Friday, May 18, 2012

The Falafel Fail…Kind Of

I’ve always wanted a good falafel recipe. I love falafel, and it’s an interesting non-meat option to serve my veg-centric friends (and feed myself and my fiance when we’re avoiding carnivorous endeavors like we were here).

I found a recipe for Edamame Falafel with a Spicy Coriander Sauce in Everyday Food magazine that seemed simple enough. It called for dried chickpeas plus edamame along with cumin, parsley and lemon juice. I followed the recipe pretty closely, but used canned chickpeas instead of dried.

I know falafel is typically fried and this recipe called for frying, but I was hoping I could try some alternative cooking methods in addition to the deep frying. I wanted to follow the recipe properly, so I went ahead and heated an inch or so of oil in a skillet, and dropped in about 6 small falafel disks, reserving the rest of the dough for other preparation methods. After about 8 minutes in the oil, the falafel fell apart completely! It was an epic falafel fail! Literally the chickpea-edamame mixture disintegrated in the oil. It was completely ruined.  I was totally bummed, and worried that I hadn’t gotten the oil hot enough, or perhaps it was the shape of the falafel — I’d flattened the balls into disks to fit in pitas better. I also had guessed on the conversion between dried chickpeas and canned chickpeas, so perhaps that was it.

I ended up pan-frying the remaining falafel disks in a non-stick skillet in just a bit of oil until they were slightly browned on each side and heated through, and that actually worked just fine. There was no need to finish them in the oven as the skillet heated them sufficiently. Out of the ashes rose a pretty tasty falafel meal, with quite a few left over I enjoyed over salad greens. Without deep frying them they were a bit dry but the spicy coriander sauce the recipe called and some fresh salad greens definitely helped with that.

Once I sat down to write this post, I found other bloggers had had this exact same trouble with this recipe! The fellas from The Bitten Word in D.C. experienced dissolved falafel, as did a blogger from Maine who the Bitten boys linked to.

Vindication! The moral of the story, it turns out, is add an egg to bind it all together. I’ll try that next time, though I did like the effect — and fewer calories — pan-frying had. Enjoy!


Edamame Falafel with Spicy Coriander Sauce

Yield: Serves 4

Prep Time: 30 minutes

A healthier take on falafel.


2 cans chickpeas, rinsed
10 ounces frozen edamame, thawed
3/4 cup parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
coarse salt
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
vegetable oil
pita, salad greens, cucumber and any other toppers you'd like

Spicy Coriander Sauce
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
a bit of lime juice


Combine ingredients for Spicy Coriander Sauce and chill until ready to use.

In a food processor, pulse chickpeas, edamame, parsley, cumin and salt until well chopped. Mix in yogurt, mayo, coriander and cayenne. Roll mixture into about 20 balls.

Heat nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add enough oil to coat bottom. Add falafel balls, several at a time, flattening as you add them to the pan so they fit in the pita better. Cook until browned, then flip. Repeat with remaining falafel balls.

Assemble pitas with coriander sauce and your favorite toppers, and enjoy!

Adapted from Everyday Food magazine


Friday, March 30, 2012

Parchment-Baked Tilapia with Grapefruit

I love tilapia. It’s one of the most sustainable fish, its mild flavor makes it a blank canvas for seasonings, plus it’s inexpensive. I prefer the Publix brand, as they come frozen and individually wrapped in plastic and make it very easy to grab one or two filets from the package to thaw overnight in the fridge.

I usually prepare tilapia on a baking sheet with a drizzle of oil and some kind of herb and spice blend. Though the April edition of Everyday Food magazine gave me a great new idea. There was a recipe for parchment-wrapped salmon with ginger and oranges gracing the cover. I’d seen this cooking technique used before with fish, but had never tried it myself. It was so easy with the tilapia! The texture was amazing – it honestly tasted like a different fish! It was super moist and really creamy and buttery. The parchment essentially steams the fish in the hot oven, making for a low fat cooking method and very easy clean up. The grapefruit was so tender and mild, and just melted with the spinach, avocado and feta.

Parchment-Baked Tilapia with Grapefruit

Pre-baked fish, nice and neatly stacked.

Rolled to make a seam with ends folded under.

A big heap of goodness.


