One good thing about winter is citrus and this year one of my lemon trees is almost buckling under the abundance of lemons. I am not sure what variety as the tree was here when I moved in, however they are some of the juiciest, sweetest lemons I have ever had. So much more appealing than the almost under ripe and hard little lemons available in most supermarkets, plus I am safe in the knowledge that they have not come across any chemicals, so are essentially organic.
I love lemons. A little zest can lift and brighten just about anything and that is especially welcome in winter. Not that we can complain, except for a few weeks of just above zero degrees it has been pretty mild. Though I am told that we are in for a severe cold snap tomorrow and that looks likely to be true with snow falling in the South Island.....brrrrr!
And to have a jarful of lemons on hand throughout the year I always have a big jar of preserved lemons on hand. These are especially good with any Moroccan or North African dishes or stirred through couscous. They add a lovely fragrant, intensely lemony flavour. They are also incredibly simple to make so go and grab some lemons now while they are in season and cheap and get preserving.
Makes one large jar
10-12 unwaxed lemons
10-12 tbsp sea salt
Freshly squeezed juice of 4-5 lemons
2 bay leaves
Olive oil, to top up
Plus one large sterilised jar
Wash and dry the lemons. Stand each lemon on one end and cut as if you were cutting it in to quarters, but keep the base intact and don't cut all the way through. Gentle splay the quarters and stuff each lemon with a tablespoon of salt and then squeeze back together.
Place the lemons in to the large jar, seal and leave them in a cool place for 3 to 4 days to soften the skins. Over the 3 to 4 days the lemons will also start to release some of their juice. After this push down the lemons so that they are tightly packed and add the lemon juice and bay leaves. The lemons should be completely covered. So either add more lemon juice or top with olive oil to ensure that they are. Seal the jar and store in a cool place for at least a month.
Before using the preserved lemons wash of all the salt and remove the flesh. It is the fragrant skins that you will be using.
Post making these delicious cookies I was left with some egg yolks. With lemon and egg yolks to hand there is only one option...lemon curd. Who doesn't love lemon curd? Especially homemade lemon curd on a hot buttered crumpet! Homemade in this instance just so much superior to anything you can buy which I usually find nowhere near lemony enough and almost always too sweet. For this I returned to the Glasgow Cookery Book and was relieved to find that butter replaced the margarine! I also reduced the sugar to 100g as I like a tart lemon curd that allows the lemon to burst through.
2 lemons, zest and juice
Melt the butter in a double boiler and add the lemon zest. Next add the lemon juice and egg yolks. Stir over the heat until the curd thickens. Once thickened place in sterilised jars. Toast some crumpets, slather in butter and top with a generous helping of lemon curd.
On a toasted crumpet, the edges well toasted and crunch, melted butter oozing through all the little air bubbles, tangy lemon curd. A perfect morning tea as I await the cold snap...which those windy southerlies are blowing our way.