January 5, 2013

When Life Hands You Lemons



The harvest of 2012?  The best ever!  My little tree churned out forty five Meyer lemons; forty two for me and three mauled by shifty garden marauders.  Not bad. 




The entire kitchen smelled heavenly when harvested.  And since then the heavy, juicy lemons have been used in a slew of ways.

Sugar cookies with lemon zest and a little juice in lieu of vanilla extract.  Oh my.  They are just about the best sugar cookies anyway, but when fresh Meyer lemon juice and zest are added?  Lemon-cookie nirvana.

There was lemon risotto.  If you've never had lemon risotto you really need to try it.  It's amazingly delicious.  Smooth, creamy and just the perfect amount of lemony goodness.  It pairs beautifully with grilled salmon garnished with fresh dill plucked from the garden.  Or sauteed scallops, oh yes, those are good too.

The fresh juice also found its way into homemade salad dressings and sauces.   Roasted whole chicken stuffed with lemon, onion, garlic and garden rosemary has been a favorite around here lately too. 

But now my lemon stash is dwindling and I'm becoming much more choosy about how to use the remaining lemons.  I've seen several recipes for lemon curd but I don't think my people are going to be fans and I'd like to make something we would all enjoy. 

So I'm asking, what are your favorite ways to use Meyer lemons?

To start the conversation, I'll share my two favorite recipes:  lemon risotto and lemon sugar cookies.

Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Family Weekly - March 12, 1978

1/2 cup soft unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp lemon juice (more to taste)
1 tsp lemon zest (more to taste)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add eggs, zest and juice and beat well.   Combine flour, salt and baking powder then add to creamed mixture.  Mix.  Chill dough until firm.  Drop by rounded spoonful or roll dough and cut into shapes.  Bake in preheated 375 oven 8-10 minutes.  Remove to rack to cool.




Lemon Risotto
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Christmas Entertaining

3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
5 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbs. minced shallots
2 1/4 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup coarsely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus some shaved for garnish
Salt (to taste)
1/4 cup minced fresh chervil

In saucepan over high heat, combine the broth and water.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low and maintain a simmer.

In separate large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter with the olive oil.  Add the shallots and saute until translucent, 2-3 minutes.  Add the rice and stir until opaque, about 3 minutes.  Add 3/4 cup broth, adjust the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring, until most of the broth is absorbed.  Continue adding the broth, about 3/4 cup at a time and stirring constantly, until all but about 1/2 cup of the broth has been used, the rice is nearly tender and still slightly firm in the center, and the mixture is creamy, 20-25 minutes.

Add the lemon juice to the remaining 1/2 cup broth and add the mixture, little by little, to the rice along with the remaining 3 Tbs. butter, lemon zest and the grated cheese, always stirring constantly.  Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt.

Stir in chervil and garnish with cheese shavings. 

Enjoy!

Don't forget; let me know your favorite ways to use Meyer lemons.








32 comments:

  1. How I wish I could grow these...it sounds heavenly but I can still make these wonderful recipes...yummy!!

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  2. I use lemon a lot in cooking and soooo wish I could grow my own outdoors. I did have a small tree (12 feet) indoors in winter in PA (cathedral ceiling). It would live outside in the warm months. But one day, for no particular reason, my Labrador Retriever ate the tree. Lemons were everywhere and not one could be used. He must have had a lot of fun chasing them around.

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    1. Oh, no! I can't imagine what possessed your dog to eat the tree! Poor tree :/

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  3. This whole post was mouthwatering --- the pictures and the recipes. I'm definitely trying both the sugar cookies and the arborio. No help here on other recipes for you. Is there a way to dry and crumble the peel? My go-to seasoning is Penzey's lemon pepper sprinkle, I wonder if you could make it?

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    1. That's a question worth a google, Laurrie! Thanks for the suggestion.

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  4. I am kicking myself - I passed up a meyer lemon tree on sale last year. :( If I see one again this year - on sale or full price - I will get it! Your lemons look so good! And your lemon sugar cookies sound heavenly. I have no recipe to share - I love lemonade, though!

