Category Archives: dessert

Meyer lemon tart and a recipe in pictures

Meyer lemon tart

One of our first purchases for our new home in Sydney was a dwarf Meyer lemon tree. $50 and several months later, we picked our first three fragrant fruit. Not bad for a partially sunny balcony in Sydney’s Inner West, don’t you think?

Meyer lemons, a cross between lemons and mandarins, have a bewitching floral scent and a sweet, tart, juicy interior, so they make especially good additions to baked goods.  With this in mind, I decided to use the juice from two lemons to make a tart and the zest to make a Meyer lemon vodka. The tart lasts several days in the fridge, and the Meyer lemon vodka lends the fragrance of these beauties to everything from cocktails to cookies for months after the citrus season has come to an end.

With the last lemon, we made homemade Meyer lemon-lime bitters—a fitting way to celebrate our first citrus harvest.

Meyer lemon vodka – a recipe in pictures

Meyer lemon vodka essentials

1. Gather ingredients.  Excellent vodka isn’t essential for this; Smirnoff or something similar will do.

Zest

2. Peel off the zest of the Meyer lemons, carefully avoiding the pith.

Finished product

3. Drop the Meyer lemon zest into the vodka, and let the flavor of the zest infuse in the vodka for a few weeks. When the vodka is fragrant, it’s finished.

This vodka is delicious in any fruity mixed drink, and also works well in baked goods calling for orange liqueur.

Meyer lemon tart with cardamom and orange zest
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Filed under Australia, baking, dessert, drink, local, Meyer lemons, seasonal

Heart-healthy panna cotta

It figures I’d start the low-fat, low-sodium posts with a dessert.  Those of you who know me in real life are aware I don’t do deprivation well — particularly when it comes to sweets.  So yes, dessert was the first thing I tried to transform.

The good news is, I think I’m on the right track.  I would almost serve this to guests — ALMOST.  It is still very much a work in progress, but I can assure you of this: it is a welcome substitute for the non-fat yogurt and jam we’ve* been stuck with lately.   I’ve basically started with a low-fat panna cotta recipe, which replaces the typical cream and sugar component of the dessert with low-fat milk and yogurt, and transformed it into something more exotic.  Does it work? Well — as I said before, almost. I would use pineapple or bananas instead of strawberries (or at least saute the strawberries with a little bit of nice balsamic or brown sugar), steep the basil in the coconut milk as opposed to liberally adding slivers of it to the dessert, and would skip the black pepper (which I will not mention in the recipe, of course) in favor of vanilla or toasted coconut.  Beyond that, though, it actually does seem worthy of dessert, which is exactly what I was going for.  If you want to make it a little creamier, you can either use full fat coconut or low / full fat yogurt.  But then you might as well use real cream, no?

If you prefer, you can also use regular milk. I’ve done this as well, and it works. It’s just a little less exciting.

Forgive the photos, which sort of remind me of faux foodie glamour shots. It is 11 pm and my nice camera lacks battery power, so I’ve decided to improvise.

* Err… well, James has. Until yesterday, I had my private stash of Girl Scout Cookies. Shhh, don’t tell!

Low-fat strawberry basil panna cotta

Serves 4.

  • 1 c. low-fat coconut milk
  • 1 c. non-fat greek yogurt (Fage or Skyr are the best)
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin (have yet to try this with agar agar for the vegetarians out there, but if I get around to it, I will report back. If you try it out and it works, leave a comment!)
  • 2 t. honey
  • 3 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 6 strawberries, cut into small chunks

Sprinkle the gelatin over the coconut milk, and let stand for a couple of minutes minutes.  Heat briefly over a medium-low burner, stirring rapidly, until the gelatin dissolves.  Add the honey, and stir until that also dissolves.  Remove from heat. Stir in basil chunks, and set aside.

Evenly distribute strawberry chunks between four ramekins or small bowls.  Pour coconut milk mixture over the strawberries.  Chill mixture for a couple of hours, or until the mixture has firmed.  Serve cold, either in the ramekins or turned out and topped with some sort of decadent berry sauce (which I have yet to make).

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Filed under coconut, dessert, strawberry, Uncategorized

When you need chocolate

I’m not one to actually try recipes from other blogs most of the time.  I tend to quit reading the ingredient list halfway through, or start improvising madly upon discovering that I only have two out of the five ingredients I need for some particular concoction.  But this time, I had all the ingredients, I really didn’t improvise*, and I wasn’t disappointed.

So what are you waiting for?  Try this recipe.  Now.  You will thank me** later.

*I substituted vanilla sugar for the vanilla extract and sugar.  Vanilla sugar = sugar that has been sitting in a bowl with a vanilla bean or two for a week or longer, and if you’ve never made it, I suggest you go buy a vanilla bean and try it.  The vanilla bean can be reused for multiple batches of sugar, and the scent makes me deliriously happy every time I start baking something with it.  If you must, think of it as cheap therapy for the winter months.

