Comforting Flavors: Coconut Soup With Red Kuri Squash and Shrimp and Lady Apple Cardamom Cake.

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Coconut Soup With Red Kuri Squash & Shrimp

I have a tendency to always be cold. At least chilly. I like sweaters. I like scarves. Gloves. Hats. I like cold weather. I live in South Carolina where cold weather is...well...not that cold. It comes and goes. Three days of cold, two days of warm. Christmas in shorts. Valentine's Day by the fireplace. I think I've finally gotten used to it. Almost...

We were pretty happy when the temperatures dropped a few degrees this past week. Even without the magnificent Fall colors of up North, there is a certain anticipation of a seasonal change around here. The dogs were waiting for that delicious moment when they'd be able to just lie on the back deck and enjoy a little reprieve. That wonderful crispy Fall weather. No humidity. No mosquitoes.

Lady Apples

As soon as Fall rolls around, my mind turns to comfort foods. Well, foods that are comforting to me. We all have distinct food associations, flavors, scents that resonate "comfort". Mine are without a doubt apple cake, apricot and frangipane anything, soups of many kinds, roasted vegetables, winter gourds. Right now, I can't stop baking with Lady apples (so tiny!) and squash of all kinds.

Soups and cakes are a staple at our house. All year long. Undeniably influenced by seasonal produce but staples nonetheless. A local tomato soup in the summer is replaced by roasted squash one in the Fall. Winter welcomes piping hot bowls of French onion soup.

Lady Apple Cardamom Cake

Along with cakes, Bill has a love affair with coconut soup. I must admit, I do too. After many Thai inspired versions that we have done over the years, I wanted to change it up a bit this time. Red kuri squash and local shrimp cooked until fork tender in a lemongrass, ginger and lime coconut base. We went back for seconds. We wished we had enough for thirds. Incredibly satisfying.

Cakes are quiet and discreet in our kitchen in the Spring and Summer. The above 100F temperatures are not conducive to a lot of baking but as soon as I can turn the oven on without feeling we're operating a furnace, I turn to one of our family favorite, apple cake. It's nothing fancy. It's actually pretty darn rustic if you ask me. One of the may reasons I love it. It also reminds me of my grandmother. A woman I miss everyday.

Lady Apple Cardamom Cake

She wasn't always easy. Often stubborn. But when she loved, she loved 100%. She loved being surrounded with friends and family. My Sunday Supper tradition is a direct extension of her. Tea time was 4 o'clock around a plate of cookies and a slice of cake. Came one. Came six. It did not matter. The door was always open. Sunday lunches with a full table after church often lingered into impromptu dinners around an omelette, a bowl of soup and a piece of cake.

Grandma, Mamie Paulette even smelled of apples. And vanilla.

Lady Apple Cardamom Cake

Everytime I make her apple compote with a touch of sugar, lemon and vanilla bean, I can feel her around me. I wish we had had a few more years together so she could have come here and see us. Happy. That's all she wanted. To have everyone happy. Making an apple cake puts me at peace. It's comforting to have that little bit of her whenever I want. I am grateful she was not shy of passing her recipe on to me so I can pass it on to you.

On this note, I might be scarce this coming week, both in emails and to answer comments as I am heading for L.A on Wednesday. I will be there to teach an awesome 3-day workshop. I am so excited! There are still a couple of spots available! So if you ever hesitated to learn from a photographer, food stylist, digital tech, art buyer, etc... we are all here to answer your question and work hands on to help.

Autumn Squash Cooking

Details? Here we go! The amount of info we'll pass on is pretty huge! We'll be at Light Space Studio for 2 days and at Hollywood Sierra Kitchen another day. Yes...you can pick an choose the kitchen you want to shoot in!

I can't wait to meet the people I will have the chance to guide and help for three full days and I am also giddy to meet up with friends I rarely see because of geography and life in general. I'll try to post snapshots...

