Tuesday, May 22, 2012

i'll be with you in the squeezing of a lemon

This post marks the beginning of an occasional series looking at a particular ingredient or flavour. First up is a humble yet versatile essential: lemon. The zest, rind, juice, oil, whole or sliced, preserved or fresh imagine cooking without lemon?

"I'll be with you in the squeezing of a lemon" is a line from a play written by Irish author Oliver Goldsmith. It is also the title given to a mini collection of writings and recipes by lauded British food writer Elizabeth David, in the book David laments the absence of lemons from kitchens during the war years:

"Without a lemon to squeeze on to fried or grilled fish, no lemon juice to sharpen the flatness of dried pulses - the red lentils, the split peas - which in those days loomed so largely in our daily diet, no lemon juice to help out the stringy ewe-mutton and the ancient boiling fowls of the time, no lemon juice for pancakes, no peel to grate into cake mixtures and puddings, we felt frustrated every time we opened a cookery book or picked up a mixing bowl...There are indeed times when a lemon as a seasoning seems second only in importance to salt." (pages 79-80)

A bowl of lemons is a permanent fixture on my kitchen bench, and a lemon tree is a quintessential part of an Australian backyard (that said, we don't actually have one in our backyard! our steady supply of lemons come from friends, family and local road side stalls set up with an honesty box to pay).

Here's are some of the ways I use lemon:

I start each day with a liver-cleansing glass of fresh lemon juice and warm water.

Sliced lemon slid beneath the skin of chicken before roasting provides a wonderful flavour and aroma, the lemon slices are as delicious to eat as the chicken.

I baked lemon tart on the weekend using this straight-forward recipe. It takes a bit of time but it is easy really it is!

Lemon wedges are always on the table alongside the bounty of seafood my family is so lucky to enjoy - squid, whiting, flathead, salmon - thanks to Pete, and to our friend Simon who dives for prized scallops.

Green vegetables from our garden lightly stir-fried with garlic, then a squeeze of lemon juice are a favorite of mine. Is it a favorite of River and Sol's? Not so much but I'm working on it!

I was a latecomer to appreciating the fabulousness of preserved lemon but now there's no looking back. I have to confess I am yet to actually preserve some myself, but if they're not already part of your pantry seek them out. They elevate everyday recipes - soup, salad, tagines, casseroles, stuffing, pasta - to something memorable.

Lemon and dahl together are good company in my view.

What are your favorite ways with lemon? Do you have a prolific lemon tree?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comments. I read every one!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...