Tag Archives: lemons

Creamy Chicken Piccata for Two

Meal planning strategy: I haven’t cooked anything Italian in some time, there was a jar of capers languishing in the fridge and a couple of boneless, skinless, chicken breasts in the freezer, so I looked for a recipe for Chicken Piccata that used ingredients that I already had. The breasts weighed a bit over a pound so I split them horizontally into four, more or less equal sized portions, and made some adjustments to the recipe I found here since I wanted to toss the pasta in the sauce.

Chicken Piccata – serves 2, generously

200 gm fettuccine, linguine or spaghetti

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, ~1 pound/454 gm
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided

For flouring chicken cutlets
1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
pinch ground black pepper
1 1/2-2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

For lemon sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock, or a dry white wine
1/4 cup whipping cream (optional)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp brined capers, drained
1 clove garlic, finely minced or 1/8 tsp garlic powder (optional)

1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley or 1-2 tsp dried parsley, for garnish
3-4 thin slices of lemon, for garnish

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, stop the cooking by transferring the noodle to cold water and then, if needed to wait for the sauce, transfer the noodles to warm water.

To make chicken cutlets, cut each chicken breast horizontally into two equal sized pieces or butterfly and cut in half. If the thickness of the cutlets is uneven, put them between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound them with a meat hammer to 1/4 inch thickness.

In a shallow pan or pie tin, mix together the flour, salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan. Rinse the chicken pieces quickly in water, drain well and dredge them in the flour mixture, until well coated.

Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium/medium-high heat and when heated, add the chicken cutlets. Do not crowd the pan to ensure even cooking. Cook in half batches. Brown well on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and transfer to a plate with a rim to retain any juices that may be released by the breasts. Cook the other breasts in the same manner. Cover to keep warm.

Add the chicken stock or white wine, lemon juice, and capers to the pan. Use a spatula to scrape up any browned bits. Reduce the sauce by half. (NOTE: For additional lemon flavour, add the sliced lemons at this point so the lemon oil from the zest can infuse into the sauce. If your sauce volume seems low or you want a creamy sauce, whisk in the whipping cream and let reduce for a few minutes.)

Whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter (cut into 2-3 pieces), a piece at a time until each piece just melts. This may not be necessary if you’re using the whipping cream as that will thicken the sauce.

Drain the pasta well. Add the pasta to the saute pan so it can warm in the sauce, if it’s cooled down. Divide the pasta between two plates.

Plate the chicken over the pasta and serve with the sauce poured over the top. Sprinkle with parsley before serving and add a slice or two of the lemon for garnish.

I didn’t notice that I hadn’t sprinkled the parsley over the top until after I’d plated the dish. Oh well…

I set aside two of the cutlets for use in other dishes as there was too much chicken for two servings.

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Individual Lemon Pudding Cakes

Another unplanned dessert inspired by a craving for lemon curd and a bag of lemons.

This recipe for individual lemon pudding cakes made in one cup ramekins is one I bookmarked a while ago. It was fast, simple and I could make two portions instead of the four it was meant for.

It’s a novelty (magic) cake recipe in which the batter separates into a cake top and a lemon pudding base. As recommended in the comments, I increased the amount of lemon juice used and reduced the sugar.

I rushed through the assembly of this dessert as I was making a batch of dill Hollandaise at the same time so my folding of the eggs whites into the cake batter wasn’t as thorough as it should have been. The resulting cake top was lumpy and unevenly browned. Which didn’t matter because the cake is supposed to be turned out onto a plate anyway. Still, it would have been nice to have had a prettier result when I took the water bath with the ramekins out of the oven. Note: The cakes shrink as they cool, pulling away from the edge of the ramekin, and making it easy to unmold.

I didn’t have any pretty berries to use to decorate the plate but a sprig of mint leaves helped, a bit.

Spongy spoonful of cake with the lemon pudding.

Strawberry Lemonade

If you have an excess of sweet (or not so sweet) strawberries on hand, make a big jug of strawberry lemonade this summer and enjoy it under a shady umbrella in your favourite outdoor spot.

Strawberry Lemonade – makes 5-6 cups of lemonade

Sugar Syrup
1/2 cup water, boiling
1/4 cup sugar, plus more sugar if needed

In a saucepan on the stove, or in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave, bring water to the boil and stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Let cool slightly.

Strawberry Puree
400-425 gm (~2 1/4 cup) chopped strawberries
1/2 cup cold water
2 tbsp (1/8 cup) sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups cold water

5-6 fresh strawberries, for garnish

In a stand/bar blender, puree the chopped strawberries, water and sugar.

In a large jug, add 1 1/2 cups water, sugar syrup, strawberry puree and lemon juice. Stir well, taste, adding more sugar if needed (another 2 tbsp at a rough estimate) and refrigerate.

Serve over a tall glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish with small to medium strawberries with a small slit in the base.

NOTE: The strawberry lemonade will look somewhat pink when first made due to all the air incorporated into the strawberry syrup during pureeing. As the bubbles burst and the foam dissipates, the lemonade will darken in colour.

Hard lemonade: Add 1 oz of vodka to each glass of lemonade.