One thing for sure... I am definitely packing a couple of slices of apple cake in my carry-on! Have a great week everyone!

Coconut Soup With Red Kuri Squash & Shrimp


Coconut Soup With Red Kuri Squash and Shrimp:

Makes enough for 4

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks of lemongrass
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups red kuri squash, peeled and diced (seeds removed)
4 cups seafood stock (or veggie or water)
1 can coconut milk (14 oz)
juice and zest of one lime
2 sprigs of thyme
1 pound medium shrimp (peeled and deveined)
cilantro to serve

Directions:
In a large stock pot, heat the sesame oil over medium heat, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. In the meantime, cut the stalks of lemongrass in half and pound them with the back of your knife a couple of times. The goal is to release the lemongrass essence to flavor the broth. Add those to the onion, along with the ginger and garlic and cook another 2 minutes or so. Add the Kuri squash and cook another 2 minutes. Add the stock, coconut milk, lime juice and zest, and the thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cook covered for about 15 minutes. When the squash is fork tender but not mushy, turn the heat back up to medium high. Add the shrimp and cook until they are just cooked through (5 to 8 minutes depending on size) (over and they will feel like rubber). Remove from the heat, remove the thyme and lemongrass stalks and let cool about 5 minutes before plating. Serve with cilantro if desired.

Apple Cardamom Cake:

Makes one 9-inch cake

Ingredients:
10 Lady apples (or 2 to 3 regular sized apples)
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
zest and juice of one lemon
2 cups Jeanne's gluten free all purpose flour mix (or regular flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Position a tray in the middle. Grease one 9-inch baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Place the pan on a baking sheet. Set aside.
Peel, core and slice the apples very thin (a mandoline works great) and place them in a large bowl filled with water and lemon juice to prevent oxidation.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar and eggs until pale (takes about 2 minutes). Add the oil and lemon juice and mix until well blended. Add the flour mix, baking powder, cardamom and cinnamon and whisk about 50 strokes until the batter is smooth.
Pour it into the prepared baking pan and position the apple slices (drained slightly) on top.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle comes free of raw batter.

Smoked Salmon, Fennel, Grape, Blue Cheese and Pecan Salad

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Salmon, Fennel and Grape Salad

Been away from home for the past ten days and although I have had a wonderful time getting work done, seeing friends and meeting new people, I am always very much itching to get back home to my family. Both workshops in Kansas City went very well and this past week spent in Seattle for a shoot was just dreamy.

There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that you helped someone get more comfortable telling a story around food with their camera, light or that you contributed to making pretty images for someone's cookbook. Photography is always the sum of many things that are equally important to me. Practice, creativity, partnerships and opening one's mind to the unknown. The possibilities. I love seeing people let loose of their fear they can't this or that.

Cheese Board

Flying to Seattle was like a mini vacation. A grueling mini vacation of sixteen hour days but a time off nonetheless. One of the things that I love about Seattle is how comfortable it is to me. Great friends such as Clare and Jeanne do that. Those two have a knack for creating a homey environment everytime I come visit. Good food, great conversations and a serious amount of wine every night do keep me going for hours...

When traveling, even if I stay with friends, I make sure to eat good nutritious food as a send off and as a re-entry. Friends feed me. Restaurants too. I even bring food on location shoots. It's me. I have a bad habit to go for a cup of strong coffee in the morning and pretty much nothing until 4pm rolls around. By then, my stomach sounds like a little green alien is forming battalion.

Champagne Grapes

I am a big fan of salads and soups as means to set my internal clock right. They are food for the bones, body and soul. Just with like a photo you create, a simple bowl of salad you assemble can take on a gorgeous palette and tell the story of what your body is craving. Even in a hurry. Colors, textures, flavor combinations. It's very much like assembling a picture to me. I always think of what I do as I put meals together the same way I do when I compose a shot.

