What's Tasty at Sigona's Farmers Market

February 23, 2011

Simple, Healthy and Delicious Cooking with Carmelo featuring Meyer Lemons

Simple, Healthy & Delicious Cooking with Carmelo featuring Meyer Lemons

Meyer lemons are a favorite among backyard gardeners, amateur gourmands and renowned chefs alike for their beautiful, egg-yolk yellow color, for their smooth, thin, edible & aromatic peel, their high juice content, and, most of all, their uniquely tart-sweet flavor. Here are a handful of varied recipes we recommend for a culinary crash course on Meyer lemons.

Meyer Lemon Curd

Recipe courtesy of Annie, a former San Jose resident with a wondrous cooking blog called House of Annie. This is one of her most treasured recipes, and she suggests serving the lemon curd with warm, homemade scones (you can find a scone recipe on her site, too). If you can resist eating the curd with a spoon, it’s also great as a filling for fruit tarts, phyllo cups topped with seasonal fruit, or as the creamy goodness in layer cakes.

Homemade lemon curd. Picture and recipe courtesy of http://www.houseofannie.com

For more details and step-by-step pictures, click here.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp finely minced Meyer lemon zest (about 2 medium lemons)
  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 large whole eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 stick (equivalent to 4 oz/8 TBL) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (about 6 oz)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (about 2-3 medium lemons)

Method:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a medium stainless steel saucepan.
  2. Place the saucepan on the stove and turn on heat to medium (or medium-low if you are more timid). Stir constantly with a whisk until it starts to thicken a little. Make sure you are standing by your stove the entire time. Trust me, this is not the time to take breaks to watch TV or check on your laundry.
  3. Once it starts to thicken, switch to a large flat-bottom spatula and stir frequently, making sure to scrape the bottom of pan so that the curd thickens evenly without burning the bottom.
  4. Continue to stir and cook until very thick (about 6 -10 minutes, if you’re cooking on medium heat). It’s pretty quick if you do it this way though you need to be vigilant for that time (about 15 minutes total).
  5. Strain the curd (yes, you must do this if you want a really smooth and pretty lemon curd) into a bowl. (We suggest using a fine sieve or strainer like this.)
  6. Cover with plastic wrap right on the surface of the curd (to prevent a skin from forming) and chill.

Enjoy!

Preserved Meyer Lemons

Preserved lemons are used in many different cultures to add a unique flavor to dishes. You’ll often see preserved lemons called for in Moroccan and Sicilian dishes, including in the recipe below for Moroccan Chicken with Lemon & Olives. This recipe, adapted from Food for Friends by Sally Pasley Vargas, can also be used as a gift. A jar of preserved lemons, tied up with a lovely bow, is a welcomed treat for foodies. Makes two pint jars.

Ingredients:

  • 8 to 10 Meyer lemons (or more, depending on the size), plus a few additional lemons for juice
  • ½ cup Kosher salt

Special equipment:

  • Two 1-pint jars with secure lids

Directions: Wash and dry the lemons, scrubbing lightly. Being careful not to cut all the way through, cut two vertical incisions in each lemon to divide it into quarters (creating what the author calls “lemon flowers”).

Sprinkle 1 TBL of salt in the bottom of each sterilized jar. Sprinkle the inside of each lemon “flower” with a TBL of salt and pack the lemons in the jar. Press down as you pack the lemons to release some juice. Fit as many lemons as you can into each jar.

Squeeze in additional lemon juice to cover the lemons. Seal the jar.

Let the jars stand for 1 week at room temperature, inverting the jars occasionally to distribute the salt and juice. After they’ve set out for a week, store the jars in the fridge for up to six months. When rinds soften (in about 2 weeks) the lemons are ready.

To use, rinse the lemon, scrape away the pulp and dice the rind.

*If white crystals appear, the lemons may still be used. Simply rinse them first.

Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Meyer Lemons and Green Olives

Preserved lemons make this dish truly Moroccan (see our recipe for preserved lemons above). The warm, flavorful spices pair well with the salty punch from the green olives and preserved lemons. This is a quick and impressive dish. Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 lbs. of Rocky Jr. or Rosie chicken legs & thighs (leave skin on)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • Peel from 1 large preserved lemon, rinsed and julienned (cut in thin strips)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup pitted green olives (find them at Sigona’s olive bar!)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Optional: **4 servings of cooked couscous, flavored as desired. For example, we recommend boiling the couscous in chicken broth for added flavor.

Directions: Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Set aside.

Combine the first 6 spices together in a large bowl and toss the chicken in the spices, coating well. Let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When warm, add in the chicken, skin side down, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Cook chicken on one side for about 5 minutes, until skin is brown, then lower heat to medium-low.

Add in garlic and onions, then cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove lid and flip chicken. Top with lemon peel slices, sprinkle in olives and pour in ½ cup water. Reheat mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to low, recover, and cook for 25-30 minutes more or until chicken is cooked through.

