Limoncello

_MG_6673Ahh, fall. As I've said many a time before, I love summer. But there is definitely something about crisp nights, warm cappuccinos in the morning and changing leaves that you can't help but love. But since I'm not quite ready to let go of summer yet, I wanted to share a recipe for limoncello in case you are in need of a refreshing digestivo on these still-warm days. If you haven't had limoncello before, it's basically sweetened, lemon-infused alcohol, usually drunk ice-cold after meals to aid digestion. You can also use it in cocktails, if you wish, or add some seltzer to dilute it a bit._MG_6670 _MG_6669The recipe itself couldn't be easier, but does take some time: I let the lemon peels soak for a full month for maximum lemon flavor (since, as you may know, I love anything lemon) and used the least amount of sugar recommended.  We've been enjoying this all summer, and it's a great thing to bring out at parties – or to give as (eek!) holiday gifts (not that I'm thinking about that yet.)

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On a more serious note: though I did not live in New York City 13 years ago, over the past four years this city has continued to amaze, inspire, and astonish me every single day. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to live here, and to get to know the varied–and incredibly resilient–people who call New York their home. Thoughts go out to anyone who was affected by what happened on that terrible day.

Limoncello (recipe from The Kitchn)

10 lemons, washed and dried (it's best to use organic since you will only be using the peels) 1 750-ml bottle vodka (100-proof preferred, or 80-proof) 1 cup sugar

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the peels from all the lemons. Try to remove only the outer yellow skin and as little of the pith as possible. Trim away any large pieces of pith with a paring knife, but don't worry about trimming every last scrap.

Transfer the lemon peels to a 1-quart jar and cover with vodka. Screw on the lid.  Let the vodka and lemon peels infuse somewhere out of the way and out of direct sunlight for at least 4 days and up to one month. The longer you let the vodka infuse, the more lemony your limoncello.

After your vodka has infused for the length of time you choose, line a strainer with a large coffee filter and set it over a 4-cup measuring cup. Strain the infused vodka through the filter. You may need to stir the vodka in the strainer if the flow stops.

Prepare a simple syrup of 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar — bring the water to a simmer and stir in the sugar to dissolve; allow to cool. Mix with vodka, and you have limoncello! Store in the freezer for up to one year.

Meyer Lemon-Bay Leaf Pound Cake

_MG_6094 _MG_6085Sorry for the long absence, everyone. I was in Minnesota for a few days at the beginning of the month, and then I was feeling kind of stuck in the winter doldrums. Anyone else feeling like they need a tropical getaway right about now?_MG_6081

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Thankfully, this weekend was slightly warmer (almost 60 degrees in NYC!) and after seeing this lovely cake over on 101 Cookbooks, I was feeling inspired. If you've been reading this site for a while, you probably know that I love lemon desserts, and this cake was no exception. Not too sweet, with a hint of herbal flavor that adds depth and compliments the Meyer lemons very nicely. You could easily substitute oranges or regular lemons, depending on your personal preference and what you have on hand._MG_6083

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Meyer Lemon-Bay Leaf Pound Cake (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

6 tablespoons / 3 ounces / 85 g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon butter, for piping

10 fresh or dried bay leaves 1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup whole wheat flour 1 cup  granulated sugar 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt 3 large eggs, at room temperature 1/2 cup sour cream finely grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons (or regular lemons) 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Orange Glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon orange liquor, such as Grand Mariner or Cointreau (optional)

Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and add 3 of the bay leaves. Let steep for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan. Dust with flour and tap out any excess. If possible, line the bottom with parchment paper. Dab one side of the remaining 7 bay leaves with a little bit of butter and place the leaves, evenly spaced, on the bottom of the prepared pan, buttered side down.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla until combined. If needed, barely rewarm the butter to liquify it and pluck out the bay leaves. Whisk the butter into the egg mixture.

