Sunday, April 19, 2009

The weekend of the lemon: Scones, squares and muffins

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The citrus harvest must have been good this year in southern California, because lemons are raining down upon me from all corners. This week I got a sackful of beautiful Meyer lemons from my friend Erin's boyfriend's mother's tree. They were soft and ready to use, so I juiced most of them and started baking.

Before the baking, actually, I put up two jars of Moroccan preserved lemons (that's the jar behind the plate in the photo). This couldn't be easier:
  1. You quarter the lemons almost all the way down, leaving the stem end intact.
  2. Pour some salt inside each lemons.
  3. Stuff them in a jar, really packing them down so they release their juice.
  4. Top off the jar with more salt and lemon juice, and put on the top.
  5. Leave them on the counter for a week, shaking them up once or twice a day.
  6. Stick them in the refrigerator. After a month, they're ready to use.
Preserved lemons appear in many Moroccan dishes and seem to be one of the up-and-coming ingredients among Los Angeles chefs. The sun-dried tomato of the new millenium? I think it's possible. Generally the recipes tell you to scrape out and discard the flesh and use only the peel, finely diced. I like the flesh too. Up to you.

After that, I made lemon bars from the recipe I posted here a few months ago. This time I added lemon zest to both the dough and the custard, which gave the bars a very nice boost. I also increased the lemon juice, because I thought they were too sweet the first time. Again, up to you.

Still not ready to leave the kitchen, I turned to a recipe for lemon muffins with dried blueberries I'd been eyeing, from a great blog called Erin Cooks. I didn't have the Greek yogurt she raves about, so I substituted regular lowfat plain yogurt. They're delicious.

My last lemon project for the day: the Meyer lemon scones from Baking Bites, one of my favorite dessert blogs. The only changes I made to this recipe were to use zest from normal lemons (I didn't have the patience to zest the Meyer lemons before I juiced them), and to cut the pieces smaller, so the baking time was slightly shorter. These are amazing - crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, not too sweet, just perfect. They're almost like lemon-flavored biscuits, much lighter than many scones I've had.

If anyone from my office is reading this: Don't worry. I've got some of everything packed up to take to work.

3 comments:

Erin said...

Judy and I just ate a scone and a lemon bar and both agree best scone and lemon bar EVER!

glamah16 said...

Sounds like heaven with all the lemons. Wish I was your neighbor.

Erika said...

Erin, thanks for the compliment - glad you and Judy enjoyed the treats. Please tell me you saved some for Mark.

Glamah, I wish my own trees produced this much. Erin scored these Meyer lemons from her mother-in-law's tree and thoughtfully shared them with me. Of course, she might have anticipated the payback....

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