Thursday, February 25, 2016

Meyer Lemon Souffles

Family dinner birthday cake with my girls
12 kids between us . . . how did that happen?      

So, I turned 38 two weeks ago.  Age and numbers are so strange sometimes.  I look in the mirror and I know I'm getting older but I don't feel 38 at all.  Two days before my birthday Little got sick - fever, sniffles, laying on the floor completely listless.  I was sad for her and a little sad for me and having to reschedule plans but on Friday night, we sent Big & Middle to their Friday night drop off anyways and after putting the sick baby to bed, I made myself a birthday dinner.  My husband and I learned long ago that going out to eat on Valentine's weekend (aka my birthday weekend) is not always a great experience.  Before we had kids and when they were very young, we'd cook an elaborate and fancy dinner at home instead, working together in the kitchen.  Resurrecting this tradition (with our only kid at home asleep) was really fun this year and I made a couple of new things.  Stay tuned for the risotto . . . 

I still had Meyer lemons and decided to make souffles for dessert.  You may need to adjust the recipe below for cooking time if you use big ramekins like I did but the recipe will yield enough for 6 small ramekins.  I forget how easy and satisfying souffles are and it was nice to have a different treat from cupcakes and cakes.  Not that I didn't appreciate them but I ate. too. much. cake.  My mom made me an awesome birthday cake for family dinner and my BFF bought Valentine's cupcakes on my actual birthday.  Did I mention that party?  It was going to be me, 3 of my girlfriends and our families.  We ordered pizza, drank wine, ate the cupcakes and had a really fun evening.  But when we lined up the kids for that photo above, it was amazing to see how some friendships between girlfriends have now grown to include 15 kids - one friend and her 3 kids weren't there :(.  I also got to see my two best childhood friends that weekend and have a rescheduled adult birthday dinner with my parents and all my siblings - I feel loved and celebrated!

One more recipe note:  If you've met my husband, you know he always has great ideas for improving any recipe.  I didn't make any sauce to pour in the souffles so he mixed together some lemon juice, simple syrup, cointreau and maybe a little brandy and poured it in the middle . . . it was divine!  So, you may want to make a sauce to go with these.

Meyer Lemon Souffles (serves 6)
from Sunset 3/97

1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice
2 tsp. finely grated lemon peel
4 T butter (plus more to butter the ramekins)
1/4 c. flour
1 cup half n half
2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
 6 large eggs, separated
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
Powdered sugar for serving

Begin by buttering your ramekins and coating with granulated sugar.  Once they're prepared, stick them in the refrigerator.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  

Melt 4 T butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour, then half and half, and then 1/3 cup sugar.  Whisk constantly until the mixture comes to a boil and then boil for 30 seconds before removing from the heat.  Use a little of this hot mixture to temper your egg yolks and then incorporate egg yolks and 1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice, and lemon peel.  Pour this mixture (it'll resemble a custard or lemon curd) into a large bowl and let it cool slightly while you beat the egg whites.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  Beat in 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat just until the egg whites hold glossy straight peaks when you lift the beaters.  I like to use the whisk attachment of my stand mixer and I take the whisk off to check the stiffness of the egg whites.

Stir about one cup of egg whites into the lemon/yolk mixture.  Then, very gently fold the remaining egg whites into the batter until you can barely see any white streaks.  Do NOT overmix at this point.

Scoop into prepared ramekins, filling them almost to the edge.  Bake at 375 degrees for 12-13 minutes.  The souffles should barely ripple in the middle if you gently shake them. This will give the souffles a creamy texture.  If you like a drier or stiffer texture, you can bake a few additional minutes.

Serve warm with a little powdered sugar dusted on top!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Meyer Lemon & Rosemary Gelato

When life gives you lemons, make gelato!!  Last weekend we had such an awesome time with our cousins from the east coast.  In several different conversations, my cousin and I couldn't get over the similarities between our husbands . . . no wonder they're such great friends!  

To celebrate their time in California (and the amazing 80 degree February weather we enjoyed while they were here), I busted out my ice cream maker for a batch of gelato.  My Meyer lemon tree has been producing quite an abundance of lemons and my mother in law has been bringing me bags of (certified organic) lemons.  By the way - you never know - if you are interested in purchasing organic citrus in bulk, let me know!

I found a couple of online gelato recipes for proportion and included rosemary from my backyard.  My Vitamix hasn't been getting much use this time of year but blending the gelato base worked great to incorporate the fresh rosemary flavor.

Meyer Lemon & Rosemary Gelato (makes approx. 1 quart)

1 cup Meyer lemon juice (about 6 lemons)
zest from 1 Meyer lemon
3/4  - 1 cup sugar (depending on your taste)
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 T chopped fresh rosemary

Combine all ingredients in a blender.  Pulse 1-2 minutes or until all ingredients are combined and rosemary is very finely chopped.

Transfer to the bowl of an ice cream maker and freeze according to machine instructions.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!  I love Valentine's Day - what better than a day about telling people that you love them?  My girls share my love and this week made Valentines for our neighbors, for far away cousins, and friends who don't go to their school.  We also made 45 classroom valentines to pass out tomorrow.

Here are some photos of making this year's valentines (I bought the brown cutouts from Amazon) and the super cute Olaf ones we made last year:

If you want to make something for someone's birthday (like mine on Saturday - hint, hint) or Valentine's Day, here's a tried and true yellow cake and chocolate buttercream combination.  I think I've written before about how much I love my 5 layer mini cake pan set.  It makes these cute cakes that are just the right size for about 4 adults and some kids to share.  You can do all sorts of things with the layers like make this rainbow cake.  The recipe below has baking times and proportions for cupcakes but you can adjust it to the pan size that you prefer.

Yellow Cake (makes 16-18 cupcakes or one cake layer)
from Sally's Baking addiction

2 large eggs, room temperature and separated
2 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk, room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat 2 egg whites on high speed in a medium bowl until soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.  You want them fluffy without liquid at the bottom of the bowl.  Set aside.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Using a mixer, beat the butter on high speech until smooth and creamy - about 1 minute.  Add the sugar and beat on high for 3-4 minutes or until creamed together well.  Scrape down the bowl as needed.  Add 2 egg yolks and vanilla.  Beat on medium-high speech until combined.  Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl.  With the mixer on low speech, alternate adding the dry ingredients and whole milk, about half of each at a time.  Mix until just incorporated (do not overmix).  Fold in whipped egg whites.  The batter will be smooth, velvety and slightly thick.

Chocolate buttercream frosting (enough for 1 doz cupcakes)

1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
2.5 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 oz semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Use the wire whisk attachment on your stand mixer and whip the butter on medium high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.

Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar.  Once it's all incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla.  Add the melted chocolate and whip at medium high speech until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.

Spoon into cupcake liners, filling halfway full.  Bake for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.