Tag Archives: lemon

Mimi’s Ginger Lemon Tea

29 Aug

I used to work with the most wonderful woman named Mimi.  She was a writer, a teacher, a lover of books, and, back in the ‘70s, she was a single mother who shared with her son a small apartment on Haight Street in San Francisco while she worked, went to school, and took care of her child’s chronic breathing problems that eventually resulted in him being fitted with a tracheostomy tube.  Mimi was, and is, an admirable woman.

When we worked together, Mimi would bring by the gallon the most wonderful ginger lemon tea, kept cold in the work refrigerator and available for free to whoever wanted to partake of it.  No matter the season, this tea was like a magical tonic that cured all ills, mental and physical.  In the summertime, consumed over ice, the tea was the most brisk and refreshing thing you could ever imagine drinking.  Though it seems impossible when I really think about it, I swear it actually perked people up enough to actually want to work more (a feat you’d definitely find impossible to believe if you knew where exactly we worked.  Ahem).  In the wintertime, warmed in a mug in the break room’s microwave, the tea was a soothing, calming respite from the persistent gloom and chill of Pacific Northwest winters and the ever-present insanity of the holiday season.  If you were feeling under the weather, a mug of Mimi’s tea made you feel, while not completely healed, at least a bit more cared for and comforted.

After years of telling Mimi how much I loved her tea, and how appreciative I was of her always sharing it with everyone, she surprised me one day by pulling out a pad of Post-It notes and conspiratorially leaning in to me and saying, “You know what?  I’m going to give you the recipe.”

One Post-It note, four ingredients, and years of enjoyment later, I can’t help feeling that the time has come to share Mimi’s recipe with the world.  In part, I am doing it because I want to share this fantastic and borderline magical recipe with the world, but there is no small part of me that is doing it because I haven’t seen Mimi in over four years and lately I’ve been missing her.  An old email address no longer connects me to her, and several stabs at a Google-fest involving her name have led me to only past employers and dead ends.  I have only Mimi’s tea left to connect me to her, and, while I enjoy the tea immensely, I have to admit, I still feel as though something is missing.  The tea is just not the same without the conversation, care, and compassion that Mimi supplied to go along with it.

Mimi’s Ginger Lemon Tea

This is the recipe exactly as Mimi wrote it down for me many years ago.  As you can see, it makes a batch of tea by the gallon-plus.  In the interest of moderation, I generally quarter the recipe and make a generous quart of tea.

Though this tea is perfect as-is, there are a number of delicious ways to dress it up.  In the wintertime, served hot with a splash of bourbon, it’s the prefect night cap.  In the summertime, chilled ice cold and served with a few leaves of fresh basil muddled in the bottom of your glass, it makes for a brisk and refreshing cooler.  All in all, however, you’ll never go wrong just drinking it as Mimi wrote it.

1 gallon water

1 cup fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin

2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

16 ounces (2 cups) honey

Combine water and ginger in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 30 minutes, then remove from heat and strain into a large bowl.

Stir in lemon juice and honey.

That’s it.

Lemon Cream and Strawberry Trifle

30 Jun

Summer fruit in this area of the country is a long time coming.  Sure, we’ve had rhubarb for a few weeks now, but can rhubarb, in all its puckery a tart glory, really be counted as a summer fruit?  If you toss rhubarb with a lot of sugar, it can do some mighty fine things, but, straight from the ground, eating it is going to cause you some serious malcontent.  With those parameters in mind, I am sorry to say that I just don’t think rhubarb is going to make the cut.  So what do we do here in Portland when we want to eat our first local summer fruit?  We wait for the strawberries.

It’s been a cold, wet, and (let’s be honest) semi-miserable spring and summer, but our fortitude seems to have paid off.  Fresh strawberries began to show up at the farmers market just a few short weeks ago and, just last week, strawberries made their arrival in our home garden.  Despite the slow start our garden suffered in its beginning stages, a very short burst of warm weather seems to have coaxed some of our fruit into vibrant life, rewarding us with, upon our first harvest, 3 pounds of strawberries.  Not a typo.  3 pounds.

And then, four days later, we harvested another 3 pounds.  Two days after that came another 2 pounds.  We are swimming in sweet, juicy berries, and I could not be happier.

There have been strawberries in our granola, strawberries in our yogurt, strawberries straight from the plant, strawberries on leftover biscuits, and, in what I now realize I subconsciously created as a bit of a strawberry coming out celebration after we harvested our first basket of berries, this astonishingly good strawberry and lemon cream trifle, which, besides tasting somewhat like a heavenly dream, also happens to look quite like one.

