Tag Archives: Lemon

Cooking Tips and Other Tricks

10 Mar Apple Pie with a Cup of Tea

With over 50 years of cooking and baking, I have come up with a few cooking tips that I have not seen mentioned anywhere else. I’d like to share them with you.

 

LEMONS

Here is a tip for fresh lemons that I learned accidentally! You know how lemons turn to mush after you had cut them in half and only used one-half? This happened to me too frequently and I was annoyed at how many times I would have to throw out the remaining half lemon. One day, since I needed a lemon wedge for my tea, I decided that instead of cutting the lemon in half, I would cut a wedge out of the lemon. Guess what? The remaining lemon stayed fresh until I used up every wedge cut from the lemon – well over a week. It helps to twist your plastic wrap tightly around the remaining lemon. Also, if the plastic wrap gets wet, discard it, tear off a fresh piece of plastic wrap, and wrap the remaining lemon. You won’t be throwing out any more lemons! This works with limes too.  I love this tip!

 

I had a cup of tea with honey, a lemon wedge, and a nice slice of homemade apple pie.

Apple Pie with a Cup of Tea

A Slice of Homemade Apple Pie with a Cup of Tea with Honey and Lemon

 

MORE LEMONS

What do you do with the remaining lemon when a recipe calls for nothing but the zest of one whole lemon? You don’t want to throw out the lemon. The chances of saving the lemon without the protective outer layer are not good unless you have plans to use it within a day or two.

 

One lemon without the zest!

What to do with a lemon once you’ve removed the zest

Here is what I do: I get a sharp knife and cut the lemon into wedges, put them in a container and then put the container in the freezer.

Zested lemon wedges in container

A zested lemon cut into wedges ready for the freezer

I use the wedges for hot tea or thaw out a wedge or two and squeeze them over fish. Actually, you can use these wedges of lemon the same way you would use fresh lemon. Another benefit of saving lemon this way is that you can remove all the seeds at the same time you are cutting the wedges. Works great and helps cool off a too-hot cup of tea!

Hot cup of tea with frozen lemon wedge

Squeeze frozen lemon wedge into a hot cup of tea

 

BACON AND EGG(s)

I buy bacon infrequently, but when I do buy it, I cook it all up either in my toaster oven or in a fry pan. I drain it all on paper towels that I line in a glass bowl. I let the bacon cool and store it in the refrigerator or in the freezer depending on how soon I think I’ll use it.

 

Then, when I want bacon and egg (only one egg for me) for breakfast, I get a heatproof plate, cover it with parchment paper, and sprinkle bacon bits on it from my bowl of cooked, cooled bacon slices. I crack an egg on top of the bits. I place the dish in my toaster oven, select Toast, add a slice of bread alongside the dish, and select the highest Toast cycle, which for me is number 3. When the bell dings, I leave the toast and dish in the toaster oven to absorb the residual heat while I’m getting other items ready like tea or coffee, etc. This makes perfect toast and a sunny side up egg with crispy bacon. Clean up is a breeze!

 

Any runny yolk stays on the parchment paper, not on the plate. I get just enough taste of the bacon to satisfy me without overdoing it, limiting my salt intake for the day. You would be surprised at how eating a couple of slices of bacon can make you go over your salt intake! I love this tip!

 

COLD FEET

Is there a woman out there who doesn’t suffer from cold feet? There have been times when my feet were so cold that it would take me an hour to fall asleep because my feet were so cold and no amount of blankets were enough. I complained about it to my doctor and he told me to wear two pairs of socks. That didn’t help.

 

I finally got the idea to wear two pairs of jogging pants or “sweats” around the house. This solved my problem indoors.

 

When I go outdoors, I wear a pair of long johns under my jeans. If you don’t know what long johns are (also known as thermal underwear), they are insulated pants, typically white, and relatively seamless, with matching separate tops that are made of a very stretchy fabric. Mine are 50% cotton and 50% polyester and made in the USA. You can buy them at Meijer and probably Walmart. I’ve had mine a long time and bought them when I first decided to go skiing. They are snug around the ankles and the wrists to keep in your body heat. They don’t show under your jeans. They are comfortable; you won’t know you are wearing them.

With this crazy, dangerous weather, you never know if your car is going to be stuck somewhere or you are going to be hit by a vehicle in a skid, so you want to be sure you are able to withstand the cold just in case you can’t stay in your car or your heater dies. These long johns also help to protect you from the high winds we’ve been having which make it seem even colder. I no longer have cold feet and in fact, I am as warm as toast!

