Cranberry Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta

I’m staring at everything and everyone with a lighter in one hand and gas can in the other, prepared to burn bridges and incinerate it all. Nothing is sacred. This isn’t some high-school massacre, but a phoenix-from-the-flames rebirth. Career, home, friends, family– I’ll torch the entire lot and walk anew on freshly scorched and purified earth.

But I’ll set my gas can down for now and make one of my favorite Italian treats.


Cranberry Panna Cotta

I love fresh cranberries! To ensure I have access to them year-round, I buy extra bags in Fall and freeze them for use the rest of the year.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 ½ teaspoon gelatin
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • pinch salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Lightly spray 6 ramekins with unflavored oil. Pour gelatin in a small bowl with 4 T. of water. Stir and set aside for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Combine whipping cream, sugar, and salt in a saucepan and whisk over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and small bubbles appear, but before the cream comes to a full boil. Remove from heat, whisk in the softened gelatin until dissolved. Add vanilla, whisk again and let cool 3-5 minutes. Remove any bubbles from top of custard.
  3. Pour the custard into the prepared ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap (it doesn’t have to touch the surface like pudding) and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
  4. To unmold ramekins, fill a small baking dish with boiling water. Slip a sharp knife around the inside of the ramekin loosening the custard, place the ramekin in the water for about 10 seconds and invert it onto serving dish.

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Classic Lemonade

Homemade Lemonade

Last night’s sankalpa was an uncharacteristically nebulous “Love” rather than her customary litany of qualifiers.  That was careless.  His email was waiting for her the next morning.  Impossible love.  Foolish love.  Lost love.

Next time, her sankalpa will be crafted with finer precision.  Actionable Love.


Classic Lemonade

A shot of vodka turns this simply classic lemonade into a decidedly adult beverage.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice, from about 5 lemons
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup simple syrup, depending on your sweetness preference

Directions

  1. In a pitcher, stir all ingredients together until well blended. Pour over ice and enjoy!

Lemon Cheese Pastry Squares

Lemon Sweet Cheese Pastry Squares

She hikes along the path, entreating the universe, “please let me find an arrowhead, please let me find an arrowhead.”  She even makes ridiculous pledges like, “I swear if I find one, I won’t keep it…I just want to see if I can wish it into existence.  I’ll bury it once I find it.”

Many years ago, she found another arrowhead, quite by accident, near an abandoned homestead on a cattle ranch outside Galconda, NV.  She placed it in the back pocket of her Levi’s for safekeeping.  After a long, dusty and bumpy ride back to the ranch in the bed of a pickup, she was astonished to find her pockets empty.  While disappointed, she decided her possessing it wasn’t meant to be.

Now, for a reason that she doesn’t understand, she’s on the hunt to locate one again.  For four days, she’s hiked with her eyes fixed on the trails in front of her.  She’s picked up a dozen of pieces of flint for closer inspection. Nothing.

She’s driving out of town today, on her way back home, leaving a little early to fit in one last brief 45-minute hike on a hill she’s never hiked before.  The day is hot, 93 degrees, under a blue and cloudless sky; time slips by quickly.  As she heads back to her car, she spots it on the path, dusty and damaged, most likely from being stepped on by hikers – a black flint arrowhead.

Decisions, decisions. She promised the universe not to keep it, but now it’s in her hand and the location and timing of her discovery convince her this was predestined.  This town is her magical place, after all.  She stops to consider her choices.  After a few minutes, she slips the arrowhead in her back pocket, concluding, if it’s still in her pocket when she arrives home, she was intended to keep it, at least for a while.


Lemon Cheese Pastry Squares

These use the same dough as the Almond Pockets, substituting a cream cheese and lemon filling. Of the two pastries, these were the crowd favorite in the office.

Ingredients

  • Danish Pastry Dough
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 Tablespoons raw sugar

Directions

  1. Follow the instructions for making the dough.
  2. Make the Cheese filling: Beat the cream cheese, sugar, yolk and zest together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Make the squares: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough into 20” x 20” square. Divide into 16 squares approximately 5”x5”. Place the cheese filling in the middle of each square, Brush 2 all corners with egg, fold each corner over the center, pressing down firmly to seal. Proof for 15 minutes.
  4. Egg wash the outside of the pastries and sprinkle liberally with raw sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

arrowhead

Bittersweet Chocolate Cremeaux Pudding

Chocolate Cremeaux

Heed my warning: Never tie the fulfillment of a desire to a major life event, like a milestone birthday. I foolishly attached the promise of Love to mine. When I released my chance for Love, it stole my special day with it. I blame no one – not even my reckless self. But now, as the day looms closer, I wonder, will all my birthdays be tinged by this bittersweet tang of lost Love?


Bittersweet Chocolate Cremeaux Pudding

Slightly adapted from Food and Wine

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoon espresso
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 oz. dark chocolate
  • Sweetened whipped cream & chocolate shavings for garnish

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring cream and milk to a simmer. In a medium bowl, whisk yolks with the sugar, espresso, and salt. Temper eggs and then gradually whisk in the eggs to the hot cream. Cook over medium low heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until custard is thickened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped chocolate, let sit for a minute, then whisk until completely smooth. Strain custard through a sieve. Press a sheet of plastic warp directly on the surface and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Spoon into glasses, top with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.

Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake

Lemon Coffee Cake

I’m traveling to an enchanted place for my birthday – the spot where I breathe and dream and bury my electronic devices for a week.  I recall my last visit a few years back.  One afternoon, I was resting at the foot of a rock formation called Kachina Woman pondering life when, from a ledge above me, a hippy sprite wearing Tevas sprung down and alighted beside me.  He was neither hallucination nor a result of ingesting peyote. He spoke to me as if it were the most natural thing– scrambling down a rock face to chat with a complete stranger.  I’m neither a fan of Tevas nor hippies, yet his company wasn’t unwelcome.  We conversed for an hour or so on my perch, though I hardly remember what we spoke about.   He invited me to a drumming circle that night, or coffee, or a poetry reading – I can’t recall exactly; I didn’t go.  As I pack and consider my upcoming trip, I doubt I’ll see my sprite again.  But if I do, and if I’m asked to go somewhere, I may just say yes.


Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake


Ingredients

    Streusel
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 ounces (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter
  • Cake
  • 4 Meyer lemons, cut into paper-thin slices, ends discarded
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Glaze
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice

Directions

  1. Place lemon slices in a medium saucepan of water, bring to boil, drain, repeat. Cool and chop fine. While lemon slices cook, make the streusel: Mix together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Using your fingers, work butter into the flour mixture until small to medium clumps form. Cover and chill.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom and salt. Beat butter, granulated sugar, with a mixer on medium speed in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, add eggs, 1 at a time, then the vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream. Fold in lemon.
  3. Spoon 1/2 of the batter evenly into cake pan. Arrange the lemon slices in a single layer over the batter. Spread remaining batter evenly over the top. Sprinkle the chilled streusel evenly over the batter.
  4. Bake until cake is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. 4. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove sides of springform, using a knife if necessary. Let cool completely on rack.
  5. Make the glaze: Just before serving, stir together confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Drizzle over cooled cake, letting excess drip down the sides. Let glaze set before slicing, about 5 minutes.