Category Archives: food

rosé with a spice-roasted carrot + avocado salad | emilie raffa’s “the clever cookbook” + a GIVEAWAY

Happy Friday, everyone!

I’m celebrating extra hard because I survived Valentine’s Day at the restaurant. It was no small feat. We served over 500 guests each evening last weekend. I am still tending to my battle wounds. Couples lingered a little longer than we anticipated, so our reservations ran behind by almost an hour each night. In order to appease the anticipation and impatience of awaiting guests, we ended up having to pour nearly eight cases’ worth of complimentary Prosecco.

I’m still asking, where’s my complimentary case of bubbles?!

Today I’m changing things up a little and hosting Emilie Raffa of the Clever Carrot here on the blog. Emilie has been a longtime favorite blogger of mine, and she recently released her first cookbook, aptly titled, The Clever Cookbook. I’m giddy with excitement! It’s filled with get-ahead strategies and tips for “stress-free home cooking,” and it is quickly becoming a favorite resource in my kitchen. It was also recently named one of Epicurious’ Top 30 Most Exciting New Spring Cookbooks! Get it, Emilie!!

Emilie is kindly letting me share with you, one of my favorite recipes I’ve tried from her new cookbook, a spice-roasted carrot and avocado salad. Of course, I couldn’t resist pairing it with a bottle of wine. So, to celebrate Emilie’s cookbook release, I’m giving away a copy of her cookbook, along with a bottle of wine from my cellar that pairs perfectly with this particular salad! Simply share one of your favorite time-saving tips in the kitchen down below in the comments OR clue me in one of your favorite springtime rosés.

Cheers!

rosé with spice-roasted carrot + avocado salad | emilie raffa's "the clever cookbook" + a giveaway

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sea salt shortbread cookies with lemon curd | paired with Kracher Auslese 2011

I had every intention of sharing these cookies, along with the lemon curd, even the dessert wine, with my coworkers. I set aside 40 of them to take to work this past Saturday. Between me and Steve, we not only consumed the 15 allocated to the two of us, but we also polished off the portion reserved for the kind and hard-working chefs, servers, and managers at the restaurant. Hmmm. Yeah, sorry. Not sorry!

I just couldn’t stop eating them. I am trying not to think about the fact that, between the two of us, we ingested two sticks of butter over the course of fewer than three days. Somehow, that fact is easier to disregard, when the butter is divided among almost 60 small, heart-shaped, dainty cookies!

There is a lot to cover in this post: a recap on this modification of Emilie’s shortbread recipe over at the Clever Carrot, a how-to on Meyer lemon curd, and a review of the dessert wine that paired magically with these sweet and sour components. I’ll keep my personal update short for sake of space, but I will let you know that, in addition to eating all of these cookies, I am really winning so far this week: I overslept that 5-mile race I had signed up for. I seriously blame these cookies. Somehow, they were the culprit.

I can honestly say that I blame cookies for a lot of things. But that’s an entirely different post.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora


“Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.”

– Victor Kiam


I had actually made a few jars of lemon curd before reading a recent post by Emilie over at the Clever Carrot. Emilie is a chef, who believes in the concept of “healthy comfort food.” She makes amazing sourdough bread, posts useful tips, writes heartfelt posts, and creates recipes far beyond sweets. And she has a kick-ass Instagram feed. Recently, she and her boys made the cutest batch of shortbread cookies. She made a modification of shortbread that included egg yolks, since traditional shortbread recipes call for simply one part butter, two parts sugar, and three parts flour. Just looking at her post, though, made me want to roll out of bed and bake several pans of these cookies. There is nothing like the combination of lemon curd and shortbread.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora

I only slightly modified Emilie’s original recipe and added some of my citrus salt I recently made, along with a little vanilla extract, a sprinkling of sea salt, and a slight tweak of flours. My baking session, however, was a little less eventful from hers. Simply skimming the first 100 or so words of her post will clue you in on her baking adventure. If only my two cats were that exciting.