 

Final words: double your pleasure by doubling your pants!

 

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New Food Friday – Moroccan Preserved Lemons

19 Jul Asparagus and Butternut Squash with Pickled Lemon

My post about Meyer lemons brought about some interesting comments. This sent me to the internet to do research. To make a long story short, this post is about Moroccan preserved lemons also known as pickled lemons.

sxc.hu/craigbcn - Moroccan Architecture

Moroccan Architecture (sxc.hu/craigbcn)

You can use Meyer lemons or any type of lemon for this dish. Moroccan’s typically use these preserved lemons as a garnish or as a main ingredient. They are very simple to make. The hardest part is the waiting because you have to wait 4 or 5 weeks before the lemons are pickled.

sxc.hu susannah - Marrakech Koran School

Marrakech, Morocco Koran School (sxc.hu susannah)

There are many variations to making preserved lemons. You can use lemons only or you can add spices like a cinnamon stick, a bay leaf, garlic, chili flakes, coriander, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, the list is limited to your imagination. To be clear, this is not a sweet dish nor is it to be confused with preserves that you spread on bread or scones!

Moroccans use preserved lemons in dishes like Chicken tagine with lemons and olives.

sxc.hu cecilegeng - Tajine

Tajine (sxc.hu cecilegeng)

Moroccan food-Chicken tagine with preserved le...

Moroccan food-Chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Preserved lemons are made from lemons and salt. That’s all! I wanted to make the smallest batch possible because I wasn’t sure if I would like this dish and I didn’t want to waste lemons!

So, I selected one gigantic lemon and used my smallest canning jar. You can see the size of the lemon in relation to the demitasse cup in the photo.

Lemon Espresso

Lemon Espresso

Not only was it a big lemon, it was juicy! This was perfect. The lemons or lemon slices in my case, have to be squashed into the jar as much as possible to release the juices.

How to make the Preserved Lemons

Put about one tablespoon of Kosher salt in the bottom of a meticulously clean canning jar.

Kosher Salt

Kosher Salt

The safest way to do this is to boil the jar and the lid for 5 minutes first, let the jar cool, dry it off, then add the salt to the jar.

Meanwhile, wash the lemon very well. I use dish washing liquid. Make sure you rinse carefully removing all soap. Then, cut off the ends and slice it into wedges.

Lemon Ends

Lemon Ends

Remove any visible seeds.

Lemon Wedges

Lemon Wedges

Add the first 2 wedges to the bottom of the jar then cover with more salt.

Add a couple more wedges and cover them with salt. Now, because Meyer lemons are usually used for this dish and I was using regular lemons, I decided to add a pinch of sugar.

Lemon and Pinch of Sugar

Lemon and Pinch of Sugar

Just a pinch! It’s optional.

Squash down the lemon wedges and if you can add more wedges, do so. Finish with a topping of salt. Add about 2 tablespoons of salt for each lemon you use. You can see that my lemon wedges are above the rim of the jar.

Screw on the lid. This is akin to closing an overstuffed suitcase, but the idea is to make juice by squeezing the lemon wedges this way. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to give each of the lemon wedges a squeeze as you put them in the jar. It’s funny that none of the recipes I saw online suggested this. If you feel that the lemon is not very juicy, add the juice of another lemon into your jar. Within a few hours, my jar was filled with lemon juice. The salt draws out the juices.

Dry off the jar if any liquid seeps out and store in your pantry or a cool, dark place for about 1 week.

Lemon Preserves Shelved

Lemon Preserves Shelved

Every few days, press the lemons down to release their juices then tightly screw on the lid again turning the jar upside down. Then, refrigerate for 1 month, again turning upside down every so often. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.

Once pickled, a small amount can be used in a variety of dishes. I diced some of the rind on top of a piece of sockeye salmon last night for dinner. It was perfect! Tonight I’m sprinkling some on roasted asparagus and butternut squash.

Asparagus and Butternut Squash with Pickled Lemon

Asparagus and Butternut Squash with Pickled Lemon Bits

When you are ready to use the pickled lemons, rinse the salt off the lemon wedge(s) then add a small amount to a quick saute; add a pinch to mashed potatoes; add to a sauteed salmon dish; add to a roasting chicken; chop the rind and add it to a salad, etc. The flavor is intensely lemony but different from using straight lemon juice and/or zest so you only need a little bit. The peel (the zest and the pith), is the most valued part of this dish.

