Winter Citrus: Deb's Grapefruit Olive Oil Pound Cake and Ina's Lemon Yogurt Pound Cake (plus trial-and-error baking at altitude)

I'll be honest, I'm glad 2012 is over. Though there were some pretty spectacular moments, there was a good deal of stress and heartache too. Our nuclear family was separated for almost 7 months while my husband flew back-and-forth between Denver and Brooklyn. And my father had a massive heart attack at the end of the summer, just 3 days after visiting us in Colorado. There were emergency flights back home, lots of tears and the fear of what would come next but we survived. There were births, engagements, weddings and promotions so it wasn't all bad, but there were some very tough at times and I'm hoping that it's smooth sailing ahead with the trying times behind us. 

Unfortunately 2012 wanted to have the last laugh. In the final and penultimate day(s) of the year, I got hit with the plague. And it left me feeling pretty crummy. Flu-like symptoms, sinus pressure, a pounding headache, and fever kept me in bed and under the covers. Our friend's New Year celebration was cancelled because they too were under the weather. So we spent a quiet New Year's Eve, watching the ball drop/fireworks on television and thinking about all the (hopefully) good things to come in the year ahead. Then I went back to bed.

I was feeling much better by January, 2nd and I was really back on my feet by the 3rd, thanks in no small part to: 4 bowls of Pho, 3 bowls of matzo ball soup, 2 boxes of Kleenex, 1 box of Sudafed, a handful of Ibuprofen and some nighttime sleep aids. After all that, I was right as rain. Though my New Year's resolutions aren't terribly ambitious or lengthy (send out postcards on a regular basis, write down family recipes, learn to snow shoe, read short stories, blog/internet stuff Monday through Friday-- take the weekends off, be kind, channel the Dalai Lama, etc.), I added one thing to my list now that I am post-plague. Namely, infuse my diet with lots of vitamin C. That brings me to winter citrus and some really great pound cakes...

Most people probably think of summertime and lemonade when they think of citrus. But there are a few varieties that pop with flavor over the winter months, and while they aren't locally grown, they taste great because they are seasonal. Meyer lemons, blood oranges, ruby red grapefruits, satsumas and kumquats come to mind. 

I've been making Ina's Classic Lemon Yogurt Cake with Lemon Glaze for several years, and I usually find myself craving it in the early winter months. There is something about cake ingredients that include lemon, oil and glaze that work for me when it's cold outside. 
I'd thought about substituting grapefruit for lemon, but never actually got around to experimenting. Then I saw Deb Perelman's Grapefruit Olive Oil Pound Cake-- she'd done it! Her version is inspired by Ina's Lemon Cake (see recipe way below) and Martha Stewart's rendition. Melissa Clark also interpreted the now-famous cake, as have some great bloggers that I follow regularly. My point is this cake is making the rounds. 

I made the grapefruit cake for our friends Beth and Philip, who were in town visiting family over the holidays. They dropped by our house for wine and dessert, and since they were coming over a bit later in the evening, I thought a light citrus cake would do the trick.
The cake tasted great, but it looked rather sad. It basically collapsed right down the middle. I've come to learn that pound cakes in particular, can take a beating at altitude. So I posted my issue on the Culinary Content Network FB page. The solutions came pouring in. 
I now know that there is less atmospheric pressure the higher up you go in elevation. Chef Tom wrote, "What typically happens is your baked goods get over leavened, meaning they rise faster than the wheat can hold the bubbles, and it falls. The trick: reduce the amount of baking powder (I live at 5000 ft and reduce it by half), and/or add 3 tbs flour per cake..." Another commenter told me to "add a little water" and Ruth Tobias directed me to this site. 
When I made the cake the second time (but with only half the glaze because I ran out of confectioners' sugar), it came out perfectly! I subtracted 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder, put in an extra tablespoon of flour and I added an extra tablespoon of both yogurt and olive oil. The verdict? It tasted delicious AND it didn't sink. The pound cake had a perfect dome and I was finally getting around those pesky altitude problems. 
I decided to post Deb's recipe as it's written in her cookbook, with my adaptations for altitude (and some changes I made on my second go-around) in parenthesis. 
Hope you enjoy both of these winter citrus cakes. Serve with a side of tea and stay warm.

