As a result of making the limoncello, I had a hell of a lot of leftover peeled lemons, even after using a good chunk to make myself some lemon curd. I’ve done enough Middle Eastern cooking that I’d seen preserved lemons pop up as an ingredient in dishes, but either didn’t have any on me, or the cheapest I would’ve been able to find them would’ve been close to $10 on the internet. As it turns out, making your own is ridiculously easy, so I decided to use my leftover meyer lemons accordingly.  As far as I can tell, the lack of peels shouldn’t cause any issues, and in fact may have assisted in being able to fit more lemons in my jar. 

The recipe comes from the Ottolenghi and Tamini cookbook Jerusalem, a cookbook I don’t use nearly often enough. As the lemons sit for the first phase of this, they will naturally settle, and can be pushed down a bit to allow you to fit in more lemons (see the difference between pics 2 and 3). I started out with about seven lemons, and ended up with ten in there, plus an extra half lemon.  This is gonna sit in my cupboard for a while to settle now, but when the time comes to use these in a recipe, it’s gonna be glorious.

Preserved Lemons
Makes however many lemons you can fit in whatever sized jar you have

Ingredients

  • Meyer lemons (mine were peeled as a result of making the limoncello, with or without peel shouldn’t make a difference)
  • 1 T sea salt per lemon
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • olive oil

Take your lemons, and cut a cross in them, leaving about ¾ths of an inch from the base. Fill the cross with 1 T sea salt, so that the lemon looks like the first picture above. Put into your jar, and repeat with however many lemons you choose to preserve. Seal your jar, and place in a cool dark place for a week. Check on it occasionally, and as the lemons settle, add more lemons if you feel like it. 

After a week, open your jar, and press down on your lemons to release whatever juices haven’t already been released. If necessary, top off with additional fresh squeezed lemon juice to cover the lemons. (This was not necessary for me.)  Put in two sprigs of fresh rosemary, and however much red pepper flakes you feel comfortable with, and top with a thin layer of olive oil. Then, reseal, flip the jar upside down and right side up a bit to help the flakes settle throughout the jar, and put back into your cool dark place for another three to four weeks. The longer you let the jar sit, the more the flavors will infuse.

And then, use the hell out of them in your cooking!

I’ve got some recipes coming up that call for diced pumpkin! Not pureed, not roasted, just plain up diced pumpkin. As such, I decided to do a bit of a work ahead today, and dice all of that up. It turns out that there’s a neat trick to being able to peel a pumpkin’s skin off, that I have to thank deskninjastudios for telling me about. 

First off, be sure to get a pie or sugar pumpkin; you’ll get more flesh out of it, and it’s way easier to manage.  Also, do this on the floor; you’ll get a better amount of leverage, and you’ll be less likely to hurt yourself while cutting.

Use a serrated knife to cut a lid in the top of the pumpkin like you would if you were making a jack-o-lantern. Then, use the knife to cut the pumpkin into sections; the smaller you cut the sections, the easier they will peel eventually.  Once you’ve cut your sections, scoop out the stringy flesh and seeds. (If you want to, save the seeds to roast or do something else with in the future!  I didn’t here.)

Preheat your oven to 350, and turn your sections so that the flesh side is down on a foil lined sheet. Roast the sections for 45 minutes, until the skin is starting to deepen to a brownish color.  Take your sections, while still warmish, and start peeling. The skin comes off easier on the smaller sections; the larger sections will require you working it more with your fingernails, but it will still come off easier than otherwise. Spot cool it with water if you need to cool it to a workable point. 

And then, once you’ve got the skin separated, dice your pumpkin!

Door County cherries have just come into full force at the farmer’s market, and this recipe showed up on Deb’s blog right as they did, so the timing on this could not have been better. 

This is probably the last recipe I will ever make with the current oven, except for maybe some roasted salmon tomorrow (trying to gauge if it’ll go bad before the new oven is in on Weds). And admittedly, I will not miss checking the oven every five minutes to see whether or not it’s started on fire because it’s above 400. 

Cast iron skillets are awesome things, but occasionally, cleaning them can be a bitch.  Gonna give you some tips, as you may have stuff sticking to it after this recipe. What you want to do is as soon as you’re done using it and it’s cooled off, run hot water over it and scrub it down with a sponge to get any food that’s sticking to it off.  If the food is still sticking, rub it down with salt. Once you’ve got it cleaned off, then pat dry with a towel, wet a paper towel with vegetable oil, and then apply a light coat onto the skillet to protect the seasoning.

