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Sometimes, citrus is not optional–it’s mandatory. Such is the case with this dessert (or hell–why can’t it be breakfast, too?).

You could make your own ricotta, but let’s tackle that at another time. Instead, purchase whole or part-skim ricotta and combine with sugar, to taste. Stir in lemon zest and lemon juice. Top with blackberries.

Despite its simplicity, lemon ricotta with blackberries is delightfully refreshing on a warm evening.

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I did it. I followed a recipe. And it’s one I wouldn’t have thought up on my own. Except I did make a couple of changes (does that still count?).

Instead of high-quality crab, which, let’s face it, I just cannot afford, I opted for shrimp. Both are delicate and mildly sweet and I thought the swap would be appropriate. And because I couldn’t find the chiles that were called for, I used regular old jalapenos. I stuck with lemon zest and juice, but looking back I think lime would work well with the chiles.

The combination of heat, tart, and sweet worked beautifully (yes, beautifully) with the creaminess of the sauce, which was made by combining a crap load (official term) of butter with pasta cooking liquid.

My S.S. said it tasted healthy. “Is it healthy?” No, I’m sorry. It’s not. Keep your pants on.

Though the flavors and ingredients remind me of summer, this is a surprisingly hearty pasta dish perfect for a chilly winter’s dinner. Click here for the recipe.

It is not often that I have my S.S. splurge on groceries. Usually we rush through the grocery store, my list guiding the way, picking up inexpensive ingredients that are later transformed into something special.

This meal, instead, was centered around a nice big piece of meat. A little pricey, but simple enough that it can be easily executed in your underwear.

The steak gets the star treatment, but that doesn’t mean it needs a lot to make it taste good. A generous helping of S & P, a sear on both sides over high heat, and then 8 minutes in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven made a perfectly medium-rare steak.

The special touch was the compound butter that slowly melted on top. In a bowl, combine softened butter, minced shallots, minced garlic, chopped fresh parsley, chopped fresh tarragon, lemon zest and S & P. Shape it into a log, pop it in the fridge and slice before serving (this is what we do at the FCI), or simply scoop it on top of the steak right when it comes out of the oven.

The steak needs little more than a simple salad (fennel and orange did just nicely) and a side of roasted potatoes to round out the meal.

And just wait till tomorrow’s post to see what I did with the leftovers.

And here it is, the final component to the perfect roasted chicken. Okay, so it has nothing to do with the actual roasting process. But I guarantee* that this is such a magical addition, it will become an essential part of the dish.

We’re talking about gremolata, typically a combination of garlic, herbs and zest. In this version, finely minced garlic is combined with finely chopped fresh parsley, minced lemon and orange zests, S & P.

*This is based on nothing. In fact, I don’t really guarantee anything. You may not even like the thing. It doesn’t really matter, because if you don’t like it, it’s safe to say that I don’t like you.