Another component that really set these shortbread cookies apart was the addition of a little sea salt, sprinkled on top of the cookies before baking them. I used some Canadian sea salt, a gift from my dear friend, Kristy. I didn’t even know that Canada specialized in sea salt. The company, Vancouver Island Salt Co., was started by a chef, and their Fleur de Sel is Canada’s first sea salt.


sea salt shortbread cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted almond flour
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons citrus salt {you may substitute regular salt}
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • coarse sea salt for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sift the flours into a large bowl and add the cubed butter. Using your fingers, break apart the cubes of butter and incorporate the butter into the flour. See the photo above for an example of what kind of texture you’re looking for. You want pea-sized pieces of the mixture. And you can always use a pastry cutter, if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, but getting your hands dirty is half the fun!
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks well and add the sugar and citrus salt. Stir until incorporated.
  4. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and, using your fingers again, mix until the dough forms a ball, being careful not to over-mix.
  5. Flatten the dough into a disc, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. Over a piece of parchment paper, roll a portion of the dough to about a 1/4″ thick. Like Emilie, I also sandwich my dough in between two pieces of parchment paper. This makes removing the cookies SO much easier. The dough won’t stick to your rolling-pin. I don’t attempt this any other way, and this method works when rolling pie dough, too.
  7. Cut out cookies with the cookie cutter of your choice. I love these little hearts! They also make a lovely pie crust.
  8. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, sprinkle the cookies with coarse sea salt, and bake for 12-15 minutes, just until slightly golden.
  9. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool the cookies on it for 5 minutes. Remove the cookies with a spatula and transfer them to a wire cooling rack.
  10. Let the cookies cool completely and serve alongside a glass of Kracher Auslese and smother them with lemon curd. Better yet, make lemon curd shortbread sandwiches and chill them in the refrigerator, until you’re ready to enjoy them!
  • This recipe yields about 55 smallish cookies, depending upon the size of your cutter.
  • Make sure that you thoroughly chill your dough before cutting the cookies. You can always chill the dough down in the fridge in between batches.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora

Curd, curd, curd. Curd’s the word! Okay, I am officially delirious right about now. I think I’m still recovering from the birthday celebrations over the weekend. But, seriously, I did grow up thinking that 50s and 60s rock was the current music of my time, since I only listened to my dad’s “oldies radio” station. I didn’t discover Michael Jackson until I was nearly 13! Thanks, Dad. So, about that lemon curd! And back to being slightly serious. Of course, you can purchase some delicious lemon curd from the store, but making lemon curd is super easy and requires just a short amount of time. And, honestly, sprinkling the shortbread cookie with a little sea salt was a perfect match with the sweet-tart lemon curd.

I actually hadn’t actually tasted lemon curd before experimenting with making it this year during my citrus obsession {shocker!}. I’d even loosely used “lemon curd” as a term for describing certain wines’ characteristics. I assumed it had a creamy, rich texture and a citrus-y, tart kick. I was definitely right about that. Kind of like the California Chardonnay I’m sipping on this very moment. A basic fruit curd recipe calls for egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice, and zest. The result is a super rich, custard-like spread that pairs well with anything from scones to waffles to fresh fruit.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora


meyer lemon curd


  • 2 Meyer lemons
  • 1 regular lemon
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  1. Sterilize the jars you will be using for the lemon curd. I used random Mason jars and jars from store-bought relish and jellies. Since you won’t be processing these jars, you can use whichever containers you’d like, as long as you sterilize them properly. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and place the jars carefully inside. Boil the jars for at least 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the jars inside the pot, until you need them in a few minutes.
  2. Wash and scrub the skins of the lemons well.
  3. Grate the zest from the 3 lemons into a stainless steel bowl. I used a Microplane. Be careful to avoid zesting any of the bitter, white pith. If you don’t have a fine zester, like a Microplane, you can take Ina Garten’s advice and simply peel the skins with a vegetable peeler and pulse it, along with the cane sugar, in a food processor.
  4. Juice all 3 lemons into the same stainless steel bowl.
  5. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil and set the bowl over the simmering water. This is kind of like a double boiler situation.
  6. Add the sugar, salt, and butter and stir until the butter melts.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk until the mixture is smooth.
  8. Strain the egg mixture through a chinois or sieve into the butter mixture.
  9. Here’s where some elbow grease comes into play. For the next 6 to 8 minutes, whisk the mixture constantly until smooth and thickened to a custard-like texture. Don’t slack!
  10. Pour the lemon curd into the sterilized jars and let the curd cool.
  11. Cover with the lids and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
  • This recipe yielded me about 12 ounces. I divided the lemon curd into three 4-ounce jars.
  • Make sure that you use a clean spoon or knife each time you serve the lemon curd. This will keep the curd fresh and lengthen its shelf-life in the refrigerator.
  • If you can’t find seasonally available Meyer lemons, feel free to substitute with regular lemons.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora

