Category Archives: salt

Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons are a staple of Mediterranean and North African cooking.  You can find them in gourmet markets (outside of Albania that is) but they are so easy to make you with proper planning, you can make your own.  After making lemoncello I’m alway left with a dozen rindless lemons and have difficulty finding something that requires that much fresh lemon juice.  Preserved lemons to the rescue!

This simple recipe from Martha Rose Shulman’s Mediterranean Harvest cookbook only has three ingredients.  I pack my lemons in small jars that hold one lemon each.  These make perfect holiday or hostess gifts for the foodies in your life.

PRESERVED LEMONS

12 organic lemons or enough to fill a wide mouth 1-pint or 1-quart jar

Sea salt

Lemon juice

  • Sterilize your jar by submerging in boiling water for a minute.  
  • Very carefully lift the jar out of the water using tongs.  Tip the water out of the jar and into the pot as you remove it, so that you don’t get scalded.  
  • Drain the jar on a clean dish towel, top down.
  • Quarter each lemon lengthwise from the pointed (bud) end down to within 1/2 inch of the stem end making sure to keep the lemon intact.  
  • Pack the lemons with salt.  Place the lemons in the jar, packing as many as will fit.  
  • Add lemon juice to completely cover the lemons, then sprinkle 2 tablespoons salt over the top and cover tightly.  
  • Set in a cool place or refrigerate for at least 3 weeks.  
  • The lemons are ready when they have softened.  
  • To use, simply remove from the jar, rinse, and slice or chop as directed.

 

If you need inspiration or ideas for how to use your preserved lemons, check out these recipes:

 

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Salted Caramel Orange Upside Down Cake

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Pineapple upside down cake is common, but orange? With salted caramel?  Why not?  These popular flavors are good on their own but even better when served together.  I came across this recipe in the Food Network Magazine, which is not a magazine I read regularly but came across while sitting in a waiting room.  I took one look at the cake and was immediately intrigued.  I made a few adaptations, substituted the almond flour I had on hand for the ground almonds called for in the original recipe, and was good to go.  What resulted was a sweet and salty gooey cake that was a resounding success with everyone at the dinner table.  Enjoy!

SALTED CARAMEL ORANGE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

For the caramel:

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

5 oranges

For the cake:

1/2 cup almond flour

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon orange zest

1/2 cup buttermilk

Sea salt, for sprinkling

  • To make the caramel:  Combine the sugar, 1/3 cup water, and the salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves.
  • Cook, gently swirling the pan occasionally, but not stirring, until amber 8-10 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and carefully whisk in the butter.
  • Pour the caramel into a 9-inch round cake pan, tilting the pan so the caramel coats the bottom.  Set aside.
  • Slice off the top and bottom of each orange and cut off the peel and white pith using a chef’s knife, following the curve of the fruit.  Cut along each side of the membrane to remove the segments.  Discard any seeds and place in a decorative pattern in the caramel.  Set aside.
  • To make the cake:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine the almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
  • In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar with a mixer set on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Beat in the orange zest.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, until just smooth.
  • Pour the batter over the top of the orange slices and smooth the top.
  • Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Transfer to a rack and let cool slightly, then run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan.
  • Invert the cake onto a serving plate and allow to cool completely.
  • Sprinkle with the sea salt before serving.

Serves 8-10

Chocolate-Pomegranate-Ginger Bark

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If you are looking for a super easy and festive holiday treat, look no further than this chocolate bark from Fine Cooking magazine.  Laced with candied ginger and ruby red pomegranate seeds it is sure to please.  Wrap it in cellophane bags to give as gifts, put it on a dessert table, or snack on it yourself.  I am fortunate to have a pomegranate tree growing in my yard that produces a bounty of the juicy fruit each year.  The bark will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days so I love to make a big batch of the bark and give it out as hostess gifts throughout the holiday season.

CHOCOLATE-POMEGRANATE-GINGER BARK

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into 1 inch pieces

1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

1 1/2 tablespoons minced candied ginger

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or waxed paper.
  • Pour the chocolate in a wide, shallow microwave safe bowl and microwave on high until it just starts to melt, about 1 minute.  Stir with a spatula until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth, heating in additional 15 second increments, if necessary.
  • Gently stir in half of the pomegranate seeds.
  • Scrape the chocolate mixture onto the baking sheet and spread it into an 8 x 10 inch rectangle.
  • Sprinkle the sea salt and remaining pomegranate seeds over the top of the chocolate, pressing the seeds into the top of the chocolate to secure them in place.
  • Refrigerate until fully set, about 30 minutes.
  • Break the bark into chunks with your hands being careful not to crush the seeds.

Serves 6

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