Parchment-Baked Tilapia with Grapefruit

Yield: 2 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

A fast, easy, healthy dinner, perfect for a busy weeknight.


2 tilapia filets, thawed
1/2 a grapefruit, to taste
1/4 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 clove of garlic sliced
2 handfuls of spinach
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 avocado, sliced
1/8 cup feta, divided


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut two 16-in-long pieces of parchment. Place parchment on a rimmed baking sheet. Cut ends off grapefruit so fruit stands on end. Take knife and carefully cut rest of peel and pith off grapefruit taking strips off vertically. Slice grapefruit into 1/4-inch thick rounds, then in half.

Stack ingredients in this order: spinach, grapefruit, tilapia, onions, garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bring long ends together and fold three times so parchment is snug around the top of the fish. Tuck ends of parchment under the fish. Bake for 15 minutes, or until fish is cooked through (you'll have to open one packet to check).

Serve immediately!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe / Giveaway!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody! How did this day become synonymous with sweets? Was it a ploy by the chocolate or sugar industries to get people to buy more? Is there some historical reasoning like maybe St. Valentine had a sweet tooth? It probably has something to do with the rumor that chocolate is an aphrodisiac. Though this is not a post about chocolate.

For my Valentine this evening, I intend to make a Naked Berry Pie. While I do appreciate chocolate, a free form berry pie — in winter no less — feels like more of a treat. Plus I have some blueberries that I picked this summer still frozen. It just dawned on me the irony of the recipe title, though I assure you it was accidental! Sheesh.

The recipe comes from “Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe,” by Alisa Huntsman, Artisan, 2011. I was lucky enough to be invited to the cookbook launch party out at Loveless where guests got to sample a dozen or so of the desserts featured in the book as well as a lovely brunch spread including those famous biscuits. It was as awesome as it sounds.

I like this cookbook for a few reasons. First, Alisa does a great job of selecting classic, simple desserts to feature in the book. No elaborate baking techniques here – just straightforward preparations for straightforward Southern desserts. She even includes prepared pie crusts as an option for some of the recipes. While I enjoy a homemade pastry as much as the next person, there are times when a more convenient option is needed. I appreciate a classically trained chef who can embrace that flexibility.

Find recipe classics like Still Holler Blackberry Pie, Blueberry Peach Corn Bread Buckle and Harpeth Valley Hummingbird Cake in this book.

At the brunch, I was given a copy of the book to give away. If you’d like to participate in the giveaway, you can enter up to three times. Simply:

1) Follow @annakatet on twitter
2) Tweet this: I just entered to win a copy of “Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe” by Alisa Huntsman from @annakatet at!
3) Like the Loveless Facebook page.
4) Tell me what your favorite Southern Dessert is!

Please leave a separate comment for any you choose to do. I’ll select one winner at random on Friday at noon CST. Good luck!



Naked Berry Pie

Yield: Makes 4 free-form pies

Recipe and recipe photo courtesy “Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe,” by Alisa Huntsman, Artisan, 2011


Easy-As-Pie Dough

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 sticks (3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoons cold milk

1. Place the flour, confectioners' sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and pulse briefly to mix. Add the butter and pulse until it is cut in and the mixture resembles coars meal. Add the egg yolks and milk and process just until the dough is smooth and evenly moistened. Do not process until the dough forms a ball, or it will be tough.

2. Remove dough from the processor and press into a ball. Flatten into a disk, wrap well, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.


2 cups raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, or a mixture
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Egg wash: 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Coarse sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 sturdy baking sheets with parchment paper or foil and grease the liners lightly. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each out to an 8-inch circle. Arrange the dough circles on the baking sheets.

2. Just before you're ready to bake, place the berries in a medium bowl. Add the granulated sugar, flour, orange zest, vanilla, and cardamom and toss gently until the berries are coated. Immediately spoon a heaping 1/2 cup of berries on the middle of each dough circle. Fold the edges in toward the center, pleating the dough as necessary and leaving at least a 2-inch circle of fruit exposed. Brush the crust with egg wash and sprinkle the coarse sugar evenly over the tops.

3. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the juices are bubbling. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow juices to thicken.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Savory Veggie Bread Pudding

Perhaps the crowning jewel of my vegetarian month was this hearty bread pudding. I riffed off a few recipes I found, and in the process created a savory, flavorful and wholesome fast, easy dinner. I’ll definitely make this again.