The act of seating down and re-visiting my dish, now complete is very much like seeing the picture as I edit it. Sometimes, there is a bit too much salt, too many colors, flavors or the vinaigrette is off. Sometimes I like the salad so much, I want to keep it my immediate memory bank. Sometimes, I cringe when a shot I thought would work ends up being not seasoned the right way, so to speak. Sometimes I know I'll revisit that set up many months later in a slightly different way because it worked great the first time.

Autumn In Seattle

Thing is, I do that photography-story telling bit with almost every food. Salads or not. Good thing I do this for a living, eh?! It'd be easy to get in a rut unless you shop for seasonal ingredients. Again, same goes with every foods.

Right before I left, you could tell a real transition up in the air and at the market. It was a bit touch and go but the arugula was still doing well. Grapes of all sorts were having a good times. White and purple scuppernongs, Champagne, big fat juicy seedless reds. The fennels had fronds longer than my arms. It was all starting to shape up in my head.

The couple of days before I left for my trip West, I loaded up on a salad comprised of arugula, raw fennel, grapes, blue cheese, smoked Coho salmon, pecans from our tree and a white balsamic vinaigrette. Easy. Nutritious. Good for the soul too.

Salmon, Fennel and Grape Salad

This week that Fall produce is slowly making an appearance, my salad making days might change. And I am looking forward to them.

Smoked Salmon, Fennel, Grape, Blue Cheese and Pecan Salad:

For 2:

In a large mixing bowl, mix the following ingredients:
- 4 oz smoked salmon (we like the thick slabs of Coho salmon)
- 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- small handful of grapes, halved
- as much crumbled blue cheese as you would like or think reasonable (we do about one 2-inch piece per person)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped pecans (or other nuts)
- 1 to 2 big handfuls of arugula
- as much or as little vinaigrette as desired

Dressing:
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 shallot, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked pepper
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard and shallot. Add the salt and pepper then the sherry. Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Drizzle on top of the salad.

Acorn Squash & Sweet Potato Soup And "Basic To Brilliant Y'all" by Virginia Willis

61

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Acorn Squash & Sweet Potato Soup

If I had to pick my two most favorite months of the year in Charleston it would be October and February. The humidity finally drops some in October, giving us the ability to enjoy being out without suffocating. I sneak in any moment I can feeling the tall grass under my feet. I also spend more time than usual at the dock watching the porpoises huddle and play now that less boats are out now that summer is over.

February is just magical here. The light is crisp and electric. The cold finally reaches us for a few days and we gather friends around the fireplace. I love the cold nippy winds that we get for a few days. A barely there couple of weeks of wintry weather.

Heirloom Book Company - Charleston

Lately, while the temperatures are still hot enough to have us in short sleeves and flip flops, the numerous rain showers and stronger winds put me in a definite Fall-ish mood. One that calls for hot soups and warm apple crisps.

This Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup is one of those I want to have on repeat this Fall and Winter. It's been decided by both Bill and myself after the first couple of spoons. Not only was it tasty, it was also the kind that does not need much else but a nice piece of country bread smeared with a dab of butter and sprinkle of grey salt.

Acorn Squash & Sweet Potato Soup

Aside from the addition of acorn squash, the base of sweet potato soup is directly from Virginia Willis' latest cookbook "Basic to Brilliant Y'all - 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company". A book she came to share in Charleston last week and which release was celebrated (among other events) in a Sunday Dinner style dinner at Heirloom Book Company. The setting was perfect, a cookbook store with wall to wall vintage and current editions.

Heirloom Book Company - Charleston

The table setting was fun and the company engaging. In our proper form, Bill and I made fast friends with the couple next to us, visiting Charleston on their anniversary. They had just stepped into the bookstore a few hours prior to the event, completely on a whim and purchased a couple of tickets for that dinner. They did not know the book or Virginia but they "got" the spontaneity that defines Charleston.