Grapefruit Olive Oil Pound Cake 
Adapted ever-so-slightly from Smitten Kitchen by Deb Perelman, and inspired by A Good Appetite by Melissa Clark
Note: Most of my adaptations were made in order to compensate for problems that can surface when you bake pound cake at high altitude (in my case, Colorado). Increasing liquids and decreasing leavening agents are noted in {parens}.
Yield: 1 loaf
Serves: 6-8 (Deb says 12. Not the case in our house.)
the Cake
Butter for pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour {Altitude: I added 1 extra tablespoon} 
2 tablespoons freshly grated grapefruit zest, from 2 large grapefruits
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup raw or turbinado sugar (I use raw sugar in these Belgian Sugar Waffles. You can use granulated if you can't find the raw variety)
1/2 cup olive oil {Altitude: I added 1 extra tablespoon}
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking powder {Altitude: I reduced the baking powder by 1/4 teaspoon}
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice (I used ruby red) 
1/3 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt {I went with Noosa's Plain Yoghurt with Honey. It was wonderful in this recipe. I've also made the cake with buttermilk. Both work well. Add 1 extra tablespoon of buttermilk or yogurt, to compensate for altitude. You could probably also add 1 teaspoon of honey.}
the Syrup
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice
the Glaze
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice
Pinch of salt

make the cake: Heat the over to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, rub the grapefruit zest into the sugars with your fingertips. This will bruise it and help release as much grapefruit essence as possible. Whisk in the oil until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, and whisk until combined. Scrape down the bowl.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a second bowl. In a liquid measuring cup, combine 2 tablespoons of  grapefruit juice and buttermilk/or yogurt. Add the flour and buttermilk/or yogurt mixtures, alternating between them, to the oil-and-sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour.

Spread the batter in the pan, smooth the top, and rap the pan on the counter a few times to ensure there are no air bubbles trapped. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
make the grapefruit syrup: Combine 2 tablespoons of sugar with 1/3 cup grapefruit juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.

When the cake is finished, let it cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then invert it onto a rack set over a tray. Poke holes in the cake with a skewer or toothpick, then spoon or brush the grapefruit syrup over the cake. Let the cake cool completely while it absorbs the syrup.
make the glaze: Combine the confectioners' sugar, grapefruit juice, and pinch of salt in a bowl, whisking until smooth. Pour the glaze over the top of cooled cake, and allow glaze to drizzle decoratively down the sides.
* * *

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Lemon Glaze (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa At Home)
Note: Follow the general guidelines for baking at altitude stated above.
Cook Time: 50 min

Yield: 1 loaf

For the cake: 
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

1 1/3 cups sugar, divided

3 extra-large eggs

2 heaping teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

   Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
   Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
   Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
   When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.
For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield (and Linguine with Lemon, Feta and Basil)

The other day I found myself wanting to leave the city. I didn't want to go too far, so I ruled out Rocky Mountain National Park. I was thinking about the Wildlife Sanctuary which is relatively close by, but decided to save that for a day when we had a few more hours to spare. I remembered that I hadn't been to the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield in quite some time and it was calling me.  
The satellite garden is a nature preserve that has grasslands, blooms and Hildebrand Ranch. The old ranch is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it houses chickens, roosters, goats and ponies. We also met a large toad in the pond. Otis named him Walter. He wanted to "take him" and relocate Walter to our couch. I explained that the toad probably liked his natural environment a lot more than he would our home...and that his mom and dad would miss him dearly if we were to snag him, put him in a paper bag and bring him back to Denver. Otis seemed satisfied with my explanation. Walter was left in the pond. 
The garden is also affiliated with a local CSA  and if I lived a little bit closer I would have signed up for the season. But our long-term plans in Denver aren't certain, and I decided to forgo a CSA membership this year. Instead we will rely on the Denver Farmers Markets for our fruits and vegetables. I'm heading to the markets next week and I'm excited to see what they've got.
Back to the farm...
We spent a good deal of time in front of the chicken coup. Otis decided that this would be a good place to wrestle his baby brother Theo. As you can see from the photos below, the hens couldn't believe their eyes.  
There are lots of picnic benches in the gardens, so next time I'll bring some food and eat outside. And since Chatfield is only 30 minutes away from Denver, I think I'll be going back again soon...

