Garlic Aioli Potato & Egg Salad

Making homemade mayonnaise has been a challenging endeavor for me. It is always described as “quick and easy” but that has not been the case in my kitchen! This time- with a little bit of a struggle- I finally had a successful result. 🙂

The garlic aioli base of this potato salad was very creamy and flavorful. The diced hard boiled eggs added even more richness to the finished dish. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the method and proportions. The original recipe suggests making the salad at least an hour prior to serving to allow the flavors to mellow.

This dish could also be made with store-bought mayonnaise as a shortcut! Skip steps 3 and 4 and add garlic and lemon juice to the mayo.

Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, at room temperature, more as needed (I used Meyer lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T sour cream
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) finely chopped celery
  • 2 T finely chopped red onion
  • 1 pound small waxy white or yellow potatoes, roughly about the same size (I used tiny yellow potatoes)
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • finely chopped chives, cilantro, or parsley, for garnish
  1. Place the 2 whole eggs in a small pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat; immediately remove from heat and cover for 8 minutes. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water to cool. Peel and dice small.
  2. Meanwhile, combine grated garlic, salt and lemon juice in a blender, and pulse a few times to combine. (I used a Vitamix.)
  3. Pulse in the egg yolks. (I incorporated the egg yolks briefly at the highest speed.)
  4. With motor running, set to medium-low speed (3 on a Vitamix), very slowly drizzle (drip!) in olive oil until completely incorporated and mayonnaise is thick. (I covered the opening with a paper towel to prevent any mess.)(I initially began this process with 1 egg yolk and the mixture separated. I was able to bring it back to a creamy state by slowing adding the broken mixture to an additional egg yolk prior to slowly adding the rest of the olive oil in the blender.)
  5. Scrape the mayonnaise into a bowl and fold in sour cream.
  6. Fold in the chopped celery and red onion.
  7. Place whole unpeeled potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then generously salt the water. Cook until potatoes are just tender, 15 to 25 minutes depending upon size. (I cooked the potatoes for 20 minutes.)
  8. Drain and cut the potatoes into 1 1/2-inch chunks as soon as you can handle them.
  9. Transfer hot potatoes to a large bowl and toss with diced boiled eggs and 2/3 of the mayonnaise.
  10. Let cool to room temperature, or refrigerate until ready to use.
  11. Just before serving, toss with some of the remaining dressing to taste (if desired). (I reserved the remaining mayonnaise for another use.)
  12. Season with black pepper and add more salt, if necessary, to taste. Sprinkle with chopped herbs. Serve.

Roasted Salmon with Lemon-Brown Butter Asparagus & Peas

This dish is a fresh and healthy springtime meal. It was also very quick and easy to prepare. I served the salmon and vegetables over rice, making it a complete meal.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Kay Chun. I used Meyer lemons and modified the method and proportions. Nice.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 pound salmon fillet, with or without skin (I used skinless)
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 2 1/4 pounds asparagus, tough stems trimmed, stalks sliced 1/4-inch-thick on a slight bias (leave tips whole)
  • 6 T unsalted butter
  • 2 to 3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste, plus wedges for serving (I used Meyer lemons)
  • 3 T drained capers
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
  • white Basmati rice, for serving, optional
  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.) Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; lightly coat with cooking oil spray.
  2. Arrange the salmon “skin side-down” on the baking sheet. Rub the top surface of the salmon with 1 tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast the salmon in the preheated oven until medium, 10 to 15 minutes. (I roasted mine for 12 minutes on convection roast.)
  4. While the salmon roasts, prepare the asparagus: In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium to medium-high heat. (I used a 14-inch stainless steel skillet.)
  5. Add asparagus, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer asparagus to a plate.
  6. Reduce heat (if set to medium-high) to medium and add butter to skillet. Cook, stirring, until foam subsides and butter is deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. (Be careful not to burn).
  7. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice, capers, peas, parsley and cooked asparagus. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Divide rice, if using, and vegetables among plates. Top with salmon and spoon over any remaining pan sauce.
  9. Garnish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges, as desired.

Meyer Lemon & Orange Twist Bread

Happy Belated Easter! I made this elegant citrus twist bread for breakfast over Easter weekend. My daughter described it as similar to panettone but without the dried fruit. My son agreed but stated that this was much better. 🙂 It was very moist and tender.

This recipe was adapted from Food 52.com, contributed by Samantha Seneviratne. I used Meyer lemon zest and omitted the grapefruit zest. I also modified the method.

