Ever since I learned what Meyer lemons were, I’ve been a tad obsessed with them… I guess you are always intrigued with what’s not readily available to you.
I love lemons. And I always have lemons around in my home. I use them in almost anything… but Meyer lemons are almost mystical. Maybe because you can’t find them anywhere here in Puerto Rico… unless you know someone with a little tree, like my friend Adriana.
So when I learned my friend Charles from California had tons of Meyer lemons from his backyard to share with us, his internet foodie friends, I jumped right at the opportunity. It took longer than expected, but the lemons arrived in this perfect flat rate box, almost unblemished.
I shared… I had to share them with my mom and uncle. I shared with the Yoga Center when I made an impromptu apple crisp one Saturday morning. But I wanted to do something special… something that would make the “sweeter” flavor of the Meyer lemon shine.
Because I am not much of a baker, I decided to go with a cold dessert. I had bought a bunch of thyme sprigs and I didn’t want them to go bad. That’s when the flavor combo clicked in my head.
MEYER LEMON THYME GRANITA
The juice of 12 Meyer lemons
The zest of only 6 Meyer lemons – save the rest of the zest for some other recipe…
2 cups of water
1 ½ cups of brown sugar
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Make a simple syrup by dissolving the brown sugar in the 2 cups of water in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the lemon zest and thyme sprigs. Allow mixture to come to a soft boil until the sugar dissolves completely. Let the mixture steep together for about 1-2 hours covered until it cools significantly.
- When the simple syrup has cooled… remove the thyme sprigs. Add the juice of the lemons and mix thoroughly.
- Transfer to a glass dish to freeze overnight in your freezer.
- Cut pieces of the frozen mixture with a knife. Transfer pieces to a food processor and puree into ice chards.
Transfer to a pretty glass for your guests to enjoy.
I raided Costco the other day and bought a whole case of peaches… and a case of cherries. All, just for myself. Well, I did share some with my mom when she came over to visit, but before she came over I was puzzled on what would I do with a case of peaches all for me.
I have made already this plum and blueberry crisp… so I tried the same concept with peaches and cherries to see if it would work. The results??? It DID!!!!
When I asked a bunch of you on FaceBook what should I make with these peaches, Adriana recommended a peach pecan something… that gave me the idea to add pecans to the crisp topping. A hit!!!
PEACH CHERRY CRISP
2 medium peaches, peeled and cut into pieces
About 14 cherries, pitted and cut into pieces
3 tsps cornstarch
¼ cup raw sugar
The juice of ¼ lemon
Pinch of ground cinnamon
For the crisp topping
¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour
¼ cup rolled oats
3 tbs butter
¼ cup raw sugar
2 handfuls of pecans… about ¼ cup
- In a glass baking dish, sprayed with butter spray, add the cut fruit. Add the cornstarch, sugar, lemon zest and juice and finally the cinnamon. Stir well to combine.
- Pre—heat oven to 350F.
- In the bowl of a food processor combine the crisp topping ingredients – flour, oats, butter, sugar and pecans. Pulse a few times for all the ingredients to combine and form a sand-like consistency. If you want to make this crisp gluten-free or even dairy free, just follow the instructions for the crisp topping I use here. It’ll work all the same.
- Place crisp topping over the fruits in the glass dish. You can be generous.
- Bake in oven for about 45 minutes, until the topping is golden and you see the fruit juices starting to bubble a bit. If you would like to avoid spills in your oven or toaster over, place the glass dish over a sheet pan to catch any drippings.
I did this the other night for a dinner with my friend Walter… he is not into sweets and he had seconds. I hope that meant it tasted awesome!!!!
During my recent trip to Las Vegas I learned the Italian word for sorbet… SORBETO. Kind of funny because in Spanish, or at least here in Puerto Rico, “sorbeto” is what we call a drinking straw.
