Thursday, March 29, 2012

Meyer Lemon Doughnuts

This is the time of year when I really wish I lived in Southern California. Not because of the rain in Seattle, but because it's Meyer Lemon Season in Southern California. Meyer Lemon's are so pretty and smooth,a beautiful blend of orange and yellow in color.  Not the bright knobby yellow of a regular lemon,much more subtle. The Meyer Lemon is a citrus fruit native to China and thought to be a cross between a true lemon and either a mandarin or common orange.  It was introduced to the United States in 1908 .  Alice Waters of Chez Panisse made it very popular during the California Cuisine food revolution and Martha Stewart's use of it made it even more popular.  Personally, I don't care who brought it to the U.S. or who is responsible for making it so popular . I'm just glad it's here and available.  It's like waiting for the first flat of strawberries of the season. When I saw the overflowing basket of Meyer Lemons at my favorite market I couldn't pass them by.  By the time I got home with them I had a hundred ideas of how might use them. But when I saw the beautiful photos of the Meyer Lemon Doughnuts by Flour Child over at Pinterest I knew I had to make them.  These are truly addictive, so don't say I didn't warn you.

Meyer Lemon Doughnuts
Adapted from Gourmet, December 1999 & December 2006
Thanks to Flour Child for inspiring me to try these

For the doughnuts:
1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons warm water (105–115°F)
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for sprinkling and rolling out dough
1 cup whole milk at room temperature
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar + 3/4 cup to roll the finished doughnuts in
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
About 10 cups vegetable oil for deep frying

Stir together yeast and warm water in a small bowl until yeast is dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If yeast doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
Mix together flour, milk, butter, yolks, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and yeast mixture in mixer at low speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat 3 minutes more.
Scrape dough into a ball in the center of the bowl, then sprinkle lightly with flour to keep a crust from forming. Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Or you could let dough rise in bowl in refrigerator 8 to 12 hours.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin to 1/2 inch thick. Cut out as many rounds as possible with a small round cookie cutter ,I used 2 inch diameter one for the smaller ones and a 3 inch diameter for the larger ones. Transfer doughnuts to a lightly floured large baking sheet. Cover doughnuts with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until slightly puffed, about 30 minutes (45 minutes if dough was cold when cutting out doughnuts). Do not re roll scraps ,you can , but they will be your testers and may be slightly tough.
Heat 2 1/2 inches oil in a deep 4-quart heavy pot until it registers 350°F on thermometer. Fry doughnuts, 3-4 at a time, turning occasionally with a wire or mesh skimmer or a slotted spoon, until puffed and golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain. (Return oil to 350°F between batches.) Let cool.

For the lemon curd:
An adaptation of the recipe I used for my Tarte au Citron
2 large whole eggs+1 egg yolk
1/2 cup very fine or superfine sugar
1/2 cup juice from Meyer Lemons (will take about 5 lemons)
2 teaspoons of Meyer Lemon Zest
1 stick of unsalted butter-room temperature and cut into 1 inch pieces
Small pinch of sea salt

In a double boiler over medium heat whisk everything but the butter together. Whisk this constantly ,don't stop or you will end up with curdled or scrambled eggs instead of lemon curd. Continue whisking 5-10 minutes,until the mixture starts to bubble and holds it shape when the back of a wooden spoon is coated.(If using a thermometer it should reach 160 degrees F).   If you can draw a line through the mixture coating the back of the spoon and that line stays clear then it's ready. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 3 minutes,then whisk in the butter until all of the butter is melted. Place in a bowl,cover with plastic wrap directly onto the curd and place in refrigerator until mixture cools and firms ,approximately 2-3 hours.

Once the doughnuts are completely cool fill with  the lemon curd. I followed the tip from Flour Child and I used a plastic squeeze bottles with a long tip. I used a wooden chopstick to poke a hole in the side of the doughnut then filled it with the squeeze bottle. When the doughnuts are filled, roll them liberally in granulated sugar. 

Since Meyer Lemon Season only comes once a year, I bought enough to try some other recipes.  Check back in with me, I'm thinking of Meyer Lemon Cupcakes made with Limoncello !  Or maybe Meyer Lemon gelato with Dorie Greenspan's Meyer Lemon Sables au Citron !  I think I will have doughnut while I make my decision. Bon Appetit !

