Posts Tagged 'lemon'

Christmas Asparagus

This was fast and a big hit. Preheat oven to 425. Roasted 2 pounds of asparagus tossed with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and a bit of sea salt for 10 minutes.

Be sure to snap off the tough ends of the asparagus before you roast them.

Sauteed 8 thinly sliced roasted  chestnuts, 5-6 thinly sliced small colored peppers and the zest from two small lemons in 1 teaspoon of olive oil until the peppers were slightly wilted, then added the juice of one lemon.

Removed the asparagus from the oven, sprinkled with the juice of the other lemon, and assembled artistically. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings at about 2 grams of fat/serving.

I neglected to take a picture until after it had been half eaten.


French Honey-Baked Chicken with Preserved Lemons

I have been so busy cooking for Passover that I haven’t had time to write about cooking for Passover.  There were 12 people coming to the seder, mostly old friends, but a couple of new people as well.  I always make some of the traditional foods that people expect to appear – chopped liver, matzoh ball soup, gefilte fish (from a jar) – but I try to make the actual Passover feast interesting and different. No fatty brisket or roast turkey for me.  Of course, I have to create a menu that follows the rules of Passover: no leavened products or flour or grains (although Sephardic Jews eat grains), no milk and meat in the same meal, etc.  I also have to make a lot of food, because to run out of anything would be, according to my dear late mother, a shondana or shame to be brought upon my household.

When I cook for a large group, I have a number of principles I follow.  I try to have enough variety among the dishes not only to have varied and often exotic flavors, but also to make sure that there is something for everyone to eat, even the picky eaters.  So I always make 2 main dishes, plus lots of sides.  Also, the food needs to be able to be made ahead both because I work during the day and often can’t spend my day cooking, and also because I want to be able to enjoy my guests. With a small dinner party, everyone can gather in the kitchen and socialize while you cook, but 12 people in the kitchen can get crowded. I like food that can be tucked into the oven to reheat during the seder ceremony or microwaved and put in my stove’s warming drawer to keep.  Food that can be served at room temperature is also good. And the most important principle is that all of the food served needs to be low fat, so that I can eat the leftovers.

The original recipe, from Cooking Light, called for a mix of chicken breasts, thighs, and drumsticks.  But I find that chicken breasts often overcook and get dried out in preparations such as this, especially if you are reheating.  Also, at a buffet dinner with lots of food to select from, guests often don’t want to take a large piece of food, and chicken thighs are a more amenable size.  The recipe also called for the addition of matzoh meal after the fat is taken off the gravy.  But I find that matzoh meal doesn’t tend to make a particularly good thickener.  Besides, I thought that when I reheated the chicken, a thickened gravy might get gummy.

The flavor of this chicken was outstanding and everyone raved about it.  It was a bit different because of the preserve lemon (see NOTE).  It is baked with the skin on to flavor the ample gravy, but the skin is removed before serving.

French Honey-Baked Chicken with Preserved Lemons

½ cup honey, divided
3 cups dry white wine
1/3 cup Preserved Lemons
1½  teaspoons  olive oil
2  medium onions, sliced and separated into rings
Cooking spray
8 chicken thighs, with skin and bone
8 chicken drumsticks
1¼  teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Chop the preserved lemon to a medium chop (not ground fine). Be sure to remove any small seeds prior to chopping. Combine 6 tablespoons honey and wine in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook over medium high heat until reduced to 1½  cups (about 20 minutes); stir in Preserved Lemons.

Preheat oven to 375°.  Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until slightly tender. Don’t let them burn. Transfer the onions to a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons honey, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Carefully rub honey mixture under chicken skin, trying not to tear the skin. Place chicken pieces, meaty side up, on top of the onions in the baking pan. Pour the wine mixture over the chicken in roasting pan.

Bake uncovered at 375° for 50 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan, reserving wine gravy mixture. Let chicken stand 10 minutes. Remove skin from chicken; discard.  Remove onions to a separate bowl.  Place wine gravy mixture in a large container and place it in the refrigerator, chilling until the fat becomes easy to remove (alternatively, you can use a gravy separator to remove the fat.)

