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Lemon Panna Cotta plated

As the grand finale for my Wish It Were Spring theme lunch, I went with Lemon Panna Cotta for dessert. That was a delicious decision. The smooth custard topped with the lemony curd and candied lemon peel created bursts of spring-time flavor with every bite.

It isn’t hard to make, but does take some time and planning ahead. I prepared everything the day before the gathering, because the Panna Cotta needs to sit for at least eight hours before serving.

lemon panna cotta ingred
The cast of characters
Begin by sprinkling gelatin over 1/4 cup cold milk.
Add sugar to the cream
Add in vanilla, stir well and cook for about four minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Sorry, I forgot to take photos of the next step, but you remove from heat, stir in gelatin then add in the milk. Pour into cups or forms and refrigerate, tightly covered with plastic wrap, at least eight hours or overnight.
Lemon Pavlova flowerI used a silicone pan shaped like a daisy for my mold. Although it is non-stick, I gave it a shot of non-stick spray to make sure I could get it out of the mold when I was ready to serve. Isn’t it pretty?
Next, make the lemon curd. Here are the ingredients.

Next, make the lemon curd. Here are the ingredients.

Zest half a lemon with a microplane. I'm lazy and did mine right in the pan.

Zest half a lemon with a microplane. I’m lazy and did mine right in the pan.

Then squeeze the lemons until you get a quarter cup of juice.

Then squeeze the lemons until you get a quarter cup of juice.

Put everything in a heavy saucepan and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens.

Put everything in a heavy saucepan and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens.
Remove from heat and spoon into a bowl or jar, ready to top the Panna Cotta. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Remove from heat and spoon into a bowl or jar, ready to top the Panna Cotta. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

To make the candied lemon peel, I used the two lemons from the lemon curd and removed all pump and pith (the white part).

To make the candied lemon peel, I used the two lemons from the lemon curd and removed all pulp and pith (the white part).

Cut it into thin ribbons.

Cut it into thin ribbons.

Then boil with a cup of cold water and drain. Repeat this step.

Then boil with a cup of cold water and drain. Repeat this step.

Add 1/2 cup of sugar and another cup of cold water to the peel and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to dissolve sugar.

Add 1/2 cup of sugar and another cup of cold water to the peel and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to dissolve sugar.

Continue simmering until lemon peel is soft and translucent - about 15 to 20 minutes. It is better to overcook than undercook because you want to cook out any bitterness left in the peel.

Continue simmering until lemon peel is soft and translucent – about 15 to 20 minutes. It is better to overcook than undercook because you want to cook out any bitterness left in the peel.

Dry on a paper towel.

Dry on a paper towel.

Then dip into sugar, thoroughly coating.

Then dip into sugar, thoroughly coating.

Isn't it pretty?

Isn’t it pretty?

You'll have a bunch of sugary squiggles of lemony goodness when you're done. Place in a Ziploc bag or airtight container until you are ready to serve.

You’ll have a bunch of sugary squiggles of lemony goodness when you’re done. Place in a Ziploc bag or airtight container until you are ready to serve.

Vanilla Panna Cotta

A silky custard, made without egg…

1 3/4oz envelope unflavored gelatin

1 cup cold milk, divided

1 ¾ cups heavy cream

¼ cup granulated sugar

1½ tsp. vanilla extract

Sprinkle gelatin over ¼ cup milk in a small bowl. Stir until moistened. Let stand five minutes (it will be lumpy).

Cook heavy cream, granulated sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for about four minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add gelatin mixture, stirring until completely dissolved. Add in  remaining ¾ cup milk. Stir in then pour mixture into six 4-ounce dessert glasses or wineglasses. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least eight hours. If you have some forms that are easy to get treats out of, you can pour panna cotta into them. I would recommend silicone or something that is easy to work with.

Lemon Curd

2 Lemons

3 egg yolks

6 tbsp. sugar

1/4 cup butter

Roll lemons around on the counter to get the juice flowing. Slice in half and zest one half using a microplane.

Squeeze lemons until you have 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice.

Cook egg yolks, lemon juice, eggs, sugar and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a   wooden spoon, until the mixture is thick. Spoon into a bowl or jar, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Candied Lemon Peel

2 Lemons

1/2 cup sugar plus 1 tbsp.

water

You need the peels off approximately two lemons. I used the same lemons from my lemon curd, so for this entire recipe, you would need two lemons. If you don’t want to use the ones you’ve squeezed into oblivion to render the juice, you can get two fresh lemons.

Take a knife and remove the pulp from the peel then carefully cut away all the white pith. This is the bitter part of the lemon and you want it all gone.

Slice the peel into thin ribbons and add to a saucepan with one cup of cold water. Bring to a boil, drain, and repeat.

After you have drained the lemon peel for the second time, add another cup of cold water and 1/2 cup sugar to the peels in the saucepan and bring to boil. Continue simmering until the peels are translucent and soft. (I let mine go about twenty minutes. It is better to overcook than undercook.)

Remove from heat and drain then let dry on a paper towel. When dry, dip each lemon ribbon in a small dish with sugar, coating thoroughly. Store in an air-tight container until ready to use. These are so, so yummy!

***

To serve the Lemon Panna Cotta, simply add a dollop of curd with a few pieces of Candied Lemon Peel to the Panna Cotta. If you made it in a big mold like I did, cut the Panna Cotta into individual servings before adding the lemon.

She Who Loves the Spring Flavor of Lemon

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bird bread finishedI saw a photo on Facebook of bird bread a while back. I knew I had to give it a try at some point. When I decided to go with a Wish It Were Spring Theme for my book club gathering, it seemed like the perfect thing to make.

