Tag Archives: lemon

Lemon Polenta Cake (gluten-free)


This lovely cake represents my first successful foray into gluten-free baking.  My daughter and I attempted a birthday cake for a friend earlier this year which yielded dubious results.  Now I realize the error, and on the opposite side of the coin, what it takes for successful gluten-free baking (and this theory also applies to successful vegetarian and vegan cooking):  don’t strive for an exact replica of your favorite food containing gluten, meat or dairy.  Rather embrace recipes and foods that are naturally gluten-free or meat/dairy-free.


This Lemon Polenta Cake doesn’t attempt to be a light, fluffy chiffon layer cake.  It is a dense, earthy cake with the slightly gritty polenta and the nuttiness of the almond meal.  These two ingredients are showcased – the recipe in no way attempts to transform them into something which they are not.


And that’s a typical mistake I see with vegetarian and vegan dishes.  Can’t have pork bacon?  Then eat some weird “fake-on” (FYI – that’s my word for fake bacon).  Can’t have cheese?  Have a lab-cultured cheese-like creation.  There is a bounty of delicious and amazing vegetarian and vegan foods already existing in nature – fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, herbs, spices, pulses.  Feast on those rather than on some not nearly as satisfying imitation product.


Give this delicious Lemon Polenta Cake a try.  Not because it’s gluten-free, but because it is an amazingly delicious cake!


1 year ago:  Shakshuka (eggs in spicy tomato sauce)

Lemon Polenta Cake

Note:  If you don’t have or can’t find almond meal/flour, grind whole almonds or almond pieces in a food processor or Nutribullet until they make a fine powder (don’t overmix or can turn into almond butter).  This cake lasts longer than most cakes:  keeps for up to 6 days.

For the cake:

1 3/4 stick (200 grams) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar

2 cups (200 grams) almond meal/flour

3/4 cup (100 grams) fine polenta/cornmeal

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3 eggs

Zest of 2 lemons (save juice for syrup)

For the syrup:

Juice of 2 lemons

1 heaping cup (125 grams) powdered/icing sugar

Plain yogurt or créme fraîche

Fresh or frozen raspberries

Line the base of a 9″/23cm springform cake pan with parchment paper and grease its sides lightly with butter. Preheat the oven to 350º F (180º C).

For the cake, beat the butter and sugar until pale and whipped, either by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon, or using a freestanding mixer.  Mix together the almond meal, polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.

Finally, beat in the lemon zest and pour the mixture into your prepared pan and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. It may seem wibbly but, if the cake is cooked, a cake tester should come out cleanish and, most significantly, the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, but leave in its pan.

For the syrup, boil together the lemon juice and powdered/icing sugar in a smallish saucepan. Once the sugar has dissolved into the juice, you’re done. Prick the top of the cake all over with a toothpick, pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before taking it out of its pan.

Cut cake into slices and serve with a dollop of yogurt and a few raspberries.  (The cake can be baked up to 3 days ahead and stored in airtight container in a cool place. Will keep for total of 5 to 6 days.  It can also be frozen on its lining paper as soon as cooled, wrapped in double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil, for up to 1 month. Thaw for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature.)

Adapted from Nigella Lawson



Filed under Desserts, Vegetarian

Strawberries in Lemon Syrup with Fresh Mint


Desserts….oh, how I love them!  Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, layer cakes with buttercream frosting, chocolate walnut brownies – I could go on.


But I also love very simple, no-bake desserts, especially as summer comes around.


These strawberries fit that bill.  It is likely the simplest dessert you’ll ever make.  It’s not so much a recipe, as a simple preparation of a few good, fresh ingredients.


Use the freshest, ripest strawberries you can find and toss with fresh lemon juice and sugar.  As it sits, the strawberry juices release to form a syrup along with the lemon and sugar.


To serve, top with créme fraîche, the tang of which pairs nicely with the sweet syrup, then sprinkle with fresh herbs like mint and/or basil.

It is the perfect end to a summer barbecue, when everyone is quite full, but that sweet tooth is saying “feed me”.  And it honestly could not be any easier!


1 year ago:  Avgolemono Soup

Strawberries in Lemon Syrup with Fresh Mint (serves 4)

Note:  Fresh basil is also nice with this dish; or do a mixture of mint and basil.

14 ounces (400 grams or about 3 cups) strawberries

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons créme fraîche or sour cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Using a small paring knife, hull the strawberries.  That is, remove the stem and hard white core.  Quarter the strawberries or if they are small, just cut in half.

Place in a medium bowl and gently stir with the sugar and lemon juice.  Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours.

Spoon strawberries and syrup in four small bowls.  Top each with a dollop of creme fraiche (about 1 tablespoon per bowl) and sprinkle with fresh mint (about 1/2 tablespoon per bowl).

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Filed under Desserts

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Creme Fraiche


We are amidst the storm before the calm.  The last minute shopping, decorating, baking.  The school Christmas concerts, ice skating trips, packing for holiday travel.  All leading up to a (hopefully) peaceful Christmas, New Years or whatever other upcoming celebrations you have planned with family and friends.

