I know. After seeing the title of this post you're probably thinking, "oh my goodness, she cooks, too?" And yes I do and yes, I know it's unfair for one human to be so perfect, but I can't hide my stripes. Just kidding; while I've been known to make a few meals here and there, I'm by no means a pro. I do, however, have some great family recipes (Jewish and WASPy recipes, it turns out, go together pretty well!) and some new ones I've been trying out. So I thought I'd start sharing with you--seemed selfish to keep the successes to myself. Today's is a lovely dessert that I made last weekend: fruit salad with a drizzle of simple syrup and candied lemon rinds (after the jump).
I love this dessert because it's sweet and refreshing without making you feel like a cow after you've eaten it. It's also really easy and somewhat impressive to your guests, and I always like getting grandeur points.
The first time I tried to make these I did absolutely everything wrong. I used a carrot peeler on the lemons so they were shavings rather than rinds, and after boiling them in sugar and water, I put them in the oven coated in sugar. I came back five minutes later to a mess of burnt caramel. So this time, I skipped the oven, cut thicker strips, and was really pleased with the result!
3 lemons (jumbo ones if you can find them)
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1. Combine water and 1 cup of sugar in a saucepan or a pot and bring to a boil.
2. Cut the lemons lengthwise into quarters. Peel out the fruit (you can save it in a mason jar in the fridge) and shave off a bit of the pith, leaving a small layer of it on the rind. This doesn't have to be exact, as you can choose the thickness of the lemon pieces; you can see the thickness I left mine in the picture above. Slice the quarters, again lengthwise, into strips about a quarter of an inch thick.
3. Put the lemon rinds into the boiling mixture and turn to a simmer. Leave them uncovered on the stove-top for about 45 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half. Using tongs, take the lemon rinds out of what is now the syrup, and place them on a cookie sheet onto which you've sprinkled the last 1/2 cup of sugar. Make sure each is thoroughly coated, and let sit for about ten minutes.
Above is what the syrup will look like after you've taken the rinds out. It gets its beautiful amber color from the lemons. Pour this into a jar or whatever else you'd like to store it in--you'll need about a quarter of a cup or less for the fruit salad, and you can save the rest of the syrup for cocktails, more fruit salads, etc.
For the fruit salad (serves six):
I wanted to keep the colors and textures somewhat limited, so I used strawberries, raspberries, pears, and bananas. You can use anything you've got--my grandmother, Nana makes her famous fruit salad with grapes, plums, oranges, bananas, pears, apples, strawberries...anything, but always tops it with frozen raspberries. I didn't have frozen raspberries and prefer fresh ones anyway, which is why I used the syrup; it draws out the flavors of the fruit as the frozen raspberries would. If you want to make the version I made, you'll need:
1 Large box of strawberries
2 Small boxes of raspberries
2 Red D'anjou pears
1/4 cup simple syrup
Wash the fruit and cut it up as you'd like. Pour the simple syrup over the mixture about half an hour before serving.
Put fruit salad in a dish for each guest and place about six lemon rinds on the side or on top as a garnish. Et voila!