Culinary forays and failures: Know your ingredients and do doubling right!

For fresh lemon recipes, try to garden variety versus store bought.
For recipes that focus on the peel, choose large lemons with un-
blemished skin and no green spots. A vegetable peeler is a good tool
to remove the skin in large sections. Just make sure to avoid the pith
(the white part) which adds a bitter flavor. Photo credit.

My lovely mother gave me a cache of fresh lemons from her backyard a couple weeks ago. What to do, what to dooooo? Frozen treats and baked goods, of course. What better than luscious ice cream, tart sorbet and perfect sweet and sour lemon bars. Right? I wish. And thus begins the tale of not one but TWO culinary catastrophes in my kitchen. (Okay, one catastrophe and one mediocrity.)

Lesson #1- Know thy ingredients
One of the best birthday gifts I’ve ever received made its way into my life last year thanks to my sister Emily: An ice cream maker. A beautiful Cuisinart, it turns out perfect ice cream in minutes and I admit, it takes all my diet-driven strength not to keep the fridge stocked with heavy cream and whole milk at all times. Having re-kindled my love affair with homemade ice cream after finding a no-cook vanilla recipe, I scoured the internets for a no-cook lemon variation because as you may recall, my track record with cooking custard led to the first post on culinary catastrophes last year (see here). I found an easy recipe that called for lemon juice, zest, cream, vanilla and sweetened condensed milk. No boiling. No custard making. No straining. Better yet, no waiting. Just mix and dump into an ice cream maker. If only it were that easy!

After mixing my ingredients, pouring them lovingly into the machine and waiting, I was greeted with frozen sour milk, not the sweet tart lemon deliciousness I expected. Initially I thought I must have added too much lemon juice, but it wasn’t until a few days later when I realized I mixed up the ingredients. As a result, I am here to tell you: sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk are NOT THE SAME! I had it in my head that they were synonymous, don’t ask me why. Now I’m left with un-sweet ice cream that I’m not sure can be salvaged. Ideas anyone? Moral of the story: Know your ingredients!

Lesson #2- If you’re doubling a recipe, double ALL of the pieces

Photo credit.

Lemongate Disaster 2 is linked closely to the aforementioned sour milk debacle. With the remaining lemon loveliness, I put together a pan full of lemon bars (review and recipe here), doubling the filling as several previous bakers suggested. At the time, I thought my sour milk ice cream was a product of too much lemon juice, so I did not double the juice for the baked product. BIG MISTAKE. Although I used the zest of two lemons and half a cup of lemon juice, my filling was cloyingly sweet and barely lemony at all. As a result, the normally popular lemon bars were left to languish and eventually hit the trash. Sad day. So I tell you, when doubling a recipe, do it right. Don’t skimp on ingredients, especially the main ones. Ah hem.

Up next: recipe reviews including Pioneer Woman’s Big Fat Bacon Sliders, jalapeno poppers, Knock You Naked Brownies and rosemary skewers.


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