Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Snacking Cake

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When Meyer lemons are in season, I cannot get enough of them!  I find all kinds of ways to use them in recipes.  Did you know Meyer lemons actually originated in China, where they are grown as ornamentals in garden pots?  They came to the US in 1908 yet were not really popular in cooking  until Alice Waters of the famous Chez Panisse restaurant discovered them and put them on her menu in the 1990s.  Further popularity was gained when Martha Stewart introduced them in her recipes.  The Meyer lemon is a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin orange or a regular orange.  It is thinner and smoother skinned with a distinctive taste.  For this recipe I played around with Dario Cocchini’s famous olive oil orange cake recipe.   I wanted to make it with Meyer lemons and include the whole fruit, peel, juice and pith. Continue reading

Biedermeier Flower Arranging: a Tutorial

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As a lover of flowers and a seasoned traveller, I have admired my fair share of stunning floral arrangements.  But it was  in a restaurant a few miles from home, that a floral display stopped me dead in my tracks.  I was on my way to the powder room when I paused to admire a flower arrangement created on a cake platter that looked, well, like a cake!

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Maple~Dijon Broiled Salmon Fillets

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February is National Heart Month and what better way to celebrate than with a fast, tasty and easy salmon recipe.  Salmon is one of those nutritional marvels.  Considered both a brain food and a heart-healthy food, it provides heart beneficial omega 3s, high quality protein, loads of vitamins(B12, B6 and that all important vitamin D) as well as being an excellent source of minerals(selenium, potassium).  It cooks in no time so it can be a healthy weeknight dinner accompanied by veggies and a starch.  The trick is to not overcook it.  This tasty recipe coats salmon fillets with a simple glaze of shallots, maple syrup and Dijon.  10 minutes under the broiler, and it’s ready!  Fast enough for a weeknight but elegant enough for company too.

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Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Risotto

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“Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.”  Mark Twain

With temperatures flirting with single digits, it seemed like a good time to make a creamy comforting risotto.  We had enjoyed a cauliflower risotto on a recent trip to Washington and I tried recreating it here.  I roasted a whole head of cauliflower but puréed half of it in broth to add body and loads of nutrition to the risotto. The leek and sausage added bold flavor.  You could substitute pancetta or bacon for the sausage or omit it altogether for a vegetarian option.  The final dish was creamy and delicious with the flavor of the cauliflower shining through.

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Chinese New Year: Noodle Bowls with Ginger-Garlic Meatballs

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The Chinese New Year arrives February 19th this year  and marks the beginning of the Year of the Sheep.  This Lunar New Year is celebrated all over the world with fireworks, feasts, parades and cultural events . Our family loves to head to Philadelphia’s Chinatown to take in the festive celebrations, held over several weeks.

To celebrate the Lunar New Year I made Asian-inspired noodle bowls filled with veggies, piping hot broth and tasty mini ginger-garlic meatballs.  Reminiscent of the Hot Pot, this meal incorporates several symbolic ingredients for the New Year:  long noodles for a long life; ginger and scallions for prosperity and unity;  mushrooms for good fortune; meatballs for reunion/unity; cabbage and carrots  for prosperity and luck; cashews for gold/money; onions for cleverness.  Whoa, let’s hope this soup delivers all it promises!  For more good omens in the New Year serve fruit for dessert arranged on a round platter:  apples symbolize peace and wisdom, oranges and pineapple, wealth, good fortune and gold, dried apricots, gold and wealth.  The round platter symbolizes togetherness.  Fresh fruit is the symbol of new life, new beginnings.  (www.nationsonline.org)

Planning ahead lets this meal come together quickly with a simple assembly of the components.  It can be adapted for a crowd.  Essentially you will need a rich  broth,  meatballs and veggies.  Everyone tops their soup with add-ins of their choosing. At the end of the post I will share ideas for setting an Asian-inspired table.

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Easy-3 Ingredient Banana Pancakes~Gluten Free

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February is National Pancake month in the US and today is Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday depending where you are in the world.  No better day than the present to try a new pancake recipe.  This amazing pancake is made with just eggs, mashed banana and almond meal.  Totally flour and sugar free!  I was skeptical when I saw it posted on Facebook but it was super easy to make and really delicious.  I added hemp seeds and cinnamon to our batch for extra nutrition and flavor!  With no sugar in the batter these could be enjoyed throughout Lent.

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Wintry Mix: Citrus Avocado Salad

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Wake up your taste buds! This invigorating salad will bring a burst of bright crisp flavors and some  brilliant colors in your winter repertoire.  Its sweet~tart grapefruit contrasts beautifully with the creamy butteryness of the avocado. The grapefruit gets a little advanced special treatment:  it is jazzed up with a sprinkle of cayenne, crushed rosemary and raw sugar, just enough to add a bit of spice and surprise for your winter taste buds.  Use whatever oranges are at peak.  I combined blood oranges and navels for gorgeous layering of colors and sizes. Can’t have grapefruit?  Substitute oranges.  The citrus is layered over salad greens.  I was excited to find a new-to-me red heirloom spinach that I introduced in this salad.  It is a very tender spinach grown from wild seed, originating in Europe.  It grows in clusters on tender stems in a striking puplish-red hue.  I found it more tender, smaller leaved and a bit earthier in taste than regular spinach.  To make this salad into a meal you could add some grilled shrimp or boneless chicken.  In the dead of winter, nothing perks up a palate better than a colorful salad.  Enjoy!

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