It is the perfect season for coconut macaroons. They have no leavening. They have no gluten. If you are lactose intolerant and can drink goat’s milk, they may work if you use Mexican cajeta instead of sweetened condensed milk. I wish I could say they have no calories. Ah well, you can’t have everything.
Traditional macaroons are usually made from almonds, and some say that coconut is the poor person’s almond. I don’t know where that comment originally came from. As for me, I think I prefer coconut.
It is also said that macaroons were first created by the Sephardim. I don’t know whether that is true, either, but before becoming ubiquitous, macaroons were considered to be a North African/Southern European delicacy.
Sweetened condensed milk
Ready for baking
Macaroons cooling on the baking rack
A snack for morning coffee
- 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk or Mexican cajeta
- 2 egg whites
- In a large bowl, combine the coconut, almond extract and salt.
- Stir in the condensed milk to make a thick paste.
- Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Then fold into the coconut mixture.
- Using a #50 food scoop or a tablespoon, drop the mixture into mounds about 2 inches apart on baking sheets either lined with Silpat or parchment or greased aluminum foil.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes in the top third of an oven preheated to 325°F. until very lightly browned on the edges.
- Cool on a baking rack. Peel from the Silpat or the greased aluminum foil.
- Makes about 2½ dozen. Serve immediately or store in a container with a tight lid. (If there are any left.)
I saved three of my farmers market Meyer lemons to make something sweet. I didn’t want to make lemon curd or a regular lemon chess pie, as those seem to be what most folks make. Instead, I decided to make a Bavarian cream and turn it into a pie, with a few modifications of Julia Child’s recipe in volume 1 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The Bavarian cream uses crème anglaise as the base so it takes a bit of effort.
I thought the pie turned out pretty well. The test of that was my wife, the Dessert Queen, who had a piece for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – with an occasional bedtime snack – until it was gone. The pie is not something you want to try in the afternoon before a dinner party. The good news is that it is so rich that it can easily serve 16 people.
Partially baked almond pastry shell
Three large, fresh Meyer lemons
Meyer lemons, zest removed and ready to be juiced
Egg yolks for crème anglaise
Ready to serve
Almond Pie Crust
- butter to grease the cake pan and foil liner
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup almond flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup lard
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/3 cup ice water
- Prepare an 8-inch false-bottom cake pan by buttering the inside generously. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, almond flour, salt, and sugar.
- With a pastry blender, cut in the lard until the mixture has the consistency of coarse corn meal
- Add the almond extract and ice water. With a dinner fork, blend until the mixture comes together. With your hands, gather up any loose crumbs and form a ball. Cover the ball with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Divide the chilled dough in half. Because of the almond flour the dough may be slightly sticky, so work on a floured surface. Work quickly, rolling out the dough into a circle that is large enough to line the prepared cake pan. Save the remaining half of the dough for another pie.
- Line the buttered cake pan with the rolled dough, pressing it firmly against the sides and bottom of the pan. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork. With a paring knife, trim the top of the pie shell, tucking in edges and forming a decorative edge with the back of the knife. Then press a well-buttered sheet of aluminum foil against the dough, and fill the foil liner with pie weights or beans.
- Bake the pie shell in the middle of an oven for 10 minutes in a preheated 400°F oven. Remove the foil and beans. Prick the bottom and sides again with a fork, and return to the oven for 4 minutes or when the pie shell has begun to brown lightly. Remove from the oven, and set aside until you are ready to fill with the Bavarian cream.
Meyer Lemon Bavarian Cream Pie
- 3 large Meyer lemons
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 7 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1½ cups milk
- 5 egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ cup whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons Limoncello liqueur
- The night before you plan to make the pie, wash and dry the lemons. Nestle them in a bowl containing the sugar and cover tightly. The lemons will perfume the sugar, but their moisture will also make it rock-hard, so you will need to break it up with a sharp knife.
- Zest all three lemons with a micro plane, and set aside.
- Juice the lemons. Strain the juice into a measuring cup. You should have about ¾ cup juice.