As you well know, I sing the praises of serving dessert wine after a meal either alone or alongside a sweet treat {case in point, here, here, and here}. I chose an acidic, sweet dessert wine to accompany this shortbread and lemon curd duo. The producer of this sweet, late-harvest wine is Kracher, and they have consistently set the standard for quality, sweet wines from Austria. When I tasted the wine with the shortbread and lemon curd, I knew I had to share this experience with the staff at work. I really did have the best of intentions. I’d like to say that I dropped them on the floor or something, but in all sincerity, Steve and I ate. them. all.

I can say, however, that I’ve managed to remember to run almost every day this week!


Kracher, Auslese Cuvée, Burgenland, Austria, 2011


  • Off the vine – 60% Chardonnay, 40% Welschriesling
  • On the eyes  –  very pale yellow
  • On the nose  –  fresh aromas of ripe peaches and apricots, tropical white fruits, with a pronounced citrus blossom note.
  • On the palate  –  medium in body, not too thick on the palate, with lots of honeydew, tangerine, citrus blossom, and lychee notes, with a touch of wildflower honey. This wine has a lingering citrus-y finish and a bright acidity. This dessert wine is sweet but not cloyingly so.
  • On the table  –  perfectly paired with the creamy, rich lemon curd! This Auslese would also complement a slightly spicy Asian dish, fruit-driven desserts, and fresh goat cheese. I’d drizzle the goat cheese with a little honey and serve it along with some toasted pecans.
  • On the shelf  –  around $23 {375 mL}.
  • On the ears  –  I splurged and got five new albums from the record store on my birthday this past week. One of my favorite purchases was the latest from Digitalism. I was smitten by their 2007 album, Idealism, and I couldn’t believe I’d missed their latest effort {2011, so new-to-me}, I Love You, Dude. If you haven’t heard of this German duo, give this track a listen, and it will give you a feel for their sound.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & floraIf you’ve been digging dessert wine lately and want to research more about it, here are a few links that will lend you a little more information:

If you make these cookies or attempt a batch of lemon curd, let me know how it all turns out! And if you score a bottle of this moderately priced, delicious dessert wine, let me know what you think. Here’s to a week filled with commitment to goals, not as many cookies, and a lot more green smoothies. At least that’s what I’ll be striving for!

Cheers!

Jayme

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winter citrus salad + blood orange shrub dressing | paired with chenin blanc

Don’t we all wish we could view and present our lives through an Instagram filter? We could give our day-to-day messiness a hazy, golden glow; smudge away the imperfections, late-fees, traffic tickets; paint a ray of sunshine on our grey days; make our piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and dark circles look, somehow, like awe-inspiring works of art; and delete those harsh remarks we’ve made. Count me in!

But how do we ever make changes in our lives, unless we examine ourselves, under close scrutiny, raw and un-retouched? How else do we know when we need to progress or say goodbye to places, people, or habits, which no longer serve us? I remember visiting with a financial planner years ago, a time when my finances were in a bad place. In order to see where my problem areas existed, I was instructed to look back, tally up my past expenditures, and write down everything I was spending on a daily basis. I begged to skip this step. I just wanted to scratch the past and simply move forward from where I was.