Like many of the vegetarian recipes I post here, it’s customizable to your own tastes and preferences – or to whatever you have on hand. I was lucky enough to use a lot of local foods in this including eggs, milk, bread (Provence rolls I had frozen) and some goat cheese feta (thanks Bloomy Rind!). The veggies were just what I happened to have in the fridge/freezer. Cooked (and drained) spinach, leeks, kale, broccoli would all be good. Lots of possibilities! Experiment freely, and if you hit on a good combination, report back! Enjoy.

And you know, now that vegetarian month is over, I just might add a little bit of crumbled bacon to this. Though, for the record, this hearty dish totally stands on its own without the addition of meat. But a little bacon sure never hurt anything.


Savory Veggie Bread Pudding

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: About an hour

This savory bread pudding would be good for brunch or dinner and is tasty reheated. Hearty and filling, you'll especially want to enjoy it when it's cold and rainy outside, mark my words.


half loaf of bread
1 bunch scallions
1 c frozen peas
1 c milk
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 pkg sliced mushrooms
1 medium bell pepper, diced
4 eggs
1/2 c feta cheese, crumbled
salt and freshly ground pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 glass baking dish with cooking spray or coat with oil. Set aside. Coarsely chop bread into cubes and bake on a rimmed baking sheet until toasted and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, add milk, scallions and frozen peas, and bring to a boil (to scald milk). Once boiling, immediately remove milk from heat and cover to steep.

Heat oil in skillet. Add onions and cook, 5-7 minutes until translucent. Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms begin to release their juices. Add peppers and saute until mushrooms and peppers are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Beat eggs until smooth; add milk mixture (slightly cooled so eggs don't cook). Place bread crumbs in prepared dish, toss with cooked veggies and feta. Pour milk/egg mixture over bread/veggie mixture and, using a large spoon or spatula, mix a few times until just combined. Add a bit more milk if mixture appears dry. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until cooked through and not jiggly in the middle. Enjoy with a simple tossed green salad.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cellared-Vegetable Salad

I roast vegetables a lot. I love tossing a combination of chopped sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, onion wedges, garlic cloves, broccoli florets and/or butternut squash with a little olive oil, kosher salt and maybe some fresh thyme and then roasting on a rimmed baking sheet. They’ll be finished in 30-40 minutes if you roast at a higher heat (I usually start at 425 degrees F) and hte veggies will be nice and caramelized. At this point I’ll toss them with a bit of lemon juice.

In a recent edition of Food & Wine, I saw this fabulous recipe from Chef Art Smith (of Oprah personal chef fame) in Chicago. It’s a simple melange of roasted vegetables, tossed with an orange-honey and balsamic vinaigrette  over mizuna. This salad is reminiscent of the Garbage Salad I wrote about earlier, but the dressing is slightly different and I used different veggies. 

The vinaigrette was so scrumptious! And I loved the texture of the roasted roots with the soft, peppery arugula as I didn’t have mizuna. I also didn’t have the exact root veggies he called for, so I improvised. The sweet, piquant dressing will definitely get used in our house over many a salad to come. This is a real keeper, and a perfect vegetarian meal for our meat-free January. I served it with a simple bread crumb and caper pasta with garlic and olive oil. It was kind of a lot of starch for one meal, but it satisfied as a comfort-food meal on a cold Sunday. Enjoy!


Cellared-Vegetable Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Total Time: 1 hour

This would make a great side dish to a lean protein or fish, or an excellend main-dish salad if tossed with some brown rice or cous cous.


2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
4 whole carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias into discs
6 medium turnips, peeled and halved or quartered
1 dozen Brussels sprouts, halved
1 medium onion, quartered
6 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon minced red onion
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
3 cups packed arugula


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss first seven ingredients (through rosemary) with 1/4 cup olive oil in a large bowl. Sprinkle to taste with salt and pepper. Spread vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Reserve bowl.Roast for 30-40 minutes until veggies are caramelized in places and cooked until softened.

Meanwhile, in a 1/2 pint jar, combine remaining olive oil red onion, orange juice, vinegar and honey. With lid tightly secured, shake dressing until emulsified.