This is worth trying. You might become addicted! There are many variations using a variety of spices and salts. You can also pickle limes or oranges. 

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New Food Friday – Ataulfo Mango Curd

21 Jun Mango Curd2

I’m a fan of chef Rachel Allen and recently she prepared a dish called Lemon Curd on her PBS show.  It looked delicious and as I tried to google the recipe, I came across someone else’s recipe for Mango curd. Since I already had a couple of mangoes in the house, I decided to make the mango curd instead. And that’s what led me to this Friday’s New Food Friday.

Mango Trees

Mango Trees (sxc.hu/asifthebes)

I think the more popular mangos are the pretty red and green ones but my local Meijer also stocks the smaller, yellow Ataulfo mangoes. Don’t overlook these because they are small. In actuality, there is more meat to pit ratio. In my experience there is no taste difference and they ripen better.

Mango Branch sxc.hu sonnyleon 482816

Mango Branch (sxc.hu sonnyleon )

This is what the finished curd looks like. It’s a pretty yellow color and creamy. To me, the curd tastes like a cross between a pineapple and a lemon cream.

Mango Curd3

Mango Curd

It keeps in the fridge for a couple of weeks, maybe more.

Mango Curd Closeup

Mango Curd Closeup

I like mango curd on blueberry bagels for breakfast but you can spread it on toast, English muffins, scones, the possibilities are endless.

Mango Curd on Blueberry Bagel

Mango Curd on Blueberry Bagel

Store bought lemon or mango curd is expensive and they don’t always have the best ingredients in them. I’ve seen some jars go for over $7.00.  Some jar ingredients don’t even contain egg yolks, a key ingredient in mango curd or most curds. The egg yolk is what helps to make the curd a good, nutritious breakfast food.

As with most recipes, the ingredients can vary. Some people add lime juice. I made mine with lemon juice.

2 ripe Ataulfo mangoes

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

4 large egg yolks

4 tablespoons butter cut into pieces

pinch salt (if you are using salted butter, omit salt)

Wash then peel the mangoes  cut into pieces and scrape all the fruit off the pit using every last drop. Add the lemon juice, the sugar, the salt if you are using it, and blend in a food processor. I used my immersion blender and the carafe it came with. Puree. 

Now add the egg yolks and purée 15 seconds longer. The recipe I used (from Epicurious) said to strain the ingredients through a sieve. I didn’t see any need for this but it’s up to you.

Pour pureed ingredients into a bowl and place the bowl on top of a pan of simmering water. DON’T LET THE WATER TOUCH THE BOTTOM OF THE BOWL. Wisk or stir (I stirred) until thickened, about 10 minutes or until a thermometer reaches 170 F degrees. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir in butter, one piece at a time.

You can cover the curd with plastic wrap so a “skin” doesn’t form on top. I let mine cool and then poured it into a jar, let it cool some more, then screwed a lid on and put in the fridge. When it cooled, some water had formed on the lid and I wiped the water off. 

I saved my egg whites in canning jars and froze them. I will use them for baking breads to give them a nice shine. If you do this, allow the egg whites to defrost completely in the fridge. You could also make a white omelet with the egg whites.

I hope you try this.  You use fresh fruit, fresh egg yolks, and fresh butter. It’s delicious, nutritious, and avoids all the preservatives and other unpronounceable ingredients in store-bought curd. 

Once you try this, you will want to make other curds. I know I do!

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New Food Friday – Meyer Lemons

19 Apr Meyer Lemon Sliced

Although I was sad to have to postpone New Food Friday, in hindsight, it turned out for the best. Preparing for my talk on blogtalkradio took more effort than I realized when I agreed to be a guest on the show. I thought I wouldn’t have enough to say. It turned out that I ran out of time and couldn’t finish what I had to say! Who knew? It was an interesting experience and fun to talk to Marilyn and Tatiana. I wish we could have chatted more.

Just to catch up, I’ve gotten a lot done in the short time I skipped New Food Friday. I dug up my garden in preparation for my new plants. What I usually do is collect all the leaves that huddle in a corner of my house and bury them in holes I dig in the garden once the weather turns warmer. This aerates the soil, feeds the plants as the leaves decompose, and eliminates the need to bag them, having to use plastic bags in the process. It’s a win-win.

I also got a car repair taken care of which included getting reimbursed and having to go to another repair shop to diagnose and fix the things that were botched up. I may be writing a post about it soon.

