What to do with all these lemons?
I've got two small-to-medium sized lemon bushes in my garden, and they have supplied a huge crop of lemons this year. Consequently I'm having to get creative and find more ways to make use of these delicious zingy fruit. Here are a few ideas if you are struggling to finds ways of using your lemons.
Lemon Delicious pudding
A traditional favourite, and a mix between a sponge-like texture and a custard in the same spoonful. Yum.
65 g of softened butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup lemon juice
Preheat your oven to 180℃ fan bake. Combine the softened butter and sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric beater for 2 minutes. Add the 3 eggs yolks and beat for another 2 minutes. Scrape the mixture from the beaters and put back into the bowl. Add the lemon zest (use a microplane grater if you have one, for best results), along with the flour and milk, folding it in gently, then stir in the lemon juice.
In another bowl, whisk the egg whites with clean beaters until they form stiff peaks, then fold them into the other mixture until just combined.
Grease a 20cm x20cm (or equivalent) baking dish with butter, pour the mixture into the dish, and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until puffed up and deep golden in colour.
Dust with icing sugar and serve with a dollop of plain Greek yoghurt.
Cherie's Lemon Cordial
Named after the friend who gave me the recipe, this is a concentrate that can be added to cold water (or water you have "fizzed" in your home soda drink maker) for a refreshing summer drink, or to hot water for a soothing drink in the winter.
1 & 1/2 teaspoons tartaric acid
2 teaspoons citric acid
1 teaspoon Epsom salts
450 grams sugar
4 cups boiling water
juice (strained) and finely grated zest of 4 lemons
Put the first 4 ingredients in a heatproof bowl and add the boiling water. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then add the juice and rind of the lemons and mix. Allow to cool and store the cordial in bottles in the fridge. To serve, add approximately 50ml of cordial to 150-200ml of water, or to taste.
To make this even quicker, I have sometimes used a zester instead of a microplane grater to obtain the zest. This results in long strands of zest that end up at the bottom of the glass, and are easy to remove if you want to. I use a test tea leaf strainer to strain the lemon juice as I add it to the hot water mixture.
We have always called this "lemon honey" in my family, and it was a favourite of my Dad's. Not just a toast topping, it's brilliant stirred into plain Greek yoghurt for a bit of flavour - a little goes a long way.
450 grams sugar
110 grams butter
juice and finely grated rind of 4 lemons
If you have a double boiler use that, but I use a stainless steel bowl sitting over a saucepan so that the boiling water in the saucepan doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl. I find it is easier to beat the mixture in the curved bowl as it thickens.
Use a microplane grater to get the zest only from the 4 lemons, then cut them in half and juice them. Strain the juice to remove any pulp.
Put the eggs into the bowl and whisk them with a balloon whisk or fork. Add the butter, sugar, juice and zest. Heat very slowly over the saucepan, which should have 5 or so centimetres of water in it. I like stirring it with the stainless steel balloon whisk - I feel it gets the smoothest results, even though the recipe says to use a wooden spoon. As it begins to thicken, stir more regularly to avoid lumps.
You can reuse glass jars by sterilising them in the oven at 100℃ for 10 minutes, and boiling the lids in a saucepan at the same time. Ladle the lemon curd into the hot jars and screw on the lid - you can use dishwasher gloves and a tea-towel to protect your hands as you do this. The lemon curd will need to be kept in the fridge though, but the sterilising procedure will extend its life.
Lemony Roast Chicken
Lemon and chicken goes well together, add a bit of thyme and magic!
1 free-range whole chicken, raw
3 slices light grain bread (great use for crusts if no-one likes them)
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme
juice and zest of 1 lemon
an extra lemon
assorted veggies to roast
Pre heat the oven to 180℃ fan bake. Whizz the bread slices in a food processor until fine crumbs. Put in a bowl and add diced onion, thyme, zest and juice of lemon, and mix. Stuff the chicken with the mixture, and place in a covered baking dish. Slice the second lemon thinly and place the slices over the skin of the chicken. Cook according to instructions on the packaging (likely around 1 & 1/2 hours) or until juices run clear, removing the lid of the baking dish for the last 10 minutes of cooking to colour the skin.
In a shallow baking dish, roast the assorted veggies at the same time, tossing them in olive oil, thyme and a little salt before cooking.
You can drain the juices from the chicken once it has cooked and use this to make you own gravy (put in a small saucepan and add some cornflour and water to thicken, taste, and season), or use a gravy sachet if preferred.
Serve with roast veggies, steamed peas and gravy.
This is a new one for me! I've always had a soft spot for this lemon liqueur, but never tried making it myself. I cut a recipe out of "The Press" years ago, and only recently decided to give it a go. I used a one-litre bottle of name brand vodka on special from the local bottle shop, and tweaked the proportions to suit.
2 x 750ml bottles of decent, unflavoured vodka
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
You will need a one litre capacity glass bottle or jar for the first stage, then a few glass bottles for the final product. I was lucky to have a massive 2 litre capacity old-fashioned bottle (originally a vodka bottle but it had plum sauce in it when I got it!), so with my reduced recipe it worked out perfectly.
Remove the zest only (ensure absolutely no white pith) from the 12 lemons. You could do this with a floating blade veggie peeler, or a zester could also do the trick - it would just result in small thin curls of zest. You'll be straining the zest out anyway. This is the time consuming part. Place the zest into the bottle or jar, and add 750ml of vodka. Screw the lid on tightly, and leave the ingredients to steep for at least two weeks, until the peels lose their colour.
When the zesty vodka mix is ready, place the sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil, boiling until it turns clear. Let this syrup cool. Strain the zesty vodka into a large bowl to remove the peels, add the second bottle of vodka and the sugar syrup. Mix to combine and put the liqueur into its final bottles and screw the lids on tightly. Leave at least a week before using to allow the flavours to marry.
Now I am only nearing the end of the peel-infusing stage of this recipe, so I don't actually know how it's going to turn out! I will add an update to this blog post when it's all done, and let you know how it went.
Lemon and Blueberry friands
I adapted this recipe from one that was flavoured with vanilla and raspberries, and it came out really well. I wanted to use both the zest and the juice, so you're not left with stuff to use up in your fridge.
100 g melted butter
1 cup ground almonds (almond meal)
1 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice*
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup self-raising flour
36 frozen blueberries
*depending on how juicy your lemon is, you may need to top the juice up just a little to get 1/4 cup.
Heat oven to 190℃ fan bake. Melt the butter in a large bowl, add ground almonds, sugar, lemon zest and juice and mix well. Separate the eggs and stir the yolks into the almond mixture. Beat the whites in another bowl with the salt until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle the flour over the whites, fold it in a little, then scrape the whites into the large bowl and fold into the almond mixture just enough to combine.
Depending on what tray you have to bake these in, either grease a 12-muffin non-stick tray (or 12-friand non-stick tray), or use a 12-muffin silicon tray. I find the silicon trays don't need greasing, and if you let the friends cool before removing them, they come out very easily.
Drop three frozen blueberries into each friand, and bake for 18-22 minutes until a golden colour. You may need to rotate the tray part way through the cooking to ensure even colouring. Serve with a dusting of icing sugar and a dollop of Greek yoghurt.