Wine Wednesday: Loving everything lemon

My best friend and I were out to dinner in NYC and she has a double chocolate molten cake and I the 10 layer Lemon Cake for dessert.  Honestly, it was the best lemon cake ever!! It became the “feel better after a really bad day” treat, the “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings and I know this will make it better” cake, my leap-year birthday super treat (with champagne of course) and I even promised to love someone more than this cake – yea it is that good.  Well, it still makes a bad day better and a celebration sweeter. It also makes me ‘temporarily forget’ if someone has hurt my feelings.  It is one of my favorite treats.

Lemon is versatile and is used this time of year in everything from lemon drop cocktails, lemon elderflower cake and lemon brioche baked French toast to meatballs and pasta. You can use it with…anything.

Lemon and other citrus have their peak season in the winter, when they are flown in from warm places in big shining heaps to remind us of sunshine. Lemons are simply a taste of spring sun and brightness. It is the promise of warm summer days to come. This week, let’s celebrate my love of the Lemon.  I hope you fall in love with them too.

Lemon Drop Cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2 cups frozen vodka
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • Ice

Directions

Combine the vodka, lemon juice, and sugar and pour into a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour into martini glasses and garnish with lemon slices.

Elderflower Lemon Cake

Cake
8 ounces unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
8 ounces superfine sugar
4 large eggs
Zest of 2 lemons (about 2 tablespoons)
8 ounces self-rising flour
1/4 cup elderflower cordial
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)

Cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons elderflower cordial

For the cake
Preheat oven to 325°F.

Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer or a spoon), cream the butter and sugar until very pale and fluffy. Mix in the lemon zest.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs together. Gradually add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture (about 1 teaspoon at a time), beating well after each addition.

Sift a quarter of the flour into the bowl and gently fold with a spatula. Repeat until all the flour is incorporated.

Pour the batter into the pan. Bake in the oven until a tester comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

While the cake is baking, combine 1/4 cup elderflower cordial and lemon juice.

Place the cake (still in the pan) on a wire rack and prick all over with a skewer. Drizzle the elderflower and lemon syrup over the cake so that it seeps into the holes.

Cool cake completely, then remove from pan to serve.

For the cream
To make elderflower cream, combine heavy whipping cream and 2 tablespoons elderflower cordial in a mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, a handheld mixer, or a wire whisk.

Sponge cake adapted from Delia Smith’s Victoria Sponge Cake.

Pork and Sage Meatballs
(Adapted from Chez Panisse Café Cookbook)
serves 4

1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
1 pound ground pork
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper

Put the milk and breadcrumbs in a small bowl and mix with a fork. When the crumbs have softened squeeze out the milk and discard it.

Gently sauté the onion in a little olive oil until it is soft but not colored. Season with a pinch of salt and set it aside to cool.

Combine in a medium bowl the pork, breadcrumbs, onion, egg, Parmesan, sage, thyme, cayenne, black pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix with hands thoroughly.

Shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls. This can be done several hours or even a day ahead.

To cook, heat a skillet large enough to hold all the meatballs in one uncrowded layer. Add a little olive oil. When the skillet is heated, add the meatballs, shaking the pan to keep them from sticking. Using tongs to turn so they brown evenly, cook the meatballs until they are no longer pink in the center and lightly browned on all sides. Remove from the pan to a plate and immediately make the sauce.

Lemon Thyme Sauce

1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (from one lemon)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Zest of one lemon, to garnish
Roughly chopped thyme, still on stems, to garnish

Remove meatballs from the pan, and deglaze it over medium heat with the chicken broth and wine. Simmer until reduced by at least a third. Add the lemon juice and thyme, then add the meatballs back in again as well.

Simmer until ready to serve – at least 10 minutes, but up to half an hour. Serve meatballs with the sauce poured over and garnished with lemon zest curls and thyme sprigs.

I can smell summer in the air….or is it just the clean freshness of lemons.  I know…I’m obsessed! Enjoy these happy flavors.

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