Pi Day – Foolproof Lemon Meringue Pie

I haven’t made lemon meringue pie in ages, but after my LJ friend, Spikesgirl, mentioned making one, recently, I got SUCH a craving that I couldn’t resist making one too. Of course, that meant that I was going to have to eat an entire pie before it went bad … or I got so sick of eating it that I had to pitch the leftovers.

Then I had a BRILLIANT idea.

Scale down the recipe and make a couple of mini pies.

Well, the best laid plans and all that.

I tried a new recipe for the filling/meringue since it was easier to halve but it still made more filling than would fit into the two mini pies I had pre-baked, so I filled a 7 1/4-inch pie shell, and snacked on the rest of the filling.

Lemon Meringue Pie – baked for 20 minutes until the meringue tips were golden brown.

I lasted a bit over an hour and then I just had to cut into the pie. Conclusion … DELICIOUS.

PS: I did NOT know it was Pi Day.

Small Batch No Churn Ice Cream – Deconstructed Ferrero Rocher and Lemon Curd & Limoncello Cheesecake

ETA (07/21/2017): Replaced both the Ferrero Rocher and lemon curd scoop pictures.

For ice cream lovers without an ice cream maker or a large amount of freezer space, and a love for different flavours of ice cream, a small batch of no churn ice cream may be the solution. Especially as this type of ice cream is so VERY rich and a 1/2 cup serving is enough to satisfy most people. I picked two very different flavours of ice cream to cater to different cravings.

For Chocolate Hazelnut/Nutella Lovers – Deconstructed Ferrero Rocher Ice Cream

I wanted to buy some of the actual chocolates, chop them up and stir them into a Nutella flavoured ice cream but they didn’t have any at the grocery store so I was forced to use the elements for a ‘deconstructed’ version.

Deconstructed Ferrero Rocher Ice Cream – makes ~3 cups

3/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
50 gm coarsely chopped hazelnuts (filberts), reserve a teaspoon or so of nuts for decorating the top
1/2 cup Nutella
1 tbsp rye whiskey vanilla extract
1/4 cup (or more) fudge sauce** (or Nutella if you don’t have any fudge or chocolate sauce)

** I used Martha Stewart’s recipe

In a large cold bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

In a second large bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk with the Nutella until smooth. Stir in the chopped hazelnuts.

Fold the stiff cream into the sweetened condensed milk/Nutella/nut mixture.

Spoon half the ice cream mixture into a freezer safe container. Smooth the surface. Dot several half teaspoons of fudge sauce over the surface of the ice cream. Add the rest of the ice cream mixture. Drizzle some more fudge sauce over the ice cream

Sprinkle the reserved nuts over the top.

NOTE: Next time, I won’t line the container with saran wrap as it fell into the ice cream and got all messy. I was TRYING to keep the container neat.

Cover the container tightly with a lid or a sheet of foil and place into freezer for a minimum of 8 hrs or overnight.

For Citrus Lovers – Lemon Curd & Limoncello Cheesecake Ice Cream

I wanted the bright citrus hit of lemons so I used my home made lemon curd to flavour the ice cream. The Limoncello I made a few years ago provided the liqueur in the recipe, and, because it just wasn’t rich and creamy enough with the whipping cream, in an adaptation of an earlier blueberry version, I added cream cheese to make it similar to a cheesecake.

Lemon Curd & Limoncello Cheesecake Ice Cream – makes ~3 1/2-4  cups

3/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
3 oz/85 gm cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 tbsp Limoncello
1/3-1/2 cup lemon curd, divided

In a large cold bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

In a second large bowl, whip the cream cheese until smooth and then beat in the  sweetened condensed milk and the Limoncello.

Stir in a few tablespoons of the lemon curd.

Fold the stiff cream into the cream cheese/sweetened condensed milk/lemon curd mixture.

Spoon half the ice cream mixture into a freezer safe container. Smooth the surface. Dot several half teaspoons of lemon curd over the surface of the ice cream. With a wooden skewer or chopstick, marble the curd through the ice cream.

Add the rest of the ice cream mixture and flatten the top. Dot some more lemon curd over the top of the ice cream and marble through as before.

Cover the container tightly with a lid or a sheet of foil and place into freezer for a minimum of 8 hrs or overnight.

Sweets to the Sweet … Raspberry Jello Mini Meringues

NOTE: I’ve made all three desserts (citrus curd, madeleines and meringues) before. However, there’s a new TWIST for the meringue recipe.

Although not having a huge sweet tooth, I recently developed a lemon craving and decided to make lemon curd with the two lemons in my fridge. I had enough citrus juice for my recipe as I was able to supplement the shortage with lime juice, but ran short of zest for my second planned dessert … madeleines. I was sure I had some lemon zest in the freezer but I was wrong and ended up using orange zest instead. I love that citrus varieties are mostly interchangeable in cooking.

After making a batch of lemon curd, I ended up with extra egg whites.