After roasting, toss veggies with arugula and dressing in reserved bowl. Serve immediately.

Art Smith, Food & Wine, February 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Breakfast-For-Dinner Omelet Cups

Since going meatless January 1, I’ve made a lot of vegetarian meals. We’ve had salads and grilled cheese, roasted root vegetables, fish tacos, soups, packaged veggie burgers and Silly Goose takeout. It all turned out pretty well, but everything was based on my regular culinary repertoire, or it was made for us. As I noted in the last post, I want to use this month not so much to focus on avoiding meat, but to really explore other kinds of cuisine that don’t focus on meat, in an effort to expand my own culinary horizons.

I used my gift card from the amazing Food Blog Forum goodie bags (I wrote about the event here) last October for a subscription to “Everyday Food” magazine. I love that little pub, but it’d been awhile since I’d subscribed. I found a recipe for Denver Omelet Cups in the January issue that I tore out, so I tried a variation of  it for dinner last night. What a treat! It was easy, tasty, relatively healthy and meatless. Plus, it’s unusual “cup” shape on the plate is impressive for a weeknight meal.

Next time I’d use slightly less shredded potatoes as there was barely enough room in the “cup” to hold everything and I’d prefer more sauteed veggies than potatoes. The eggs in the photo at left are about to run out of the cups, but amazingly there was just enough space. I’d also use my own shredded potatoes instead of the frozen kind (which I had on-hand) so I could leave the skins on for more nutrients. This recipe comes together really fast – you pre-bake the potato “cups” for 15 minutes, so while those are cooking you can saute the veggies and grate the cheese. After they finished baking, they popped right out of the pan without any trouble at all.

Alongside these eggy delights I served a grapefruit, orange, avocado, green onion salad over arugula and drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper. This also came from “Everyday Food, and the recipe is just as simple as it sounds. The flavors didn’t quite go with the egg cups by traditional rules (citrus and eggs doesn’t really do anything for me) but I liked the brightness of both dishes’ flavors. Plus it was light and nutritious for a cold winter night.


Breakfast-For-Dinner Omelet Cups

Yield: 6 "cups"

Total Time: 30 min

This recipe would be great really anytime of day, though it's hearty enough for dinner. It makes six "cups," and two for dinner was plenty. I reheated a leftover for breakfast the next morning in the toaster oven and it was delish! The original recipe called for ham steak - I omitted that and added spinach. This recipe is easily customizable to your tastes and preferences.


nonstick cooking spray
4 cups frozen hash browns (1 pound), thawed
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small red onion, diced small
1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced small
6 ounces fresh spinach
3 ounces shredded or crumbled cheese (I used feta)
8 large eggs


Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Coat 6 nonstick muffin cups with cooking spray or rub with oil. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt 4 teaspoons butter. Add hash browns and 2 egg whites; season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Place 1/2 cup mixture into each muffin cup, firmly pressing into bottom and up side of each cup with a spoon or your fingers. Bake 15 minutes; potato "cups" will be beginning to brown around the edges.

Meanwhile, heat a small nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil. Add red onion and bell pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium and add spinach. Cover until spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Divide vegetable mixture evenly among cups and top with cheese. Bake 2 minutes. Remove from oven and crack 1 egg into each cup. Season with salt and pepper and bake until whites are set but yolks are still runny, 8 minutes was just enough time. With a small offset spatula, remove cups from pan and serve immediately.

Everyday Food, January/February 2012

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Last Supper

On my way home from work on the Friday before New Year’s Day, I was feeling crummy. I wanted to do something to perk up. It was Friday night after all, and the eve of a three day holiday weekend. So I decided to stop into my neighborhood butcher and cheese monger to pick up something fun for dinner: Porter Road Butcher and The Bloomy Rind which are housed in the same building off Galatin Road in East Nashville.

How many neighborhoods the size of this one can boast awesome artisan food purveyors such as these? I feel like one lucky gal. Read my post on that very topic here.

I also thought it’d be fun to indulge in a big ol’ piece of meat since as is our tradition for the second year running, come January 1, we cut out meat for one full month. So, Porter Road Butcher, with its array of locally- and sustainably-raised meat options hooked me up with this beautiful, well-marbled, bone-in, inch-and-a-half thick, 24-ounce ribeye. Oh man. Definitely the most intense meat purchase of my life.

