Saturday, March 8, 2008


Do I love lemons. The fresh citrusy scent and the vibrant yellow color always spark my imagination. It is amazing to me the versatility of these small, but powerful fruit and I have never met a person who does not like them. They remind me of spring and as the weather warms up it makes me crave anything lemon. Just cut and squeeze over fresh steamed vegetables, a whole chicken with garlic and rosemary or even in a cup of green tea. Lemons make the simplest of food taste special. I created the Lemon Pistachio Sun Scones for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Sun Community Newspapers new offices. What a better expression of the sun than lemon? The poached chicken is my take on a classic piccata. By poaching the chicken it is a bit lighter than the traditional breaded and fried version and the artichoke hearts really compliment the lemon. The pasta is wonderful alone or as a side dish with grilled salmon or a whitefish. So as the start of spring teases us we can find some bold freshness in these recipes.

Lemon Pistachio Sun Scones
2 1/4 cups flour
1/3-cup sugar
1-tablespoon baking powder
6 teaspoons finely chopped lemon zest (about 3 lemons)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into fine pieces and frozen
1 cup pistachios, finely chopped
1/2 cup lemon juice
3/4 to 1-cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing the tops of the scones

In the bowl of a food processor combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder and mix on low. Add the lemon zest and butter, and pulse until the mixture is pale yellow and the consistency of fine meal.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the pistachios. Make a well in the center and pour in the cream and lemon juice. Using one hand, draw in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead a few times to gather it into a ball. Pat the dough into a circle about 3/4 inches thick. Using a three-inch cookie cutter (or smaller if doing minis) cut out rounds. Gather the scraps, pat and press the pieces back together, and cut out the remaining dough. Place the scones 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with the remaining cream. Bake in a pre heated 400-degree oven for 12 to 16 minutes, until they are pale browned. Let cool on a rack

Lemon Cream Fettuccine
1-pound asparagus
2 large shallots
3 lemons
1 pound dried fettuccine
4 tablespoons butter
1/12 cups heavy cream
Trim asparagus and diagonally cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Finely chop shallots. Finely grate enough lemon zest to measure 1 1/2 teaspoons and squeeze enough juice to measure 3 tablespoons.
Fill 6-quart pasta pot three fourths full with salted water and bring to a boil for asparagus and pasta. Have ready a bowl of ice and cold water. Cook asparagus in boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes, and with a slotted spoon transfer to ice water to stop cooking. Reserve water in pot over low heat, covered. Drain asparagus. In a deep 12-inch heavy skillet cook shallots in butter with salt and pepper to taste over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and zest and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons lemon juice and remove skillet from heat. Return water in pot to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta in a colander and add to sauce with asparagus, remaining tablespoon lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat mixture over low heat, gently tossing until just heated through.

Poached Lemon Piccata Chicken
1 1/2 cups water
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch salt
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lemon, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons capers, drained
1 16-ounce can non-marinated artichoke hearts
3 teaspoons butter

In a large, deep skillet, heat water to a boil over high heat. Add bay leaf, lemon juice, garlic, salt, chicken and three lemon slices and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until chicken looses its pink color about 12 minutes. With slotted spoon transfer chicken to platter and keep warm. In a cup blend one tablespoon poaching liquid with flour until smooth. With a whisk beat poaching liquid and flour mixture until blended and heat to boiling over high heat. Add capers and artichoke; cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Stir in butter. Pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with remaining lemon slices.

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