Exposing my poor choices to a stranger was terrifying to me. But even more terrifying was coming to grips with my own addictions, my lack of discipline, and my frivolity. I can tell you, however, that if I hadn’t gone through that bitter process of digging deeper, realizing the patterns I’d created, I would most likely be making those same poor choices today.

winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend

You know what’s even more difficult than self-evaluation? When someone else evaluates you, without a prompt, unsolicited. Gulp. I recently came across a blog comment that I must have overlooked somehow. It was written back in October in response to a recipe I had posted. As I read the words, I cringed inside and felt defensive, at first. I adjusted my robe, mirroring the way I felt inside: like someone saw something I didn’t want them to see. But really that was just my ego getting in the way. Someone actually took the time and let me know that the recipe was unclear and even offered a suggestion to enhance my post’s readability.

You know? I am seriously grateful that this person deemed it important to kindly share his thoughts in a constructive fashion. I immediately fixed the problem and even began to look at my recipes with a keener eye {that’s not to say that I am mistake-free from now on!}. If that reader hadn’t taken the time to share his thoughts, I wouldn’t have grown as a writer or matured a little as an individual.

My boyfriend and I sat down together this past week and took a critical look at our garden. The promise of spring, along with the time change and some warmer weather, has gotten us into “planning mode” for our garden. We took out a piece of paper and sketched out three categories: garden failures, garden successes, and aspects we need to improve upon. Granted, it is much easier to discuss the ins and outs of gardening, as opposed to deep soul-searching, but the concept is similar. You’ve got to know your starting point, know your strengths and weaknesses, so that you can move forward and see the results you want – in your life or in your tomato patch.

winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend

Okay. I’ll bring a little levity to this post and talk about a salad I’ve been making lately. I don’t really follow recipes for making salads. In fact, most of the time, I end up either grabbing what’s in season at the store, pulling something from the garden, or sifting through my fridge and assembling something tasty with what’s on hand. I’ve also mentioned it before: you don’t need to follow a strict recipe for a salad dressing, either. And you definitely don’t need to purchase salad dressing from the store. Ever. It is really a simply process and tastes so much more delicious, when you make your own. I tend to follow the following ratio, and it suits me perfectly every time:

—  3 parts oil + 1 part vinegar + squeeze of citrus + seasonings  —

I have recently caught the shrub-making bug and have made three kinds already. I detailed a how-to post last week, in case you missed it. I used my blood orange shrub in the dressing for this citrus salad. It provides a tangy, sweet-sour taste and can substitute the vinegar usually found in dressing recipes.


blood orange shrub vinaigrette


  • 1/3 cup great quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons blood orange shrub
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 cup crushed raw pistachios
  • If you don’t have blood orange shrub on hand, you may substitute the shrub with 2 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar. This combo makes a great vinaigrette, but if you’d like a little more blood orange flavor, just add the juice of half a blood orange, or more to taste.
  • I like to combine all of the ingredients in a mason jar and shake well until emulsified.

winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blendwinter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blendwinter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blendwinter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend


winter citrus salad


  • 5 oranges {a mixture of your choice}, skins removed and sliced width-wise
  • 1 Meyer lemon, skins removed and sliced width-wise
  • 1/2 a fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 a head of radicchio, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • chiffonade of mint leaves {about 10 leaves}
  • handful of raw, sprouted pumpkin seeds
  • sprinkle of feta cheese
  1. Remove the skins of the citrus with a knife. Slice the citrus width-wise.
  2. Using either a mandoline or a very sharp knife, thinly slice the fennel bulb and the radicchio.
  3. Peel the shallot and slice it super thin.
  4. To make the chiffonade of mint, take the 10 mint leaves, stack them on top of each other, roll them from top to bottom, and slice the roll of leaves thinly.
  5. Arrange the citrus slices, fennel, radicchio, and shallot on two plates {or one, if you’re hungry} and sprinkle the mint, pumpkin seeds, and feta over the top.
  6. Drizzle the salad with dressing and enjoy with a glass of Chenin Blanc.
  • This video show an excellent example of removing the skins of citrus with a knife. Be sure to remove the pith {white part} from the fruit. It’s perfectly fine to eat, but it offers a bitter taste.
  • Don’t know how to chiffonade? Here’s a great visual.
  • This recipe yields about 2 salads.

winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend

I paired this salad with Marvelous “Yellow,” which is a Chenin Blanc-dominated blend from South Africa. This wine is one of my favorite white wines I’ve tasted this past year, and it pairs perfectly with this citrus-fennel salad. The Marvelous wine portfolio is a collaboration among winemaker Adam Mason, chef Peter Tempelhoff and passionate wine entrepreneur Charles Banks. They also make the “Red” {a Syrah-led blend} and the “Blue” {a Cab Franc-led blend}.