At $19 a pound this cowboy steak was not cheap, but it was a good piece of meat and I felt worth it. I knew where it came from, it was a special occasion, and it was going to taste great lightly sprinkled with salt and pan-seared to medium rare perfection. I purchased it intentionally, thoughtfully and aware that it was an indulgence. I split it with my fiance and we savored every morsel.

In 2012, I want to eat less but better meat. I will try to purchase or enjoy it from PRB, the farmer’s market, a CSA, a locally-focused restaurant or even a hunter (my parent’s got some kick ass deer baloney from a friend who shot the deer himself and processed all the meat for family and friends), as much as I can. That probably won’t be the case 100% of the time, but hey – it’ll be a step in the right direction for me nutritionally, environmentally and ethically.

As far as the Bloomy Rind goes, I purchased some goat cheese that had a layer of ash around it. The center was so soft it was nearly liquid. I shared it with no one. Kathleen Cotter rules.








I like taking a month each year not so much with the focus of avoiding meat, but with the intention of broadening my vegetarian horizons to try new techniques, ingredients, flavor profiles and menu items that I might have otherwise overlooked. So for the next few weeks, I’ll share the exploits of my vegetarian (and pescetarian – we’re still eating fish) adventures in the kitchen here.

I’d also love some recommendations on favorite creative and healthful veg-centric concoctions. Please leave a comment with any and all suggestions!

Welcome to the party 2012 – I’ll bring the good meats and cheese.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

East Nashville Love

I’ve been in a little haze of love for East Nashville since before Christmas. I really tried to go local as much as possible with my gift giving, and while I didn’t wholly succeed (Dad got a really nice shirt from Nordstrom, among other exceptions…), I did hit up some classics:

What a treat to  have access to all this within a few miles of where I live. I don’t mean to sound boastful; just want to shine a little light on a neighborhood that I really feel thankful for. Nicole Keiper of the blog East Nashville with Love sums up the neighborhood well in her About Us page here. If you’re not already reading that blog you’re missing out. It’s incredibly prolific in its content and a great source of neighborhood scoop.

I probably should have posted this before Christmas but hey, the holidays are hectic, man. Let this post be an inspiration to think local this year in lots of ways beyond just food. There are tons of local artisans in East Nashville and all around Nashville for that matter, and supporting them in 2012 the best I can is definitely something I’m going to be focusing on. Let’s do it together, shall we?

What are your favorite local spots, products, artisans, etc.?


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Garbage Salad

I often hear myself saying, “I need more vegetables in my life.” I love veggies and regularly crave them. I can just never get enough. If asked to choose between fruits and vegetables for the rest of my life, I’d definitely ditch the fruit. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good apple or mango, but the savory, earthy, crunchiness of veggies just gets me.

I came up with this salad when I was craving something healthy but hadn’t been to the grocery store in awhile. Luckily I had a few things still tucked away. It turned out great and I will definitely make variations of this again, especially to enjoy in the aftermath of the holidays.  Mix and match veggies, nuts, fruit, dried fruit and grains in this salad to your tastes (or whatever you’ve got on hand).

What I like best about this concoction is all the textures. The crunchy carrots and nuts, the crispy bacon, the roasted sweet potatoes and squash and chewy raisins – it all works so well together. Great for a main dish salad or a side! And it’s easy to make a big batch, or just a serving for two. If you find other yummy ingredient combos you especially like, let me know!


Garbage Salad

Yield: 2 main dish servings or 4 side servings

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Mix and match any ingredients in this yummy salad. The dressing makes more than you'll need so either half the ingredients or save in the fridge for another day. Kept covered, dressing will last for about a week.


1 sweet potato
1 cup butternut squash, peeled and diced (I had some frozen that I thawed and used)
1 onion, chopped
3/4 c uncooked Israeli couscous (or regular couscous, brown rice, quinoa, etc.)
2 pieces uncooked bacon
3 cups chopped greens (arugula, mixed greens, spinach, etc.)
3 green onions, chopped
5 baby carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, plus celery greens, chopped
1 apple or pear, chopped
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (or your favorite cheese)
crusty bread, optional

3/4 c olive oil, extra virgin
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c honey
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut sweet potato into even cubes, with skin left on (more nutrients!). In a small bowl, toss sweet potato, cubed onion and butternut squash with a drizzle of olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast at 450 degrees for 30-40 minutes (depending on size of cubes) until browned and cooked through.