Virginia Willis

Why celebrating Virginia in person in Charleston? Because the book was photographed here. In my studio to be exact and also on our dock where we had Virginia hold a very fiesty crab at sunset. The crew gathered in my home for 10 days and we got to work on some pretty delicious recipes. Curried Chicken Wings with Peach Dipping Sauce. Endive and Roquefort Slaw. Louisiana Duck Gumbo. Meringue Pillows with Strawberries and Cream.

Heirloom Book Company - Charleston

Sunday's dinner showcased some of my favorites such as the Roasted Tomato Soup and the Chocolate Monkey Bread and new ones like the Garlic and Sausage Stuffed Pork Loin. Most importantly, it gave me a chance to congratulate Virginia on her hard work and dedication to develop and write recipes so that people like me, get the chance to convey emotions and visions one level deeper.

Acorn Squash & Sweet Potato Soup

I have been blessed to work with pretty special cookbook authors and their publishers these last few years and each time. This project where a whole team came together, fierce with dedication and love and pride of their work, made me grow as an artist and as a person. I walked away with a greater love of my profession as photographer. A greater dedication also. And let's face it, hundreds of new favorite recipes...!

Heirloom Book Company - Charleston

Virginia's recipes are no different. They completely speak to me. Virginia has the perfect ability to balance her formal French training as a chef with her Southern roots. A little irreverence against ennui thrown in for good measure and you have the perfect blend: a cookbook compiling easy and intermediate recipes, interesting and fun and with a Brilliant twist that is worth exploring each time.

Take her Sweet Potato Soup for example. The basic recipe is pretty darn tasty as it is if you ask me. A blend of sweet potatoes, Vidalia onions, thyme and curry. The "brilliant" possibility? A dollop of rum spiked whipped cream. Yep. And that my friends, is indeed brilliant. It absolutely makes you smile... I did vary mine a bit by adding acorn squash and sprinkling a bit of thyme and cracked black pepper on ours too. Recipes are canvas for you to enjoy your time in the kitchen and Virginia's are perfect for that.

Heirloom Book Company - Charleston

When I was growing up, each meal would start with a bowl of soup. Nothing fancy. My mom would make the tastiest soups from the simplest vegetable combinations. Zucchini, onion, pumpkin, carrots, turnips. The quantity for each varied every single time which made the soup slightly different every time also. She learned that from her mother. She passed it on to me.

I carried that tradition a little further by making soups that my grandmother would surely dubbed as "fancy" if she were still alive. I never grew up with single ingredient soups beside Soupe a l'Oignon. Always a mix. Even our family trademark, Soupe Au Pistou is a medley of Provencal fragrances.

Heirloom Book Company - Charleston

Nowadays, I am usually drawn to soups where one ingredients really shines. Mushroom soup, roasted tomato soup, pumpkin soup, smoked corn soup, this crazy good lima bean bisque from my pal Tami. The multi ingredient ones I now stir are some we never made when I was a kid, such as Pho, Tom Yum, Avgolemono.

And this fragrant and silky Acorn Squash & Sweet Potato Soup. I could not let go of my DNA apparently and had to throw in another ingredient! Acutally, I picked up gorgeous mini acorn squash at the farmers market as well as a myriad of other vegetable and I have to cook the majority before my upcoming trips to Kansas City and Seattle this week.

This soup is good company. A warm bowl of soul and a whole lot of comfort.

Acorn Squash & Sweet Potato Soup


Acorn Squash & Sweet Potato Soup, adapted from Virginia Willis' Sweet Potato Soup in "Basic To Brilliant Ya'll"

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:
2 mini acorn squash, peeled and cubes (about 3 cups)1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
9 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Cut the acorn squash in halves. Place them in a baking dish, drizzle with one teaspoon olive oil and roast for about 20-30 minutes. Let cool. Peel the skin off and reserve the flesh.
Heat the remaining tablespoon oil in a large heavy soup pot set over medium high heat. Add the onion and curry powder and cook until the onion is almost translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, stock, maple syrup, thyme and nutmeg and the flesh from the acorn squash.
Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs. Let the soup cool a little.
Puree the soup until smooth with an immersion blender or a blender/food processor.
Reheat the soup before serving and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.