- Sprinkle the gelatin onto the juice and stir lightly so that the gelatin can bloom for 5 minutes or so.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually beat in the sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon. Beat in the cornstarch.
- In the meantime, bring the milk to the boil in a non-reactive 4-quart saucepan. Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, beating constantly. When the milk has been completely added, return the mixture to the saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon, being careful to scrape the bottom of the pan, until the mixture is thickened and coats the spoon. Use a thermometer to make sure the mixture does not exceed 170°F, otherwise the eggs will scramble and you will have to start over.
- Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the lemon juice-gelatin mixture. Stir vigorously to make sure that the gelatin is completely dissolved. Rinse out the mixing bowl and return the cooked custard to the bowl. Stir in the lime zest.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until they form stiff peaks. Beat in the sugar, and then fold gently into the custard. Cover with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator. As the mixture thickens, stir occasionally to prevent separation.
- When the custard has nearly set, beat the whipping cream until well-thickened. Stir the whipped cream and liqueur into the custard.
- Fill the prepared pie shell with the custard. Return to the refrigerator and chill overnight or until set.
- Unmold the pie by loosening the edges of the false bottom and placing the pan on a small bowl so that the rim falls away. This may require a little encouragement. With a large spatula, remove the false bottom and transfer the pie to a serving plate. Serve.
Zucchini season, and the bounty keeps rolling in. We do not have any squash plants in our garden patch, but there is an abundance at the farmers market and from our neighbors. It is a common situation. Many folks this time of year are experiencing zucchini burn-out. Squash blossoms are delicious, but they require immediate attention to maintain their freshness. Sautéed squash begins to get a bit boring, and so the search of the web and a shelf of cookbooks begins. Deborah Madison, the Santa Fe-based vegetarian cookbook author has numerous suggestions in her collections. I especially recommend her Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (Broadway Books, New York) and The Savory Way (Broadway Books, New York) for all sorts of suggestions.
One of my favorite ways to cook zucchini is to grate it with a box grater, sauté it along with some scallions and sliced mushrooms in olive oil, drain any excess oil, stir in some sour cream and fresh lemon juice, and serve. So simple that no recipe is needed
Today, though, I am going to write about stuffed zucchini. The first time I ever had a stuffed squash was years ago at the home of a colleague from Greece who stuffed the tender fruits with feta, Cheddar cheese and bread crumbs. This version is a little more complicated but still not difficult.
Zucchini with flesh and seeds removed
Zucchini stuffed with sausage mixture
Sausage stuffing topped with tomato slices
Stuffed zucchini topped with grated Swiss cheese and dotted with butter
Out of the oven
Ready to eat
- 3 firm, medium zucchini (make certain they are not too big)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ yellow onion, chopped
- 4 medium crimini mushrooms, washed and chopped
- ½ pound bulk breakfast sausage (mild or hot, your preference)
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup almond flour (use all-purpose flour if you prefer)
- 1 egg, beaten slightly
- 3 medium tomatoes, sliced thinly (or enough to cover the zucchini)
- ½ pound Swiss cheese, grated
- cooking spray
- Slice the zucchini lengthwise. With a grapefruit spoon or sharp paring knife, hollow out the squash with about ¼ inch of a rim remaining. Try not to pierce the skin of the squash.
- In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Add the chopped onions and cook until they are translucent but not browned. Stir in the chopped mushrooms, and cook until they give up their liquid and the liquid has evaporated.
- Add the sausage, breaking it up with a cooking spoon so that it is completely crumbled.
- Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and while it is still warm, stir in the cream cheese so it is completely incorporated. Stir in the almond flour and egg. Set aside until you are ready to stuff the zucchini.
- Choose a baking pan that is large enough to hold all of the squash, or use two dishes, and spray generously with baking spray.
- Arrange the zucchini in the pan, and spray them lightly with baking spray.
- Fill the hollowed-out zucchini with the sausage mixture.
- Top with tomato slices seasoned with more salt and pepper, and cover with the grated Swiss cheese.
- Dot with butter, and bake in the middle of an oven pre-heated to 350° F for 30 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and the zucchini is tender.
- Serve immediately.