Because of the rise times, I prepared the dough through the first rise two days in advance and completed the second rise and baked it one day prior to serving. We ate it reheated- which was essential. The original recipe suggests sprinkling the top with confectioners’ sugar or drizzling it with glaze. I opted for the simple sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar but know it would also be delicious with the glaze. Lovely.

Yield: 8 servings

For the Dough:

  • 1/3 cup warm whole milk (110°F) (I used whole milk)
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes

For the Filling and to Finish the Bread: 

  • freshly grated orange zest from 3 to 4 oranges (about 3 tablespoons)
  • freshly grated zest from 3 Meyer lemons (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • confectioners’ sugar, for dusting, optional

To Make the Dough:

  1. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine the warm milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, or a large bowl, combine the remaining sugar, flour, and salt.
  3. With the mixer on low, add the yeast mixture, the egg, and the egg yolk, and mix until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. (Alternatively, knead this mixture by hand on a clean work surface.) 
  4. Add the butter, a bit at a time, and continue to mix or knead the dough until the butter is fully incorporated and the dough is smooth, another 5 minutes. The dough will be sticky. If you’re doing this by hand, you can use a bench scraper to help scoop the dough up as you knead it. It may look like it’s never going to incorporate, but keep kneading and it will.
  5. Once the dough is fully incorporated, gather it into a neat ball and place in a lightly greased bowl.
  6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set aside to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 to 2 hours. (I used a proofing oven.) After the dough has doubled, you can punch it down, wrap it well and refrigerate for up to 2 to 3 days. (I refrigerated it overnight.)

To Make the Filling and to Finish the Bread:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the citrus zest, sugar, and salt together using your fingers to release some of the citrus oils. Add the butter and mix until well combined. (I reserved the soft room-temperature butter and spread it over the rolled out dough instead.)
  2. Tip the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead it once or twice to expel the air. Roll it out into an 8-inch by 17-inch rectangle.
  3. Spread the filling evenly over the surface of the bread.
  4. Starting from one of the long ends, roll the dough up into a tight coil. Pinch the ends to seal the roll.
  5. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough in half lengthwise.
  6. Transfer the two pieces of dough to a piece of parchment paper, cut sides up. Pinch the two pieces together at one end and then carefully twist the two pieces of dough together. Take care not to stretch the dough and to keep the cut sides up.
  7. Coil the twist around to make a wreath and connect the ends, making sure to continue the twisting pattern.
  8. Transfer the wreath, on the parchment, to a rimmed baking sheet. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise. (I used a proofing oven.) It could take up to 2 hours for the wreath to puff so it’s better to keep an eye on the dough rather than the clock. You’ll know it’s ready when it looks puffed and and it rises back slowly when you gently press it with your finger.
  9. Towards the end of the rise time, preheat the oven to 375°F, preferably on convection.
  10. Carefully brush the wreath with the egg wash.
  11. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 18 minutes, on convection, or up to 30 minutes in a standard oven. A thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the bread should register between 190°F and 200°F.
  12. Transfer the wreath to a rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature with a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

Notes:

The twist bread can also be drizzled with a simple glaze of room temperature cream cheese mixed with some warm milk and confectioners’ sugar.

The bread can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

Pasta With Brown Butter, Whole Lemon, & Parmesan

This is another wonderful weeknight pasta that uses simple ingredients. I was excited to make it while Meyer lemons are still readily available. The lemon added brightness which had a nice contrast to the richness of the browned butter and cheese.

This recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Andy Baraghani. I used a mandoline to slice the lemon into 1/8-inch thick (thin) rounds. I loved that the original recipe called for “an almost ridiculous amount of pepper.” I’m a huge fan. 🙂

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 lb. short tube pasta, such as paccheri or rigatoni (I used mezzi rigatoni)
  • coarse salt
  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, divided
  • 1 small regular lemon or Meyer lemon, very thinly sliced into rounds, seeds removed (I used a mandoline)
  • 1 oz Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling generously salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions (pasta will finish cooking in the sauce).
  2. Meanwhile, heat half of the butter in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium until melted.
  3. Add lemon slices and cook, stirring often, until softened and bottom of pot is browned in spots, 5–7 minutes.
  4. Using tongs, transfer one-third of lemon slices to a plate; set aside.
  5. Just before pasta is al dente, scoop out 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
  6. Add 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid to butter sauce. (This may seem like a lot of liquid, but it will thicken once the remaining ingredients are added.)
  7. Add remaining butter a piece at a time, whisking until each piece is incorporated before adding more, until the sauce is emulsified and creamy.
  8. Drain pasta and add to sauce.
  9. Cook, stirring often and adding the grated Parmesan a little at a time.
  10. Once all of the cheese is added, continue to cook, still stirring, until cheese is melted and sauce is creamy and clings to pasta, about 3 minutes. If sauce looks very thick, add more pasta cooking liquid 1–2 Tbsp. at a time to thin (saucier is ideal as it will thicken as it cools).
  11. Remove from heat and sprinkle with an almost ridiculous amount of pepper (about 2 tsp.); toss once more.
  12. Serve pasta topped with reserved lemon rounds and more Parmesan.

Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars

These soft sugar cookie bars were one of the most popular recipes this week on The New York Times’ website. They described them as “worth the hype” and, with their cheerful frosting and sprinkles, as “happiness in a 9-by-13 pan.” 🙂

Thanks to cream cheese in the dough, they are soft and tender- similar to Lofthouse cookies, my daughter’s favorite cookie. I made them to celebrate the release of my daughter’s middle school musical. Despite the limitations caused by Covid, the school was able to successfully stage their annual musical in a movie format instead of live performances- great. She had a lot of fun participating in the show.

This recipe was adapted from American Girl Cookies, via The New York Times, contributed by Margaux Laskey. I baked the dough in a rimmed sheet pan and used Meyer lemon juice in the frosting. I love bar desserts! They would be a crowd-pleaser served for Valentine’s Day, a birthday, or just as a special treat.

Yield: 20 cookies

For the Cookie Base:

  • 1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 2 3/4 cups/350 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 (8 ounce/225 gram) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups/300 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • lemon zest, optional (or Meyer lemon zest)

For the Frosting:

  • 6 tablespoons/85 grams unsalted butter (3/4 stick), at room temperature
  • 2 cups/245 grams confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream, plus more as needed (I used whole milk)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed (I used Meyer lemon juice)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, plus more as needed
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • a drop or two of gel food coloring, optional
  • assorted sprinkles, for decorating, optional

To Make the Cookie Base:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly butter (or coat with cooking oil spray) a 9-by-13-inch baking pan or rimmed sheet pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, running it up the two long sides of the pan and letting it extend past the rim by about 2 inches.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  4. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until well blended, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the granulated sugar and beat until smooth, about 1 minute.
  6. Add the egg, vanilla, and lemon zest, if using, and beat on low speed until well combined, about 1 minute.
  7. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing on low speed just until blended, about 1 minute.
  8. Using a spatula, scrape the dough into the prepared baking pan. Using damp fingers or a greased offset spatula, spread the dough into an even layer.
  9. Bake just until the edges are starting to turn light golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the middle has moist crumbs, 20 to 25 minutes. (Do not overbake! The bars should be quite moist, and almost slightly underbaked in the middle.)
  10. Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a wire rack. Let cool completely. When fully cooled, remove the bars from the pan using the overhanging parchment paper.

To Make the Frosting:

  1. Place the 6 tablespoons of softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute.
  2. Add 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, beating on low speed until fully combined, then repeat with remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar.
  3. Add the 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, the vanilla, salt and food coloring, if using, and beat on medium speed until the frosting is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides halfway through, about 4 minutes. Add more milk if needed to thin out the mixture. Add lemon juice and vanilla to taste.
  4. Using a spatula, spread the frosting on top, then decorate with sprinkles, if using. Cut into 20 bars and serve.

Note: I stored the leftover cookies in the refrigerator and we actually preferred them chilled.

Meyer Lemon Pielets with Brown Butter Press-In Cookie Crust

I have my own Meyer lemon tree but I did have to purchase the lemons for this special treat- this year anyway. My tree is very sparse at the moment- and not that happy. 😦 Hopefully it will have many lemons sometime in the future! Anyway, I love individual desserts. These were silky, creamy and delicious.

This recipe was adapted from The Book on Pie: Everything You Need to Know to Bake Perfect Pies by Erin Jeanne McDowell. Such a beautiful and informational book. The lemon zest and juice can be replaced with Key lime zest and juice for a lime version. Alternate press-in cookie crust variations are included below as well. Very nice.