With a spatula, gently stir the egg mixture into the dry mixture, just until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, being careful not to disturb the leaves (alternately, top the cake with any remaining leaves). Put the remaining 1 tablespoon of softened butter into a plastic bag, snip off a corner, then draw a straight line of the butter down the center of the cake. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. It's better to slightly under bake, than over bake this cake.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of the cake and then tip out onto a cooling rack, remove leaves, and let cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and orange liquor (if using). Stir until smooth, then spread the glaze over the cooled cake, allowing it to drip down the sides and harden.

Makes one 9-inch cake.

Pan-Fried Chicken with Lemon-Artichoke Sauce

_MG_5051 _MG_5055I almost never order chicken at restaurants. Somehow, chicken has gotten the reputation for being "boring" and usually, I'm more interested in trying fish or some kind of meat. There is one chicken dish that I will always order, however – the chicken Milanese at I Nonni. I worked at I Nonni, a great Italian restaurant just outside of St. Paul, the summer after I graduated college and before I moved to New York. It was a great summer  – the last time (probably) that I would live at home with my parents, the last summer I could be "a kid". (You're still a kid at 22, right?) I worked two restaurant jobs pretty much every day for those three months to save up money so that I could move to NYC at the end of August, and the nights I toiled away at I Nonni, I would usually end up ordering the chicken for dinner. Something about the lemony-buttery-bitter artichoke combination appealed to me – and of course, the crispy chicken and peppery arugula didn't hurt either.

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_MG_5065Later that fall when I was feeling a little homesick, I attempted to create the chicken dish to  bring back  little bit of home into my apartment full of hand-me-down furniture and less-than-desirable neighbors. I've changed it a bit over the past few years, but every time I make this dish, it reminds me of home.

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Pan-Fried Chicken with Lemon-Aritchoke Sauce (serves 4-6)

6 chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness

1/2-1 cup flour

2 eggs

2 cups panko breadcrumbs

4-6 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 cups arugula

Parmiggiano Reggiano, for serving (optional)

Sauce:

6 tablespoons butter

2 large shallots, chopped

2 14-oz cans artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

3/4 cup white wine

1/2 cup half and half

1/2 cup chicken broth

Juice of 1 lemon

1 lemon, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons capers

Place the flour, eggs, and panko into three separate, shallow bowls. Season the flour, and whisk the eggs lightly with a fork. Coat one piece of chicken lightly with flour, then dip into eggs, then panko so that it is completely coated. Lay on a baking sheet or cutting board, and repeat with remaining pieces of chicken.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When shimmering, add 1-2 pieces of chicken (depending on the size of your pan) and fry until golden-brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Keep cooked chicken warm in oven, and repeat with remaining pieces.

Once chicken is fried, let pan cool slightly, then melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-low heat. When it has melted, add  shallots and cook until soft and slightly transparent, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium and add artichokes. Cook for 1 minute. Add wine, half and half and broth, and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in remaining butter and flour and cook until thickened slightly, 2-3 minutes. Add lemon juice, slices, and capers, and season with salt and pepper.

To serve: place a piece of chicken over a handful of arugula on each plate. Spoon sauce over and shave a few pieces of parmiggiano reggiano over the sauce. Serve immediately.

Super Bowl Roundup

I can't say that I've ever really been all that into the Super Bowl, but I can of course always get down with the food. This year, however, I will be actually watching the game (and, obviously, the Beyoncé half-time show) in addition to enjoying some delicious snacks. Ari is a die-hard 49ers fan (though perhaps "fan" is somewhat of an understatement) and he'll be in New Orleans for the game, which means I'll have to fend for myself here in New York. That said, if I were hosting a Super Bowl party, I pulled together a few recipes from my archives that I would make:

_MG_3583Chicken Lettuce Wraps

mg_2244Ricotta and Honey Crostini

_MG_2802Harvest Focaccia

_MG_1668Avocado and Corn Salsa

_MG_3691Turkey & Pork Ricotta Meatballs

And for something a little sweeter..._MG_3796

Lemon Bars, my go-to recipe for parties

_MG_2534Or this quick Orange-Olive Oil Cake, which is easily transportable.

What are you making for the Super Bowl? Are you rooting for either team? (Go Niners!)