Until it comes time to serve it, that is.  Upon being released from its pristine confines, this wonderful dessert morphs into a sloppy, goopy mess that, were one determining dessert worthiness purely by looks alone, certainly would not be in the running to win any beauty pageants.

But, if we are to continue with this pageant metaphor, let us all remember that true beauty is not represented by what one sees on the outside, but rather what one possess on the inside, which in this case happens to be fresh garden strawberries, lush lemon cream, and soft peaks of whipped cream, all nestled in between layers of a delectable semolina cake that, unlike the cake layers in many a trifle I have eaten, will not succumb to a soggy and spongy fate when inundated with a veritable flood of delicious creams.  Combine those virtues, and you’ve got what I consider to be a dessert that qualifies as a true and deserving winner.

Strawberry and Lemon Cream Trifle

Orange Semolina Cake

If you want to go all lemon with this trifle, you can certainly swap out freshly squeezed lemon juice for the orange juice, though I find that the subtle orange flavor of this cake is a welcome addition to the overall composition of the trifle. (I previously wrote about this cake recipe here.)

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 cups fine semolina

¾ cup sugar

2 tablespoons grated orange zest

4 eggs, separated

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup vegetable oil

½ cup orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour an 8” x 8” square cake pan.  Place flour, baking powder, and semolina in a bowl and mix to combine.  Combine sugar and orange zest in the bowl of a food processor or in a blender, and pulse to combine thoroughly.  Place egg yolks, orange-sugar mixture, and oils in a bowl and beat until well combined.  Fold egg yolk mixture into flour mixture with orange juice.

Place egg whites in a bowl and beat until soft peaks form.  Fold egg whites into flour and egg yolk mixture and pour into prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until cake is lightly browned on top and a wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean.  Cool cake in pan for ten minutes, then release onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Lemon Cream

Adapted from Tartine

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) of freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 whole large eggs

1 large egg yolk

¾ cup (6 ounces) sugar

pinch of salt

½ cup (4 ounces or 1 stick) cool unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces

Bring about 2 inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan set over medium heat.  In a non-reactive bowl that is able to rest securely in the rim of the saucepan without touching the water, combine lemon juice, whole eggs, egg yolk, sugar, and salt.  Whisk the ingredients together.  Do not allow the egg yolks and sugar sit together without being stirred constantly, as the sugar will react with the eggs and turn them granular.  Place the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and continue to whisk for around 10-12 minutes, until the mixture thickens considerably and reaches a temperature of 180 degrees F.  Remove the bowl from above the water and allow the mixture to cool to 140 degrees F.  Stir from time to time to help the mixture cool and release its heat.

When the cream has reached 140 degrees, pour it into a blender, or leave it in the bowl if you will be using an immersion blender to mix the lemon cream.  Add the butter to the lemon cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, blending the mixture continuously until each piece of butter is completely incorporated before you add the next one.  The cream will be pale yellow and quite thick.

The lemon cream can be used immediately, or it can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator, tightly sealed, for up to 5 days.  Makes about 2 cups of lemon cream.

Whipped Cream

1 cup (8 ounces) heavy whipping cream

½ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl.  Using an electric mixer, whip on low speed until sugar and vanilla have dissolved.  Increase mixer speed to high, and whip until cream forms soft peaks.

Assemble the Trifle

You will need 1 pound of strawberries, each berry hulled and sliced in half from top to bottom.

When cake has cooled, cut it in half so you have two pieces that measure 8” x 4.”  You will only need half of the cake, so tightly wrap the unused half and store it for later use or enjoyment.  Then cut the remaining 8” x 4” piece in half horizontally, separating the top from the bottom.

Line the bottom of a trifle dish, or a similarly-sized glass bowl with a flat bottom (I used a 1.75 quart Pyrex storage dish, and found that I could have benefited from a dish that was taller and allowed for a bit more security of the top layers) with 1/3 of the cake layers, cutting the cake into strips and pieces as needed to fill in as much of the bottom space as possible.  Spoon 1/3 of the lemon cream mixture on top of the cake layer.  Spoon 1/3 of the strawberries on top of the lemon cream.  Spoon 1/3 of the whipped cream on top of the strawberries.  Repeat layering process one more time.  When you get to the third layer, deviate slightly from the layering order by first making a cake layer, followed by a lemon cream layer, then a whipped cream layer, then a strawberry layer.  Laying the strawberries on top of the cake, rather than under a layer of whipped cream, simply looks prettier.

Chill the trifle well before serving.  Trifle can be made ahead and left to wait in the refrigerator, fully assembled, for up to 1 day.