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tarte au Citron de Genin and the Little House of Love

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Are you wondering what this picture has to do with Jacques Genin's wonderful pastry? Read on

Have you ever seen a photograph of something or a place that just stuck in your soul ? And every time you thought of it , you knew you would find a way to get there, to be there  and experience everything you imagined from that photograph.  A few places have stayed with me like that, Positano and St Remy were two that I carried with me after seeing photographs of each of them. And when I had the opportunity to visit both places I had such strong stirrings in my heart and soul .  The feeling is hard to describe,but it's being able to stand in a place that you've been  in love with and let out the kind of sigh that is usually only elicited by a lover.  And that feeling just envelops you and you know that ,yes it is just as magical and wonderful as you imagined and then there is that  feeling that you've been there before .. as the wind blows across your face or you feel the heat of the sun on your feel content, you feel like you feel like you are home.  Positano and St Remy aren't the only places that do that for me..Paris is at the top of the list. A new one that I recently discovered has taken it's place in my heart and soul along with others.  This sweet house on the beach of Anguilla. 

 I'm not usually a pink and blue house person, I like earthy monochromatic tones, but when I saw this home in the New York Times real estate section I immediately fell in love. I stared at the photos for hours while reading everything I could  about the house and Anguilla. Karen,the owner of the house- La Petite Maison d'amour (The Little House of Love),designed and built the place herself. One visitor wrote: "there are pictures of her (Karen) hauling and hammering so I really believe that she somehow managed to infuse love into every pore of the place." Someday I will get there and feel the ocean spray and sit in the sun on that beautiful deck.

Now I am day dreaming of Caribbean breezes and the sound of the waves on the beach,waking up and looking out at the beautiful sea.  With all this daydreaming I feel the need for citrus,something light and summery and just as delicious and sweet as this little beach house. 

I stumbled on something delicious when I saw the picture of this tart over at Paris Patisseries.  And since I can't just hop a plane to Paris to taste it, I knew I had to find the recipe to make it. Don't you just love the Internet ?  I found the recipe but had to use my very basic high school French and Google translator to figure out the recipe. Google gave a sweet little translation for how many servings the recipe makes:" a pie of 6 people ", I love it. Here is my attempt at trying to make something as gorgeous and perfect as the one created by Jacques Genin. You can find the recipe I used here . It is a simple uncomplicated recipe but must be made with love,care and perfection in order to even come within the same solar system of Jacques Genin's quality.

Chef Genin's book,  Tarte au Citron de Genin is available through Amazon and contains everything you could want to know about his tarts(It is in French). Since I'm still struggling with my translation of Pierre Herme's Macaron book, I'll put Chef Genin's on the back burner for now. (Yes,yes, I know the Macaron book is now published in English -but it's a good exercise in trying to teach myself French!)

 I watched the You Tube Video 5 times and those look like limes being squeezed and grated ,so I was confused as to why a Tarte au Citron, Lemon Tart, would be made with limes. I started questioning the translation provided by Google. Voila, I figured it out, or rather David Lebovitz figured it out for me. I was reading David's post on lemon bars and he mentioned that Jacques Genin prefers to use fresh limes for his lemon tart !

Pour une tarte de 6 persoI prefer Out of respect for Chef Genin, I'm not publishing the recipe on my site. If you decide to try it and do the Google translation I will tell you that icing sugar is powdered sugar; use almond meal flour for the ground almonds (unless you can grind the almonds very very fine); and caster sugar is very very fine sugar.Warning the sweet pastry dough is so delicious you will want to eat it before it's baked.

Next time I make this, and there will be a next time, I will not add the zest to the pastry cream as the recipe calls for.  I prefer my pastry cream to be smooth and the lime zest takes on an odd color when cooked with the pastry cream. But the pastry cream, oh my goodness,it's so rich and tart,absolutely delicious. I will keep practicing with this recipe until I create a tart as beautiful as the Chef's. But in the mean time I think I will have a small slice and day dream of my house in Anguilla.
Pour la pâte sucrée : Pour la crème citron : La veille, préparer la pâte sucrée.ur cela, fendre la ½ gousse de vanille en deux et retirer
Le jour J, préparer la crème citron.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Little Bites

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I did some baking earlier this week and had some delicious left over icing in my refrigerator calling my name.  I gave in today and made some mini bite cupcakes. After all , we can't let icing go to waste, I think it's an unwritten baker's code ! I've made these cupcakes before and posted about them here .  This recipe has become my go to recipe for chocolate cupcakes. They have a deep dark chocolate flavor with a moist beautiful crumb. I usually follow the recipe exactly as written but I didn't realize I was out of mayonnaise so I substituted Greek Yogurt -they were just as delicious . The recipe is from the book :Sarabeth's Bakery:From my Hands to Yours.  Black Beauty Cupcakes-don't they sound gorgeous and mouth watering and well, elegant for cupcakes ?  They are all of that and more .

Sarabeth's cookbook contains so many incredible recipes- I highly recommend you  add it to your cookbook library. Her blog also has some recipes to tide you over until you buy the cookbook !

