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FOODIES

Spring Into Sunshine

 

March 24, 2017

Chef Amber Michelle

Triple Lemon Cake

Nothing says Spring like sunshine and we've had some beautiful days lately. It's not quite warm enough for shorts and flip flops, skirts and sandals, but we try anyway. The promise of tilled earth and the smell of freshly mowed grass, sun hats and flowers, pastel plaids, and Easter eggs, all dance around my mind. Lighter and brighter food, leafy greens and fresh fruit, are on the menu, but alas, we live in San Juan County. There is still snow on the mountains this first day of Spring, and the bounty of fruits and vegetables is a ways off.

A good way to celebrate the sunshine, even when it's freezing out is to buy a sack of lemons and start squeezing. Squeeze some lemon on chicken or pork before cooking, and fish afterward. A nice bright sauce for any meat, and especially fish during this season of Lent, is Sauce Verte: A blender sauce that is tart, fresh tasting and nutritious, and has only five ingredients: olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, garlic and salt. I add capers and scallion tops to mine for another layer of pungency. In a blender, place all ingredients; 1 bunch roughly chopped flat leaf Italian parsley, 2-3 cloves fresh garlic, freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons, 2 tablespoons of capers, roughly chopped scallion tops, and a pinch Maldon salt. Cover halfway with extra virgin olive oil. Pulse to combine, scrape sides then blend until smooth. Alternate oil and lemon juice to adjust consistency. Two tablespoons of this tangy emulsion on a salmon fillet is a great start to Friday's dinner.

You've heard the adage, when life gives you lemons? Well, why make lemonade when you can make lemon cake, Triple Lemon Cake. Follow your favorite lemon butter cake recipe, mine is from the "red and white book." I use the triple layer lemon cake recipe, but use two 10" pans instead of three and I substitute lemon juice for ¼ of the buttermilk. There is no substitute for farm fresh eggs, and I always use organic flour, butter and sugar whenever available. The lemon curd recipe from that book, (Better Homes and Gardens), is my favorite, using all lemon juice, no water. I am a chef who is still learning about baking, and moving to SJC ten years ago, had never baked at high altitude. Lots of tears for two years. Now I laugh. I tend now towards misshaped creations, rather than explosions from the oven and was lucky this time, it only swooned. Just a little, in the center, making it perfect for filling with lemon curd and raspberries. In a mixer, whip 4 oz. cream cheese and 4 oz. butter, both at room temperature, then alternately add lemon juice and powdered sugar to achieve your desired consistency of buttercream. I prefer a thinner buttercream for this cake. Swirl around the edge and Voila! I feel the snow melting already.

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