Of course, by then I could no longer find a link to the recipe or directions, so I decided to wing it (yes, pun intended).

It wasn’t hard to do but if you are looking for uniformity, that would so not be my name.

bread dough ingredients

Ingredients. Plus you’ll need mini chocolate chips and slivered almonds.

Start by scalding milk with oil and sugar.

Once the milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm, you can add in a package of yeast.

 

Sprinkle yeast over the milk and let rest for a minute.

Stir in yeast and four cups of flour.

 

Place the pan in a warm area, cover with a tea towel and let the yeast do its thing for about an hour. I like to put my pan in front of the fire. It is warm and makes the dough smell heavenly.

Punch the dough down again and start pinching off pieces about the size of a golf ball.

bird bread dough ballsYou’ll have a couple dozen balls when you are finished.

bird bread roll outThen roll those balls into a long rope. I found about 12 inches worked well.

bird bread folding in knotYou are basically going to tie a knot with the dough. Just fold one end under and one end over.

bird bread on panIt will look something like this when you get it pulled together. The end that is “over” is the head and the “under” end is the tail.

bird bread cut tailfeathersTake a pair of clean kitchen shears and cut little slices into the tail. This makes the feathers.

bird bread tailfeathersSee? How cute is that?

bird bread almonds for beakUsing slivered almonds for the beak

bird bread beak inBeaky…

bird bread eyes with chipsAnd mini chocolate chips for the eyes (you could use cloves, but chips sounded tastier to me!).

bird bread ready to bakeAnd your birdy should look like this when you get done. Let the dough rest about ten minutes then bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.

bird bread bakedAnd it looks all golden brown and lovely like this. Oh, and poke the chips so the narrow end goes into the dough instead of the flat end. It works much better!

Bird Bread plated 2Tweet, tweet!

Bird Bread

2 cups milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup sugar

1 package active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/3 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tbsp. salt

Scald the milk, oil and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat (bring heat to nearly a boil, but don’t let it boil!). Set aside and cool to lukewarm (think temperature of a baby’s bottle). Sprinkle yeast on top of milk and let rest for one minute.

Add four cups of the flour and stir until just combined. It is going to be sticky. Cover with a tea towel and set in a warm place for an hour.

Remove the towel and add baking powder, baking soda, salt and final 1/2 cup of flour. Stir to combine.

Pinch off golf ball sized pieces of dough and roll into ropes about 12 inches long. Fold each rope into a knot (just like tying your shoe) with one end up and one end down. The up end will be the bird’s head, the down end will be it’s tail.

Place on a baking sheet.

Using a clean pair of kitchen shears, cut feathers into the tails. I made about four half-inch slices.

For the beaks, poke a slivered almond into the head where it looks like  beak should go. Add mini chocolate chips (pointy-end facing the dough) for eyes.

Let the dough rest for about ten minutes (preheat oven to 350), then bake for about 12 minutes, until the bread is golden brown.

You can’t help but smile with one of these little birds on your dinner plate!

She Who Loved These Little Birds

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I’ve got two new books hot off the press I wanted to share with you today!  Check them out and let me know what you think!

The Cowboy’s Spring Romance – Trent Thompson has carried a torch for the new schoolteacher since she moved to Grass Valley more than three years ago. Instead of asking her out, he’s dated every single female in a 30-mile radius, giving her the impression he’s not interested in her at all. Lindsay Pierce moved to Grass Valley to teach and quickly fell in love with the small community as well as the delightful people who live there. Everyone welcomes her warmly except for one obnoxious cowboy who goes out of his way to ignore her. Will Trent be able to maintain the pretense when he has to babysit his niece, who happens to be in Lindsay’s class? Find out if romance will blossom along with the first flowers of spring.

Amazon

Kindle

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

Book Trailer on You Tube

 

Savvy Spring Entertaining  – Everything the savvy host needs to know for successful spring entertaining! Discover simple decorating ideas, easy entertaining tips and some delicious spring recipes. Savvy Spring Entertaining gives hosts the information they need to shake off the heavy mantle of winter and prepare for a fun season of spring entertaining!
From Savvy Entertaining’s blogger, this short e-book includes her best hints for welcoming spring!
An excerpt from the author’s novel, The Cowboy’s Spring Romance, is included as well.

Download Spring Entertaining for Free!

Kindle

Smashwords

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It looks like spring is starting to make an appearance here in our little corner of the world. Daffodils and crocuses are blooming and the promise of warmer, sunnier days ahead is strong.

With the arrival of spring, our tastes also seem to shift from the heavier comfort foods of winter to lighter fare.

This salad is a great blend of flavors that are tangy and fresh. It can serve as a side salad or a main mail.

Gyro Salad with Tzatziki Dressing

Dressing:

1 cucumber, peeled and coarsely shredded

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup plain yogurt

2 tbsp. white vinegar

1/2 tsp. dill weed

SALAD:

1/2 lb. ground beef

1/4 cup chopped onions or onion flakes

1 tsp. all purpose seasoning

1 package of romaine salad blend

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1 package of crumbed feta cheese (about four ounces)

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, drained

Toasted Bread Wedges

In a medium bowl, sprinkle salt over cucumber and mix well. Let stand five minutes. Drain.  Stir in remaining dressing ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook beef, onion and seasoning until onions are tender and meat is no longer pink. Drain.

Arrange greens on a large serving platter the top with tomatoes, feta cheese, olives and meat. Spoon dressing over salad. Serve immediately with toasted bread.

Happy Entertaining and Enjoy!

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