Friday, March 12, 2010

Meyer Lemons, Liquid Sunshine!

What is a Meyer Lemon and what makes it so special?  Well from a technical standpoint, a Meyer is thought to be a cross between a ture lemon and a sweet orange.  From a culinary standpoint, it is quiet unique and special.  You get the tang and acidity of a lemon but not with the same punch as a typical lemon, so something you would typically use a lemon for, you can sub in a Meyer lemon and get a terrific brightness, but with a sweetness too.  I have spent alot of time experimenting with this fruit to devise ways to highlight its unique qualities.  Here are some things to try should you come across this hard to find fruit!

Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 Meyer Lemon juice
zest from 1 or 2 lemons
Heat over med high heat till sugar is disolved. Strain into a container and store in the fridge.  Use to make a martini, lemonade, or sweeten your tea.

Meyer Lemon Herb Vinagrette
1 Shallot, minced
1 tblsp Dijon Mustard
1 tblsp Honey
1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
zest from 1-2 Meyer lemons
1 tblsp finely chopped, each of Basil, Rosemary, Oregano, and Flat Leaf Italian Parsely (any combo of those would work)
1/2 -1 cup oil, I prefer avocado oil but canola or Olive oil will work too
Salt & Pepper

In a bowl, whisk together the shallot, mustard, honey and lemon juice.  Let stand for about 5 minutes. I do this to allow the shallots to mellow out.  Now add in the zest and finely chopped herbs, blend well.  Begin to whisk and slowly add in 1/2 cup of oil till blended and emulsified.  Check for taste and consitancy.  Everyone likes their salad dressings a bit different, I am usually fine right here since it makes for a lighter calorie choice, but at this point you can also adjust your sweet/sour levels.  Sometimes your Meyers will be sweeter then others so this is the time to check, adjust, salt and pepper, a pinch of each and serve or store in a jar in the fridge. The obvious use is for salad, but try this, roast potatoes in the oven and when they are nice and crispy and ready to take out, pour some of the vinagrette over them, about 1/4 cup and toss well, put back in the over for about 5 minutes to heat thru, and serve.  DELICIOUS!

Tangy Garbanzo Bean Salad AKA Fiber Bomb Salad
3-14 oz cans Garbanzo Beans drained and rinsed
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalepeno pepper,seeded and minced
1 each yellow and red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
Zest from 1 or 2 Meyer lemons and one lime
1 shallot, minced
1 tblsp Dijon Mustard
1 tblsp honey
1 tblsp Cumin
1/4 Meyer lemon juice
juice of one lime
1/2 cup vegetable oil, (again I prefer avocado oil)
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the salad ingredients.  Combine all the dressing ingredients except for oil then slowly whisk in the oil.  Add the dressing to the salad and toss well.  Referigerate for about 1 hour to let all the flavors marry. 
OPTIONS- Sometimes I add one or all of the following ingredients.
1-28 oz  can of green beans.
1 fennel bulb, diced
3 chopped roma tomatoes
1 lb package of whole grain pasta, cooked

Make it your own!  It is loaded with fiber and vitamins and it feels so fresh and bright with all the citrus, it is a perfect addtion to any meal!

Well I hope that you try some of these recipes, you can also sub in a regular lemon in any of these applications, but you will probably need more sugar or honey to mellow it out.  Just remember these lemon tips.
  • Anytime a recipe calls for vinegar, sub in lemon juice and taste the difference
  • When making chicken soup, add a squeeze of lemon juice to add brightness without the sourness, (TRY IT YOU WILL BE SURPRISED)
  • Clean your copper pots. Sprinkle with salt and then squeeze with the juice. Clean gently and you will be amazed
  • Clean your cutting boards.  Lemon juice is a natural antibactierial agent. I sprinkle some salt on my board and take a cut half of lemon and rub my board.  The salt just makes for an abrasive to get into the nooks and crannies.  Rinse your board and if wood, oil lightly to keep the wood moist.
Remember when life gives you lemons, make MEYER LEMONADE!!

PS Meyer lemons will be available on our company website soon.  Visit us at!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Seasonal Fuel

I am a firm believer in seasonal and fresh ingredients, the challenge is to find the ones that are truly fresh.  Many of the items in your produce section may look pretty and shiny, and yet a bite or cut into it and you will see that this is not the case.  Many of our produce items have been specifically developed to be as resistant to the elements as possible, that way they can handle the cold storage for months at a time they might go through.  An apple you buy today, may have sat in a cold storage room for months.  I understand the economics of this, but the basic truth is food is the fuel our bodies require in order to live.  The way we create unique dishes, exciting tastes and eye pleasing plates, is the icing on the cake.  If we can for a minute just deal with the stripped down version of this and the fact that it is fuel for us, it will be clear that fresh and seasonal is in everyone's best interest. Once a fruit or vegetable is removed from its life source, its vitamin punch begins to degrade and of course the quality begins to degrade as well. If we are looking for the best case of fuel for us, then we would want to eat something that gives us the most nutrition as possible.  Use your computer to find out what fruits and veggies are being harvested in your local area and search them out, or ask your produce manager in the grocery store, although I am not certain you will get the help you really want because their job is to move product, not tell you that the apples you just put in your cart are a year old.

Now if you are lucky to find something fresh, but you can't use it right away, then, if this is a viable option, you should blanch it and freeze.  For instance, every year we plant English peas, a lot of them.  I harvest them about 3 or 4 times during the early spring and if I ate them all while they were fresh picked, I would turn into a giant pea.  What I do is I pick, shell, heat water to boiling and add a hand full of salt.  Throw the shelled peas into the boiling water, bring back to a boil and within a minute or two drain them and shock them in a bowl of ice water. Get a sheet tray and lightly spray with cooking spray and put the drained, cold peas on the sheet tray in a single layer.  Put it in the freezer overnight then the next day, put the frozen peas in a ziplock bag and throughout the year, you will have fresh peas.  AND the bonus point part of this is, the blanching process, then freezing helps to keep the enzymes from breaking down and allows it to keep more of its nutrients in tact. This is also a great thing to know when shopping for unseasonable fruit or veggies.  Buying frozen is typically a better way to be assured that the nutrients have been preserved.  Obviously not all items can be frozen, so be sure to not overbuy. It may mean better planning and more trips to the market, but your body will thank you for it!!