To garnish:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons dark rum
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
freshly ground pepper

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Add the rum and lemon zest and continue whipping until firm. Use a dollop on top of the soup and sprinkle with fresh thyme and chopped thyme.

Lemon Salt Lemon Cupcakes And Portland Trip Part 3

71

Friday, October 07, 2011

Lemon Salt Lemon Cupcakes

Finally edited the last part of my trip to Portland a few weeks ago. I get lost in my memories of Portland every time I look at this last set. The day was jam packed with fun adventures...it kept my camera busy and happy.

I ended my trip on the same note it started, taking Sunday as an extra day to chill before getting back to work. A day spent with friends, visiting more of Portland, free of schedule. More time to spend with Tami, Nicole and Andrew to go about town. One pit stop at The Meadow salt and chocolate shop inspired the Lemon Salt Lemon Cupcakes pictured above.

Before I start waxing poetic about the shop and the salts, let's (re)visit that last part of the Full On Oregon trip. Kuddos again to Travel Oregon for the incredible trip. I can't wait to go back with Bill or my family.

Portland Market

We started bright and early at one of the farmers market. A mix of food vendors, fresh produce and flower stalls as far as the eye can see...Desserts and small bites from the dinner appeared behind a case and I was tempted to get more macarons and brownie bites...

Portland Market

Gorgeous displays of pastries from various bakeries in town as well as what seemed to look like an ever ending sea of flowers strewn about the market.

Portland Market

I must say that seeing one of Portland farmers market made me very proud of our own. Although smaller, we are equally serious about quality and diversity of produce, farmers and artisans.

Portland Market

A display of various kinds of mints and basil as well as other Asian staples. Heirloom tomato season was in full force and they were popping at just about every corner.

Portland Market

Flowers as far as the eye can see...

Portland Market

Bouquets of Brussel sprouts and colorful cauliflowers.

Portland Market

Artichoke flowers...mesmerizing color.

Portland Market

Gorgeous produce everywhere. I am telling you, my finger was glued to my shutter button!

Portland Market

My favorites... Ronde de Nice zucchini are perfect for "Petits Farcis" like my grandma used to make. Recipe here.

Portland Market

Garlic, garlic flowers and more gorgeous flowers...

Portland Market

After a thorough tour of the market, we actually had to stop and shop for the items we would use during the first workshop of the day on preserving and canning. As you can tell, it was not a complicated task to find everything we would need!

Portland - Preserving Workshop Instructor

Jennifer from Sassafras Southern Kitchen led our workshop on canning and preserving. We set up at KitchenCru, a community kitchen and culinary incubator which is about 24/7 so that various business can cook and package their products safely when their schedules allow it.

Portland - Preserving Workshop

We used all the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes we had picked up earlier at the market and set up various station of chopping and canning for the next three hours.

Portland - Preserving Workshop

The final product was Sassafras Southern Kitchen signature tomato relish. A little sweet, a little vinegary and simply delicious. I made it twice since I came back from Portland and we are just slathering it on everything. Will post the recipe soon!

Portland - Salt & Straw Ice Cream

Lunch was served right in the dining area of KitchenCru space and catered by three award winning chefs in Portland. Again, we did not lack great food exquisitely prepared. The meal was topped up in the most delicious way by Salt and Straw Salted Caramel ice cream. This team is young but they are already creating some big buzz around them. Justifiably so.

Portland Charcuterie Workshop

My afternoon session was all about charcuterie. My choice. I know, I could have gone with chocolate or ice cream making but I wanted to do something completely different and challenge my camera eye, my perspective and well....I do love charcuterie. Plain and simple.

Portland Charcuterie Workshop

Our class was led by Paula Markus and Eric Finley of Chop Butchery and Charcuterie. The enthusiasm and care they have for their business was contagious and evident in the quality of their products and the meats they use to keep such standards courtesy of Mt Shadow Natural Meats.