**Optional: If serving with cooked couscous, make sure it’s warm and serve it on the side.

Or you can spread the couscous on a serving platter and then…

Use tongs to place cooked chicken on a serving platter. Pour skillet contents around the sides and on top of the chicken. Top with chopped parsley and serve.

Meyer Lemon Lemonade

There’s no better way to combat the winter blues than a refreshing glass of lemonade. It’s like Mother Nature knew we’d need something bright and cheery during the winter months, so life literally hands us lemons so we can make lemonade! Serves 4 (8 oz servings).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice (give or take 16 lemons)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup sugar (or more to taste)
  • Optional: 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, rinsed

Directions: using a hand or electric citrus juicer, juice the lemons. Remove any seeds and discard, along with the rind (or save the rinds for zesting into another recipe).

Add the lemon juice to a pitcher and add in the water. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Add more to taste if needed.

Chill and serve over ice. If desired, add a sprig of rosemary to each glass as a flavorful swizzle stick.

Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad

Christine, our marketing manager, tasted this pasta salad at an event and has never forgotten the fantastic flavor combination of the preserved lemon, Kalamata olives and fresh herbs mixed with feta cheese and orzo pasta. Researching Meyer lemons for this e-news issue prompted her to ask Ravishing Radish, a Seattle-based catering company, for the recipe, and they gladly shared. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. box (1 lb.) dry Orzo pasta
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, drained and sliced
  • 1 ½ TBL capers, drained & rinsed
  • 3-4 oz. Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 a med. red onion, finely diced
  • 2 TBL parsley, (packed leaves), coarsely chopped
  • About 6 oz. preserved lemon vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • ½ lemon for garnish, sliced into thin rounds

*Cook’s Notes:

  • Add more or less of the ingredients according to taste. For example, if you love Kalamata olives, add in a few more.
  • To make the salad into a meal, dice up some cooked chicken breast and stir into the mixture.

To cook the pasta: Fill a large pot with salted water and a little splash of canola or olive oil. Bring to a boil and add in orzo. Stir to keep the pieces from sticking together. Bring pasta and water back to a boil then turn down heat to medium low. Cook until pasta is completely cooked, but still firm (al dente). Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Transfer to a large bowl and lightly coat with olive oil. Place in fridge to cool completely.

To finish salad: Combine the orzo with the rest of the ingredients and toss with the preserved lemon vinaigrette (recipe follows).  Adjust seasoning and ingredients to taste.

Garnish serving bowl or platter with slices of lemon.

Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove roasted garlic, minced
  • 1 TBL raw shallot, minced
  • 1 TBL preserved Meyer lemon peel, minced
  • 1 TBL fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 TBL white wine vinegar
  • 4 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil
  • To taste salt & pepper

Directions: Combine the mustard, roasted garlic, raw shallot, preserved lemon, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper in a blender. Mix on medium speed until pureed. Make sure that there are not any large chunks in the mixture.

Slowly pour oil into mixture while blending to emulsify. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Martha Stewart’s Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake

Martha Stewart has been credited with the rejuvenation of Meyer lemons after they made their comeback in the 1970s (see this article for details). One of her most famous uses of Meyer lemons is this coffee cake. The lemons add a surprising and sassy layer to what Martha notes is an “otherwise classic coffee cake.” Adapted from MarthaStewart.com. Serves 10 to 12.

FOR THE STREUSEL

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 6 ounces ( 3/4 cup or 12 TBL) cold, unsalted butter

FOR THE CAKE

  • 5 Meyer lemons, cut into paper-thin/near-transparent slices, ends discarded (a mandolin slicer would be your best option)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup or 8 TBL) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 TBL finely grated Meyer lemon zest (from 4 to 5 lemons)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream

FOR THE GLAZE

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)

TO MAKE THE STREUSEL:

  1. Mix together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter, your fingers or two knives (using a criss cross cutting maneuver), cut butter into the flour mixture until small to medium clumps form. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 3 days).

TO MAKE THE CAKE:

  1. Cook lemon slices in a medium saucepan of simmering water for 1 minute. Drain, and repeat. Arrange lemon slices in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch angel food cake pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat butter, granulated sugar, and lemon zest with a mixer on medium speed in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, add eggs, 1 at a time, then the vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream.
  2. Spoon 1/2 of the batter evenly into cake pan. Arrange 1/2 of the lemon slices in a single layer over the batter. Spread remaining batter evenly over the top. Cover with the remaining lemon slices in a single layer. Sprinkle the chilled streusel evenly over the batter.
  3. Bake until cake is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.
  4. Transfer pan to a wire rack set over a baking sheet, and let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, and remove outer ring (if possible). Let cool on rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the center tube. Slide 2 wide spatulas between the bottom of the cake and the pan, and lift cake to remove from the center tube. Let cool completely on rack.

FOR THE GLAZE:

  1. Just before serving, stir together confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Drizzle over cooled cake, letting excess drip down the sides. Let glaze set before slicing, about 5 minutes.

COOK’S NOTE: Cake can be stored for up to 3 days. The lemon flavor will intensify with time.

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