What's Fresh as the New Year? Meyer Lemons.
Lucky me! Homegrown Meyer Lemons from New Orleans found me twice this winter, courtesy of generous friends. (Lemony kisses and herbal-flowery Meyer-y smelling hugs to them.) I am still finding new uses for these strange, splendid fruits. I am tempted by these elaborate (but doable) recipes from Tartelette:
My first thoughts all centered on using the lemons as a dessert component. The juice of half a large Meyer lemon worked beautifully in supremely easy (and smooth) Meyer Lemon Posset. This recipe for two serves four richly, if The Four have made the transition to my favorite dessert notion: Teeny Tiny Small Portions of Rich Luscious Tastes.
My greatest excitement about these lemons, though, comes from using their zest in savory settings. My focus on the savory began because I want to use each precious molecule of these fruits, and the zest deserves particular attention and care. Meyer lemons have quite thin, smooth skins, so it's best to use light pressure when zesting. The Microplane Zester/Grater is a good tool for the job.
Freshly zested Meyer lemon peel makes my kitchen smell like an herb garden with lemon undertones. The aromatic scent distinctive to this citrus seems to hover in its smell more than its taste.
I first tried small strips of zest as part of the garnish on some vegetarian split pea soup. I had scouted about for some ways to enhance the water-based soup's flavor, and thought the herbal-lemon taste might help. Yes, it did, along with chopped parsley and fennel foliage, toasted walnuts, and a dried cranberry flourish. The mysterious Meyer flavor profile caused one guest to ask, "Is that ginger??" Nope -- it's Meyer.
Emboldened by the split pea success, I reached for a large Meyer lemon and the Microplane in a desperate attempt to salvage a pot of homemade cream of tomato soup -- which ordinarily is such a thing of beauty on its own that it needs no special assistance. I had inadvertently used whole grain flour -- probably teff -- in making the white sauce base of the soup. The dark flavor of the grain fought with the delicacy of my kind and handsome Wayne County brother's stellar homemade tomato juice.
Finely grated Meyer lemon zest to the rescue -- don't ask me how! Somehow the zest seemed to mediate a truce between the aggressively loud grain flavor and the shy tomato taste. Suddenly the soup seemed in balance, edible, even ..... "Good," said a guest.
Beyond the magical zest, the juice of Meyer lemons also boosts savory dishes. Mark Bittman's 1950's-style cutlets have become a household favorite, made with Stone Cross Farm's fine boneless pork chops. The last step uses lemon juice as part of a quick, easy pan sauce. Meyer lemon juice made our cutlets stand up and sing earlier this week. I couldn't quite make out the tune, but it sounded '50s operatic. Then I couldn't hear it any more. Too busy chewing and saying "Mmmmmmmm!"
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