When Life Hands You 20 Lemons Leftover from a Failed Master Cleanse….

Well, last week’s Master Cleanse was unsuccessful. After three days of feeling flu-ish, foggy and out of it, I had to quit. The timing of this fast was bad; I had too many personal and professional obligations that I needed my brain for. This doesn’t mean I’m not trying again (sorry, Mom!). I would really recommend beginning a Master Cleanse on a Friday, and staying home Saturday and Sunday. The first three days are typically the worst, but after the initial symptoms of detox fade away, you can function again.

Since I quit only three days into the cleanse, I had a ton of leftover lemons! After scouring my cookbooks for recipes calling for lemons, I devoted my weekend to the cooking with the lovely fruit. We hosted a few friends for dinner, and I made Lemon Risotto to accompany grilled fish and grilled asparagus. Lemon juice and peel offer a double punch of flavor in this delicious dish.

Lemon Risotto (adapted from Bon Appétit)


  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Butter or Earth Balance
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, chopped
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry Vermouth
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or hard goat’s cheese of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Directions: Bring broth to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; cover to keep warm. Melt Earth Balance with oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add vermouth and stir until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 cups hot broth; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is creamy and tender, about 35 minutes. Stir in cheese, parsley, lemon juice and lemon peel. Season risotto with salt and pepper. Serves 4-6 as a side dish or 2-3 as a main course.

Since we were still observing Passover, I whipped up some individual Passover Lemon Cakes for dessert. I couldn’t find my hand mixer, so we resorted to hand-beating the egg whites called for in the recipe. Good thing I’ve got a strong helper.

Passover Lemon Cakes (adapted from Gourmet)


  • 1/2 cup Butter or Earth Balance, softened, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons, melted
  • 3/4 cup matzo cake flour plus additional for dusting
  • 2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature for 30 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • whipped cream or whipped soy topping

Directions: Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly brush 8 muffin cups (use a large muffin cup pan) with some of the melted butter/Earth Balance and chill 2 minutes, then butter again and chill 1 minute more. Dust cups with matzo cake flour, knocking out excess.

Beat together softened butter, 2/3 cups sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer (a food processor also works) at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, then add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating until well blended. Beat in lemon juice and 2 teaspoons zest until combined. Add flour and mix at low speed until just combined.

Beat whites with remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt in another bowl with cleaned beaters until they hold soft peaks. Add 2 tablespoons sugar, a little at a time, beating, then beat until whites just hold stiff peaks.

Stir one fourth of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but throroughly. Spoon batter into 8 prepared muffin cups.

Blend remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon zest with your fingertips and sprinkle over batter, then bake until cakes are puffed, edges are golden, and a wooden toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then lift out cakes carefully (tops will break easily) to cool. Serve with whipped cream or whipped soy topping.

I also made Vegan Lemon Cupcakes for a friend’s graduation party. This recipe makes two dozen cupcakes, so if you only need a dozen, cut it in half. You’ll also have a bunch of frosting left over, perfect for cake decorating or to top graham crackers.

Vegan Lemon Cupcakes (courtesy of Bake & Destroy)

For cupcakes:

  • 2 cups soy milk
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon extract
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest

Directions: Preheat oven to 350˚F, line pans with paper liners. Whisk together soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Beat together soy milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla, almond and lemon extracts. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Mix wet and dry ingredients until no large lumps remain. Mix in lemon zest. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake 20-22 minutes.

For Lemon Buttercream Icing:

  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
  • 1/2 cup margarine or Earth Balance, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Directions: In a small bowl, cream the shortening and margarine/Earth Balance until well combined. Add the sugar in 1/2 cup additions. After each addition add a splash of lemon juice and beat well with a handheld mixer. Add vanilla and beat for another 3-5 minutes until smooth, creamy and fluffy. Using a knife, frost the cupcakes and add grated lemon zest to each as a garnish.

After my lemon-filled weekend, I only have five left. Let me know if you have any other ideas!

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