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I apologize. First of all, I am (criminally, as they’re gorgeous) incapable of taking a good enough picture of these lemons. Second, I have two articles due on Monday, neither of which are remotely done, and nowhere near enough time between now and then. I’m saving my words! Third, I don’t know what to do with this little treasure trove yet. I’m still considering. Do you use Meyer lemons? Do you have any great ideas?
If you’re looking for ideas, here’s what I did with some of my lemons last year:
I have something to tell you. Up to now, this blog has been decidedly positive. We tell you how much we love a food item, give a little run-down on why we like it, maybe give a glowing description and a couple preparation suggestions. Then you get the recipe. This is good. And positive. Everything’s all right here at Supper in Stereo.
But here’s my confession– I’m not generally sunny. I’m a whiner, a complainer, a look-on-the-dark-side kind of person. I complain about my job, curse the cloudy weather, call my cat stupid.
Actually, I only did that last one once. And I felt really bad afterwards.
I’m working on it, I am. But sometimes Carlo’s and my self-imposed exercise of listing three good things that happened every day ends up sounding something like this: Today is over. I survived today. I can go to bed now. This, my friends, is not positive.
Sometimes when you’re busy feeling grey like this, food falls by the wayside. Oh, we still eat, of course. But cookies turn out tough and floury, soup tasteless, meat dry. And we dutifully shovel it in, to get enough energy to slog through another day. January and February are especially bad when you live in a wintry climate. We’re lucky to get one sunny day a week and the rest of the days are plodding and overcast. They’re not even grey, they’re just… nothing.
Have you had enough yet?
Then listen: every once in a while, even I have to poke my head up and say “wait, this is pretty good.” The other night, Carlo and I were contemplating a beautiful pan of chicken parts scattered with chunks of lemon and rosemary that we were about to roast (the recipe was yet another gift from my generous aunt and uncle, and I’ll pass it on to you soon). It was gorgeous, even uncooked, and we could tell just by looking that it was going to be delicious. Carlo said “man, we have it pretty good.” And I agreed.
I had another moment like this the other night, standing in the kitchen, sticking my tongue out while I took a paring knife to the skins of our last Meyer lemons. I was sticking my tongue out because I was concentrating on only getting skin and not pith, so that the mini batch of limoncello that I was preparing wouldn’t come out with any bitterness at all. To be honest, the task of carefully peeling thin-skinned lemons isn’t really all that fun. I was tense and my shoulders were aching. But at the other end of the counter, Carlo was preparing a batch of one of our favorite ice creams. He was talking himself through the steps, pretending to host a cooking show (sample instructions: “…then you take a thing… or a spoon… and you move the stuff in the bowl around with it.” Sample banter: “I’m okay! Do you like me? You’re okay!”). If I wasn’t concentrating so hard, I would have been giggling. Carlo finished preparing his ice cream, and I finished peeling my lemons (it took me 30 minutes for four lemons– that’s dedication). Then Carlo put his ice cream into the ice cream machine and I put my limoncello in the cupboard to steep.
It’s just a little jar, mind you. I only had four lemons left (and incidentally, the more-than-half-empty bottle of vodka on our bar had the exact right amount of alcohol left, which was a nice coincidence). When the limoncello’s finished, it will be enough for a few sips, not much else. But I still like knowing that it’s sitting in the cool darkness of our cupboard, getting more and more delicious, waiting for us. You can steep your limoncello anywhere from two weeks to four months. I’m leaving mine there for all of February. We’ll see how I feel come March.
I’ll let you know how the limoncello turned out in a couple months. And Carlo’s ice cream? It was perfect, perfect. Life is good and we are lucky. I just don’t feeling like talking about it.
BROWN SUGAR SOUR CREAM ICE CREAM
We follow the recipe for brown sugar sour cream ice cream from Mercedes at Desert Candy faithfully. The last few times, we’ve used panela instead of brown sugar, just because I found panela in the store and felt that it needed to come home with me. I highly recommend this variation, as the panela has a great intense smoky, molassesy flavour. However, you MUST try the original recipe as well. It’s great! I love the addition of bourbon to the mix, but you could easily leave it out and still have a great ice cream. Plus there’s no custard to fiddle with (Farhan, I’m thinking of you…).
If you want to make limoncello, here’s the recipe I used. I used vodka, as it’s what we had around, but if you can find a grain alcohol, that would probably be better. The linked recipe makes a huge amount, but I scaled it to the following proportions:
4 lemons, preferably unsprayed and unwaxed
350 mL vodka or grain alcohol
1 1/4 c. water
1 1/3 c. sugar
Wash and dry the lemons, then peel them. Place them in a mason jar with the alcohol. Make sure the lemon is fully covered. Put the mason jar in a cool, dark place, shaking it once a day. Leave this for at least two weeks, but I’ve read you can go up to four months.
When your lemon concoction has steeped to your satisfaction, it’s time to sweeten it. Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. When the mixture is room temperature, put a strainer over the saucepan that’s holding the sugar syrup and strain your steeped lemon mixture into the sugar syrup. Combine the liquids well, then place the mixture back into a mason jar. Put the mason jar back into your cupboard and repeat the first process, shaking twice every day for about three weeks.
Finally, after all that time, it’s ready to taste! The Washington Post recommends storing your limoncello in the freezer, where it will turn a milky yellow.
By the way, I juiced the lemons after I peeled them and boiled the juice with sugar in a 1:1 ratio to make lemon syrup. You could use this syrup to make lemonade, or you could pop in a vanilla bean and do a bit more fiddling to make something like this (which looks super-lovely).
