Friday, May 18, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons...

I'm not usually a big fan of lemony cookies, but these turned out pretty good. They've got a short bread cookie base that's nice and crumbly and the custard filling isn't too tart (which is my peeve with lemon pastries). I researched a few different recipes before I settled on one that I could work with.

I very rarely take recipes word for word from other sources; either because I disagree with the method, or because I'm working with different core ingredients. There are very few basic recipes out there that I haven't made first hand in the line of duty, so when I research a "new" dish all I'm really looking for are the basic components.

In this case, we're baking a short bread crust into the bottom of a pan and then pouring a lemon custard on top and putting it back in the oven to set. Couldn't be simpler.

Lemon Squares


1/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1/4 cup (remaining 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Zest and juice from 3 lemons
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat together the shortbread ingredients; the batter should be light and fluffy. Scrape the batter out into the prepared pan and smooth it evenly across the bottom.
3. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, until the crust turns a light golden color and is just firm to the touch.
4. Make the filling while the crust is baking; beat together the eggs and sugar until they are light and fluffy. Beat in the melted butter, lemon juice and zest; when those are fully incorporated, sprinkle the flour and baking powder on the top and mix thoroughly.
5. Remove the pan with the crust from the oven and pour the filling on top. Tap the pan on the table a few times to remove any air bubbles and replace it in the oven for 35 minutes. The top will brown slightly and the filling will be firm (no jiggling) when completely cooked. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool slightly before slicing. Dust a bit of powdered sugar on top while the bars are still warm and allow them to cool completely before removing them from the pan.

Not only did my students like this one, the recipe got passed around the office.


Monday, May 14, 2012


Lentils are very possibly my favorite thing to eat. They're rich in fiber and protein and you can fit, like, ten thousand of them on a plate.  You really just can't go wrong by having a sack of dry lentils sitting somewhere in your cupboard.

Because guess what? Who the 'F' makes lentils? Chefs, that's who. 

Not only are they nutritious and E-Z to cook,  they're also


How to Cook Lentils

Start off your saute with some basic flavor enhancers:


Saute your aromatics and then add a cup of well washed lentils. (These legumes are very small and it will be necessary to examine them closely before cooking to make sure they aren't just tiny pebbles, which has been known to happen!) 

At this point in the cooking you will need to make the choice of whether to use some type of broth, or just plain water to cook your lentils. Either is acceptable and any liquid will eventually get the job done, but be aware that the presence of salt in your cooking liquid will increase the time needed to fully cook your lentils. 


My favorite spices to use with lentils are bay leaf, coriander, and turmeric, but the possibilities are literally endless. Mess around until you find something you like. The average authentic Indian dish has somewhere around 50 different spices in it, so you REALLY can't go wrong, even if you just put a little bit of everything into your stew!

Main Tips:
1. Saute aromatics THEN add the lentils and liquid. (2:1 liquid to dry lentils. If your liquid is gone and your lentils are still hard... add more liquid.)
2. Bring the liquid to a BOIL for at least 3 minutes before lowering to a SIMMER (aids digestion).
3. Season the lentils after they are cooked tender (about 30 minutes) and stir in a few tablespoons of some type of fat; Butter, yogurt, margarine, whatever. It gives the lentils a nice creamy mouth feel. A few drops of Worcestershire sauce can be nice as well.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Prepackaged Foods

Go to the cupboard and look for a can of ravioli, or a box of prepackaged mac and cheese and bring it back to the computer... I'll wait.

If you couldn't find one then give yourself a pat on the back.

If you did find one, take a look on the back label and read the nutrition information; you'll be looking for sodium content.

Did you find it? Is it around 600 mg? Are you surprised?

Ok, maybe it's not so bad after all. I mean, the recommended daily intake of sodium for a normal adult is about 1500 mg, depending on who you ask.

But wait... the value on the package says, "Per serving"... take another look.

How many servings does that package contain?

Most prepackaged "single serving" entrees contain at least 2 servings per container.

A little quick math gives us 1200mg of sodium per container, more than half the recommended daily intake for a healthy adult.

Who opens a can of ravioli and just eats half? Nobody, that's who.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Have you ever just needed to get rid of some turnips? Well I have. My kitchen is occasionally graced with some locally grown produce and this time they gave me an enormous harvest of Brassica Rapa that had been completely forgotten about and overgrown with weeds.

"But, wait... Turnips come in the fall, don't they?" Well, technically yes, Timmy, fall is the best time to harvest this particular tasty root vegetable.... but if you just plumb forgot that you planted them, anytime is the right time. 

Here's a delicious way to get in touch with your roots:

Low Carb Root Vegetable “French Fries”

                1 pound fresh Turnips, washed, stems cut off
                1 Tablespoon olive oil
                1 Tablespoon garlic powder
                1 Tablespoon onion powder
                1 teaspoon paprika
    1/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
                1 teaspoon salt
1.       Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
2.       Peel the washed and de-stemmed turnips and cut into “French Fry” sized sticks.
3.       Place the turnip sticks into a mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil to coat thoroughly.
4.       In a separate bowl combine the salt, garlic and onion powder, paprika, and parmesan; sprinkle in the oiled turnip sticks and toss to coat with the seasonings.
5.       While shaking off any excess seasoning, transfer the turnips sticks to a non-stick baking tray; make sure to spread them out so the tray is not too crowded.
6.       Bake the turnip fries at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes, until they are golden brown and the insides are tender and the outside is crispy.
7.       Serve immediately.

Toss some catsup on these bad boys and your kids will never know they're eating TURNIPS!