So while a home-cooked meal is still as important as ever, I am not currently in the mood to labor through lots of chopping and fiddly food preparation.  A whole-roasted cauliflower is therefore a welcome respite.  No chopping at all!!  Just an entire cauliflower slow-roasted until the exterior is crisp, brown and a bit caramelized and the interior is fork-tender.


I love serving this whole.  It looks beautiful and the family enjoys grabbing their own florets and dipping them.  It’s a fend-for-yourselves type of side dish.  Sometimes we do cut it into quarters, for fairness sake, though I think the fighting for your rightful portion is half the fun.


Don’t skip the lemon creme fraiche dip.  It is the cherry on the sundae – only this is cauliflower we’re talking about.  If you don’t have creme fraiche, substitute Greek yogurt or sour cream.  This is yet another amazing Yotam Ottolenghi recipe.  Check out the two others I’ve previously posted:  Cauliflower Cake and Broccoli, Beans, & Peas with Sweet Soy Tahini Sauce.


This recipe proves again that vegetables are anything but boring and there’s more to veg that steaming and sautéing.  Try whole roasting!!

1 year ago: Double Chocolate Mint Meltaways, Potato and Zucchini Latkes

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Creme Fraiche (serves 4 as a side)

Note:  This recipe is for an average sized cauliflower (3 lbs or 1.5 kg).  If you use a larger or smaller cauliflower, just use more or less of the butter and olive oil.  Also make a bit more or less of the lemon creme fraiche dipping sauce.

1 head cauliflower with leaves intact (see Note above)

5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, softened

3 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher or sea salt

2/3 cup (150 grams) creme fraiche or Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Using scissors, lightly trim leaves at top of cauliflower, so that about 2″/5cm of cauliflower head is exposed.  Fill a pan large enough to fit the cauliflower with salty water.  Bring to a boil and carefully lower the cauliflower (I used a large pair of tongs), exposed head down – it’s ok if the base sticks out a bit.  Return to a boil and cook for 6 minutes.  Transfer to a colander, head down, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 335º F (170º C).  Mix butter and oil together in a small bowl.  Put the cauliflower stem side down in a medium baking tray and spread butter mix on the white part (not the leaves).  Sprinkle with salt and roast for 1.5 to 2 hours, basting about 3 times.  Cauliflower is done when super-tender, has turned a dark golden brown, and leaves are crisp and charred.

While cauliflower is roasting, combine the lemon juice and creme fraiche in a small bowl.  Serve cauliflower warm with the lemon creme fraiche dip on the side.  Can be served whole on the table for people to tear off individual florets with their fingers or you can cut into quarters and serve plated with a dollop of lemon creme fraiche.

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi via The Guardian


Filed under Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Avgolemono Soup


Just got back into town from a wonderful holiday in Prague and Vienna.  A post about what/where I ate will soon follow, but first things first.  I have hungry (actually hangry….you know when hungry becomes angry) people in the house and the pantry is pretty bare bones.  Despite not having cooked in over a week, I don’t have an overwhelming urge to create in the kitchen.  Blame it on the pantry situation.

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That’s when this weeknight dinner winner saves the day.  It’s a hearty, flavorful, extremely easy soup and ready in about 15 minutes.  But the best part is that the ingredients are probably all residing in your kitchen.  Even after a week away.  Except for possibly the dill.  But let me tell you about the dill…..  I quickly cleaned out the fridge before we left (and it was definitely quick because as of an hour before the cab was picking us up, I had yet to pack) but failed to throw out a bag of dill.  It was still good last night!  Over a week later!  I don’t know if that’s good or bad.  Definitely good for the soup.

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Avgolemono is a classic Greek soup.  A bit of a twist on ye ole chicken noodle.  The lemon and dill add fresh, lively flavor and the eggs make it a bit more substantial.  After feasting on sausage and schnitzel for a week, this hit the spot.  I’ll admit, it’s not the prettiest soup.  But dang, it’s delicious!!  Sorry Donna, to steal your tagline:)


Avgolemono Soup (serves 4)

Note:  This is a great way to use up leftover chicken:  either put an extra breast or two on the grill or use leftovers from a whole roasted chicken.  Also, chicken is listed as an optional ingredient so the soup can be made for vegetarians; otherwise I’d definitely throw it in.  Recipe can easily be doubled for heartier portions and/or leftovers.

4 cups (950 ml) chicken broth

1/3 cup (60 grams) uncooked orzo pasta

3 eggs

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 cup (125 grams) cooked, shredded chicken – optional

Salt and pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil.  Add the orzo and cook until tender but still al dente, about 7 minutes.

In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs and lemon juice until smooth. Slowly ladle about 1 cup of the hot broth/orzo mix into the egg/lemon mix, whisking to combine.  Add back to the broth/orzo mix in the saucepan.  Stir just until the soup becomes opaque and thickens as the eggs cook, 1-2 minutes.  Add dill, chicken (optional) and salt and pepper, to taste

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Filed under Soup