You can find the recipe  at Entertaining (The chocolate ganache frosting recipe that Sarabeth uses for these  is included with that recipe) .  I used Cream Cheese Icing with Lyle’s Golden Syrup for my frosting.

Black Beauty Cupcakes
Makes 12  regular size cupcakes or 36 mini cupcakes


Softened unsalted butter, for the pans
½ cup cocoa powder plus 2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder, divided*
1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, divided *
1 cup hot water
1 cup superfine sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¾ cup mayonnaise
*If you are using muffin/cupcake liners you can eliminate the 2 additional tablespoons of cocoa powder and flour


1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F.
2. To make the cakes, butter the insides of 12 muffin cups or use muffin liners. .(If you are using muffin/cupcake liners you can eliminate this step)-Sift together 2 tablespoons of the cocoa and 2 tablespoons of the flour. Dust the insides of the molds with the cocoa-flour mixture, and tap out the excess
3. Combine the remaining ½ cup cocoa powder and the hot water in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Whisk to dissolve the cocoa. Whisk in the sugar. Attach the bowl to the mixer and fix with the paddle attachment. Sift the remaining 1 ½ cups flour, the baking soda, and salt together. With the mixer on low speed, in thirds, add the flour mixture, alternating with two equal additions of the mayonnaise, and mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the batter is smooth. (The batter will seem a little thinner than usual.) Using a 2 ½-inch-diameter ice-cream scoop, divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
4. Bake until a cake tester inserted in a cake comes out clean, about 20 minutes(for the minis about 12-15minutes). Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Gently unmold the cakes onto a rack, and let cool completely.
 (The cupcakes can be made up to 1 day ahead, covered with a cake dome, and refrigerated. Serve chilled or at room temperature.)

I found this fabulous frosting  recipe over at Hey Good Looking What you got Cooking and it's a perfect not too sweet vanilla frosting .

Cream Cheese Icing with Lyle’s Golden Syrup*
1 (8 ounce) package of Philly’s Cream Cheese softened
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 Tablespoon Lyle’s Golden Syrup(if you can't find Lyle's you can substitute honey)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and cream together until smooth. I used a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip to decorate these cupcakes.

Most of these went to work with J this morning,but of course I kept a little secret stash for us. And I'm getting ready to have one now with an iced cold glass of milk.  A great way to chase away the grey skies in Seattle !

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ocean Getaway

Just back from  Seabrook Washington with family and friends this week.  Walked on the beach,drank some champagne,cooked some awesome meals and  relaxed from city life -- good times! The biggest challenge wasn't packing-1 pair of jeans,sneakers and 2 sweatshirts-it was  what to cook for 6 adults and 2 kids and not make it complicated.  We took turns at meals and I made dinner on Friday (my favorite lasagna) and breakfast on Saturday.  I found  the perfect recipe for breakfast. I wanted something different and something that I could be sure no one had tasted before and I found it : Sweet potato hash topped with eggs-yummy and good for you .

 I found the recipe at The Kitchn . I could spends hours (and sometimes do) just perusing recipes on that blog and decorating ideas on their other blog :

When I saw the photo of the hash, with all those lovely caramelized onions and sweet potatoes , I knew it would be perfect for breakfast.  And besides, I could make it 2 days ahead of time so no slaving over the kitchen stove while at the ocean for this gal.

Adapted from The Kitchn
Thanks to Faith at The Kitchn for this recipe,click on The Kitchn to see her beautiful photos and prep.
serves 8
2 pounds onions, about 2 large
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Table salt
1 pound fresh Italian sausage or chorizo- I mixed 1/2 Italian and 1/2 chorizo-perfect !
3 pounds sweet potatoes, about 3 large potatoes, ideally organic-I used 4 potatoes-3 sweet potatoes and 1 yam
6 large garlic cloves
4 long stalks rosemary, about 1/4 cup of leaves-make sure you use fresh-dried just won't make the same dish
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste if necessary
Freshly ground black pepper
To serve:
Large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese, to serve