People at the Yoga Center go crazy for ice creams or frozen desserts of any kind. They’re a nice welcome change from the traditional cake they usually serve. And me, I’m not the cake-lover type. I rather eat a cookie or an ice cream any day before I crave a slice of cake.
So for our Italian Dinner at the Yoga Center I was asked to help out, specifically with desserts… who doesn’t like ice creams, no?? But to make it easy on me I decided to make a very traditional and natural SORBETO. I made a HUGE batch of this, but let’s just scale it down as if I was making it for a dinner party at home…
4 cups frozen strawberries
4 tbs of agave nectar
Yep… that’s it. 2 ingredients. That’s why its soooooo good.
- Cut the strawberries in quarters, it’ll be easier for the food processor to puree them. Place the cut strawberries in a food processor as you cut them.
- Drizzle the agave nectar over the cut berries.
- Pulse a few times to get the berries going. Process until the berries turn into a slushy puree. Transfer to a glass or plastic container and freeze until ready to serve.
This is soooo refreshing on a hot Summer afternoon…
Another one of the desserts we attempted to serve at the Italian Dinner at the Yoga Center recently was a Granita…
The granita name might transport you to Italy, but we have our own versions all the same. In Puerto Rico we grew up eating “limbers” and “piraguas”. Limbers are basically sweetened and frozen juice and you eat it directly from the small plastic cup in which you freeze it in. Piraguas on the other hand is the traditional shaved ice with flavored syrup on top served on a paper or plastic cone. In essence, granitas are a hybrid of these two local Puerto Rican treats.
I use the help of my trusty food processor to help with the shaving… I am just too anxious to shave the ice by hand. Technology exists for a purpose… let’s take full advantage of it, no??
MANGO GINGER GRANITA
3 cups mango nectar
1 cup water
½ cup raw turbinado or brown sugar
3-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
- We make the ginger simple syrup first… just bring the water, ginger pieces and sugar to a boil in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves completely. Let the ginger steep in the simple syrup while the liquid cools off.
- When the simple syrup has come to room temperature, strain the ginger pieces. Mix together the ginger simple syrup and the mango nectar in a glass 9 x 11 container.
- Place in the freezer for about 6-8 hours for it to fully harden.
- When you’re ready to serve, remove the frozen mango juice mixture from freezer and using a sharp tool, pry it away from the mold and break it off into pieces you can fit into your food processor. Pulse a few times and process until you have a slushy.
Serve in individual cups and enjoy.
If you’d like a more pronounced ginger flavor, I suggest you peel the ginger before steeping it in the simple syrup and do not strain the ginger pieces before mixing in the mango nectar. This way, you can process the frozen ginger pieces together with the rest of the frozen juice and you’ll get a very interesting prominent ginger flavor.
This recipe is from Cielito Rosado, with whom I had the pleasure to work with when I managed the advertising of a very popular dish washing liquid. She’s one of the few well-known cooks in Puerto Rico… her recipes are simple and easy to follow.
Arroz con Dulce, loosely translated to Sweetened Rice, is a typical Xmas dessert. You really do not see it anywhere before Thanksgiving or after the Fiestas de San Sebastián. The key is to not have it be too sweet or too bland… and brown sugar is key.
ARROZ CON DULCE
1 ½ cups of rice, soaked in water
For the cooking liquid:
1 ½ cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
A piece of fresh ginger
3 cans of coconut milk
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
2 tbs raisins
2 tbs butter
Ground cinnamon to garnish
- Add the cloves, cinnamon sticks and ginger to the water in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat for about 5-8 minutes. Then, strain and discard the spices. Return the tea to the same saucepan.
- Drain the rice that has been soaking in water; add it to the strained tea and coconut milk. Cook over medium heat until the liquids boil. Cover and lower the heat until the liquids reduce and the rice is cooked.
- Add the brown sugar, shredded coconut, raisins, butter and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
- Pour the cooked rice into a serving platter and garnish with sprinkled ground cinnamon.