Here on the peach farm, we have a small mix of non-stone fruit trees that nourish us into winter. One giant black mission fig tree produces delicious fruit and creates tremendous shade with its far-reaching branches and broad leaves. Walnuts drop each fall, as persimmons color. And winter is citrus.
I look forward to working with our Meyer lemons each year. We’re even planting more along our western-facing walls. Said to be a cross between mandarin oranges and regular lemons, they are milder, the rinds fragrant, and the juice so refreshing. In a bowl, they brighten up any room.
Lemon zest sprinkled on grilled fish or meat, beautiful and delicious. Fresh lemon juice drizzled over steamed vegetables or salad—freshness of the moment. When at the peak of season, I’ll juice the lemons, and freeze for later use, such as lemonade in the summer. And a friend swears by rubbing the lemon peel, pith side, on his face (as a tonic).
The first year on the farm, when everything was in extreme abundance, I tried many lemon recipes—some old, some new—ranging from sweet to savory. There are a few that have become staples in our home.
During the winter season, a favorite meal is shabu shabu, for it is fun, communal and just delicious. I enjoyed this meal growing up, and I enjoy it just as much now. With a hot broth-filled pot in the center of the table, everyone adds meats and vegetables and other ingredients, and then scoops them out once cooked. The key here is dipping sauce, and one that we always have is a simple ponzu sauce. SD
Just mix one-third fresh squeezed lemon juice to two-thirds soy sauce. You can add a splash of vinegar if you like. That’s it. Mix together and serve in individual small bowls for dipping. Everything just tastes better with it.
On the sweet side, lemon tarts. My mother used to make mini lemon tarts and we always devoured them with great relish! Lemon curd or filling is wonderful to have on hand. The recipe below is from Lindsey Shere’s Chez Panisse Desserts cookbook, my go-to source for baking and desserts.
Lemon Curd or Filling
3 egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons milk
¼ teaspoon cornstarch
6 tablespoons butter
Zest the peel from the lemons. Then juice the lemons, strain juice into a bowl, and add the zest to the juice.
In a heavy saucepan, beat eggs and egg yolks with the sugar, until mixed.
In a small cup, gradually mix the milk and cornstarch; add this to the egg mixture.
Now stir in the lemon juice and zest, it may curdle a bit, but will even out later.
Cut the butter into pieces.
Cook the mixture over low to medium heat, and slowly add the butter pieces. Stir constantly until it thickens and holds a line on the back of a wooden spoon when you glide your finger across. Remove the mixture from heat and let it stand 5 minutes until it thickens, then whisk to smooth.
Now you can use this filling immediately for a tart or you can keep it sealed in the fridge for a few weeks. It is delicious!
Note: When working with peels/rinds, please use organic.