Cherry Almond Dutch Baby
Makes one large pancake

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 T sugar
  • .75 c flour
  • .75 c milk
  • almond extract to taste (I also added a bit of vanilla)
  • pinch salt
  • 4 T butter
  • 2 c pitted Door County cherries (tips to follow)

Preheat your oven to 425 (mine was at 400 and anxiously watched throughout the baking process). Whisk or blend together all ingredients except the butter and cherries, until you have a smooth, uniform batter.

In your cast iron skillet, melt your butter over medium high.

If you have not already pitted your cherries, do so now!  The easiest way to do this is to stick a chopstick in towards the center, wait until you feel the pit, and then push it out of the bottom. Do this over a baggie or empty beer bottle to make the mess minimal and easy to clean up.

Once your cherries are pitted, add them to the skillet, cooking for about two minutes, until warmed. Then, remove from heat, pour the batter over the cherries and butter, and put it in the oven for fifteen to twenty minutes. The baby will be golden brown and slightly rumpled on/riding up the sides (see final pic), moreso the longer you have it in the oven.

And then, enjoy warm, possibly with vanilla ice cream.

So this recipe will always be one forever etched in my mind, as it was the one where I found out how to handle an oven fire. (The pictured oven? It’s almost forty years old, near as I can tell.  It’s always run 25 degrees hot at minimum, and lately, it’s been smoking when I use it at higher temperatures.) When I preheated the oven, it seemed to be smoking more than usual – when I opened the oven, there was a small fire on the bottom.  After a quick moment of panic and googling, I learned how to put out the fire.  Gonna share it below, just in case you ever need to put out an oven fire.

1. DON’T OPEN THE OVEN – oxygen only feeds the fire. Let it burn itself out.

2. Turn off the oven and let it sit.

I only opened the oven one more time to see if it had burned out, and almost fed it further. But after that, I just let it sit and when I opened it next, it had burned out. 

The good that came out of this was that I learned how to clean my oven, and that in talking to the landlord about it, I got him to replace it with a gas oven that’s coming this Wednesday. I’ve only cooked with it twice since then, and frankly, I’ve only gotten worried at any temps that are above 400.  It hasn’t set on fire since, at least, so small miracles.

…Anyways.  They’re very good scones!

Strawberry White Chocolate Scones
Makes 8 scones

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 T milk
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 2 c flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • .5 t salt
  • 5 T frozen butter
  • 1 c sliced strawberries
  • 1/3 c white chocolate chips

Frosting

  • .5 c powdered sugar
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1 T milk

Mix together your dry ingredients in a large bowl, and mix together your wet ingredients except for the butter and strawberries and white chocolate in a separate smaller bowl. I accidentally switched the bowl sizes, but it still works.  Take your frozen butter, and grate it into the dry ingredients, and mix it together until the dry ingredients clump like wet sand.  Slice your strawberries into small slices, and then add them and the white chocolate to your wet ingredients. Then combine the wet and dry ingredients, until you have a single ball of dough; don’t be afraid to work extra flour into the dough if it’s too damp.  

Take your ball of dough, put it on a well floured surface, and flatten it into a circle that’s about an inch and a half thick. Divide it into eight wedges, and preheat the oven to 450 (425 on my oven). Bake for about fifteen minutes, until golden brown. 

While your scones bake, whisk together your powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and milk until you have a glaze. Once the scones are down, put them on a rack to cool, and as they’re cooling, drizzle them with the glaze.

And then, enjoy!

This is going to be one of my go to recipes for breakfast in the future.  One, because it’s delicious, and two, you can have everything separate and ready ahead of time, and all you’d need to do is heat up whatever you choose to serve the egg and smoked salmon on, and you’re ready to go.  It’s functionally a breakfast sandwich.

I will be giving you the details for how I poached my eggs, as it worked pretty damn well. 

Smoked Salmon and Poached Egg Open Faced Sandwich
Makes however many eggs and baguettes/bagels you have

Ingredients

  • bagels or bread
  • eggs
  • smoked salmon

To poach your eggs, fill a small pot with water, a splash of white vinegar, and salt.  Crack your eggs into separate holders (ie ramekin, small bowl, whatever) while the water comes to a simmer.  Once simmering, stir the water with a whisk in one direction until it’s spinning around like a small whirlpool. 

Then, add your eggs into the center of the whirlpool one at a time, and turn off the heat.  (This method works for up to four eggs.) Let sit for five minutes, and then remove from the water with a slotted spoon.  Your eggs will be nice and soft in the center, and quite yummy besides.