Marvelous “Yellow”, Chenin Blanc Blend, South Africa, 2012


  • Off the vine  –  Chenin Blanc {60%}, Chardonnay {30%}, and Viognier {10%}, sourced from the Western Cape.
  • On the eyes  –  brilliant, pale yellow.
  • On the nose  –  wildly aromatic, with notes of white flowers, lush, tropical fruits, and a hint of golden apple and lime.
  • On the palate  –  dry, medium-bodied, with a silky mouth-feel, vibrant acidity, and a mineral-driven finish. The palate confirms the nose with bright, tropical fruits, a hint of vanilla, citrus, and ripe, golden apple. It’s the perfect balance of flavor, texture, and acidity. You can really sense what each grape brings to the wine.
  • On the table  –  perfect with citrus salads, grilled chicken, or a buttery, spring pea risotto.
  • On the shelf  –  around $15, which is a crazy value.
  • On the ears  –  paired with some Samia Farah from her 1999 self-titled album. This Tunisian-French singer’s style mingles among the jazz, pop, and reggae genres and conjures up images of lazy, hazy summers. This album is a standard for the sunny months of June, July, and August. It is the perfect putzing-around-in-the-yard music. I especially like the track, “Je Sais”; I tend to blast it on mornings-off, over coffee, out in the garden. This video will clue you in on her sound even further.

tulips before the snowstormour backayard in the snowcat pawprints in the snow

I’ll close with some wintry shots I took with my iPhone on a walk a few days ago. We finally got some well-deserved sunshine and warmth today, and I even cracked some sparkling rosé and donned the tank top. Maybe it was a bit premature {insert goosebumps and a little teeth-chattering}, but it was worth it!

Cheers to an amazing rest-of-the-week, peppered with a little introspection and some self-growth!

XO,

Jayme

snowy walk snowy walk snowy walk snowy walk snowy walksnowy walksnowy walksnowy walksnowy walk...and my sorrelssnowy walk

 

bundt cake with thyme sprig

meyer lemon + thyme olive oil cakes | paired with anselmi’s “i capitelli” dessert wine

I recently read a very inspiring post on Darling magazine’s website about celebrating our small and large moments of victory, fanning the flames of our goals, and daring to actually live out those crazy dreams we have for our lives. I know I’ve been pretty wordy about goal-setting and intentions on my last few posts, but I have no apologies. We all need a little motivation; I’m seriously preaching to myself.

Lately, I’ve had a few setbacks with the goals I’ve written for myself. I dealt with a case of bronchitis, and I had to stop running for a few weeks. My work schedule has been a little unpredictable, and my finances have taken a toll. I have over-committed and have had some difficulty finding a sense of balance, in turn, hurting a couple of friends and family members as a result.

I can only pick up where I left off with those situations and do my best from this point on. I’ve slowly built my running mileage up to four miles a run, and I’ve tightened up my budget. As far as the fragile relationships go, I’m making room for quality time and making sure I am giving my full attention to the person I’m spending time with.


We have to reach for our goals but, more than that, we have to hold on and live them, until they’re the only truths we believe in.”

Megan Magers


Sometimes, it is tough holding onto our goals. When we are met with setbacks. When we’re the only ones who see any progress. When we supposedly “fail.” When no validation comes our way. It’s at those points where it is so important to stay strong and remind ourselves WHY we made our choices and commitments in the first place.

So, I’ve gotten back on my feet and am trying to make something beautiful from my mistakes. This brings me to my recent marmalade mishap: I botched a batch and couldn’t get the marmalade to set. I wanted to toss out the six jars I canned. I was livid with the results.