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    1. Definitely grab one. It's worth it even at full price!

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  5. Meyer's Lemons are very hard to get where I live. I have found them twice and I do admit they are wonderful lemons. They are beautiful to look at too! Nice recipes, especially the risotto.

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  6. I always make lemon curd. Like the idea of lemon risotto. i brought a dozen lemons with me on my trip so I think that will be on the menu tomorrow night. The rest of my lemons I leave on the trees to pick well into February. Great little keepers. Is your lemon tree int he ground? i would like to put one in the ground next year and give it a try.

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    1. Mine isn't in the ground, Jenny. After seeing one (huge and covered in fruit) on the Nature Conservancy tour recently, I'm thinking of putting mine in the ground and not bothering with the pot. I harvested the lemons because I was worried about the cold weather harming the fruit. Does it not? Or do you keep yours in your greenhouse? I leave mine out. It's gotten too big for the garage.

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  7. Okay i've never ever had a garden fresh lemon before so unfortunately I'm not much help with a recipe. My mom used to make lemon meringue pie which is my favouritest pie ever. (well except the meringue part which I usually disposed of and just ate the lemon filling). Those lemon cookies are making me drool, I love lemon flavouring, but I'm wondering how long do fresh lemons last for? That seems like an awful lot of lemons to use up in a short period of time.

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    1. They last quite a while stored in the fridge. I've also heard that the zest can be frozen as can the juice. Although, I never seem to have to do that. I always use them up before they go bad.

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  8. OH YUM!! What about Limoncello?

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  9. Oh, also a family favorite Asparagus Pasta from Eating Well, a long long time ago. Take the a bunch of asparagus, snap off tips and ends. Save tips, discard ends. In a pot of salted boiling water, boil the spears (minus the tips) until tender (5 minutes or so) and pull stems from water, leaving water in the pot. Place stems in a food processor. Blend with the peel of a lemon and about 2-3 T of olive oil. Cook pasta according to directions and put asparagus tips in water about 2-3 minutes before pasta is finished, and drain reserving about 1/2 cup pasta water. Thin asparagus sauce with a little pasta cooking water (1/4- 1/2 cup) and pour over pasta and asparagus tips. Serve hot or warm with shredded parmesan cheese.

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    1. Thanks, Maggie. That sounds good. I like Eating Well too. I haven't read it in a while - maybe I'll pick up a copy to find some inspiration :)

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  10. Amazing! I love Meyer lemons and would love my own tree. I may try that risotto recipe. :) I bought a bag of Meyer lemons recently and made Meyer lemon/blueberry bread. The Meyer lemons give it a slightly sweeter taste than regular ones. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Mmmm, lemon/blueberry; now that is a fabulous combination!

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  11. I just printed out a Meyer Lemon marmalade recipe from the Sebastian Kaufman Mercantile blog/site. It only calls for 6 lemons, so our pitiful harvest from this year (we had transplanting/pruning blowback) will be used nearly in its entirety, but I think it will be worth it.

    I'm interested in hearing if anybody in Central Texas has information about growing these "in ground" in our area? When ours were small (we have 2) we moved the pots in and out of the garage all winter, now the pots are too large to move and we've been covering them to protect against below freezing temperatures. I'd love to hear more about how Meyer Lemon plants will (or will NOT) tolerate winters here without a lot of extra fuss.

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    1. This is the question of the day! When on the Nature Conservancy tour last fall, I saw a huge Meyer lemon tree in the ground and covered in fruit. Mine stay out all winter too now that they've gotten to big to move in and out. One I somewhat protect with cover and another not at all (though it's tucked behind a small tree and therefore, rarely receives supplemental water either). The tree I protected last winter and watered regularly produced 40+ lemons. The other little tree has 7 lemons. The year of the horrible freeze with rolling blackouts ... yeah, that one ... both trees were outside, uncovered and both survived but didn't produce any fruit the following year. So, in a long winded kind of way, I'm saying they can take some pretty cold temps without much protection but they may or may not fruit depending on how cold it got and if they are able to recover in time to flower. I think I'm sticking one of mine in the ground this year in a spot with some protection from the wind and see what happens.

