At the beginning of the month, my workplace hosted a large event. The centerpieces at event contained lemons. After the event, lo and behold, my entire office was awash with lemons. At first, everyone smuggled home pursefuls of fresh yellow fruits. After a week of that, however, there were still far too many lemons around. Someone had the brilliant idea to hold a friendly office-wide competition: Iron Chef Lemon!
I knew that with the stress of this week, launching a big project at work and taking care of things at home on the weekend, I wouldn’t have time to come up with anything new or incredibly complicated. I did try one new lemon recipe, but it isn’t ready yet (don’t worry, I’ll post as soon as it is, success or failure!). Instead, I decided to “submit” my Syrian Lemon and Olive Chicken. While I was excited to share my own dish, I was most looking forward to seeing what everyone else would come up with.
Well, let me say, the ladies did not disappoint! The variety of savory dishes was particularly exciting, because it seemed everyone thought there would be too many desserts and beverages. It turned out there was a perfect ratio. Traditional lemonade and puckery strawberry-lemon-basil mocktinis (not pictured). Lemon chicken, lemon pesto pasta, sweet lemon bean salad, creamy lemon gnocchi, and even a mini-shrimp boil! Feast your eyes on the spread below (all photos in this post courtesy my fabulous friend Martina):
The desserts were even more sumptuous though. The lemon flavor really shone in all of these. I have to admit, I tasted my fair share. There were lemon bundt cakes large (with pinenuts) and small (with lemon glaze), lemon crumble so moist I thought it was cheesecake, and shockingly tart lemon thin cookies.
I loved Martina’s mini-bundts even more when she told me that their deep, almost carmel flavor came from the brown sugar she used instead of white!
Once the “judging” began. It was clear which dishes were quickly becoming favorites. The spread was devoured in minutes.
With so many lemons still leftover, we used them as our ballots for voting for winners in the sweet and savory categories. My entry won second place, an honor among such delicious competition. The first place winners were the pesto pasta:
And in the sweet category, almost by a landslide, Martina’s second entry: Lemon thins!
Fun and a full stomach were had by all and now the office is almost lemon-free. We’re all already trying to figure out what the next Iron Chef potluck might be. I love my co-workers. Any ideas for ingredients?
About this author: I'm a New Yorker who would rather cook than go out to restaurants. Sometimes I think I may be in the wrong city for that. Then I remember the exotic ingredients I'd be hard-pressed to find if I lived somewhere else. My cooking style is an eclectic range of everyday-American, Italian, middle-eastern, with extensive forays into Japanese cuisine, and some pit-stops into Indian and African cuisines. I love to try my hand at recreating dishes I taste. While I enjoy most anything with a flavor, from high cuisine to instant junk food, I have a soft spot in my belly for home-style cooking no matter the geographic or ethnic origin. Read more from this author...