When we got back from Chatfield, both boys feel asleep. It was quiet time in the house and I, not wanting to use all of nap time to cook, decided to make something super-simple that I had seen on Cookstr. And here it is...
Linguine with Lemon, Feta, Pinenuts and Basil (Courtesy of Cookstr, Gordon Ramsay)
The light and zesty flavor of this pasta dish makes it ideal for the summer. It's also quick and easy for supper during the week, because you are likely to have the ingredients on hand.
Yield : Serves 4
1 pound fresh (or 10 ounces dried) linguine
¼ cup olive oil
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Handful of fresh basil, leaves only
7 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Cook the fresh pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for 2 minutes. If using dried pasta, cook according to package directions until al dente. Tip the pasta into a colander, leaving about 2 tablespoons of the cooking water in the pot.
Immediately return the pasta to the pot and add the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, Parmesan, basil, and three-quarters of the crumbled feta. Toss well and check the seasoning. Divide among warm plates and scatter the remaining feta and the pine nuts over the top. Serve at once.

Lentil "Meatballs" with Lemon Pesto

The hunt was on for a good vegetarian entree recipe. I wanted  something relatively light, not too time consuming to make and I wanted it to be pasta-free. Not that there's anything wrong with pasta.  As I've mentioned before, pasta is kind of my go-to, my default, and sometimes I have to dig a little deeper in order to get some variety in my diet. I came across this recipe for Lentil Meatballs on SproutedKitchen, which I had also pinned a few weeks ago. I checked my pantry and wouldn't you know, there, staring up at me, was a big bag of French green lentils. Dinner was on. 
I liked the texture of these meatballs and unlike The Meatball Shop's vegetarian balls (which are awesome), these are smoother because the lentils are pureed. {The two recipes also use different ingredients and are topped with different sauces.} 
If you are someone who likes Meatless Monday this is a really nice recipe to have in your rotation. Now for me, everyday is Meatless Monday. That's because I've been a vegetarian for, I can't believe it's been so long, 26 years. I can't recall if I ever explained how I became a vegetarian on this blog, but I'll try to give you the story in a paragraph or two...
The year was 1986 and I was turning 10 years old. There were two things I wanted for my birthday-  Little Orphan Annie drapes and a dog. I really wanted a dog. I didn't care what kind or what size. A mutt from the local shelter would have done it. Now my parents are incredibly loving people, but I wouldn't say they are known for their affection towards animals. In fact my mother was terrified of dogs at that time.* And so that year, for my 10th birthday, I got two goldfish. Nary a dog in sight. 
I named the goldfish Romeo and Juliette and they lived in a little fish bowl right next to my bed. The bowl had some colored gravel, a little ceramic sign that said "No Fishin'"and a straggly weed that bobbed up and down. I loved those fish. 
After a most unfortunate accident (I filled the water up too high), Juliette died (she jumped out of the bowl). I was devastated. And I felt responsible. I sat shiva, buried her in a box in our backyard and mourned the loss. I wore black. And that was the day I decided I would never eat fish again. Meat was out of my diet a short while later. Then chicken disappeared from my diet when I was in college. 
Being a vegetarian is just how I roll. I never feel limited and I eat from almost every cuisine on the planet. But I'm not here to proselytize, so let me stop where I am...
Back to the balls. They hit the spot. The lemon pesto dressing gives the dish a really nice pop. It's a great pairing. 
So make these meatballs for Meatless Monday, or any old day...

{The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook comes out August 28th. I can't wait to get my hands on it.}

* Postscript: I eventually adopted a wonderful Rottweiler named Omar...only 14 years after my 10th birthday. He came from the LASPCA in New Orleans. He's been with us for 13 years (knock on wood) and he is loved. 

