Is this the year of the lemon? My tree is laden and so are the trees of all our neighbours. Gifts of our lemons are being refused — for the first time in my lemon-growing life.
Mine are the Meyer variety which do not have the same tartness as the firmer Lisbon lemons. However, they do juice easily. Store these beauties in the fridge to keep them firm but return the lemons to room temperature before use so they juice more readily. Pop them briefly in the microwave or warm them in hot water.
Lemon juice is an excellent substitute for vinegar in dressings. Many people swear by a squeeze of lemon in warm water first thing in the morning to aid digestion and others wipe juice on their faces to enhance their skin. Lemon juice is high in vitamin C and combined with warm water sweetened with honey is the old-fashioned remedy to keep colds at bay.
Lemon juice and finely grated rind can be frozen separately in ice cube trays for addition to dressings, sauces and bakes. But it’s not just the lemon that can be enjoyed. Young lemon leaves can be added whole or shredded to rice, casseroles or soups to enhance flavour, or threaded on skewers with lamb and courgettes for Greek-style kebabs.
GLUTEN-FREE LEMON CAKE
This is similar to the wedding cake I made for my son and his wife.
300g large mashing potatoes
200g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
175g almond meal (ground almonds)
2 teaspoons baking powder
finely grated rind 3 lemons
Lemon Syrup:juice 3 lemons
6 tablespoons sugar
Peel the potatoes and boil. Drain and mash well to make 250g of mashed potato. Cool.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease and line a 20-21cm deep round cake pan.
Beat the butter and caster sugar, until light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the almond meal, baking powder, mashed potato and lemon rind.
Pour into the cake pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Stand for 5 minutes then turn onto a wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile, stir the lemon juice and sugar on low heat until the sugar is dissolved. With a fine skewer make a few holes in the cake. Drizzle about 1/4 of the syrup over the hot cake. Serve the remainder on the side.
This cake can be frozen in wedges.
LEMON, GIN & GINGER MARMALADE
2 litres water
2 tablespoons finely grated root ginger
1/3 cup gin
Wash the lemons and remove any stalks and blemishes.
Halve the lemons and remove the pips. Roughly chop. Place the lemons in batches in a food processor adding about 3/4 of a cup of water each time. Process until evenly chopped. Repeat until all the fruit is chopped.
Pour all the water and fruit into a large saucepan. Bring to boiling point and simmer for 1 hour. Scoop out any elusive pips when they rise to the top.
Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, until well dissolved. Add the gin and ginger. Boil rapidly for about 10 minutes or until the marmalade reaches setting point — 104°C. Ensure it does not stick on the base by stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Scoop off any foam from the top and place in a bowl to use on your toast the next day.
Remove the marmalade from the heat and pour into hot sterilised jars then seal. Makes about 9 cups.
PRAWN SALAD WITH LEMON DRESSING
A delicious and easy starter to dinner.
300g large cooked prawns
1 carrot, julienned
1 cup each: trimmed mung bean sprouts, watercress leaves
2 cups mesclun salad leaves
Lemon Dressing: finely grated rind 1 lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon each: Dijon-style mustard, caster sugar
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
Cut the prawns into bite-sized portions.
Combine the carrot, sprouts, watercress and mesclun salad leaves in a large bowl.
Whisk the ingredients for the dressing, until the sugar is dissolved. Toss the salad ingredients with the dressing.
Pile the seafood and salad on four serving plates. Serves 4 as a starter.