I almost missed Meyer lemon season again. Fortunately, while cleaning out the refrigerator last week I came across last year’s empty jar of preserved lemons. I left it in there because it had quite a bit of lemon flavored brine in it that I thought might work to add to the new batch of lemons.
After getting a few pounds of lemons and washing them, I left them in a bowl on the kitchen counter for a couple of days. They are so fragrant they filled the whole kitchen with a lemony floral aroma. It was almost a shame to have to cut them up and stuff them in jars.
There isn’t much of a recipe here. Add some spices to the jars. This year I added a couple of allspice berries, a pinch of sugar, a few peppercorns, a couple pinches of hot red pepper flakes, and a bay leaf. I used some cloves last year, but felt their strong flavor kind of limited the range of dishes I could use the lemons in. I left them out this year.
Slice the lemons in quarters lengthwise, but don’t cut all the way through the end. Leave them slightly attached so you can coat the inside with salt. Just add a big pinch of kosher salt in between the slices, gently squeeze the lemon back together, rub some salt around the outside and then place in to the jar.
Once the jar was full of lemons I sprinkled a bit more salt on top, then poured half of the remainder of last year’s brine into each jar. They weren’t quite full, so a squeeze of juice from a couple of the left over lemons brought the juice up to the top of the jar.
Put the lid on and then place in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 weeks and then they should be ready to use.
My batch last year lasted for almost a year. To use, just take a piece out of the jar, pull the peel away from the flesh and finely slice or dice the peel. These are great to use in any dish that could use a little extra punch of citrus or salt. I use them all the time in lentils, curry dishes, braised kale, lamb dishes, etc. It’s a great staple to have in the pantry to give an extra zing to otherwise ordinary dishes.
I had this idea for s’mores waffle cones last summer, but never got around to figuring out how to put it all together. The idea was to have a light, toasted marshmallow flavored ice cream, inside a graham cracker flavored waffle cone, then somehow get a chocolate flavor in the middle somewhere.
So that was the basic idea that I started working on last week. I tackled the ice cream first and went through several batches until I found a combination I was happy with. I wanted to keep the texture light, so ideally it wouldn’t have any eggs in it.
For inspiration here I started with the base ice cream mix found in Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. She omits eggs, instead boiling the milk, cream and sugar mixture, smoothing the texture with a bit of cream cheese and corn syrup, then adding corn starch to reduce ice crystal formation. I’ve made quite a few batches of ice cream using her recipes and have been really pleased with them. Unfortunately there was no toasted marshmallow ice cream recipe in the book so I had to figure that out. Continue reading
I’ve been working with my sourdough starter for the last few months and trying to bake at least one loaf a week. Usually I tweak at least one thing every time I make a loaf. Sometimes more than one thing, so the results haven’t been very consistent. But I thought it would be good to come up with a solid baseline loaf and document that so I have something to use as a comparison for future experiments.
I like the flavor from adding some whole wheat to the dough, but it can make the dough a lot heavier. I’ve found that adding more 20% whole wheat flour (as a percentage of total flour) makes it denser than I care for, making it difficult for the nooks and crannies to develop that are found in any decent sourdough loaf. Adding a bit of gluten seems to help.
The main difficulties I’ve had in producing a consistent loaf are a decent rise in the oven, getting those nooks and crannies to form, and getting a deep brown and crispy crust to form. So I’ve been implementing some techniques that seem to be helping in these areas. Continue reading
A few months ago I started an experiment in bread baking. I had been using the basic bread ratio in Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio cookbook. It gave consistent results, but it was never quite what I wanted from bread. The texture was a bit too dense, it was low on flavor and it didn’t have any of those nooks and crannies that an artisan loaf should have. No matter how I tweaked the rising times, baking times and oven temperatures I couldn’t get what I was looking for.
So I decided to strike out on my own and see what I could come up with using no recipes and a homemade sourdough starter. The first hurdle was getting the starter. I read quite a few articles saying that it was just mixing flour and water, feeding it every day, and in 3-5 days the starter should be ready to make bread. The first attempt resulted in a pile of paste after 5 days. A few weeks later I tried again, feeding every day and monitoring the temperature where it was sitting. After 3 or 4 days I saw a few bubbles and thought it was on the right track, but after a week it settled down and I assumed whatever had been living there briefly had died. So I went back to the Ruhlman ratio. Continue reading
I’m not an Italian grandmother. I haven’t spent years making the same pasta shapes over and over, developing a feel for the pasta and how to work with it. Which is why I generally avoid making ravioli, let alone any other more complicated stuffed pasta shape. It usually goes fine up until it’s time to put the first scoop of filling onto the pasta, which is when I get lost. How much filling? How far apart should the filling be spaced? How should they be folded? Why are they falling apart?