Let’s Talk Food: Meyer lemons season
If you planted a Meyers lemon tree a few years ago, you would be one of the lucky recipients of a tree “dripping” with lemons. So, after you have given relatives, friends and neighbors bags of them, you are still left with a bunch.
I used to “baby” my Meyers lemon tree and fertilize it at the start of each season. But this year, I neglected it completely and it still had a wonderful yield. So now, I need to know from an expert, should I fertilize or not?
Lemon juice can be used in many wonderful dishes, from tabbouleh or Lebanese bulgur salad to desserts such as lemon bars and lemon meringue pie.
I first wrote about my Meyers lemon tree in my column June 13, 2006, titled, “When Life Gives you Lemons.” This same tree is still giving me fruit. I included a recipe for limoncello, an Italian liqueur from Southern Italy.
When I went to Sorrento, Italy, to spend a week at a cooking class, the estate was surrounded by the femminello St. Teresa lemons or Sorrento lemons and limoncello was sold all along the coastline, up to Capri.
If you read my column about kurobuta last week, you know I smoked kurobuta bacon. Well, I made the mistake of smoking the bacon in my kitchen and needless to say, the entire house smelled of kiawe smoke.
One of the recommendations for such a situation from the “Farmers Almanac” is to slice a bunch of lemons in water and simmer for about one hour to remove odors in the house. I sliced six Meyers lemons and placed them in a large pot of water, simmered it in a large pot for an hour and was pleasantly surprised that it really works, and even took away the smoky odors from the second story bedroom and office. I then placed the boiled lemons in my garbage disposal to freshen my disposal so my lemons did double duty.
Other uses for lemons include:
• Gargle with some lemon juice for a sore throat or bad breath, or suck a lemon for an upset stomach.
• Discolored utensils wiped with a cloth dipped in lemon juice and then rinsed with warm water will bring them back to life.
• One part lemon juice and two parts salt brings chinaware to its original luster.
• Rub kitchen and bathroom faucets with lemon peel, wash and dry with a soft cloth to shine and remove spots.
• Rub your hands with fresh lemons to remove odors after handling onions and fish.
• To clean cutting boards, rub with a piece of lemon. Do not wash the juice off, allow to dry.
• Put a few drop of lemon juice in the dust bag of your vacuum to make the house smell dry.
• Clean copper pans by cutting a lemon in half, rubbing the cut side with salt until the salt sticks, rub the lemon onto the metal, rinse with hot water and polish dry.
I have tried to make the “perfect” lemon or lilikoi bars as I do not like soggy crusts. “Cooks Illustrated” has a recipe for Lemon Curd Bars that makes a bar with a wonderfully non-soggy crust.
The curd is cooked ahead and placed in the pre-baked crust, baked to set but not enough time to soak into the crust.
Lemon Curd Bars
Makes 32 bars
Lightly coat a 9-by-13 inch pan with softened butter and line with two parchment paper overhanging on all sides.
Cream together with electric mixer filled with paddle attachment on medium:
3 sticks butter
1 cup powdered sugar
3 cups flour
2 cups toasted sweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
Mix until moist clumps form, about three minutes.
Press crust into pan, dock (poke) with fork to allow steam to escape while baking. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake crust until golden brown, 25 minutes.
8 whole eggs
8 egg yolks
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup lemon zest
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice, strained
Transfer to a saucepan, add:
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until curd thickens and registers 170 degrees on thermometer, about five minutes. Immediately pour and press curd through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding solids. Pour curd over warm crust, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees, bake bars until filling is firm and center is set, about 10 minutes.
Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool. Remove bars from pan by lifting overhanging parchment paper. Dust bars with powdered sugar and sprinkle with sweetened coconut, cut into squares.
(I love the Snow White non-melting topping powdered sugar from King Arthur’s Flour. It costs $6.95 for a 16 ounce bag, but you do not need to sprinkle a lot like the regular powdered sugar that melts into the lemon curd. However, the shipping to Hawaii is ridiculous and costs much more than the product, so I am hoping one of our local markets that carry King Arthur Flour would bring this product in for us.)
Please feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have questions.
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