At first.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora

I could’ve thrown that batch away, and I would’ve missed out on the opportunity to expand my creativity. I’ve used that runny, but oh-so-vibrantly-tasty batch of marmalade in more ways than I would have, had it been “perfect.”  It has found its way into a ginger-soy stir-fry sauce, as a dipping sauce for gyoza, over toast, in a gin cocktail, over granola, and drizzled over these Meyer lemon bundt cakes {recipe loosely adapted from this recipe on Food Network}. I think the bundt cake glaze is my most favorite incorporation of the sweet, citrus-y jam.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora


meyer lemon + thyme olive oil cakes


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, in solid form
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for flouring bundt pans
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • zest from 3 lemons
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup Greek yogurt or skyr
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh thyme
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease the lining of the bundt pans with the coconut oil and lightly dust with flour.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the sugar and lemon zest until integrated.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, again, pulsing until integrated.
  5. Add the olive oil and yogurt and pulse for about 30 seconds, until all of the ingredients are blended.
  6. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and fresh thyme.
  7. Pour the flour mixture, in three separate passes, into the olive oil mixture, pulsing just until combined.
  8. Pour the final mixture into the greased and floured bundt pans and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let the cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack. If the cakes don’t want to release easily, use a knife to separate the cake from the edges of the pan.
  • I tested this recipe using a 6-piece mini-bundt pan. If you choose to use a 12-piece mini-bundt pan, decrease the baking time, checking on the cakes after 22 or so minutes.
  • Remember to grease the middle part of the bundt pan molds! I forgot to do this, and each cake didn’t want to release easily, since that middle portion was stuck.

marmalade glaze


  • 3 tablespoons marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  1. In a saucepan, combine the marmalade, coconut oil, and lemon juice over medium heat.
  2. As soon as the mixture reaches a slow, bubbly boil, quickly reduce to a low simmer.
  3. Whisk in powdered sugar.
  4. Reduce for about five minutes or to desired thickness.
  5. Remove from heat and let stand for 20-30 minutes to thicken further, as it cools.
  6. Drizzle over lemon olive oil cakes.
  • If you don’t have any marmalade, you may substitute 3 tablespoons orange juice and simply mix all ingredients together without heating on the stove.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora

And now, let’s take this dessert to another level.

How so? Dessert wine. After a meal, I am always excited to pair a dessert wine with my sweet baked goods or even some cheese. The citrus notes in this particular recipe pair perfectly with Sauternes, a dessert wine from the Bordeaux region of France, made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. I didn’t have a Sauternes on hand, but I did have a Sauternes-like dessert wine from Italy, Anselmi’s “I Capitelli”, Passito Blanco.

I hadn’t tried it before, and I was completely blown away. This nectar-like, sweet wine is complex and balanced with vibrant acidity and provided ample notes of honey, dried apricot, brûléed peaches. I would also enjoy this dessert wine simply by itself, alongside fresh fruit, or with a salted caramel crème brûlée.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora


Anselmi “I Capitelli” Passito Blanco, Italy, 2011


  • Off the vine – 100% Garganega {the primary grape used to produce Soave}
  • On the eyes  –  golden honey-hued.
  • On the nose  –  rich, concentrated aromas of white peach, sweet apricot, honey, and caramel.
  • On the palate  –  full-bodied and viscous with notes of honey, maple, and ripe peaches.
  • On the table  –  excellent alongside fresh fruit, lemon cake, light pastries, and even with steamed lobster. It can definitely stand up and complement a funky bleu cheese.
  • On the shelf  –  around $40 {375 mL}.
  • On the ears  –  I think I’ve listened to Royksopp‘s latest, and supposedly final, album, The Inevitable End {November 2014}, at least once a day for the last three weeks. Right now, my favorite track is “Skulls.” I may have danced around the kitchen with this one blasting. I’m comfortably listening to this album right now on headphones, so there won’t be any neighborly casualties. 😉 The video to this track is definitely worth checking out, especially if you have major beard crushes, like I do.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & floraI also want to add that it is so important to celebrate our accomplishments, the large breakthroughs and the little victories, and not just focus on the hiccups, roadblocks, or setbacks. Even though each of our victories leads us closer to our goals, we have to remember that life happens along the way, in the mix. We have to take time to revel in those small, happy moments.