Portland Charcuterie Workshop

We started by making chicken liver bourbon mousse, then moved on to starting pancetta (it needs months to cure) and gathering herbs and seasonings for it.

Portland Charcuterie Workshop

Both Paula and Eric tagged team throughout the afternoon to take us through the various products and processes of their operation. They also had a whole hog brought in and took us through the various cuts and how they'd be used. Learning where you food comes from...

Portland - Dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

After our session and a quick refresher at the hotel, we boarded a bus, direction the Willamette Valley wine country for the Full On Oregon culmination dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars. The surroundings were gorgeous and we got here right as the sun was setting and the Golden Hour was setting a wonderful cozy glow on everything.

Portland - Dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

More flowers everywhere and even more surprises at every turn in the garden. More on that later.

Portland - Dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

The dining room was beautifully set and each table was adorned with more flowers and a tablet of local Xocolatl de David chocolate bar was given to each attendee. I regretted that we did not get a tour of the property or the operation. It would have been nice to hear about their vision and products.

Portland - Dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

The dinner was executed by local chef Vitaly Paley and his staff and each dish was paired with different wines. Although all exquisite in their own way, dishes and wines, I must say my sensory palette was overwhelmed. So much so that I can't tell you who was what and where.

Portland - Dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

One of the surprises waiting for me at the corner of the patio where we were enjoying hors d'oeuvres and wine was the small garden patch brimming with gorgeous fresh produce. Tomatoes galore of course but so much more...

Portland - Dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

Onions...and more tomatoes....

Portland - Dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

Swiss chards and blooms.

Portland - Dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

Lettuces...

Portland - Penner Ash Wine Cellars Dinner

Yes...I know. More tomatoes. But admit these are gorgeous. I just wanted to cut one open, sprinkle it with salt and eat it right there and then.

The Meadow

Speaking of salt...After this official closing dinner party on all the events of the Full On Oregon trip, I had decided to leave Portland on a red eye flight Sunday night. It was leaving me more time to hang out with Tami, Nicole and Andrew. We started with a little bite a food truck in town and met up with Andrew at The Meadow. The famous salt shop...and wow...were we in for a treat!

I picked up a few salt including a really fragrant lemon salt that immediately made me think of a sweet/salty concoction. The vision of lemon cupcakes with lemon salt was already dancing in my head...

We also took some time to walk through the Japanese Gardens before saying our goodbyes, eyes full of wonderful sights and bellies repast with delicious meals. My heart was just making jumps of appreciation and gratefulness for knowing so many nice and genuine folks.

Lemon Salt Lemon Cupcakes


Lemon Salt Lemon Cupcakes:

Notes: I used The Meadow lemon salt to top the cupcakes with and I realize it's not accessible everywhere. One easy substitute is to rub some lemon extract with coarse sea salt and sprinkle it on the cupcakes. Another option is to just use a very light sprinkle of high quality sea salt on top. The salt and sweet combination is really tasty.

Makes 12

For the cupcakes:

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1½ cups Jeanne's gluten free all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk
zest and juice of one lemon

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until smooth and airy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well in between each addition. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Lower the speed of the mixer and add the flour mixture and milk alternatively to the butter/eggs mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add the zest and lemon juice ad beat until smooth. Fill cupcake tins about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes until a cake tester inserted near the center comes out free of raw batter. Let cool completely before frosting.


For the buttercream:
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water + 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
zest of a lemon

Prepare the buttercream:
Place the yolks in a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment.
Bring the sugar, water and lemon juice to 238F (on a candy thermometer) in a medium saucepan set over high heat. Slowly pour the hot syrup over the egg yolks and continue to whisk until cold. Change to the paddle attachment and beat in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Add the lemon zest and continue to beat for a few seconds until completely smooth.

Assemble:
Pipe the buttercream on the cupcakes and top with a few flakes of lemon salt or coarse sea salt.

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