I am on occasion blown away by something made of lemon and particularly Meyer lemons. These little smooth yellow jewels are often fully edible — not the seed of course, but all of the flesh and the peel including the white pith, which on any other lemon is very bitter. Once only available in California we are now getting them through several Oklahoma specialty markets. I wanted to tell you about them before the citrus season slips away.
My mother once grew Meyer lemon trees from seed. She had nine of them in pots with a yearly harvest of a dozen or more huge sweet lemons. It was hard to believe as they dazzled her conservatory sunroom at our farm near Ardmore. She gave me one lovely small tree that charmed everyone that came to my house from the plumber and electrician to my husband, who didn't normally notice house plants.
The aroma of the persistent white blooms astonished most folks. I could recognize that sweet fresh scent almost anywhere but it is difficult to describe. There is a little citrus note to it, but the whole effect is intoxicating. It continued to bloom even with a lemon or two weighting down the delicate branches. I'm sure the lemon bearing branches in warmer climate orchards are much sturdier.
We treasured those lemons from the tree mother gave us for several years. Even mother's carefully tended trees eventually dropped leaves, quit producing and went to Meyer lemon heaven. Meyer lemon heaven is a season I love and enjoy from December until it ends very soon. They almost look like Easter eggs so find them fast before they completely go away.
There are several ways to extend them post season: I process several of them whole in my food processor after cutting out the center core to remove any seeds. Sometimes there are many but occasionally only a few. I make a slurry with a generous dousing of kosher salt and a more generous pour of extra-virgin olive oil.
Freeze the mixture for use later on. It keeps well in the refrigerator for a week or more in a sealed glass jar if you made it with ample salt. Put it into heavy-duty quart-size freezer bags and freeze flat on a baking sheet. To use later, simply break off a portion of the flat disc and add it to salad dressing or hummus you want a glorious lemon infusion. It only takes a little to make a lemon impact.
Of course it goes without saying that the Meyer lemons make great lemon desserts, lemon chicken, lemon butter, gremolata and anything else your little lemon-loving heart desires. Fresh-squeezed lemonade accented with the first little sprouts of mint poking out of the ground is fantastic.
I mentioned being dazzled by lemon: It happened recently during a trip to San Francisco. I had a fantastic dinner at Wo Hing General Store. It is another creation of Charles Phan of Slanted Door fame. The dish I could have eaten every night there if given a chance: Fried 5 spiced local squid with jalapenos and lemon slices. All of it was pre-dipped in a Tempura-like batter and fried together. It was amazing.
I could only think of “Oklahomaizing” it using some chunks of crappie, bass or catfish breaded in Tempura-style batter made with part cornmeal. Of course I would bread and fry the slices of lemon and jalapeno. I cannot say enough about this combination. I love finding food genius and San Francisco abounds with it.
Thank you Charles Phan. I love your food! Let me know if any of you decide to “Oklahomaize” and try frying or even sauteing some thin slices of lemon and jalapeno the next time you put some fish in the pan. You could have it battered, crusted in cornmeal or just let it be in a simple saute with browned butter. I hope you will try my Lemon Roasted Rosemary Pecans. Did I mention that I love lemons?
Roasted Lemon Rosemary Pecans
This recipes makes 2 cups of yummy and uncommon munch with a lemony finish. With or without the rosemary the technique works well. If you enjoyed a bit of salt on a half lemon as a kid, you will love this lemon treatment of the pecans. You can use almonds or even hazelnuts or walnuts. Oklahoma pecans are best. If you can get Meyer lemons they are great and you can cut the remaining zested lemon in half and enjoy a taste of your childhood if desired. I loved that memorable pucker up flavor.
2 cups Oklahoma pecans
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves roughly chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt
zest of one Meyer lemon
• Heat oven to 325 degrees.
• Assemble ingredients. In a bowl or large plastic bag, drizzle pecans with olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and lemon zest. Seal bag and shake to coat or stir in the bowl. Spread coated pecans on a baking sheet. Place on upper middle shelf of preheated oven. Bake about 10 minutes just until pecans start to brown.
Cooking notes: These will roast even faster in a convection oven, but keep an eye on them anyway. Olive oil is so good for us, but you can use melted butter instead if you like. Store in a sealed container if you have any left, these are addictive. Kosher salt can be found in most markets in a larger box near the other salts. It is coarse and adds a lovely light satisfying crunch to recipes. I keep an open container near my stove for adding salt to recipes a pinch at a time.