Let me know if you end up making this recipe, this decadent product of an originally perceived failure. They were absolutely delicious and had the best texture, almost like a sour cream cake doughnut. I ended up eating two of these mini-bundt cakes the night I baked them. And I didn’t feel any guilt about it! It was a victorious celebration, after all, right?

Happy weekend! I’ll be tucked away inside my house for a couple of days. The forecast is calling for well over a foot of snow. We’ll see how well that prediction holds. I’m betting on maybe five inches!

Cheers!

Jayme

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora

 

marmalade on cutting board

mixed citrus marmalade + thoughts on goals

My sister and I have an eight-hour record for one phone conversation. I know. It is a little extreme. I don’t even know how that was possible, and it was so long ago that I don’t quite remember the topics discussed. A couple of nights ago, we held another lengthy phone conversation, which turned into a Skype conversation. No new records were set, but we covered a lot of territory.

Over the course of about two and a half hours, we caught up on our daily happenings, shared a few tough stories, and even held a meet-and-greet for our cats. I’m so glad that we can be so open and silly with each other. Heather and I even completed some chores while chatting. She finished folding her laundry, and I managed to make some preserved lemons and Meyer lemon curd.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

– Chinese Proverb

Lately, both of us have felt compelled to do more of what we want to do, cultivate more confidence, and stop procrastinating the procrastination cycle. Together, we made lists of positive habits we desire in our lives, along with the action plans to accomplish them. One of our goals is a shared one: running a half-marathon this spring.

There’s something rather permanent, when you put a goal in writing. It is no longer just an idea. It is one step closer to a reality. So, we signed up for our races and made a pact to cheer each other on and hold each other accountable. To make it public, and seal the deal even further, I drafted a post on Facebook, cringed, and finally pressed “post.” It was out there. It was no longer a thought in my mind that could be rationalized away by fear or lethargy.

marmalade with citrus peels on cutting board

You might be asking, “What does this even have to do with marmalade!?

Marmalade is something I’ve always enjoyed and have wanted to master. I have messed up my last two batches of marmalade, and I seriously wanted to conquer this preserve. I needed redemption. Getting marmalade to set can be a challenge. Those last two batches were incredibly tasty but lacked a thicker consistency. They didn’t go unused, however. I used the thin marmalade as a glaze, an ice cream topping, an addition to yogurt and granola, and even a base for a cocktail.

I broke my losing streak and finally nailed a batch. Classic marmalade recipes call for Seville oranges, an acidic and bitter variety. Their seeds and pith provide a lot of pectin, which facilitates the setting of the marmalade. I can’t ever seem to find them, so I have always swapped the Sevilles for varieties that are less bitter and pithy, but I never made up for the lack of pectin. It finally made sense to me, and this time, I made the proper amendments. The resulting marmalade was delicious!

close-up of marmalade toast with tea and marmalade plate of toast with marmalade and tea tea with orange slices stack of toast with jar of marmalade

According to Marisa McClellan of the website, Food in Jars, there are three styles of marmalade: whole fruit, cut rind, and citrus jam. The method that I describe below is a cut rind method. This method requires removing the citrus pith by supreming and segmenting the citrus. Since removing these components decreases the amount of thickening pectin, it is important to make up for that loss by either adding purchased pectin or simply reserving the pith and seeds and infusing them, while cooking the marmalade.


