Some years ago, I read an article on a famed British gardener, whose name I have long forgotten, and he said that growing vegetables and herbs were rather easy; growing fruit, however, was a slow burn. So… this is how I am opening the first blog of 2012.
When we bought the house five years ago, I knew that I would plant my own vegetables, herbs, and fruits – all of which I would harvest and take into my kitchen and create in organically fresh and many delicious ways. The vegetables and herbs blessed the home quickly, and profusely. The fruit… yeah, the burn has been rather slow. The first year, we planted a strawberry patch, an avocado tree, a Meyer lemon tree, and a fig tree. The second year, a friend gave us a Julie mango tree and two raspberry bushes; we planted a blueberry bush and a blackberry bush. By the second year, we fought the snails and were able to salvage a small bushel of strawberries – sweet and tart. The third year we watched eight avocado flowers bud; and were able to harvest two big, creamy, and luscious fruit. Last year the most fragrant lemon blossoms covered the Meyer lemon tree. The scent of those blossoms wafted across the entire backyard before they fell off and sent forth five tiny buds.
The wind shook two of the tiny lemon buds from the tree; a neighbor’s pesky grandchild pulled off another while it was still very green; and a third fell to the ground overnight after a particularly unusual hard rain. I awoke that morning to find the fruit below the tree wet and mushy. After a slow and long burn, one lone Meyer lemon made it to maturity and was ready and ripe for picking.
After beating the odds and finally making it to my kitchen, we felt very strongly about creating something with that Meyer lemon to highlight the fruit. Unlike the Lisbon and Eureka lemon, the Meyer, thought to be a cross hybrid of a true lemon and a mandarin orange, is bigger, rounder, and sometimes more orange in color. The skin is thinner and the juice is abundant. My one Meyer lemon gave me almost a full cup of juice. The flavor and smell is sweeter than other lemons; having an almost floral taste with notes of honey and lemon thyme. I considered several ideas until, I arrived at lemon squares – simple, classic, and just the right vehicle for my lone Meyer lemon.
My Recipe: MEYER LEMON SQUARES serves 6
¼ c fresh Meyer lemon juice
2 T Meyer lemon zest
1 c + 1 T all-purpose flour
1 ¼ c granulated white sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and diced
½ t baking powder
1 pinch kosher salt
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 325 degrees; spray the bottom of a small tart pan with non-stick cooking spray set aside
In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of all-purpose flour with ½ c granulated white sugar, baking powder, kosher salt, and 1 T Meyer lemon zest; add chilled butter; use pastry cutter of a long-tined fork to cut butter into flour mixture until mixture looks like wet sand; evenly press this mixture into the bottom of the tart pan; bake for 20 minutes
Combine eggs, Meyer lemon juice, remaining all-purpose flour, Meyer lemon zest; pour over par baked crust; bake for another 25 – 30 minutes
Lightly dust the top of with the powdered sugar while the lemon squares are still warm; allow to cool before cutting and serving
I was tempted to add fresh rosemary to the crust; I was tempted to add fresh berries to the lemony filling; and I was tempted to fold in shredded coconut into the filing as well. For the sake of the lone Meyer lemon, I exercised restraint and stayed the course for pure sweet, floral, lemony flavor.
always in good T.A.S.T.E – cause you gottatastethis!