Since my lawn mower died and I tried fixing it myself to no avail,(it’s an electric push mower), I tried to get someone to fix it. Two repair places declined!  I had no alternative than to buy a new one. This is another story that deserves its own post because a police officer was involved! I kid you not. So much for my boring life! NOT!

So, without further ado, let’s discuss my experience with Meyer Lemons which is what brings me to this New Food Friday. One of my favorite drinks is lemonade, especially during the summer when I’ve just finished mowing the lawn. I’ve always used regular lemons for this drink until I spotted some Meyer Lemons on a visit to Wal-Mart while I was looking for lactose-free yogurt which they were supposed to have but didn’t. 

Meyer Lemons are different from regular lemons. As you can see from the packaging in the photo, Meyer lemons are sweet and tart.

Meyer Lemons

Meyer Lemons

But are they really? I sliced one in half and tasted it. It didn’t taste sweet at all. In fact, it had an odd taste but I reserved my judgment until it was time for me to use the second lemon from the package. It tasted exactly the same as the first one.

English: Cross sections of Eureka, Meyer, Yuzu...

Cross sections of Eureka, Meyer, Yuzu, and Pink Lemons, and 1 sweet Lime (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These Meyer lemons looked like tangerines. They are a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange.  To me, they taste like the juice squeezed from the skin of a tangerine. That is how I would describe it. Is that how they should to taste?  I have a hunch they should taste better than that! Maybe it depends on what orchard produced these lemons or maybe these lemons had been sitting around Wal-Mart for too long. Or perhaps they were left on the tree too long. It’s anyone’s guess.

The flavor didn’t stop me from adding the juice to my tea and honey

sxc.hu aga_wrr Tea with Lemon

Tea with Honey and Lemon  sxc.hu aga_wrr

or to make a glass of lemonade.

sxc.hu suzula  Glass of Lemonade

Glass of Lemonade sxc.hu suzula

Neither tasted as good as a regular lemon in these drinks.

These Meyer lemons look good, they just don’t taste that good I’m sorry to say.

I’d be willing to try them again. Next time I’ll buy them from Meijer and maybe I’ll have more luck. If it turns out that they are better, I will amend this post. 

But for now, these Meyer lemons are getting a thumbs down from me! Booooo! Have you used Meyer lemons? If so, what has your experience been like?

UPDATE 4/23/13: I found Meyer lemons at my local Meijer yesterday and made myself a glass of lemonade. So far, these Meyer lemons are an improvement over the ones I bought at Wal-Mart. 

Meyer Lemons2

Meyer Lemons2

I don’t know if you can see the difference from the photos, but the Meijer Meyer  lemons (hehehe) are more yellow where the Wal-Mart Meyer lemons were more orange.

I paid $2.69 at Meijer for Sunkist, a well-respected brand, of Meyer lemons. There were 5 to a package. The Wal-Mart Meyer lemons contained only 4 lemons even though they weighed the same. They cost $1.98.  But you’re not saving anything if you have to throw the produce out and if it doesn’t taste good. Also, I’d rather have 5 lemons instead of 4 even if the overall weight is the same. For one thing, there would be more skin and therefore more zest for recipes with 5 lemons. 

Speaking of zest and skin, when I squeezed the Meijer Meyer lemon for my lemonade, the skin cracked very easily which made it difficult to squeeze. That’s not such a big deal because I’ve had regular lemons do that on occasion. You can see from the photo that the skin was rather thick. It’s actually very edible. I can see making preserves out of these lemons!

The packaging of the Sunkist Meyer lemons didn’t say anything about them being sweet as the Wal-Mart lemons claimed.  These Sunkist Meyer lemons are much less “puckery” than regular lemons. I didn’t get a strong “tangerine” taste that I got with the Wal-Mart lemons, these had a much milder, more pleasant tangerine-lemon taste.

Meyer Lemon Sliced

Meyer Lemon Sliced

I’ve recently seen regular lemons sell for $.63 each at Meijer. So, the Meijer Meyer lemons would be cheaper! 

By sheer luck, I found the castelvetrano olives today at Kroger; the ones that Gerard mentioned in the comment section below. I combined an olive with the Meyer lemon and enjoyed the combination! 

I will be having thin slices of these lemons with salmon for dinner along with a side of brown rice and a stuffed artichoke. Yum!

OK, so Meyer lemons now get a thumbs up!

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