  • 10g bread yeast
  • 5g coarse salt
  • 10g granulated sugar
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. (I use a stand mixer and knead the dough on medium speed for 1-2 minutes.)
  2. Lightly oil the top surface of the dough and turn to completely coat the outside of the dough.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a proofing oven or warm spot for 1 hour.
  4. Remove dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 equal pieces.
  5. Roll into rounds or oval shapes.
  6. Place on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Let rest for 15-20 minutes in a proofing oven or a warm spot.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees, preferably on convection, for 15-20 minutes.

BLT Tacos

Why have I never thought of making a BLT taco before? Genius.

This quick and delicious weeknight dinner recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I cooked the bacon at a lower temperature, increasing the cooking time. I think that this method isn’t as messy. 🙂 I added avocado slices, used corn-flour hybrid tortillas, a Serrano instead of jalapeño chile, increased the lime juice, and used chipotle Tabasco in the mayonnaise. I also warmed the tortillas with steam in the microwave.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon, about 10 slices
  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered (mixed colors are pretty here)
  • 1 small Serrano or jalapeño chile, seeded or not, finely chopped
  • 2-3 T cilantro, chopped
  • 1 T fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Cholula or other hot sauce, or to taste, plus more for serving (I used Chipotle Tabasco)
  • 8 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas (I used corn-flour hybrid tortillas)
  • Romaine lettuce leaves, sliced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 avocado, sliced into eighths
  • refried beans and rice, for serving, optional
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Lay bacon in an even layer in 2 9-13″ glass pyrex dishes or on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until browned and crisp, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plates and let cool. (Keep rendered fat for another use.)
  2. While bacon is cooking, toss together tomatoes, chopped chile, cilantro, lime juice and a large pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Taste and add more lime juice and salt, if needed.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and hot sauce.
  4. Place tortillas in a tortilla warmer or medium bowl. Top with a damp paper towel and seal with a lid or plastic wrap. Microwave for 1 minute to warm.  (Alternatively, the tortillas can be warmed on the stove top: Lay a clean kitchen towel in a medium bowl. Using the open flame from a stovetop gas burner (or in a skillet placed on an electric burner), warm and lightly char tortillas, 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Transfer warmed tortillas to a towel-lined bowl, and cover with towel to keep warm while you finish remaining tortillas.)
  5. Serve, letting people make their own tacos by layering bacon, salsa, lettuce, spicy mayonnaise and avocado, on tortillas. Top with more hot sauce, if desired.

Baked Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

My daughter is obsessed with donuts- specifically donuts with pink icing and sprinkles. Her new bicycle bell is a life-size pink frosted donut with sprinkles! 🙂

I must say that she was quite pleased with this cinnamon sugar variation. When we debated over whether or not they were too heavily coated with cinnamon sugar, both of my kids informed me that such a problem was not even possible. 😉

This recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Using my mini donut pans, this recipe made 12 donuts. I substituted 1/2 cup of buttermilk instead of a combination of yogurt and milk and I reduced the amount of butter in the topping. They made a very special breakfast.

Yield: 8 standard size donuts or 12 mini donuts

For the Donuts:

  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (65g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) buttermilk (or skim, 1%, 2%, or whole milk, almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk), at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60g) yogurt or sour cream (nonfat, low-fat, vanilla, plain, Greek or regular yogurt), at room temperature (I used another 1/4 cup of buttermilk)
  • 2 T (30g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Coating:

  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4-5 T unsalted butter, melted

To Make the Donuts:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C), preferably on convection. Spray a donut pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the egg, brown sugar, milk, and yogurt together until smooth. Add the melted butter and vanilla, whisking until fully combined.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be very thick.
  5. Spoon the batter into the donut cavities—I highly recommend using a large zipped-top bag for ease. Cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and pipe the batter into each donut cup, filling 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full.
  6. Bake for 9–10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool for about two minutes and transfer to a wire rack set on a large piece of parchment paper or on a large baking sheet.
  7. Bake the remaining donut batter and transfer to the wire rack. Allow donuts to cool down until you can handle them.

To Coat with Cinnamon Sugar:

  1. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  2. Brush the melted butter, on the top or on the top and bottom, as desired; dunk into the cinnamon sugar mixture coating all sides.
  3. Donuts are best served immediately.

Notes:

  • Leftovers keep well covered tightly at room temperature for up to 2 days.
  • You can freeze the donuts for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up to your liking in the microwave, usually a few seconds.

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