Take your bagel or bread, and heat it up however your choose.  Lay a slice or two of smoked salmon on it, and your poached egg over the top, and enjoy!

So, yeah, there’s no nice way to cut this – as you get to the later stage of cooking this, this looks like baby poo, and it has about the same consistency, too.  But, if you can get over how it looks, it’s really quite good – I took a fingertip to the spatula after I containered it, and it tasted really good. This is a traditional Persian dish, and a bit of a branch out for me, but it seems like it’ll be pretty filling.

Mizra Ghasemi

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplants
  • .33 c vegetable oil
  • 10 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 t tumeric
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped small (I will give you my tips for doing this in the recipe)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 t tomato paste
  • 3 large eggs, beaten

Preheat your oven to 400 (mine was at 375 due to it running hot), put your eggplants on a lined baking sheet, and pierce them with a fork so that they don’t explode (you don’t want that). Roast them for about 40 to 45 minutes, until they look like picture 2.  Let them cool enough to handle, and then peel the skin away (or scoop away the cooked innards), and mash the flesh as best you can. I did this part two days ahead, and just threw it in the fridge, and the result was just fine.  So long as the eggplant is cooked, you should be okay.

Chop up your garlic cloves (recipe recommends 7, I went above and beyond because my love affair with garlic is well documented by now) while you heat your veggie oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add your garlic, and cook until they’re golden brown, and add your tumeric, stirring until the garlic’s coated.  Then, add your mashed eggplant, and cook for about twenty minutes, stirring frequently for the first ten minutes to help it break down, but then stirring only occasionally after the first ten to allow it to cook.

While this is happening, you can peel your tomatoes! And trust me, there’s a way that’s a lot easier than you know.  Get a pot boiling with water, and cut a small x into the bottom of your tomatoes (I forgot to do this, but it still works even if you don’t do it). Stick your tomatoes in the boiling water for one minute, and have a large bowl or pot ready with ice cold water. Take your tomatoes out after one minute and dip them in the ice water; the skins will peel right away. (You can also use this trick to deseed them by cutting them in half after this and squeezing.)  Then take your peeled tomatoes and chop them up small.

After twenty minutes, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste, and stir well to combine (see pic 4). Cook for another fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Add your beaten eggs at the end of fifteen minutes and stir well, until you get the final picture, which is after about five additional minutes of cooking.  Yes, it looks like baby poo.  It tastes good, I promise.

So, this was an absolute impulse choice for menu planning, because a) eggplants are starting to come into season at the farmer’s market, and you can get pretty big ones for quite good prices, b) the mozzarella/mint combo sounded good on top of it, and c) I like how baba ganoush sounds when you say it out loud. Be sure it’s not too hot when you’re making this, as it requires the oven above 400 degrees for at least a solid hour.

Baba Ganoush Bowls with Mozzarella, Pomegranate, and Mint
Makes ???, turns out the pomegranate seeds were more garnish than an actual ingredient, and that screwed up the dish

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • ¼ t smoked paprika
  • sprinkle of cumin, and ground pepper
  • 4 slices fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces
  • pomegranate seeds (I used the entire small pomegranate)
  • handful of mint leaves
  • dash sumac

Take your eggplants, and poke it with a fork several times all over the body so that your eggplant doesn’t explode in the oven.  Then, pour your olive oil (one T each) over your eggplants, and rub it in, and put on your baking sheet (or in my case, a pan).  Heat your oven to 450 (or 425, I actually turned mine down to 400 about halfway through), and roast, rotating every 15 minutes or so, for forty-five minutes to an hour.

Let your eggplants cool until they’re cool enough to handle, and then scoop the flesh away from the skin and put it into a blender.  Puree your eggplant flesh until smooth, and then put in a large bowl, and stir in your lemon juice, garlic, salt, paprika, cumin, and pepper.  Add your torn mozzarella and mint, and a dash of sumac.  

To deseed your pomegranate, cut off the top of your pomegranate, and then cut into four sections.  Fill a bowl with cold water and put the four sections into the bowl.  Let them soak a bit, and then slowly peel the pith away, and the seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl.  Drain the bowl, and then add your seeds to your baba ganoush.  It’s a bit of work, but if your pomegranate is small enough, you’re good for seeds.  And if not, hey, you have more pomegranate seeds for whatever!

EDIT: Yeah, this was way too many pomegranate seeds, and it turns out I don’t like the seeds that much. Future note: DO NOT USE THE POMEGRANATE SEEDS.