Tuesday, July 6, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons...

My parents have a lemon tree in their backyard, so I try to use their lemons as much as possible (no pesticides and free!).  I was able to incorporate lemons into all three courses that I made for Mom's birthday dinner on Monday night.  I made a watermelon, feta, mint & arugula salad to start, using Ina's recipe, with the only adjustments being a little less olive oil, plus I didn't use all the dressing that I made since I don't like to overdress my salads.
We all loved this salad; it is such a great summer salad.  It is bursting with fun and interesting flavors: the sweet and juicy watermelon vs. the salty dry feta on top of the peppery arugula with some fresh mint (also from the backyard).  The dressing is also very good and summery, and a little different from my usual vinaigrettes: it uses both freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice, with some shallots, honey and olive oil.  I'll definitely be making this again.

To continue on the lemon theme, I made a roasted shrimp lemon capellini pasta based on Ina's recipe also, with the only adjustment being less butter: 2 TB instead of 4 TB, although I think you can reduce it even further to 1 TB.
This pasta was also very good; the lemony freshness really shone and went well with the roasted shrimp and the butter and olive oil coated the pasta well.  The only thing I would perhaps change is to roast the shrimp on two baking sheets as opposed to one; since there's almost 2 lbs of shrimp being roasted, it ended up steaming more than roasting since they were arranged so close together.  I think roasting the shrimp on two baking sheets with more space between them would further bring out a nice roasted flavor.  It's another nice summery dish.

For dessert, I made lemon ricotta cookies with a lemon glaze using Giada's recipe (I just used a little less sugar for the cookies since we all don't like desserts that are too sweet).
I really liked the lemon flavor of the cookies, and they weren't too sweet.  I still haven't quite mastered baking however, they turned out a little soft and some were slightly damp.  I think I need to put them all on cooling racks when I let them cool or something.

For wine, we had Curran's 2007 Grenache Blanc.  I've had several bottles of this wine from this vintage and it is one of my favorite whites.  It's just very easy to drink, but also very interesting at the same time, very bright and slightly floral.  It goes well with everything, from seafood to cheese, and also great on its own.

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