To reheat, place the onions on the bottom of the pan, put the skinned chicken pieces on top of the onions, and put the defatted wine gravy over it. Bake for about 30 minutes, covered, in a 300 oven.  Makes 8 servings with about 7 grams of fat/serving.


I made a double recipe of this chicken, so the pan was completely full of chicken in wine gravy.

NOTE: I have been reluctant to use preserved lemons, which are often called for in Moroccan food.  I thought they would have a strong and perhaps fermented flavor.  I finally bought a jar of them. To my delight, they turned out to only be made of lemon, salt, and water, and had a delightful perfumed aroma.  I will definitely use them more often.  They were, however, quite expensive.  There are a number of recipes to make preserved lemons at home, and I plan to experiment with them.

Blueberry-Lemon Bundt Cake

This moist cake, originally from Cooking Light, was already pretty low in fat – only 7.8 grams of fat/serving.  But I wasn’t really thinking about a nice dessert.  I wanted a cake that I could slice slabs off to pack in my lunch, or to eat as a snack when I get home from work.  I also, as usual, had an excess of produce – blueberries – and an aging lemon. This is very tasty, although not very lemony cake.  It actually tasted better the second day.

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Cooking spray
2  Tablespoons  granulated sugar
3  cups  all-purpose flour
1 1/2  teaspoons  baking powder
1/2  teaspoon  baking soda
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1 3/4  cups  granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1  Tablespoon  grated lemon rind
1  large egg
¾ cup egg substitute
1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract
1  (16-ounce) container non-fat sour cream
2  cups  fresh blueberries, washed and dried

1  cup  powdered sugar
3  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°.  Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Set aside.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Place the 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, butter, and rind in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add applesauce, beating for one minute.  Add egg and egg substitute i1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 4 minutes total). Beat in vanilla and sour cream. Add flour mixture; beat at medium speed just until combined. Gently fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle over cooled cake.


Confession: I wasn’t very satisfied with the texture of this cake at first.  I expected it to be lighter, but it began to brown at the end, and even though the wooden pick wasn’t entirely clean, I took the cake out of the oven.  At first I thought it was under done, or that maybe my baking soda had gotten old.  But after a day, it seemed ok, and wa moist, not pasty.


Lemon-Ginger Muffins

The snow is finally melting!  I can see parts of my truck and driveway.  For three mornings in a row, I did not have to shovel snow!!  What will I do with all the free time.

Obviously, I’ll cook.  I bake muffins about once a week.  They go in my lunch bag and make a great late night snack.  I occasionally (today) eat a muffin and fruit for breakfast.  These muffins are a little different because they are made with fresh ginger, which gives them a little bite.  They are not dark brown, like most gingery baked goods.    I did not have to alter the original recipe from Cooking Light, because they were already quite low fat.

Lemon-Ginger Muffins

1 cup sugar, divided
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup chopped peeled fresh ginger (yes, I’m lazy; I use the fresh chopped ginger from the jar)
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest (the outer yellow layer of the lemon skin)
2 cups plus two Tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup low fat buttermilk
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1Tablespoon canola oil
1 large egg
1 large egg white
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375.  Spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.  Combine 1 tablespoon of the sugar, ground ginger, and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Combine fresh ginger, sugar, and lemon zest in a medium bowl.  Whisk together and set aside (if you are using whole ginger, you will need to grind this mix together in a food processor until finely minced, but since I am lazy I skipped this step by using the prepared ginger.)

Combine remaining sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Make an indentation in the center of the flour mixture.  Combine the ginger mixture, buttermilk, applesauce, oil, egg and egg white; stir well with a whisk.  Add to the flour mixture, stirring until just moist.

Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon cinnamon mixture over each muffin.  Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until golden.  Remove from pans immediately and cool on a wire rack.  Makes 12 muffins at about 2 grams of fat/muffin.