Citrus Chiffon Cake

In honor of Sunday night's Mad Men premiere (so great. It's been far too long!) A. and I went over to my friend Justin's house for a retro dinner, including deviled eggs, tea sandwiches, and classic iceberg wedge salads (and, of course, Manhattans and martinis). I was in charge of dessert, and decided to make a chiffon cake, a first for me. Chiffon cake is similar in theory to a soufflé, folding egg whites separately into the dough. Mine collapsed -- actually not sure if that's supposed to happen, but I think so? In any case, it did make a nice, light dessert after a '60's-inspired dinner. Lemon Chiffon Cake (adapted from Food & Wine)

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

Pinch salt

6 large eggs, separated

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup powdered sugar

6 tablespoons butter, melted

Juice and zest of two lemons

1 tablespoon orange zest

Pinch cream of tartar

For glaze:

2 tablespoons orange juice

3/4 cup (or more) powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour a nine-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks, sugar, and lemon and orange zest with an electric mixer on high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually beat in melted butter. Alternately add dry ingredients and lemon juice, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cup powdered sugar and beat until glossy and stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 egg whites into mixture, then add the rest and mix until just combined. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake until top springs back when lightly pressed, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: in a small bowl, combine orange juice and powdered sugar and whisk until smooth.

Remove cake from pan and cool on rack. When cool, drizzle glaze over.

Lemon Poppyseed Cake + Farmer's Market

As today's temperatures are reaching almost 50 degrees, I couldn't resist making a trip to the farmer's market at Grand Army Plaza this morning. Of course, I always love the market best in the summer, but there is something very comforting about the apples, root vegetables, and hearty greens that are available now. I also wanted to try out my camera a little more in a setting outside my kitchen. I'm still very much learning about all of the settings and options, but below are a few of my shots from the market.And when I got home... Alright, finally: the recipe. When I was little, one of my favoite "breakfasts" was the incredibly sweet lemon-poppyseed mini muffins from the supermarket. I'm not quite sure why my mother let us eat these as they were bascially dessert. In any casee, this dessert was inspired by those muffins, but is a slightly more sophisticated take. I made this the other night when I didn't have my camera, so forgive the instagram photos. This recipe was taken from one of my favorite food blogs, Always With Butter, but I made a few tweaks, including changing the cirtus from orange to lemon. I also was far too excited to eat it when it came out of the oven, which explains why the glaze pretty much melted into the cake. In addition, I would use more powdered sugar next time to make the icing thicker. Still good though.

Lemon Poppyseed Cake (adapted from this recipe on Always With Butter)

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups butter, softened

5 eggs

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup poppy seeds

1/2 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8x8 baking pan. Sift first three ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. Best butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Mix well. Mix in flour mixture and poppy seeds. Pour into prepared pan, and bake for one hour or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely. Whisk powdred sugar and lemon juice until you have a thick glaze, then pour over cooled cake.

Sunburst Lemon Bars

_MG_3777My mother brings these lemon bars to almost every party that I can remember, and they are inevitably a hit. They are certainly the best lemon bars I have ever had, and I have started to continue her tradition by bringing them to a holiday party in December. I think my favorite part is the tart lemon glaze, which gives them a really lovely brightness. I'm pretty sure these are originally from a copy of Sunset magazine circa 1991, but I can't be sure. In any case, they are classic. Be sure to use fresh-squeezed lemon juice for the best results._MG_3785 IMG_3792

 

 

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_MG_3796Sunburst Lemon Bars

For crust:

2 cups flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup butter

For lemon custard:

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 cup lemon juice

2-3 tablespoons lemon zest

For glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, powdered sugar, and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Press evenly into a 13x9 roasting pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are golden brown.

Meanwhile, blend eggs, sugar, flour, and baking powder in a medium bowl, then add lemon juice and zest. Mix until just combined, then pour over warm crust. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is a light golden brown. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes.

For glaze, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and drizzle over cooled bars. Cut into squares and serve. These will keep overnight in the refrigerator.