Monday, April 30, 2012

ina garten's lemon loaf cake

Finally back in SF after a whirlwind wedding weekend in LA. I was looking forward to seeing family and relatives, and to eating all of the wonderful food that I miss so much, but all of the events left me (and the kids) overtired and cranky. I am glad to be back home, and to have a chance to cook and and eat simply again.

We are kicking off our week home with a lemon loaf cake. A friend is having a tough time in her personal life, and I thought we could give her a little sweet to cheer her up. Filled with lemon zest and eggs, this loaf cake is surprisingly light, with a tender crumb. When life gives you lemons - make lemon cake!

Ina Garten's Lemon Cake

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

vegetarian gyoza

Not exactly a new recipe. In fact, no recipe link today. Unfortunately in the last few weeks my 3 a week resolution has been felled by 1) Spring Break, 2) a really nasty flu, and 3) my mother's visit from Taiwan. On the upside, what better timing for a visit from my mom? It's been great to bask in her attention and sleep in while she gives the kids breakfast, and have homemade gyoza for dinner. Yippee for moms (especially moms who specialize in homemade gyoza)!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

cavatappi with lemon, ricotta, and arugula

After a week in Tahoe and 3 days in bed from a bout with the flu, I'm finally starting to think about cooking again! Tonight's simpler-than-simple dinner was inspired by the beautiful spring produce I found in the market today - just picked corn, tender arugula, and fresh basil. Veggies this fresh don't need much cooking to taste great. Happy Spring!

Lemon, Ricotta, Arugula, and Basil Pasta

Saturday, April 7, 2012

marie callendar's lemon cheesecake pie

Having grown up in Southern California, I've always had a fondness for Marie Callendar's pies. When I was young, it was always such a treat if a visitor brought a pie to share. My favorites were the fresh strawberry, piled high with strawberry and glistening under a ruby glaze, or the sour cream cheesecake pie, with its velvety cream cheese layer topped with the smoothest, whitest cloud of sour cream. What luxury!

Faced with a surfeit of lemons this week, I found this recipe for Marie Callendar's lemon cheesecake pie. It was easy and quick to make using a pre-baked graham cracker pieshell, though as you can see the crust doesn't hold up well. Next time I'll probably make my own crust using a shortbread dough, and sprinkle with a touch more sugar to bring out the lemony flavor of the lemon curd on top. For an easy springtime dessert, this recipe worked out great (and apologies for the pictures this week - as you can see, serving the guests took precedence over photography this week!)

Marie Callendar's Lemon Cheesecake Pie

celery and mushroom salad

What a week! Between the kids' Spring Parties and playdates, I've barely had time to sit down. We had an impromptu dinner party on Thursday evening. The menu: curried deviled eggs, celery and mushroom salad, truffled pasta, and lemon cheesecake pie. As it was a last-minute decision to invite friends over, I found recipes using what we had on hand.

This celery and mushroom salad is adapted from Lidia Bastiniach's recipe, linked below. It was fine, but not memorable - next time I'll try substituting kale for the celery, which seemed too bland in this salad.

Lidia's Celery and Mushroom Salad

Monday, April 2, 2012

lemon parmesan pearl barley risotto

We've been trying out various whole grains this year, and pearl barley has turned out to be one of our favorites (for some reason calling it "Monkey Rice" has turned it into a hit with at least one of the buns, which I consider a success). Nutty and sweet, the grain adds some nice texture to this dish, which otherwise can feel almost too simple. Lemon and basil combine to lend a Springtime note. Warm with some crusty bread, it makes a nice early Spring dinner, or have it cold for a lunchtime picnic, as we did yesterday under the cherry blossoms!

Lemon Parmesan Pearl Barley Risotto
3 cups pearl barley, cooked
3 lemons, juiced
1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons finely julienned fresh basil
sea salt to taste

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together lemon juice, zest, olive oil, and parmesan. Pour in pearl barley and mix well. Fold in basil. Top with sea salt. Serve hot or at room temperature.