We’ve been away from the blog for a little while now, but it’s not because we’re not cooking– it’s just that we haven’t been cooking anything really, really good. And instead of subjecting you to mediocrity (why share a so-so recipe?), we’ve been waiting until we had something great to share with you. And ta-da! Here’s an incredibly simple dessert that I’m planning to keep in my arsenal forever. Would you believe it has just three ingredients? Cream, sugar and lemon juice combine to make a mousse-y dessert that’s rich but light-tasting. We loved how the lemon lifted the thickness of the cream off our tongues so the dessert felt decadent but not heavy. I wish even more that it actually wasn’t heavy so that I could eat it every day, but that’s another matter.
I did a bit of research and found out that this dessert evolved from a strange-sounding Elizabethan (or maybe older?) drink of warmed milk curdled with sack (sherry) or ale. I’d like to try this out too, just because “sack” always makes me think of Shakespeare’s Falstaff. Anyone know of any literary references to posset?
I followed a recipe from the LA Times for this modern posset, and it called for Meyer lemon in particular. Any lemon will work, but you might need to add more sugar to balance the flavours. Next time, I’m using blood orange juice (thanks to our beautiful, beautiful new vintage chrome juicer) and cutting back on the sugar to make blood orange posset. I’m excited!
MEYER LEMON POSSET adapted from the LA Times
This recipe makes two 1/2 cup portions. Feel free to double it.
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon (about 1/4 cup)
Combine cream and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat them over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the surface of the cream just begins to ripple and steam. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside to cool, stirring it occasionally to prevent a film from forming on the top of the cream. Allow it to cool until lukewarm, approximately 20 minutes.
When the cream and sugar are cooled, stir in the lemon juice to blend well. I took these instructions very seriously and whisked in the sugar, creating some air bubbles at the top of my posset. If you’re gentler, you’ll probably avoid this. Divide the posset between two small bowls and put it in the fridge to set at least four hours or overnight.
When we went through customs in Toronto, I dutifully filled out the customs form, checking off the little box that said we were bringing food items into Canada. When we passed the customs officer, he asked me what kind of food we had with us. I started off dutifully, listing “Lemons, dried chiles, some cheese, some vinegars….” (actually three vinegars–sherry, grapefruit, and sugar cane. Cool, huh?). Then the full magnitude of our food purchases hit me and I trailed off in embarrassment. I was sure he’d judge us, so I didn’t mention the chocolates, tapioca pearls, pistachios, dried cherries, dried apricots, Valhrona cocoa powder, dried sweetened hibiscus flowers (!), chile-spiced mangoes… you get the idea.
Anyway, the star of our food haul has got to be these:
Aren’t they lovely? And so free! My very generous and food-loving uncle and aunt have a Meyer lemon tree in their backyard. Every time I say that sentence it gives me little jealousy pangs. Do you know how much a Meyer lemon costs in Montreal? Ahem. Two dollars and fifty cents. For one lemon. If you can even find one in this city, which is rare as these guys don’t transport all that well. Count the lemons in that bag. Do the math. And the ones I can find around here aren’t even fresh. Or big. They’re puny, wizened little things. These lemons are bursting with juice and flavour and scent. Owen and Gabrielle, thank you so much!
To prove we’re putting these lemons to good use, I offer you the following recipe. It’s from Amanda Hesser’s “Cooking for Mr. Latte,” which I find to be hit-or-miss. I’ve made a few stinkers from the book, but this one’s a definite hit. The peppery arugula and rich crème fraîche are livened up by a hit of herbal meyer lemon tang, and the sauce coats the pasta perfectly.
I suspect the above image isn’t beautiful, but I can’t tell because it just reminds me of the flavour of this pasta, which definitely was beautiful. Here’s the recipe.
MEYER LEMON CREME FRAICHE LINGUINE adapted from “Cooking For Mr. Latte” by Amanda Hesser
Cooking notes: mise-en-place is very important here. Make sure everything is prepped in advance, as this pasta cools down quickly and thus must be eaten immediately upon preparation. It makes a great first course. I can also imagine it going very well with chicken.
1 pound of linguine
a chunk of Parmesan (to be grated)
2 Meyer lemons
3 large handfuls of arugula, cleaned and roughly chopped
1/2 cup crème fraîche*
freshly ground black pepper
Bring water to boil in a large pot. When the water is boiling rapidly, add salt (generously) and then the pasta.
While the pasta cooks, grate a handful of parmesan into a large bowl and zest the two lemons into the bowl. Add the arugula to this bowl as well. Juice one of the lemons and reserve the juice**.
When the pasta is cooked (make sure it’s still al dente), quickly drain it and add it to the serving bowl that’s holding the cheese and lemon zest. Don’t worry about getting the pasta completely dry. It should be slicked with water, as that will help thin out the cheese and the thick crème fraîche to a tossable consistency. Next, add the lemon juice and toss again. Last, add the crème fraîche and continue to toss well, until the sauce is well-distributed, the arugula is wilted, the the cheese is melty. Grind some pepper into all this and toss once more. Serve immediately.
*crème fraîche is expensive! If you want to make your own, at a slightly better price and with the satisfaction of do-it-yourself, here’s a recipe. I confess I’ve never tried it, but it does sound nice and simple.
**Please don’t throw away the other lemon’s juice. If nothing else, you can boil it with water in a one-to-one ratio to make a great simple syrup to add to gin for a nice cocktail– more on this in a later post.
This is just a quick recipe for my dad, who’s looking for ways to preserve meyer lemons for easy transport.
MEYER LEMON SIMPLE SYRUP (adapted from marthastewart.com)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
grated zest of one lemon
Simmer the above together until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is slightly thickened, approximately 10 minutes. Allow it to cool before putting it into a can or bottle for storage. Keep syrup refrigerated.
If you want to use the juice too, I think that would work fine. Maybe just add equal amounts of sugar to any lemon juice you add.