mixed citrus marmalade


  • 4 pounds of oranges, any combination of blood orange or navel {depending up the size of the oranges, 7 or 8}
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice {about 2 large lemons}
  • 3 cups cane sugar
  1. Bring a large canning pot to a boil and sterilize your canning jars. For more detailed steps on the canning process, read this post by Kaela at Local Kitchen Blog. Also, place a small plate into your freezer. You’ll use this to test for proper setting later on.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peels of the oranges {kind of like zesting – you’re wanting just the orange part} in long ribbons. Stack several of the ribbons of peel and cut them width-wise to your desired thickness. I cut mine into 1/8″ strips. Set aside.
  3. Using a sharp knife, remove the outer white skins of the oranges and segment the oranges. Do this over a bowl to catch any juice that may drizzle out, and reserve the membranes, along with any pith or seeds. I found this video extremely enlightening.
  4. Take the orange segments, along with the peels, and place them in a large, wide preserving pan. I use my trusty Le Creuset 7 1/4 quart Dutch oven {it’s “red flame”, in case your curious!}.
  5. Strain the collected juice in your bowl into a large measuring cup and add enough water to bring the liquid to 3 cups. Pour this into the pot.
  6. Cut the tops and bottoms off the 2 lemons and slice them in half, lengthwise. Slice each of those halves width-wise. Place the lemon pieces, peel-side down, on a cutting board and slice into 1/4″ strips, leaving the flesh attached. It is okay if they aren’t perfectly sized. Toss all of the lemon pieces, along with any juice, into the preserving pot.
  7. Now is the time to put all of those reserved membranes, pith, and seeds to good use. Here is where your pectin comes into play. Take all of these bits and wrap them in 2 layers of cheesecloth. I firmly secured the makeshift bag but didn’t pack the pith and seeds too tightly. You want to give the pith and seeds a chance to infuse the marmalade mixture. Place this bag into the preservation pot.
  8. Bring the juice and zest {along with the cheesecloth bag} to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, taking a spoon and squeezing the cheesecloth bag a few times along the way.
  9. Turn off the heat. Once the bag is cool to the touch, squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Discard the bag and compost the remaining pith, membranes, and seeds.
  10. Over high heat, bring the citrus juice to a boil again and add the sugar. Stir along the way and bring the temperature up to about 220 degrees Fahrenheit. My mixture never reached this temperature, but it DID pass the “freezer test.” Remember that plate you placed in the freezer? Place a small amount of the mixture on your chilled plate, return it to the freezer for 1 minute, and check if it wrinkles when you touch it with a spoon.
  11. Ladle the marmalade, once it gels properly, into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace at the top. Wipe the rims with a damp cloth and seal the jars gently, just until closed, not too tightly.
  12. Place the jars into the boiling water bath, bring to a boil, and process for 5 minutes.
  13. Remove the jars from the canner and set on a heat-proof, flat surface. Do not disturb for at least 12 hours. Make sure that the cans have sealed. If they haven’t, just place the unsealed ones in the refrigerator and use them now. Store the properly sealed jars and use within a year for optimal flavor.

marmalade with slices of citrus


a few tips for better marmalade


  • Always purchase organic oranges. Pesticide residue is only measured by the amounts in the flesh of the fruit; the pesticide levels are not measured on the skins. Play it safe by always buying organic fruit and thoroughly scrubbing the skins.
  • Read this post on getting marmalade to set and always save your seeds. Like I mentioned earlier, I have seriously battled getting my marmalade to set. Don’t let that deter you from trying a recipe. I can’t remember where I saw this tip, but always save your citrus seeds whenever you’re juicing in the kitchen. Simply collect them in a bag and store them in the freezer to use in your next marmalade-making session.
  • Process your jars for the correct amount of time. If you are at a higher altitude, like I am, the processing time might be a little longer. Use this calculator to make sure you process for the correct amount of time. I processed mine for 15 minutes, since I live at 5,280 feet above sea level.
  • Juice your citrus at room temperature. It is much easier to do, and obtain more juice this way.
  • Read up on your canning and marmalade basics, before you begin. Here are a few resources that I have referenced, myself:

 


some recipes to pin for later


marmalade with wooden spoon

I’m curious about your thoughts on jam- and marmalade-making. What are your current challenges? Do you have any tips to share? Do you have a favorite recipe or resource?

And back to what I was talking about earlier, it is never too late to start something you’ve always wanted to try or learn something new. I seriously wonder why it takes a breakup, a diagnosis of a disease, or the loss of a job to spring us into action. Why can’t we just jump out, go after what we want, and make that change? Is it any less noble to start something new simply because we want to?

So, go make that marmalade, run that race, start that business, climb that mountain {literally or figuratively}, learn how to sail, or tell that person you love them. And wish me luck on that upcoming half-marathon!

Cheers to a beautiful and inspired week!

Jayme

three books on preserving stacked in a row