Lemon week continues here in the Jolly Tomato household, and today we’re looking at Meyer lemons. Why Meyer lemons? It mostly has to do with the always patient and indulgent Mr. Jolly Tomato. Last week he came home from the farmers’ market bearing two pounds of Meyer lemons. “Wasn’t there something you wanted Meyer lemons for?” he asked. Well…yeah. For a recipe five months ago. But never mind – it’s a always good to have Meyer lemons around.
Meyer lemons are the hipsters of the lemon family. They are not quite as tart as a regular lemon, they have a bright citrus flavor, and they’re incredibly popular throughout what people refer to as “California Cuisine.” Apparently Meyer lemons came about as a cross between a true lemon and some variety of orange; this could explain their mild flavor and versatility. They’re mostly harvested in winter, which is great news for all of us who need a little lemon-y boost to get through January.
While admiring our Meyer lemons, the first recipe we came up with was a kale and lemon salad.We learned about making shockingly delicious raw kale salads from – who else – Dorothy of Shockingly Delicious. The key when using raw kale in a salad is to either massage the dressing into the kale, or just toss it together and let it sit for a few hours so the kale softens up a bit.
We are fully in support of the “lazy” method. So we took a beautiful bunch of Russian kale (it has flat, spindly leaves and purple stems), tore the leaves from the stems, and tossed the leaves in a bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil and the juice of one Meyer lemon. Then we let it sit for a few hours, and by dinnertime we had a beautiful lemon-y treat for the table.
Next we decided to go crazy with some winter colors and make a blue corn/Meyer lemon cornbread. We adapted this from a plain blue cornbread recipe from an Allrecipes.com; the result is nice and cake-y with a mild lemon flavor.
1 cup blue cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
Grated rind of one Meyer lemon
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup butter
1 Meyer lemon, thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch circular baking pan. In a large mixing bowl, sift together cornmeal, flours, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Combine the eggs, milk, and oil in a separate bowl and mix well. Combine the egg mixture and lemon rind with the dry ingredients. Meanwhile, place the butter inside the baking dish in the oven until it melts. Then mix the hot butter into the cornmeal mixture. Transfer cornmeal mixture into the baking dish. Carefully arrange lemon slices in a circular pattern on top of the batter. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the edges of the cornbread pull away from the side of the dish and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm; drizzle with honey to taste.
Tasty, right? Next up for lemon week: Fish grilled with lemon, and another amazing lemon dessert.