Archive | January, 2013

Lemon Dainty

30 Jan


It’s the height of Meyer Lemon season and I am fortunate that my friend Susan has a huge tree and is so generous with the fruit. She also gave me this recipe that she found in an old Junior League cookbook…remember when we used cookbooks rather than google search?

The editor of the cookbook described the recipe as such:

This was found, neatly penned, on a tattered page of an old family recipe book. The date was 1931, the description “…a delicate crust will form on top of the pudding…supplies its own sauce. Very fine.”

It is indeed a very fine pudding cake. It is also pretty, easy to make, light and tangy, and it can be made gluten free!

Here’s the recipe and a couple of notes.

1 cup sugar
¼ cup flour (any GF flour will do)
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
5 to 6 tablespoons lemon juice
Grated rind of 2 small lemons
3 egg yolks
1 ½ cups milk
3 egg whites, beaten stiff

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add melted butter, lemon juice and rind. Blend with a whisk. Add yolks and milk and beat with whisk until well-blended.

Beat whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into lemon mixture. Pour into a buttered 1 ½ quart soufflé dish. Set dish in a shallow roasting pan filled with 1 inch of hot water. Bake one hour.


This is a pretty dessert that anyone can make…even if you’ve never folded egg whites into a batter before. If you find that idea daunting, here’s a quick how-to video.

Folding Egg Whites 

Cake on the top and custard on the bottom...truly dainty!

Cake on the top and custard on the bottom…truly dainty!

This dessert an be served warm or cold in shallow bowls. Lovely with fresh berries!


Mexican Comfort Food

14 Jan


My son-in-law, Jeremy,  arguably makes the best Chicken Tortilla Soup north of the border, so I’ve taken a few pages from his cookbook to create this hearty, flavorful dish. One of his secrets is the roasted corn. You can buy this at Trader Joe’s if you’re lucky enough to have one in your neighborhood; but you can also roast two ears of fresh corn on the grill and then cut the kernels off.

Tortilla Soup is one of my favorite “foodie movies”. It brilliantly displays the art of Mexican cuisine and how food can bring people together. One of the best scenes in the film is over a family dinner of  Tortilla Soup, where Paul Rodriguez, as the suitor of one daughter, nervously prates on about the “toppings” that are part of the dish, and how much he enjoys them. “I love toppings. Sometimes I go to restaurants and just order toppings”.

Whenever our family eats this dish together someone always makes a reference to this part of the movie, and Jeremy even manages a bit of a Mexican accent when he says it! So here’s my slow cooker version of a soup that comforts me and connects me to my Big Fat Mexican Family!

1 lb chicken breast, trimmed
½ bag of Trader Joe’s roasted sweet corn or 1 can sweet corn
15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
5 cups chicken stock
1 medium onion, chopped
3 jalapano peppers, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt & pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in slow cooker and cook for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Shred chicken and return to slow cooker.


If possible, the day before you make the soup you can cut tortillas in strips and let them dry out on a baking sheet. An hour before serving place the baking sheet in a 250 degree oven and let them slowly roast. Keep an eye on them and when they are golden remove from oven.



Tortilla Strips
Shredded white cabbage
Shredded cheese
Avocado, cubed
Green onions, chopped
Cilantro, chopped


Buen provecho, amigos! Enjoy!

Pollo Pibil!

14 Jan

PolloPibil Eddie and I had a grand time celebrating the New Year with our family in Veracruz and, as you might imagine, enjoyed some incredible meals. New Year’s Eve dinner was for 40, and one of the starring dishes was Pollo Pibil, a regional recipe from the south of Mexico. bananaleaves

The three principal flavoring ingredients in this recipe are achiote, a paste made from annatto seeds, Acuyo leaf, also known as Hoja Santa or Yerba Santa, and banana leaves. Banana leaves are used to steam meats and tamales in Veracruz, the YucatanPeninsula and other southern states, and add a delightful fragrance and taste to the filling.


The week prior to our visit my niece had been vacationing in Merida, Yucatan, and she brought home some achiote paste. She kindly gave me a bag of it,  and my godson’s grandmother also gave me a small bag of Acuyo leaves from her garden. I “smuggled” all this across the border and promptly went shopping for banana leaves at our local Mexican market. If you can find a store that sells banana leaves they will also carry achiote paste, and perhaps even Acuyo leaves. If you can’t find the Acuyo you might add a few sprigs of mint to the top of the dish before baking.

3 to 4 pound chicken, in pieces. Cut breast in 4 pieces
1 onion
Banana leaf
4 Acuyo leaves (hoja santa or yerba santa)

1/3 cup achiote paste
Juice from one orange
Juice from 3 Meyer lemons
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. ground pepper

Mix marinade ingredients in blender at high speed. Taste and add salt as needed. Place chicken pieces in ZipLock bag and add marinade. Seal bag and massage until chicken pieces are well coated. Refrigerate for 24 hours, occasionally massaging and turning to ensure chicken is well coated.


On day 2, cut banana leaves in sheets large enough to create 2 folding layers that will create a “boat” in a roasting dish. Quickly roast the sheets over a flame, moving across, until the outer part of the leaf becomes shiny. With a damp cloth, wipe both sides of the leaves and place them horizontally and vertically in the roasting pan.


Add marinated chicken pieces


Slice one onion in rounds and cover the chicken with rings.


Place fresh Acuyo leaves over onion.


Tightly close the banana leaves to seal the dish.


Cover roasting pan with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.


Serve with Mexican Rice, black bean soup and warm corn tortillas. Buen provecho!