Yield: 12 mini pies

For the Brown Butter Press-In Cookie Crust:

  • 113g / 4 oz / 8 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 50 g / 1/4 cup / 4 T granulated sugar
  • 21 g / 1 large egg yolk
  • 5 g / 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 210 g / 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 g / 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 15 g / 1 T water

For the Pielets:

  • 1 recipe Brown Butter Press-In Cookie Crust (ingredients above)
  • 99g / 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 288g / 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 60g / 1/4 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • 2g / 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1g / 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • lightly sweetened freshly whipped cream, for serving, optional
  • Meyer lemon zest, for garnish, optional

To Make the Crusts:

  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter begins to simmer and foam, the milk solids turn brown, and the butter smells toasty, about 10 minutes.
  3. Cool the butter to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the cooled brown butter and sugar on medium-low speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix on medium speed to combine. Scrape the bowl well.
  6. Add the flour and salt and mix on low-speed until fully incorporated, 45 seconds to 1 minute.
  7. Add the water and mix just until the dough is smooth, about 1 minute more.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C with a rack in the center.
  9. Grease the cavities of a muffin pan with nonstick spray.
  10. Divide the dough into 12 even rations in each cavity. (I used cookie scoops of various sizes.)
  11. Use your fingers to press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of each cavity.
  12. Use a small fork or tip of a paring knife to dock the dough all over.
  13. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes.
  14. Bake the crusts until they are lightly golden at the edges and appear set all over, 14 to 18 minutes. If the dough puffs up during baking, prick it with a fork when you remove the crusts from the oven so it lies flat again.
  15. Cool crusts completely. Then, use an offset spatula to gently unfold the cooled crusts onto a baking sheet. They should release easily. (I found that rotating them helped release them from the pan- the top edges of my crusts did crumble a bit though- still delicious.)

To Make the Filling and Serve:

  1. In a small pot, rub the sugar and the lemon zest together to combine.
  2. Add the cream and heat over medium-low heat, whisking, to dissolve the sugar. Do NOT let the cream come to a boil.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a large container with a pour spout and whisk in the lime juice, vanilla, and salt.
  4. Carefully pour the custard into the cooled crusts, filling each one just over 3/4 full.
  5. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the filling is set, at least 2 hours (or up to 24 hours). Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
  6. Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream and garnish with additional zest, if desired, and serve.

Notes:

  • The pielets can be made up to 24 hours ahead and kept refrigerated in an airtight container.
  • Any leftover filling can be chilled in a ramekin for a baker’s treat. 🙂

Alternate Press-In Crusts:

To Make an Oatmeal Press-In Cookie Crust: Replace the brown butter with room temperature butter. Replace the granulated sugar with 53 g / 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar. Replace 30 g / 1/4 cup of the flour with 74 g / 3/4 cup rolled oats.

To Make a Coconut Press-In Cookie Crust: Replace the brown butter with room temperature butter. Replace the granulated sugar with 53 g / 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar. Add 50 g / 2/3 cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut with the flour.

Vanilla Pear Sour

This festive seasonal cocktail was absolutely fabulous. My husband and I enjoyed it prior to our quiet Thanksgiving feast this year.

This recipe was adapted from Jamie Oliver via francoiselaprune.com. I poached thin slices of pear so that I could use them as a garnish. I may poach even larger slices next time. We preferred it with a little bit less alcohol so I noted a range in the recipe below.

The delicious pear syrup can be made in advance, making this perfect for Thanksgiving or a party. We used the leftover syrup to make more cocktails! 😉 It could also be drizzled over ice cream.

Yield: Makes one drink (plus additional Vanilla Pear Syrup)

For the Vanilla Pear Syrup: (makes enough syrup for approximately 10 drinks)

  • 1 Bartlett pear, cut in half or quartered, cored, & cut into thin slices
  • 200 g (7.1 ounces, 1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 200 ml (7 ounces, scant 1 cup) water
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped

For the Cocktail:

  • 30ml (1 ounce, 2 T) Vanilla Pear Syrup
  • 30ml (1 ounce, 2 T) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 44 to 50ml (1.5 to 1.75 ounces) vodka
  • ice cubes
  • poached pear slices, for garnish
  1. Add the pear slices, sugar, water, vanilla seeds with vanilla bean pod to a small saucepan. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Let the poaching liquid infuse and cool down for another 30 minutes.
  3. Strain through a fine wire mesh strainer, reserving the poached pear slices for garnish. Keep pear syrup in a jar in the refrigerator; it will keep for 5 days.
  4. Combine the lemon juice, vodka and 30ml of the vanilla pear syrup into a cocktail shaker. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass with ice.
  5. Garnish with a thin pear slice (or two).

Note: This cocktail was also wonderful with Meyer lemon juice. (I used the juice of my very first lemon from my Meyer lemon tree!) 🙂

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