If you like lemon bars, I think you’ll love this variation of my Meyer Lemon-Mascarpone Bars, which substitutes passion fruit juice for lemon juice. Like lemon bars, these Passion Fruit Bars have a thick, buttery shortbread crust and luscious ooey, gooey filling, but with the distinct, floral flavor and aroma of passion fruit. The sharp tartness of the passion fruit is nicely balanced by the sweetness of the sugar and the richness of the creamy mascarpone. The glaze adds a touch more sweet-tart flavor and a little crunch from the passion fruit seeds.
Citrus season reaches its peak in winter. Isn’t that great timing? Just as Mother Nature is dumping massive amounts of snow on many parts of the country, here in California, she is providing an abundance of tangerines, oranges, grapefruits, and lemons so that we can bask in the bright, citrusy sunshine even on the coldest days of winter. To me, nothing says summer-in-the-middle-of-winter more than meyer lemons.
My husband and I just returned from a relaxing and fun-filled weekend in San Francisco. We had a wonderful time discovering new restaurants and revisiting old favorites, wandering around the city, and watching the Italians and Kiwis race for the Louis Vuitton Cup and the right to face Oracle/Team USA in the 34th America’s Cup which is being held in San Francisco Bay. I’ll be posting more about our trip later, but I wanted to share this recipe first. Continue reading
Growing up, I wasn’t a particularly picky eater. Like many kids, I just didn’t like vegetables. I would always grumble at my mom’s insistence that I eat something green and/or leafy. Thank goodness she never made me sit at the dinner table until I finished all my vegetables because I would most likely have sat there until I turned 18. I’m proud to say that I’ve come a long way since then. I am certainly much better at eating vegetables now. In fact, I enjoy eating a variety of them and even grow some in my garden.
Feta, the firm, yet crumbly cheese from Greece, is transformed into a smooth and tasty dip, with the texture and tanginess reminiscent of hummus. Once you make it, it will become one of your favorites. Trust me!
Over the last couple of posts, I’ve taken you to Hawaii for salmon poke and to Tahiti for poisson cru. Today, I’m taking you halfway around the world to Italy for pesce crudo, which literally translates to “raw fish.” It is similar to the Japanese sashimi, but instead of wasabi, soy sauce, and pickled ginger, Italians traditionally dress the fish with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon, and sea salt. As with the other raw fish dishes I’ve shared with you, the key to crudo is to use the freshest quality ingredients and let their flavors shine.
Persimmons have always looked rather unappealing to me – bruised, overly ripe, and way too soft, as if they would burst and ooze at the slightest touch. Sometimes, their skins had black streaks which made them appear almost rotten. I could never understand why my Mom liked them so much. As a teenager, I vividly remember countless times when she would lovingly offer me some of its dark orange, almost gelatinous flesh cradled in her hands, and how I would rebuff her each time. Being the bratty teen that I was, I would crinkle my nose, make that “face” that signifies utter disgust and total disinterest, and walk away with my hands folded across my chest, without ever tasting it. She seemed almost disappointed that she couldn’t share her enjoyment of this “weird” fruit with me, yet, somehow, she also had a look of relief that I now assume meant, “Yippee, I get to eat all of this luscious fruit by myself.” She would always cut the persimmon in half and expertly take spoonfuls of fruit, leaving the peel almost completely intact, her hands sticky and dripping with orange-colored juice.
I have never liked peppers, partly because I don’t have a high tolerance for spicy foods and because I don’t really care for their taste. When I do use them, mostly in the form of bell peppers, it is mainly to add color to stir-fries, salads, and kabobs. Then, last year, I discovered one exception to my great dislike for peppers in the form of the jalapeño. They have a moderate “kick” to them, but they’re not intense, especially when seeded and their membranes are removed. They became a slight obsession, even planting them in my garden so I could have a steady supply of them. Continue reading
How many of you use Pinterest? Don’t you just love it? I use it most often to keep track of the many recipes I find on the internet that I would love to try. However, I keep “pinning” these delicious-looking recipes, but I never seem to actually make any of them. Well, today, I decided to peruse my “Recipes to Try” pinboard and picked out a very popular one, these Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Cookies. I was intrigued by the combination of flavors. Sounds good, huh? Continue reading
These muffins, courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis, sounded so good and unique that I just had to make them. The recipe called for both olive oil and balsamic vinegar, ingredients not commonly found in muffins. Don’t worry, these two flavors are subtle, not overpowering at all. The balsamic vinegar complements the sweetness of the muffins, and the olive oil imparts a fruity flavor. While vegetable or canola oil are not unusual in baking, olive oil is not often used because of its distinct flavor, but in this recipe, however, the olive oil is a great addition.
I am huge fan of the Meyer lemon. I prefer to use it whenever possible instead of the regular lemon because it is slightly sweeter, without the acidic flavor. I have a prolific dwarf Meyer lemon tree in a container in my garden that produces about 60-70 lemons twice a year. I share some with friends, but I juice most of them and store the juice in 1- or 2-cup portions in freezer bags. Depending on the amount a recipe calls for, I defrost a smaller or bigger bag. I am spoiled having Meyer lemon juice all year long, since I can make these anytime the mood strikes me. Continue reading
Today’s dish showcases beautiful homegrown radishes from my garden. Radishes, one of the easiest vegetables to grow, are also one of the most nutritious root vegetables and a great source for Vitamin C and calcium. When eaten raw, radishes are crunchy and has a sharp, pungent flavor. However, when cooked, radishes become mellow and lose their spicy zing. For this recipe, the radishes are first roasted, then their greens are added and the whole thing is finished with butter and lemon. Prepared this way, radishes lose their crunch, but instead, takes on crisp, yet tender texture. Their flavor is reminiscent of roasted turnips. The greens, which are slightly bitter, retain their peppery zip and they make a great substitute for arugula. Roasted radishes make a great side dish for roast chicken or a grilled steak. Continue reading
Having a vegetable garden has been such a joy to me! I know I’ve said it a few times before, but it’s worth repeating. The weekly harvest of tomatoes, zucchinis, peppers, string beans, and radishes has really inspired me to cook in a way I’ve never done before. Take the zucchini, for example. It is actually one of the few vegetables I don’t dislike, but I usually only ate it breaded and fried, with gobs of ranch dressing. The very fact that, in the last week, I’ve made zucchini muffins, zucchini chips (ok, this is not a surprise to anyone who knows my penchant for fried stuff dipped in fat), and now, zucchini fritters, is a testament to the power of home grown vegetables and organic gardening.
Yesterday I needed a break from the weekend chores so I decide to make some shortbread cookies. They are easy to make and I had all the ingredients on hand. This recipe is adapted from one given to Aunt Janet by Mrs. Beaten, a Scottish neighbor of hers when she lived in Hilo, HI. These cookies have a great lemony flavor and are perfect with a cup of tea.
Lemon Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from a recipe by Mrs. Beaten
Yields 2 dozen cookies
10 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon (preferably meyer lemon)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
1 tablespoon lemon thyme, finely chopped for garnish