Meyer Lemon-Polenta Upside Down Cake

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Meyer lemons are in season  and this cake is the perfect way to make them shine!    The Meyer lemon is a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin orange. It is thinner and smoother skinned with a distinctive taste.  In this cake, thinly-sliced Meyer lemon slices (use a mandoline) are arranged in a concentric pattern in a caramel base.  The zest of 2 more Meyer lemons goes into the batter to add another layer of citrus flavor. The cake, inspired by a polenta cake from pastry chef Hannah Buoye of A16 Rockridge in Oakland, CA, is a dense, moist dessert as pretty as it is delicious.  It has a really nice crumb and a bit of a crunch from the cornmeal.  As the lemon slices bake, they absorb the butter and the brown sugar from  the caramel base and turn into a marmalade-like consistency and taste.   If you are a lemon lover, this cake is for you!  The caramelized lemon slices will require a serrated knife to cut into.  Let the cake cool 2 hours before taking it out of the pan.

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Orange-Cranberry-Fennel Winter Salad with Caper Dijon Dressing

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“Cheers to the new year and another chance for us to get it right.” Oprah Winfrey

January is for many of us a time of healthier eating.  This salad is a little different with seasonal oranges, cranberries and fennel in a terrifc vinaigrette made with orange juice and capers.   It is rich with texture and layers of flavor.  Dig in!

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Thanksgiving Leftovers

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“There are two kinds of gratitude: the sudden kind we feel for what we take and the larger kind we feel for what we give.”  Edwin Arlington Robinson

For our family, the best part of Thanksgiving is all the leftovers!  With grown men around, they don’t last long.  But by the second or third day, we’re all starting to hanker for something different.  With a fridge still stuffed to the gills with leftovers here are some ways I transformed the leftovers.

Avocado Toast with Leftover Brussel Sprouts:

On  toasted sourdough bread, I spread some smashed avocado with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of sea salt.  I fried 2 sunny side up eggs and sat them over the avocado.  In the same pan, I sautée leftover brussel sprouts just to warm them up and scattered them over the eggs.  We had made our brussel sprouts with bits of bacon so they were especially suited to breakfast leftovers!  Prince Charming was a very happy man! Continue reading

Maple-Orange Cranberry Sauce

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Fresh tart red cranberries are sweetened with pure maple syrup and flavored with orange juice and orange zest in this easy cranberry sauce studded with nuts.   The sauce thickens as it cools into a chunky consistency perfect to go alongside your Thanksgiving bird and to spread, of course, on those leftover sandwiches.  I especially enjoy leftovers in my morning oatmeal.  I really like this recipe because the proportions are 1:1:1:1 making it super simple to double or triple the recipe as we always do.  The sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept refrigerated or it can be frozen for up to a month. If freezing, add the walnuts or pecans to the finished sauce after thawing, so the nuts don’t soften. Freshly grated ginger can be added for a bit of spice if you like.

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Squash! 16 Delicious Recipes

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To say I like squash would be an understatement.  I love it and cook it any chance I get.  Butternut, acorn, kuri, I love them all.  There are so many ways to enjoy squash and this post will tempt you to try it stuffed, roasted in wedges, in stews, in pasta, in couscous, in cake, in a quiche, in a fall panzanella salad and even as a mini tureen for soup!  The first recipe is new and inspired by Julie at Hostess at Heart. It is a maple-bacon stuffed acorn squash,  oven roasted to golden perfection.  The maple syrup glazing on the cut surface transforms into a wonderful caramelized texture.  The salty-sweet combination is a winner.  Totally simple but irresistible as a main or as a side dish.  The rest of the recipes are from the archives.  Just click on the highlighted titles to be taken to the recipes.

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Sesame-Crusted Salmon with Orange-Tahini Sauce

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Years ago Gourmet Magazine had a recipe for a sesame-crusted salmon appetizer with an orange-miso dipping sauce that was my go to party appetizer.  This recipe was inspired by that dish but as a main course and making the sauce with tahini and pomegranate molasses instead of miso.  It was a colorful and delicious change from the usual salmon.  You can substitute honey for the pomegranate molasses.  I added some saffron to the sauce for an additional layer of Middle-Eastern flavor but that is totally optional.

Sesame-Crusted Salmon with Orange-Tahini Sauce

  • 1 salmon fillet, about 2 pounds
  • 4 tablespoons of black or white sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil(use a citrus infused one if you have it)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons of orange muscat champagne vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses or honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon of saffron threads (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
  1. Heat your BBQ grill to high.  Place the salmon skin side down, on a presoaked cedar plank.  Rub the salmon with the olive oil.  Give it a few grinds of the pepper and sea salt mill. Sprinkle evenly with the sesame seeds.  Place on the hot grill and cook about 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness of fillet, lid closed. The salmon is done when it easily flakes with a fork. No need to flip fish over while cooking. Discard plank after use.
  2. To make the sauce:  whisk together the tahini, orange juice, vinegar, salt, molasses and saffron if using.  Set aside. Can be made a day in advance and brought to room temperature.
  3. When the salmon is done, sprinkle with the pomegranate arils and serve with the sauce on the side.

Fall Stuffed Cornish Game Hens

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Although Cornish game hens seem made for company, they are a favorite weeknight dinner for our family.  They practically cook themselves and fill the house with tantalizing aroma. Thanksgiving has come and gone in Canada and is still a month away in the US, but these little hens had all the flavors of Thanksgiving packed into each one.  Stuffed with a whole grain rice mix studded with pecans, cranberries, orange and pomegranate, they were simply delicious!  I used a Uncle Ben’s Ready Whole Grain Medley with quinoa, brown rice and garlic, straight out of the package, uncooked.  This type of rice is precooked. Any combination of rice/grains can be substituted but it should be almost fully cooked before stuffing.  Served with a side of butternut squash, it was sublime!

Fall Stuffed Cornish Game Hens

  • 4 Cornish Game Hens, patted dry inside and out with paper towels
  • salt and pepper
  • Poultry seasoning mix(I used a Montreal chicken spice mix)
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 8.5-once package of Uncle Ben’s Ready Whole Grain Medley with quinoa, garlic and brown rice, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup of red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup of pecans, chopped
  • Arils from half of a pomegranate(about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 orange, peeled, seeds removed and diced in chunks(I used a tangerine)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. Salt and pepper the inside cavity of the hens.
  3. Combine the grain medley with the cranberries, red onion, pecans, orange and pomegranate arils.  Fill each bird cavity with the stuffing.  Tie each bird with kitchen twine or a skewer to prevent the stuffing from falling out during roasting. Dab the butter between each wing and breast and a bit more above the stuffing where the legs are trussed.
  4. Place the hens evenly spaced on a shallow baking sheet. Sprinkle each bird with some of the poultry seasoning.
  5. Bake at 450 F for 45 minutes.
  6. Serve with a side of fall vegetables such a butternut squash and/or brussel sprouts.

There’s a lot of optimism in changing scenery, in seeing what’s down the road.” Conor Oberst. Photo credit MZ