I think I may have mentioned before that I love appetizers and hors d’oeuvres. Just love them. My favorite kind of work event is one where they serve drinks and “heavy appetizers” or “passed hors d’oeuvres,” because I know that there’ll be something involving cheese, bacon, or some kind of pastry… sometimes all three. So naturally I like to have a few recipes for similar items in my repertoire for when I want to host my own delicious event.
This particular recipe was born out of the need to come up with something that I could make ahead of time and that would be able to survive for several hours in a hot car before being served at a casual barbecue. That meant most cheese- or meat-based items were out, and any fresh vegetables were similarly not going to work. I decided that the best option was something with puff pastry, and once I noticed the half-empty package of fresh baby spinach slowly wilting in my refrigerator, the decision was made!
I love storebought puff pastry. It’s so easy to use, makes everything look impressive, and best of all I don’t have to deal with endless hours of rolling, chilling, and stressing over whether the butter is going to leak out in a mass exodus, leaving behind bone-dry pastry and the smell of burning fat in my oven. (which is what’s happened the last few times I tried to make it from scratch)
Anyway, it’s obviously a great thing to have in one’s freezer for occasions where a quick and fancy dessert is required, but it works just as well for less elaborate applications when all one wants is something to nibble on with tea. This is one of those times. I had an extra lemon in my fridge (leftover from my latest batch of lemon curd) and some fresh rosemary that was starting to wilt, and while looking for recipe ideas I saw one for lemon-rosemary palmiers. Well, those sounded great, as well as being incredibly easy (ingredients: puff pastry, lemon, rosemary, sugar), so I got started!
I’ve been stretching the last jar of my batch of lemon curd from that tea party I mentioned before, and wondering why, since it’s so delicious, I don’t make it more often. So when an occasion came up to make a dessert for company, it’s hardly surprising that lemon curd was on my mind…
I decided to make a tart, and thought that some fresh blueberries would be a great complement to the tartness of the lemon curd. I dug out an old recipe for a brown sugar tart crust I’d previously used and loved, figuring that its sweetness and slight caramel flavor would add depth to the bright and zingy fruits in the rest of the dessert. And you know what? I was right!
The resulting tarts were beautiful to look at and delicious to eat– definitely a showstopper for company in any season (though I’m sure that the blueberries would be that much more delicious in summer).
Remember all of the candied lemon peel I had left over from my lemonade concentrate? I had to do something with it, so I decided to bake cake. Cake is always the answer. I decided to go with a pound cake, because I figured that the crumb would need to be fairly dense in order to support the chewy chunks of peel. And what’s a lemon cake without a lemon syrup to soak it in? And a glaze? Talk about gilding the lily…
The finished cake is incredibly moist and tender, and the syrup and glaze combine for a slightly crackly outer crust that immediately gives way to a melt-in-your-mouth icing, full of lemon flavor. While the cake doesn’t slice neatly– too soft and moist– it’s really delicious, and even better the day after it’s baked. Plus, due to the moisture and the glaze it’ll keep, uncovered at room temperature, for at least three days without drying out. Probably longer, but I didn’t have any left to check after three days!
Yet another use for the candied lemon peel— lemon ice cream! I decided to make this a no-churn recipe, since it’s easier and I don’t have to stress over whether or not my ice cream canister has frozen enough. The result is creamy, delicious, with plenty of zing from the lemon juice and some nice grown-up undertones from the slightly bitter candied peel. Best of all, it takes about ten minutes to mix up and put into the freezer, so for ten minutes of work and a few hours of freeze time, you can enjoy this amazing ice cream!
I admit it, I’ve done it again– shamelessly lifted a new favorite recipe from Deb at Smitten Kitchen. And I’m not even sorry, because this is such a delicious way to get my vegetables that I’ve been eating it all week. I double the recipe to be sure I have enough to last!
What is this new favorite, you ask? Broccoli melts. Garlicky, spicy, cheesy broccoli, piled on top of toasted bread, generously accented with lemon, and covered in a gooey blanket of bubbly cheese. It makes a hearty breakfast, a fantastic lunch, and (with a glass of white wine) a perfect dinner.
For my last project for the ninja baby shower I made a cake. The mother-to-be had requested bright, punchy flavors, so I went with a lemon cake using my hot milk sponge cake as a base, filled with a fantastically easy homemade lemon curd (recipe below, and it’s the creamiest, most luscious lemon curd ever) and iced with my favorite cooked-flour frosting. Then it was time to decorate!
I knew I wanted something special to tie in to the ninja theme, but just piping little ninjas or sticking the ninja cookies to the outside of the cake seemed boring, so I went in a little more sophisticated direction. I printed out some reference images of Japanese temples, and sketched them (interspersed with trees and a bridge) onto long, skinny pieces of parchment paper. I flipped the paper over (didn’t want graphite in my cake), and carefully traced out the design with melted dark chocolate in a squeeze bottle (a little less precise than I’d have hoped, but not bad). Then came the tricky part…