Lentil "Meatballs" (Adapted (barely) from The Sprouted Kitchen, adapted from In Jennie's Kitchen
Serves 4, Makes 18 small balls** 
2 cups cooked lentils (I used about about 1 1/4 cups of dried French green lentils , put them in a medium saucepan and covered them in a few inches of cold water. I brought the water to a boil, then lowered the flame to a simmer. Cooked, partially covered, until the lentils were tender. This gave me a little bit more than 2 cups cooked.) 
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup Ricotta
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
Hefty pinch of dried thyme
1 teaspoon each sea salt and black pepper 
2/3 cup breadcrumbs (I used Panko- Japanese breadcrumbs)
Lemon Pesto Sauce (Courtesy of The Sprouted Kitchen)

1 clove garlic
1/4 cup pinenuts 
Zest and juice of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup packed basil leaves 
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons water to thin


In a food processor, pulverize the lentils into mush. Put them in a large mixing bowl.
Add the beaten eggs, ricotta, parmesan, garlic, fennel seed, parlsey, thyme, salt and pepper and stir to mix well. Stir in the breadcrumbs and let the mix sit for 20 minutes.
For the pesto sauce, put the garlic, nuts, lemon zest and juice and salt in a food processor or blender and run until smooth. Add in the basil leaves and olive oil until you get a smooth, sauce-like consistency. Add water, oil or lemon juice to thin as desired. Stir in the parmesan and set aside. The sauce will keep covered in the fridge for about a week.
Preheat the oven to 400'. Check the lentil mix by rolling a 1'' round ball between your palms, it should hold together fairly well. If it seems pretty wet and it falling apart, stir in another Tbsp. or two of breadcrumbs until the ball with stay together.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the mix into balls and line them up on a baking sheet (they don't need lots of space between, they won't spread). If you like a bit more of a crust, brush them with olive oil.
Bake on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown, gently turning the balls over halfway through baking. Remove to cool slightly.
Serve with your favorite noodles, on a bed of sauteed greens, or simply on their own with a nice drizzle of the pesto sauce.

** For some reason I got 25 balls out of this recipe, and because of that, I didn't have enough sauce. I divided the meatballs into two groups- the first 18 were coated with the lemon pesto and the rest were topped with my homemade marinara.  

Broccoli Soup with Lemon and Ricotta

Before I was getting most of my recipe ideas from Pinterest, I had spent a considerable amount of time on Saveur magazine's list, "Sites We Love." I came across one that I thought had a really cute idea- pairing dishes with music. The site is called "Turntable Kitchen" and each of the recipes has a suggested musical accompaniment. This was of particular interest to me because I had just commented to a friend that I needed to expand my musical repertoire. I think somewhere around the age of 30 I noticed that I had been listening to the same artists over and over (and over again). And I wasn't really downloading anything new on my iPod. It's like, you hit a certain age, you are x number of years away from your college graduation, and you find yourself thinking "Who the hell is that?" while watching the Grammys. What I like about the aforementioned site is that you can find some inspirational ideas for the kitchen and satisfy that new-music craving too. 
Everyone in our family loved the soup, but you really have to season it well. Since there are so few ingredients, good seasoning is key to making this soup successful. 
What I like about the soup is that the real flavor of broccoli comes's not hidden under a pound of cheddar cheese (though, confession: there is a cup of cream in the pot). It feels light and the fresh ricotta and lemon add nice texture and acid. I served it with a thick slice of Italian bread from the Denver Bread Company. It totally hit the spot and it was the perfect lunch.
So, get this soup going while you listen to The Shins- Chutes Too Narrow...or just come up with a pairing that you like better. Enjoy! 
Broccoli Soup with Lemon and Ricotta (Courtesy of The Turntable Kitchen, adapted from Donna Hay)
Serves 4
1 tablespoon of butter
1 leek, thoroughly rinsed and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large or 2 small heads of broccoli (florets + stems), roughly chopped
4 cups of vegetable stock
approximately 1 cup (packed) of spinach
1 cup of heavy whipping cream (Next time I think I'll use a 1/2 cup and a little bit of milk)
1 tablespoon of freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of lemon zest
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper (season the soup well)
1/2 cup of ricotta
1. Add the butter to a medium soup pot and heat it over medium-high heat, until it melts. Add the leek and garlic, and cook for about five minutes (until the leek has softened). Stir occasionally to keep the leek from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
2. Next, toss in the chopped broccoli and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium-high heat for another 10 or so minutes (until the broccoli is fork-tender). Toss in the spinach, cooking for another few minutes.
3. Remove the pot from the heat and use a hand blender to whiz the soup into a puree.
4. Pour in the cream and stir until it is well-incorporated. Next, add in the lemon juice and zest, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
5. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top each with a hearty spoonful of ricotta.