** … err, Smitten Kitchen, actually.

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Filed under baking, chocolate, dessert

French tart

I have a sinking suspicion I’ll get more interesting hits for the title of this post than usual. But I’m not sure how to describe it. Blasphemous tart dough? Perhaps. The recipe is from here (I won’t repeat it here), and when I saw the instructions, I headed straight for the kitchen. See, I hate making tart crusts. I screw them up almost every time.  But this one looked simple — foolproof, in fact.

Which is why I messed with the recipe, and sort of stopped following directions at some point. Typical.

I substituted olive oil for vegetable oil, and used 3 oz all purpose flour, 2 oz almond flour instead of just 5 oz. all purpose flour.  I also had no sugar, so I used golden syrup in its place.  Everything else was pretty much the same.  I did not parbake the shell before filling it (with pineapple and quince jam and some canned pineapple we had in the house — we were getting kind of low on supplies before we left).  In hindsight, I really should have done this, but even despite that, it turned out pretty well.  Here’s the tart, just before going in the oven:

The dough did not hold together, which I expected with the almond flour substitution. This is why I don’t have a plated shot — it looked sort of like a fruit cobbler looks after kids attack.  After ~50 minutes of cooking (which would be shorter if I had parbaked, but I digress), the crust was almost shortbread-like, and paired nicely with the fruit.  I will definitely be making this again … Though maybe I’ll follow the instructions next time.

** I’m on vacation at the moment, and won’t be responding to comments.  This is also the last post I managed to cobble together before I left.  No worries, though — I’ll be back at the end of May with more about my trip! **

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Filed under almonds, baking, dessert, vegetarian

Pumpkin cake

I know what you’re thinking. Pumpkin cake? In spring? Yes, it’s a somewhat odd choice, especially given the 30 degree (Celsius) weather we had this weekend.  For some reason, I woke up Saturday, inhaled the slightly humid New Haven air, and thought squash in dessert form would be a good idea.

Please, someone, I need an intervention.

Ok, so there’s a back story to this. I love pumpkin. We have a party planned for October. And this? it’s the start of our attempt to sort of feel out the menu.  And for your purposes, this is actually quite adaptable.  Swap pumpkin for grated carrot or zucchini, and I think you’ll end up with a semi-healthy and delicious dessert.  Turn it into cupcakes, each with a frosty peak.

Or just do what I really wanted to do and forget healthy: just make the cream cheese frosting.

You will notice we didn’t frost the outside of the cake. We couldn’t have — there wasn’t enough of it left.

Recipe after the jump.

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Filed under baking, dessert, eggs, frosting, ginger, pumpkin, squash, vegetarian

Pavlova revisited

I wasn’t going to post this picture, mostly because this is what the pavlova I posted about looks like after you’ve taken leftovers home and dressed it with whatever you have left.  But apparently, it’s making people hungry. So here it is again.

That’s all for now, but a NYC restaurant week post is in the works.

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Pavlova, Take 2

Apologies for the single blurry photo in this post.  I made a pavlova for an Australia day potluck we attended on Saturday night, and were in a bit of a hurry to get there, so the pictures suffered a little.   But take my word for it: if you’ve never had pavlova before, this is how it is supposed to be (unlike my first attempt, which was good, but sort of deflated).  It’s essentially a meringue cake, shaped like a nest and baked slowly and carefully, so the outer crust is crunchy and the interior is gooey and almost marshmallowy in flavor.  This one had a hint of meyer lemon, because I couldn’t resist, and got piled high with unsweetened whipped cream, kiwi and strawberry slices, and passionfruit syrup.  It’s so good that I ate some for breakfast and dinner, even after having about 4 slices last night.  What’s that you say? Yes, I am a glutton.

There were two pavlovas, you see, both delicious and inviting, as well as chocolate and coconut coated, jam-filled sponge cake squares known as lamingtons, which you absolutely must try if you are ever in Australia. Not to mention a proper roast with gravy and potatoes, and cabbage cooked until it tasted almost like roasted brussels sprouts.  The other pavlova was topped with peaches and a raspberry puree, which I can definitely recommend as an alternative, but any summery fruit will do.  This is a summer dessert, so if you make it now, make sure you live somewhere warm. Or want to imagine you’re living somewhere warm — sometimes that’s just as good.

This recipe is from Maggie Harvest, which is a beautiful, somewhat indulgent cookbook, full of all sorts of funny and delicious things. If you want to know how to cook kangaroo tail, for example, this is the book for you.

Recipe after the jump.

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Filed under Australia, baking, dessert, egg whites