Meanwhile, boil Irsaeli couscous in water (just like pasta) until cooked but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Drain well and rinse with cold water to cool.

Cook bacon to desired doneness and drain on paper towel-lined plate. When cool enough to handle, crumble.

When potato/onion/squash mixture is done, remove from oven and let cool slightly. Combine with couscous, bacon and all other ingredients in a large bowl.

Mix up dressing ingredients in a small 1/2 pint jar (or other container) and shake until emulsified. Pour dressing over salad (to taste - there will be leftover dressing), tossing to combine. Serve with crusty bread, if desired.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

I’m not much of a baker. It’s not that I don’t like baking, or that I’m particularly bad at it, I just don’t do it very often. I love to cook and try recipes, but one of the things I like best about cooking is the experimentation and improvisation of it all. I like to riff, which doesn’t really fly in baking.

But I do like sweets, and I love cookies – the perfect little hand-held sugar fix. Not as messy as cupcakes and less of a commitment than cake, cookies have always felt more like a treat to me than an actual dessert. So I was particularly excited when I heard about the Food Blogger Cookie Swap, hosted by Lindsay of Love & Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen. This swap, made up of hundreds of food bloggers from around the world, was a great idea by the girls, and the perfect excuse to bake. To participate, I had to bake three dozen cookies and mail a dozen each to the three bloggers I was assigned (Kara, Vicki and Sue – enjoy!). In return, I will get a dozen cookies from three other food bloggers. Cool.

So I made my famous Lemon Ricotta Cookies. Well, they’re actually Giada’s Lemon Ricotta Cookies but since they’re the cookies I’ve made more than any other, they feel like something special to me.

What makes these cookies even more special is that I made them with the very first lemon my Meyer lemon tree ever produced. How cool is that?!

I like these cookies because they’re not overly sweet. The tangy ricotta and kick of lemon work well together. The use of a Meyer lemon – which is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange – makes them a little less lemony with a sweeter, more floral flavor. But if you don’t have a Meyer lemon tree growing in your kitchen (ha!), regular lemons work fine (and are what the recipe calls for). I’ve also been curious about using an orange or lime in this recipe. I bet it’d be delicious.

Check out my tree. I used the lemon hanging to the right in the recipe (plus one more regular lemon – this recipe requires quite a bit of both juice and zest). One of the things I noticed about working with such a fresh lemon was the texture. Store-bought lemons are usually so hard. The skin and pith was so soft it nearly fell apart when I juiced it. I had a little helper in the kitchen while I was baking, too. His name is Pippin.

When you mix up the dough, don’t completely mix in the ricotta. Having some small lumps of it in the batter will make the cookies extra moist.  It should look something like this. (PS this cookie dough tastes AMAZING.)

Once the cookies have baked, you know the edges are done when they start to brown. The tops will remain pretty light so be careful not to overcook them.

When the cookies are completely cool, smear a little of the glaze on them. I make the glaze a little bit thicker than the recipe calls for so it doesn’t run down off the cookie too much.

Enjoy! I’ve enjoyed the swap so far, and will be looking forward to the next Food Blog Cookie Swap in 2012!


Yield: 3 1/2 dozen

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: at least 2 hours, more with cooling

These cookies are extra moist, and sweet yet tangy. Make with lemons, or try other kinds of citrus. Unless your lemons are very fresh, you'll need at least two and maybe three to get enough juice.


2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

2. Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add in eggs, one at a time and beat with a hand or stand mixer until fluffy. Add in ricotta, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and zest and mix in.

3. Gently add in flour mixture to ricotta mixture and stir until just mixed. In 2 tablespoon scoops, spoon batter onto baking sheet. Bake until edges turn golden brown, 14-15 minutes. When done, cool at least 20 minutes on wire rack.

4. Combine glaze ingredients together. Spread on cookies once completely cool. Let glaze set at least 30 minutes to harden before packaging.

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis, Everyday Italian