Now, I’ve tossed more than my share of egg whites down the drain, in my time,  as I can only eat so many meringues and pavlovas and my single attempt at sponge cake was met with disaster. However, these bright coloured mini meringues caught my eye while web surfing. They get their colour and flavour from something that many of us have in our pantries … a package of Jello. You’ll notice that the vibrant colour of the mixture pales dramatically as the whites are being beaten so, if you want something brighter, you’ll  have to add gel paste to boost the colour of the final product.

Raspberry Jello mini meringues – You can find the recipe for these meringues on line here.

I decided to pipe these mini meringues as I was hoping for lovely ridges on the final product but I had problems getting stiff peaks, and the ridges softened by the time I got the entire tray piped and into the oven. Of course, you can spoon out larger mounds and and serve them as colourful pavlovas topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits.

Orange poppy seed madeleines – Madeleine pans will give your little cakes the classic design when presented bottom side up, but if you don’t have any, you can certainly bake the little butter cakes in mini muffin tins.

Danish Pastry Creations … something old, something new

Some time ago, I used an easy danish recipe (no knead) found on my friend Zsuzsa‘s blog to make a cherry braid. I made the braid again recently, but with a frangipane (sugar, softened butter and ground almond meal) base for the home made cherry filling, rather than the previous cream cheese.

I’m especially proud to say that both these pastries were made with items already in my fridge and freezer and nothing was bought specifically for them. Now what do I do with all the stuff in my pantry?

Cherry-Frangipane Braid

The braid ended up looking pretty good, but then it WAS my second one and I learned a few things.

 

Once the glaze is set, I’ll wrap it up for gift giving. Though I may trim off the top and bottom to square if off. (And so I can taste it.)

Frangipane Filling

4 tbsp/1/4 cup granulated white sugar
3 tbsp ground almonds
2 tbsp (25g or 1oz) butter, softened to room temperature

Combine sugar, ground almonds and softened butter, and beat together with a wooden spoon until soft and creamy.

And for something new … I adapted a sticky lemon curd roll with a cream cheese glaze recipe I found on line to use the mixed citrus curd I had in my fridge.

Sticky Lemon Curd Rolls

The pastry is not kneaded, just mixed together and then refrigerated until the next day when it will be firm enough to be rolled out. Flour the pastry and your working surface well and if it softens too much while shaping, return to the refrigerator for a  half hour or so. After rolling the pastry out and trimming it to the correct size, a lemon-butter filling is spread on the pastry and then lemon curd is spread over the top. I had a mixed citrus curd in the fridge so that’s what I used.

The rolls were placed in a buttered baking dish, covered and allowed to rise for about an hour in a warm place until doubled and then baked.

Instead of using the cream cheese glaze for the rolls, I went with a simple, tangy lemon (lime, in this case) butter version

Lemon-Butter Glaze

1 cup icing sugar
1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 tbsp lemon juice

Combine the above in a small bowl until smooth, and then add water, about a tsp at a time  (~1 tbsp or so needed) to thin the glaze enough to drizzle over.

NOTE: I poured the glaze into a small freezer bag, cut off the corner and squeezed it over the top.

Mixed Citrus Curd Redux and Sourdough Starter Crackers

In the last week, I’ve had some unexpected free time (no work calls) so I whipped up a batch of mixed citrus curd using my basic lemon curd recipe. You can use any kind of citrus juice to make a curd, or even something like a tart raspberry juice. I was very excited about using blood orange juice to make curd, about a year ago, cause I imagined the colour would be a vibrant reddish-brown but it ended up being more of an orange-brown. It still tasted delicious however.

For this mixed citrus curd, I used 2 tsp each of lemon, lime and orange zest and equal parts of the various citrus juices to make 1/2 cup. The result is an amazing and versatile treat. I decided to leave the zest in the curd.

I also made a batch of crackers with some leftover sourdough starter and for fun, experimented with various shapes and flavours. Clockwise from the top – round fennel seed topped, plain bars, square cayenne pepper and sesame seeds and diamond shaped cracked pepper and Grana Padano cheese crackers. I wanted to use whole wheat flour but all I had was about half a cup of fine semolina (#1) so I used that and enough all purpose flour to get a firm dough.

I used a recipe I found on line for the proportions of starter/flour and the baking times but only let my dough sit on the counter for 2 hrs (for the first 2 trays) and 3 hrs (for the last tray) as I didn’t really want it to get more sour.

After baking

CONCLUSION: I enjoyed the crackers but they’re not something I’d make regularly. Too much time and effort for something I can buy fairly cheaply … even though my crackers had no artificial ingredients or preservatives. Use whole wheat flour for more texture and a deeper colour if you have it handy.

Basic Curd: Blood Orange Curd

You can make a curd using various fruits and berries, as long as you remember to still use 1/3-1/4 of the lemon juice in the basic lemon curd recipe. In the ‘sort of’ Meyer lemon curd I used a combination of lemon and orange juice, and equal amounts of zest, for a tasty substitute for REAL Meyer lemon juice using this principle.

I used 2 tbsp of lemon juice and enough blood orange juice to make up 1/2 cup juice in total when making this blood orange curd. And 2 tbsp of blood orange zest. It tasted delicious, but, unfortunately, the resulting curd lost the vibrant red colour of the juice when mixed with the yolks and cooked.