Lemon-Olive Tapenade

lemons 3 4.27.14I made this little tapenade one evening a couple of weeks ago, and it’s amazing to me that this small list of ingredients took til now to show up in a post! But, sometimes, that’s the way it goes.

Traditionally, a tapenade includes olives, capers and anchovies. This tapenade includes the olives part.

I had what turned out to be about three-quarters of a cup of Luques olives (a very nice green olive that I used here most recently) left in a jar, and I decided to use them up.

I pulled out my food processor, and processed each of these ingredients separately (because I wasn’t sure how much I would need):

  • the 3/4 cup of olives, pitted first!
  • 1/4 of a small red onion (I got about 2 tablespoons from this, and used 1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • handful of cilantro

I didn’t purée them, just got them to a small mince.

lemons 1 4.27.14Scooped each of the ingredients into a bowl as they were ready. Then to them I added the zest of 1 medium lemon, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and some freshly ground pepper.

I enjoyed this on crackers…along with cocktails and the company of my husband and sister!

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Lemony Light Pots de Crème

lemons 1 4.8.14I had gone to Longwood Gardens to buy orchids…not because I needed another orchid, or, for that matter, any other additional plant in my sunroom! Longwood, one of the great public gardens in the Philadelphia area, is just a few miles away from me, and a few late-winter weeks ago my husband and I spent part of my birthday there. We walked the outdoor paths, breathed in cold, crisp air, took in the snowy landscape. Beautiful.

Then we went indoors to the conservatory, and were overtaken with breathtaking color and lushness…and orchids everywhere. It was their Orchids Extravaganza. Orchids were tucked in among other plants, hung from rafters, grouped together into orchid trees.

So when the display was dismantled, and the orchids offered at discounted prices, off I went to pick up a little piece of that day. Of the remaining orchids I was drawn to the oncidiums, and bought two. It was the yellow, I think. One had yellow flowers with touches of purple and ivory, and the other was ivory with purple and bits of yellow.

Spring seems to finally be declaring itself around here, and, yellow…well, yellow is a sunny color, and seemed right in step with incoming spring.

And sunny yellow made me think of lemons, for which I happen to have several clipped recipes gathered over several years…and never made.

So I pulled one out.

Lemon pots de crème. Lemon pots of custard.

Meant to make six individual servings, it was perfect, because I happened to have six individual-sized, ovenproof custard cups, having bought them to make the mushroom tarts I wrote about last year.

Here’s the recipe for lemony, sunshiny pots de crème.

  • 2 medium lemons (or whatever amount of lemons it takes to get 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of zest. I happened to have little ones, and it took 6!)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 egg yolks (I froze the whites to thaw out another time and make meringues.)
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • powdered sugar (to dust on top of cooked and cooled custards)

Heat the oven to 325°. Grate 1 teaspoon of lemon zest. Squeeze that 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Whisk in sugar, egg, and yolks, then whisk in cream until sugar dissolves. Pass mixture through a strainer; stir in zest.

Put six 1/2-cup, ovenproof custard cups in a deep baking dish. Divide the lemon mixture evenly between them. Slide the whole thing into the oven and fill the baking dish with hot tap water to come within 1/2 inch of the top of the custard cups. Bake, uncovered, until custards are just set in the centers, 35 to 40 minutes. Carefully remove from water and set aside to cool completely.

Dust with powdered sugar.

lemons 4 4.8.14What a burst of flavor that first bite is! Lemony tart! You know that it’s rich, because you realize, as you’re eating, that one serving is plenty…yet light and bright at the same time.

Pots de crèmes of sunshine.

Cauliflower Sliders

cauliflower 3 4.1.14I thought, “Hey, cauliflower steaks have been a thing now for a while, why not cauliflower sliders?” It was a Friday night, my husband and I were sipping on beer, I had a head of cauliflower in front of me, and a food processor, too (a recent gift from my daughters who’d known it was on my wish list).

Sure, you could call them cauliflower patties, but make them a little smaller, snack size, and now, poof!, they’re fun bar food in the comfort of your own home!

My list of ingredients: dandelion greens, shallot, garlic, cauliflower, organic frozen soybeans (thawed), jalapeño, shiitake mushrooms, an avocado, and organic corn tortillas.

Part 1:

  • 1 bunch of dandelion greens, leaves and stems chopped
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 garlic cloves

While oil heated in a pan over medium heat, I peeled the shallot and garlic and minced in the food processor, using the pulse button. Added to the pan. Pulsed the dandelion stems til minced. Into the pan. Pulsed the dandelion leaves til minced…added to the pan. The simmered greens would bring moisture to the patties. I put the lid on to cook through. They cooked maybe 5 or 10 minutes, while I prepared the other vegetables for part 2.

Part 2

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 10 oz. thawed organic soybeans
  • 1 large jalapeño, seeded

I pulsed each of these separately til minced. Emptied them into a large bowl. Seasoned with salt and pepper. The mix at this point was light, sweet and coleslawish.

To this, I added the sautéed dandelion greens, shallot and garlic mixture, and checked again for seasoning. It had a nice flavor, with the cooked greens adding a depth to the other raw ingredients. And it looked beautiful, like a fluffy grain dish in shades of green.

To form the sliders, I added two eggs to bind the mix, and got 25 2″ patties from this. Placed in the refrigerator to set, while I got toppings ready.

Toppings

  • 5 shiitake mushrooms, destemmed
  • 1 avocado

Heated oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. I cut the mushrooms into about 1/4″ slices. Tossed them in the pan, and let them cook, turning from time to time. The idea is to let them cook til crispy. Some people do this in the oven. While the mushrooms cooked down, I halved the avocado, cut into slices, and set aside.

To finish off the sliders, I heated oil over medium heat in the pan I’d had the greens in, pulled the patties out of the fridge, and began to sauté the sliders. I also heated the oven to 300°. As I cooked up the sliders, I put them on a pan and into the oven to stay warm. Actually only made half of these, put the other half, separated by sheets of wax paper, in the freezer.

As I cooked the sliders, the mushroom continued to shrink and get crispy. They took at least 20 minutes to get to a browned and shrinking state, and then I just kept an eye on them while I cooked off the patties, so they got crispier but not burned.

When everything was done, I took out organic corn tortillas, and heated one at a time over an open flame to soften. Cut them in half, one slider per half. Topped with a buttery avocado slice, and a few crisp shiitake pieces.

cauliflower 1 4.1.14Now, I have to admit, they didn’t end up being quite what I’d wanted. I had wanted more kick, more juicy but firm. More oomph, because cauliflower can take it. One less egg maybe. Definitely at least one more jalapeño. And I forgot to add the cilantro I’d bought specifically for this, which is why I didn’t put it in my ingredients list, but would certainly have been an excellent addition!

Still, I like this idea. And I will say that corn tortillas, crispy shiitake and creamy avocado are a great way to serve these sliders.

A little tweaking to do on this one, but worth a repeat.

Cauliflower sliders…fun bar food for a Friday night at home.