Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Listening to the cosmos

I know I promised that I'd write about our trip home along the Natchez Trace Parkway – and I will, soon – but I wanted instead to write today about a project that I started early last month – one that has been percolating along on my kitchen countertop. And now I can't wait any longer to experiment with it and share it with you.

I made spiced preserved lemons. And I'm hooked.

I had run across mentions of preserved lemons in a number of recipes, but never paid that much attention to them. Then Ed and I started planning a trip to Morocco and I got interested in all-things-Moroccan, including preserved lemons, which often appear in Moroccan dishes. Then, I read this beautiful blog about them. Then Sister Kathy casually mentioned that she wanted to make some, but had not gotten around to it. Then it was her birthday and I was trying to come up with a creative gift. And the cosmos just seemed to be telling me that it was time to bring some preserved lemons into my life. So, I made a couple of jars for myself and packed a birthday basket of Myer lemons, coarse sea salt and Weck glass jars to give to Kathy. 

Then came the hard part. I had to leave them alone for one month. (Well, actually, I had to shake them up every few days to distribute the salt.) When one month was almost up, I couldn't wait any longer. I opened one of the jars, took out one lemon, rinsed the salt off, cut away the pulp, and used the preserved rind in this recipe for Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Olives. The very next day, I used some on a batch of smashed potatoes. And the day after that, I made some risotto with preserved lemon. See what I mean: I'm hooked. 

My plan is to use them whenever a savory dish needs a bit of pop. I'm imagining them on fish, mixed with cooked grains, as an aioli ingredient, as a relish, with braised lamb, in a cocktail, the list goes on and on....

There are lots of recipes out there for preserving lemons. I used this one on the Local Milk blog, but left out the juniper berries, only because I did not have them in my spice drawer. I think Kathy made some plain ones, without any of the spices. 

They are easy to make and take only a few minutes. Now would be a good time to make some for yourself (and perhaps a second jar to give as a gift) as Meyer lemons are in season. I think you could make them with regular organic lemons, but I love the way they work with the soft-skinned Meyers. 

Go ahead. Make some. You will be glad you did. Then tell me how you use them.

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