Zucchini-Olive Oil Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze

A week before Otis was born my husband and I ate our last supper out, that is as a couple without children. We knew things were going to change in a big way. So we thought long and hard about where we should go for this big (and very special) celebration. We already had the good fortune of dining at Per Se on my 30th birthday (that's a story for another time, but holy cow!) and we'd been to some of the city's best restaurants including Eleven Madison Park, Gramercy Tavern, Le Bernandin and Del Posto. Babbo was a place we'd always wanted to go to but never did, until the week before our first son arrived. Getting reservations was no picnic, but we got it done. We ate course after course and each plate was more delicious than the one preceding it. I was really glad to be wearing loose maternity garb, if you know what I mean. Babbo was a truly wonderful dining experience.
When I saw this recipe for Zucchini Olive-Oil cake posted on David Lebovitz's website, I made a mental note that I just had to make it -- due in large part to the fact that the original recipe came from Gina DePalma, the James Beard Award winning pastry chef who worked at Chanterelle, Gramery (under Claudia Fleming) and who currently makes the sweets at Babbo
Though the traditional zucchini season has ended and summer is a distant memory, I was reminded of this cake when I discovered it on The Moveable Feasts. Amy, the author of the aforementioned blog, left a comment on one of my posts and I had some free time (the kids were sleeping) so I started to scroll through some of Amy's entries (her blog is terrific). And there it was...that recipe...the one for Zucchini Olive-Oil Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze. Amy had seen it on Lottie + Doof, who had also adapted the original De Palma recipe from Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen. The cake was once again on my radar.
The recipe is homey, and much more comfort-foody than the traditional pastry/dessert fare at Babbo.  But don't let that fool you; it is no less delicious. The zucchini, walnuts, and olive-oil are fantastic together. And don't get me started on the crunchy lemon glaze... 
This is, hands down, my favorite zucchini bread/cake. Enjoy and happy baking! 
* * *
Some notes: The original recipe uses a bundt pan, which certainly has a more sophisticated look than cake loaf pans-- but I used 2 loaf pans because that's what I have and it worked perfectly.

Re: Grating the Zucchini. I grated about 3 medium zucchinis by using the finer side of a standard box grater. This yielded about 3 cups. Then I used a cheesecloth to drain some of the liquid out of the zucchini.
Before you get scared by the large amount of sugar, remember this is for 2 loaves, not one. I saw an adaptation that replaced the cup of olive oil for 1/4 cup olive oil and 3/4 applesauce. I haven't tried this modification and likely won't as I love olive oil, but if you do, let me know how it turns out.

Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze (Adapted from Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano, via The Moveable Feasts, via Lottie + Doof)
1 cup walnut pieces
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt (sounds like a lot, but you want it all)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 – 3 cups grated zucchini (about 3 small zucchini)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease two loaf pans (or a 10-inch bundt) and dust them with flour.
Place the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them until they are golden brown and aromatic, 12-14 minutes. Cool completely and then finely chop them.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices into a medium bowl and set aside . In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar and olive oil together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the dry ingredients all at once on low speed until they are thoroughly combined, then switch to medium speed and mix for 30 seconds. Mix in the zucchini and walnuts on low speed until they are completely incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake the cakes for 40 to 45 minutes or until a tester inserted in the cakes comes out clean and the cakes have begun to pull away from the sides of the pans.
While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and granulated sugar, then whisk in the confectioners’ sugar until the glaze is completely smooth.
Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then carefully invert them onto a wire rack. Using a pastry brush, immediately brush the glaze over the entire surface of the warm cake, using all of the glaze; it will adhere to the cake and set as the cake cools. Allow the cake to cool completely and the glaze to dry.