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  12. Lemon meringue pie! In a graham cracker crust and piled high with white clouds of meringue with tops toasted brown under the broiler. Your lemons and your recipes make my mouth water. Congratulations on your wonderful lemon harvest!

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  13. Oh! I'm so envious! I can't imagine picking citrus in my backyard... The recipe sounds delicious-thanks for sharing!

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  14. Nice, now you need another tree to supply your house better! Maybe "ability to grow a Meyer lemon" should be added to my future relocation area's criteria? Though I'd pass on the lemon in cookies, cake, etc...for me best in lemonade or water (such a purist).

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  15. The Lemon sugar cookies sound great, but I have to admit my favorite way to use Lemons fresh off the tree is to make Lemonade! Of course, I can't do that here in Wisconsin. But when I lived in California one summer, we could have fresh Lemonade whenever we wanted it. Yum! You are so fortunate. ;-)

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  16. I'm soooo making lemon risotto tomorrow night.

    I'm not sure why my Meyer won't produce.

    Sniff.

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  17. This past year I have fallen in love with Lemons. I'm not sure why I really never thought to use them much before. I read that lemons were an amazing liver detoxer and so I started making fresh squeezed lemonaide everyday with lemons and raw honey or maple syrup. It's now a daily or at least couple times a week drink in our home. Your photos of the lemons in the bowl brighten my spirit. Thank you!

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  18. Maybe it's the weather, but you have me craving warm, lemon-flavoured risotto and salmon with dill sauce. I copied down the recipe for the risotto and the cookies (you have to finish any proper meal with a little dessert, don't you? ) I have never cooked Arborio rice before and will have to try to find some. Here in my family, lemon pie is the family favourite.

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  19. My mouth is watering, and I am savoring your recipes. I have used preserved Meyer lemons in Moroccan dishes, and they always add so much flavor. You are so lucky you can grow them. And thank you for these recipes. Happy new year!

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  20. I am trying hard not to be envious that you can grow lemons in your garden, and remembering your drought woes, actually that is quite easy. But what a wonderful harvest. I'd make a lemon tart, zingy with citrus freshness, topped with cream to leaven the bit. Whatever you decide to do with them I hope they bring you joy. And personally I would save at least one for a gin and tonic, preferably supped outside contemplating the garden...

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    1. Oh my, Janet, I just guffawed! My girlfriend who never leaves a comment publicly, but instead emails them, said the same thing! Gin and tonic with Meyer lemon, all the way!!! I like how you think ♥

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  21. beautiful and bright and healthy! :)

    (i get your feed really late thru my reader so i'm always late to the party here. :))

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    1. Doesn't matter when you get here, just glad you come!

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  22. Your risotto recipe looks good, Cat! We had a couple of dozen Meyer's lemons this year - haven't had more than a handful at a time before so we have a batch of Limoncello working, made lemon shortbread, tried a pudding cake recipe via Susan Albert and have a few left.

    I had go go over to Rock Rose Jenny's blog for the lemon curd recipe and also want to try the risotto... not sure if there are enough lemons left but who knows when this chance will come again.

    No greenhouse here, but I have one lemon tree in a pot that comes into the kitchen when it freezes. It just makes a few lemons. In 2007 I bought a second lemon tree and put it in the ground against the back of the garage which shields it from NE winds. It's now much too big to cover, but we hung on a string of old-fashioned big-bulb Christmas lights on the wall & they give off some heat. It's frozen back to sticks and barely has a lemon in some years but last winter the tree barely lost a leaf. So not a reliable crop but the blossoms smell wonderful, the tree is attractive and trying recipes sure is fun in a good year.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
~A.A. Milne

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