Note: The originally recipe called for prune butter as the fat replacement, but this product has essentially disappeared from local groceries.  I think applesauce made a good replacement, but if you have prune butter you could use it.

Variation:  I didn’t have blueberries in the house, but I think that these would be very good with a cup of blueberries in the batter.


Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

I must confess that some of my culinary expeditions are based on the fact that I have aging groceries, especially produce, that has to be used.  The luscious chicken and grapes was invented to use up a sack of rapidly aging grapes, and I have posted bananas recipes until I couldn’t stand to look at bananas due to an over purchase.  My usual problem is that I see an item I like on sale, and buy too much, expecting that I will have time or appetite to use them before they get iffy.  This was the case with a container of organic cherry tomatoes that I thought I would nibble on as a snack…but instead found them wrinkling on the back of the kitchen counter.  You know of course, that you’re not supposed to refrigerate tomatoes or they lose their full flavor, but this does make them prone to the need to be used in a reasonable amount of time.

This recipe was part of a larger recipe that had something to do with chicken, but I was only interested in the tomatoes.  After tossing out the few tomatoes that had gone beyond iffy, I proceeded with this very easy recipe.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

2 cups grape tomatoes, washed and patted dry
2 teaspoons good quality olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon capers, drained
1/8 teaspoon salt (I used a grind of sea salt)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425. Combine tomatoes and 2 teaspoons of oil in an 8 inch square baking dish and toss gently. Bake at 425 for 18 minutes or until tomatoes are tender. Combine tomato mixture, parsley, and remaining ingredients and stir gently. Makes 4 servings at 2.5 grams of fat/serving. Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature.


Variation: add 1 ounce of reduced fat blue cheese and 1 gram of fat/serving.

l ate the roasted tomatoes hot as a side with a small buffalo steak, cold alongside tuna salad for lunch, and one day I added blue cheese to the cold tomato mix.  I think this would also be very good over grilled fish, and I plan to make it again when the snow goes away and grilling season begins. Yes, you guessed it, 5-9 inches of snow expected tomorrow.  Does snow blowing firm the abs?

Grandma Sylvia’s Lemon Bars

My mother made the world’s best lemon bars.  Tart, sweet, and rich, every body loves Grandma Sylvia’s lemon bars.  My daughter inherited the lemon bar gene, and her lemon bars are as good as her grandma’s.  I have always thought of the lemon bars as supremely high in fat – after all, the recipe starts out with two sticks of butter.  But after searching for and making several low fat lemon bars (2-4 grams of fat/bar depending upon the size), which were ok but not great, I decided to try and figure out just how many fat grams my mom’s lemon bars had in all their deliciousness.  They only have 3 grams/bar!  Oh my heart be still.  Why am I struggling to find substitutes? The trick is that my mother cut the bars into relatively small pieces, which you need to do because 1) they look better on a cookie plate when they’re not a big slab, and 2) they’re so rich you can’t eat a big slab, anyway…although I confess to eating more than one bar at times.  So here, without further adieu, are Grandma Sylvia’s Lemon Bars.

Grandma Sylvia’s Lemon Bars

1 cup (1/2 lb) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup confectioners’ sugar

½ cup lemon juice
1 ¾ cups sugar
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 beaten eggs
confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling (optional)

To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350. Spray a jelly roll pan (10” x 15”) with cooking spray.  Place butter, flour, and ½ cup confectioner’s sugar into a medium bowl.  Mix with your fingers until it the ingredients are well-blended and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press the crust mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan and slightly up the sides.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

To make the topping:   Make the topping while the crust is baking. Mix the ingredients (lemon juice through eggs) with a mixer, beating until smooth. Pour the lemon mixture over the warm crust.  Return pan to oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden and the center is set.  Remove from oven and sprinkle immediately with powdered sugar if you are using it.  Cool pan completely on a wire rack. Cut into 64 bars with 3 grams of fat/bar.


These freeze very well, which is a good thing, because when they are in the freezer I am less likely to walk by and grab one.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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