Orange Salad

This is one of those things that could be really good.
I mean this could have been good enough to make you weep.
But it wasn't.

This was an orange salad.

Perhaps the time for really good oranges is long gone. I wouldn't know, I'm a newly converted orange eater.
Whatever it was, this salad was BITTER and really, really acidic. Vinegar AND oranges? I just don't know.

Here's what I'd do next time, because I really believe that with a little creativity this salad could be salvaged:

1. Less hot pepperyness. Less chili fiesta in the mouth. Just tone it down a little. Let the oranges sing through.
2. Get some really scrumptious, wonderful oranges.
3. Use basil or mint or some other herb that is less overpowering that cilantro.
4. Use absolute, best quality vinegar and olive oil. I didn't and you could tell.

Here's the recipe, despite Amanda Hesser's raves about it in the New York Times we were unimpressed.

1980: Spicy Orange Salad, Moroccan Style

This recipe appeared in an article in The Times by Craig Claiborne.

3 large seedless oranges

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon red-wine or sherry vinegar


Freshly ground black pepper

⅓ cup chopped parsley

12 pitted black olives, preferably imported Greek or Italian.

1. Peel the oranges, paring away all the exterior white pulp. Cut each orange into 8 wedges. Cut each wedge into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.

2. Place the cayenne, paprika, garlic, olive oil and vinegar in a salad bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and whisk to combine. Add the oranges, parsley and olives. Toss gently to blend. Serve cold or at room temperature. Serves 4.

Lemon Poppy-Seed Muffins

Reasons why I'm really lucky:
1. I have really amazing friends.
2. All my friends really like to eat.

Here is Roz:

Here she is madly zesting a lemon:
She's zesting to make this beauty:

We had a rather exciting time, because our baking fest required an emergency to the grocery store for lemons, apples, poppy seeds and chocolate. We had a little too much fun at the grocery store. We sampled all the chocolate covered nuts and in the bulk candy section. And then we went home and made these.
Like I said, I'm lucky.

Lemon Poppy-Seed Muffins

For the Muffins:
2/3 cup sugar
grated zest and juice of lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick butter, unsalted, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

For icing:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Butter, or line with paper cups a twelve regular-size muffin pan. In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest togheter with your fingertips until sugar is moist and fragrance of lemon is strong. Whisk in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over dry ingredient, with whisk or rubber spatula, gently but quicklystir to blend. Don't worry about being through, lumps are better than overmixing. Devide batter evenly among muffin cups.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer pan to rack to cools for 5 minutes, carefully remove muffins from tin and cool completely before icing.

To make the icing: Put confectioners sugar in a small bowl and add abotu 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Stir with a spoon to moisten sugar then add additional lemon juice, a dribble at a time, to get icing that is thin enough to drizzle from the tip of the spoon. Drizzle tops in zig-zags over tops of muffins, or coat tops entirely, the better to get that extra zap of lemon.

Lemon Bars

There are certain things I associate with certain people. When I think of my mom I think of irises, and white handmade pottery and lemon bars. My mom loves lemon bars. 

Even more so, I have a strong emotional tie to lemon bars. One of my friends was in the hospital, and we bought her some lemon bars, she was very, very ill and never really ate food, only picked at it. I remember watching her pick at the lemon bar, and wanting her to just EAT IT ALREADY. 

Perhaps it's surprising, considering how strongly I feel about lemon bars, that I'd never made them until a few weeks ago, but life works in funny ways, and I finally found the perfect recipe. The one that sang to me. 
The one that seemed just right. 

Lemon Bars on Brown Butter Shortbread
from Tartine


1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsalted butter
pine nuts (optional) 1/2 cup


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup + 2 tbsp lemon juice
grated zest of 1 lemon
6 large whole eggs
1 large egg yolk
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9x13 inch baking pan. 

To make crust, sift the confectioners' sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the flour and stir to mix. Add the butter and pine nuts (if using) and beat on low speed until a smooth dough forms. 
Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. It should be about 1/4 inch thick. To help even out the crust use the flat bottom of any type of cup, pressing down firmly. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake the crust until it colors evenly to a deep golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Rotate pan 180 degrees if the crust appears to baking unevenly. 

While crust is baking, make the filling: Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add sugar and whisk until blended. Add the lemon juice and zest and stir to dissolve the sugar. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the whole eggs and egg yolk with the salt. Add the eggs to the lemon mixture and whisk until mixed. 

When the crust is ready, pull out the oven rack holding the crust and pour the filling directly into the hot pan. (It's easiest to pour the custard into the pan if the pan is in the oven.) If the crust has come out of the oven and cooled before you have finished making the filling, put it back in for a few minutes so that it is hot when the custard is poured into it. Reduce oven temperature to 300 F and bake just until the center of the custard is no longer wobbly, 30 to 40 minutes. 

Let cool completely on a wire rack, then cover and chill well before cutting. using a sharp knife, cut into 12 squares, or as desired. If you like, dust the tops of the squares with confectioners' sugar. They will keep in an airtight container or well covered in the baking dish in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.