This trifle should serve at least 10 people very generously.  I’d tell you how long leftovers can last in the refrigerator, but ours was completely demolished within 2 days, leaving me to only guess as to how long it could last past that.  I’d say no longer than 3 or 4 days, but I’ll bet yours will be gone long before that as well.

Six Threes Ice Cream

3 Jun

Dear Summer,

Did we do something to anger you?  I only ask because it seems as though you have been avoiding us.  Here we are, the first week of June, and you are nowhere in sight.  I can’t help but think that maybe you are feeling a bit hesitant about joining us this year.  Maybe you had a great time hibernating during the months you were not with us, making you decide that you’d rather stay asleep a few more weeks instead of prodding your good friend The Sun in the ribs and making a good argument for spending some time with us.  We’re pretty fun, you know.  We like going in the pool and hitting baseballs in the backyard while our skin warms in the heat of the afternoon, and the hammock is all cleaned off and good to go.  Basically, we’re ready whenever you are.

Look, I even made a little something to celebrate your arrival.  My husband’s family has this great ice cream recipe that I had been dying to make.  I first tasted it at a family reunion last summer—remember that?  You were sort of there, Summer, but mostly in name rather than in feel (it was extremely cold and wet last August, as you may recall, but I promise I am in no way holding that against you).  Anyhow, my husband’s family made a huge batch of this ice cream.  They took turns hand churning it, and when it was done they called to all of the children to come and have an inaugural taste of the ice cream straight from the dasher.  All of the children were feeling uncharacteristically shy, so I swiped my finger against the dasher and demonstrated how non-poisonous and definitely delicious the ice cream was.

As you may also recall, the children had a rather difficult time getting to the ice cream covered dasher after that, such was my devotion to gobbling that thing clean before anyone else could snitch a taste.  I wouldn’t say I went so far as to push any children aside while protecting my ice cream sample, but that was only because I happened to be taller than all the children, allowing me to conveniently hold the dasher up much higher than they could reach, rendering unnecessary any sort of pushing or jostling on my part.

So, I decided that, in anticipation of your arrival, I would make some of this ice cream.  It is dead simple to assemble, and it tastes supremely fresh and cooling.  The ice cream is egg-free, but it has the smooth, soft, creamy texture of a custard-based ice cream. Do you know what the secret is, Summer?  It’s the banana.  The banana makes the ice cream so rich and luscious, you’d never know it was devoid of eggs.  I tell you, this is the perfect ice cream to start with if you’re feeling hesitant about making homemade ice cream.  It really is foolproof.  Plus, the taste bears a strong resemblance to that of a Creamsicle, which not only gives it points for childhood nostalgia, but also for maximum enjoyability.

I hope we see you soon, Summer.  Rumor has it you’re going to be making an appearance this weekend, but, quite honestly, I can’t really bring myself to believe that prediction, what with how little we’ve seen or sensed of you thus far.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to see you, but I don’t know if I can handle any more stilted anticipation.  If you do happen to show up, believe me, I’ll be more than happy to eat my words—right along, in fact, with a nice bowl of this delicious ice cream.

All the best,

EM from Savory Salty Sweet

Six Threes Ice Cream

The original recipe, which uses three of each measure of ingredients, makes enough ice cream to fill a very large hand cranked machine.  Since the ice cream machine I own only holds 1.5 quarts of finished product, I had to scale the recipe down by two thirds.  This, technically, does not make the ice cream I made a combination of six threes, but rather six ones.  However, since that name does not have nearly the clever ring to it as the original name, I have decided to just stick with calling it six threes ice cream.  Still delicious, just not as abundant.  If you have a larger ice cream maker, you should, by all means, scale the recipe up to make as much ice cream as you can.

Note: Be sure to follow the directions and keep the dairy and citrus ingredients separate until the dairy has been partially frozen in your ice cream machine.  If you add the citrus to the dairy beforehand, the acid in the citrus will cause your dairy to curdle.

1 ripe banana

1 lemon

1 orange, the zest finely grated or chopped

1 cup milk

1 cup cream

1 cup sugar

In a medium bowl, blend or mash the banana.  To this, add the finely grated or chopped zest of the orange.  Squeeze juice from lemon and orange, and combine with the mashed banana and orange zest.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine milk, cream, and sugar.  Whisk steadily until sugar is completely dissolved.

Add cream mixture to your ice cream maker, and allow to churn until it reaches the slush stage.

Add the fruit mixture to the slushy cream mixture, then churn according to manufacturer’s instructions (until, that is to say, you have ice cream).

Makes about 1.5 quarts of ice cream.

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