To make the hash:
Heat the oven to 450°F. Peel the onions and cut them in half lengthwise, then cut them into thin half-moons. Cut the half-moons in half. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. When it foams up add the onions and sprinkle lightly with salt. (Don't worry if they are crammed into the pan; they will rapidly cook down.) Lower the heat slightly and cook the onions for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and lowering the heat if they seem to be burning. Cook them until they are very dark brown.
Meanwhile, put the sausage in another skillet and brown over medium-high heat, chopping it up into fine crumbles with a spatula. Cook the sausage for about 10 minutes, or until it is browned and beginning to crisp. Drain away any excess fat.
While the onions and sausage are cooking, chop the unpeeled sweet potatoes into cubes that are about 1/2-inch to a side. Finely mince the garlic and rosemary leaves, and toss them in a large bowl with the sweet potatoes. Toss with the olive oil, kosher salt, and a generous helping of black pepper.
When the onions are dark brown and the sausage is crispy, stir these into the sweet potatoes as well. Line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper, and spread out the sweet potatoes evenly. Roast the sweet potatoes for 30 to 45 minutes (roasting time depends on the size and uniformity of the sweet potato chunks, as well as the variety of sweet potato you buy) or until they are soft and browned.
Refrigerate the cooled hash for up to 5 days.
To serve:
Heat the oven to 425°F. Spread a relatively thin layer of the (already cooked) sweet potato hash in a baking dish, such as a cast iron skillet or a 9x13-inch baking dish. You can also bake in individual ramekins. Make small wells in the sweet potatoes and crack in large eggs. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are hot and the eggs are baked through. (Test the eggs by prodding them with a fork to check the firmness of the white and the yolk; baked eggs are deceptive in that the white often looks much less cooked than it really is.)

Serve immediately, with shavings or sprinkles of Parmesan cheese, if desired.

I wanted to make sweet potato biscuits to go with the hash but unfortunately I didn't pick up enough sweet potatoes to make the biscuits, so I improvised and made pumpkin biscuits. These were incredible with melted butter that had maple syrup mixed into the butter along with a little maple syrup dribbled over the biscuits when served. Mmmm good.

Pumpkin biscuits with maple butter
yields approximately 18 (2-inch) biscuits
For the biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into cubes
1 cup pureed pumpkin (approximately 1 large potato)
1/2 cup buttermilk, plus additional as needed
For the maple butter
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
Preheat oven to 375°

In a large bowl, mix together all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender (or your fingers if you don't have one) cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is a mix of pea-size balls and small crumbs.
In a separate bowl, mix together the pumpkin and buttermilk until well-combined. Fold into the flour mixture, adding more (up to 4 tablespoons) buttermilk if necessary. The dough should form a nice ball, and be just a bit on the sticky side, as opposed to crumbly and dry. Chill the dough for thirty minutes, if desired, although you can bake them off immediately if you would like.
Pat out the dough onto a lightly floured surface to about a 1-inch thickness (do not roll out the dough with a rolling pin). Cut out rounds using a well floured biscuit cutter. Gather the remaining scraps and repeat until all the dough is used. Place the biscuits on a large sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes (or bake in batches).
For the maple butter, mix the room temperature butter and maple syrup until completely combined and smooth. Serve with warm biscuits or refrigerate until needed.
Note: the cooked biscuits will freeze beautifully and can be pulled out at a moments notice. Just bake at 375° until heated through. Place a little gravy boat of maple syrup on the table so that guests can dribble a little syrup over the buttered biscuits-heavenly !

Our little sunroom at the Sand Dollar Cottage
Beautiful sunny spot to have coffee in the morning and watch the waves come in

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hello Gorgeous-Where Have You Been

Hello my gorgeous little chocolate bites !  I've missed you and I'm so glad we are back together.

Where has the time brief little break turned into almost 10 months. I never meant to be gone that long,but life plays little tricks on us and just when we think we know where we are going another door opens or another fork appears in the road. Last Spring I thought I was going to fulfill my dream of being a pastry chef in a small bakery run by a friend. Unfortunately the economy did not want to cooperate and my friend's financing fell through and the money dried up faster than a slice of homemade bread left out on the counter too long. I was crushed, what would I do-go back to my old job-that didn't seem to be an option, I knew I wanted to go forward. So I found a job in the travel industry again, intensely disliked it and quit after 2 months. I am now working  from home-how lucky is that.  While there have been many challenges this year with family ,friends and my health- I feel very blessed to be where I am right now- I am exactly where I am supposed to be. This blog may change a little,not too much,because I still love to bake. But I am dedicated to losing the weight I gained during this last 10 months of depression eating-you know what I'm talking about-so you will see a mix of baking,traveling and just thoughts on life. Thank you all for your words of support and standing by waiting for my return. I hope you will stay with me on my journey.

I would love to say these little sweet morsels of chocolate are fat free but alas they aren't, but they are wonderfully delicious. I found this recipe in my recent online issue of Desserts Magazine.  The recipe for the devil's food cake and fudge icing (a very rich chocolate ganache made with addition of Lyle's golden syrup) is by Bea Vo.  The only change I made to the recipe was adding a sprinkle of sea salt to the finished cupcakes. You can find the recipe online at a sweet blog called  The Bountiful Plate.  Or you can buy Bea's book "Tea With Bea: Recipes from Bea's of Bloomsbury" at

The recipe yielded 30 cupcakes,gave a half dozen to my neighbor and the rest went off to work with J-otherwise I would be on the treadmill or walking the dog all day long !