Tag Archives: Meyer lemons

MEYER LEMON BAVARIAN CREAM PIE

I saved three of my farmers market Meyer lemons to make something sweet. I didn’t want to make lemon curd or a regular lemon chess pie, as those seem to be what most folks make. Instead, I decided to make a Bavarian cream and turn it into a pie, with a few modifications of Julia Child’s recipe in volume 1 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The Bavarian cream uses crème anglaise as the base so it takes a bit of effort.

I thought the pie turned out pretty well. The test of that was my wife, the Dessert Queen, who had a piece for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – with an occasional bedtime snack – until it was gone. The pie is not something you want to try in the afternoon before a dinner party. The good news is that it is so rich that it can easily serve 16 people.

RECIPES

Almond Pie Crust

Ingredients

  • butter to grease the cake pan and foil liner
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup lard
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup ice water

Method

  1. Prepare an 8-inch  false-bottom cake pan by buttering the inside generously. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, almond flour, salt, and sugar.
  3. With a pastry blender, cut in the lard until the mixture has the consistency of coarse corn meal
  4. Add the almond extract and ice water. With a dinner fork, blend until the mixture comes together. With your hands, gather up any loose crumbs and form a ball. Cover the ball with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Divide the chilled dough in half. Because of the almond flour the dough may be slightly sticky, so work on a floured surface. Work quickly, rolling out the dough into a circle that is large enough to line the prepared cake pan. Save the remaining half of the dough for another pie.
  6. Line the buttered cake pan with the rolled dough, pressing it firmly against the sides and bottom of the pan. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork. With a paring knife, trim the top of the pie shell, tucking in edges and forming a decorative edge with the back of the knife. Then press a well-buttered sheet of aluminum foil against the dough, and fill the foil liner with pie weights or beans.
  7. Bake the pie shell in the middle of an oven for 10 minutes in a preheated 400°F oven. Remove the foil and beans. Prick the bottom and sides again with a fork, and return to the oven for 4 minutes or when the pie shell has begun to brown lightly. Remove from the oven, and set aside until you are ready to fill with the Bavarian cream.

Meyer Lemon Bavarian Cream Pie

Ingredients

  • 3 large Meyer lemons
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 5 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Limoncello liqueur

Method

  1. The night before you plan to make the pie, wash and dry the lemons. Nestle them in a bowl containing the sugar and cover tightly. The lemons will perfume the sugar, but their moisture will also make it rock-hard, so you will need to break it up with a sharp knife.
  2. Zest all three lemons with a micro plane, and set aside.
  3. Juice the lemons. Strain the juice into a measuring cup. You should have about ¾ cup juice.
  4. Sprinkle the gelatin onto the juice and stir lightly so that the gelatin can bloom for 5 minutes or so.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually beat in the sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon. Beat in the cornstarch.
  6. In the meantime, bring the milk to the boil in a non-reactive 4-quart saucepan. Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, beating constantly. When the milk has been completely added, return the mixture to the saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon, being careful to scrape the bottom of the pan, until the mixture is thickened and coats the spoon. Use a thermometer to make sure the mixture does not exceed 170°F, otherwise the eggs will scramble and you will have to start over.
  7. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the lemon juice-gelatin mixture. Stir vigorously to make sure that the gelatin is completely dissolved. Rinse out the mixing bowl and return the cooked custard to the bowl. Stir in the lime zest.
  8. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until they form stiff peaks. Beat in the sugar, and then fold gently into the custard. Cover with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator. As the mixture thickens, stir occasionally to prevent separation.
  9. When the custard has nearly set, beat the whipping cream until well-thickened. Stir the whipped cream and liqueur into the custard.
  10. Fill the prepared pie shell with the custard. Return to the refrigerator and chill overnight or until set.
  11. Unmold the pie by loosening the edges of the false bottom and placing the pan on a small bowl so that the rim falls away. This may require a little encouragement. With a large spatula, remove the false bottom and transfer the pie to a serving plate.  Serve.
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PRESERVED MEYER LEMONS

This is the time of year when you can find Meyer lemons in abundance in California, especially in the Bay Area. They are delicious and very different from the usual Eureka lemons you find in the grocery store. At their best, Meyer lemons are large, nearly the size of oranges, and a beautiful golden-yellow color richer than store-bought lemons. They have a citrus smell that seems like a cross between lemon and orange, and they are sweeter than Eureka lemons, though not so sweet that you would eat one out of hand.

With the abundance and special qualities of Meyer lemons, California chefs – and even those in Santa Fe – go crazy with Meyer lemon curd, Meyer lemon pie, Meyer lemon cake – you get the idea.

On our recent trip to San Francisco, I found some beautiful Meyer lemons at the Marin Farmers’ Market in San Rafael. I bought a couple of pounds, and brought them home in my checked bag. I didn’t have any specific plans for them, so I leafed through some of my new Christmas-gift cookbooks from the Bay Area. Thomas McNaughton, chef at Flour+Water, had an interesting recipe for preserved Meyer  lemons in his book, so I thought I would give that a try.

I followed McNaughton’s recipe (sort of) with the plan of making a gallon of preserved lemons. I had to buy a gallon-size glass jar, and unfortunately I wound up not having enough Meyer lemons. I found some at our local Whole Foods, offered in little net sacks. The lemons were literally a pale comparison with my California beauties. They were yellow, small, and blemished with soft spots. Still, I bought them, and wound up needing about 7 pounds of Meyer lemons in total to complete the recipe.

Preserved lemons are a tradition in the cuisines of North Africa. The basic preservation method is brining, so most cooks wind up not using the flesh or juice, but just the peels, finely cut, to provide a citrusy taste to many things including meats and stews. (there are some recipes for using the flesh, but it must be incredibly salty.)  Cookbooks provide an abundance of methods for preserving lemons. Sandor Katz describes the basics in his encyclopedic, The Art of Fermentation and Deborah Madison gives a simple recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

McNaughton’s recipe calls for way more salt than I used. Even at that, the undissolved salt sits at the bottom of my jar of lemons as they preserve away in the coolness of the garage. Sugar and spices make McNaughton’s recipe unique, and I followed his guidance.

RECIPE

Preserved Meyer Lemons

Ingredients

  • 7 pounds large Meyer lemons
  • 6 cups pickling and canning salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 pieces star anise, broken into smaller pieces
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 large bay leaves, crumbled

Method

  1. Sterilize a 1-gallon glass container with non-reactive lid by boiling in water for 10 minutes or washing in dishwasher set on hot.
  2. Wash and dry the lemons.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the salt, sugar, and spices.
  4. Prepare the lemons by slicing them in half from the pointed end to the stem end, stopping ½ inch from the base. Turn the lemon one-quarter turn, and make a similar cut so that each lemon has four quarters joined together by the uncut portion.
  5. Pour ¼ inch of salt-sugar mixture into the bottom of the glass jar.
  6. With a tablespoon, sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of the salt sugar mixture into the cut lemons, one by one, and then arrange them, cut-side up, in the jar. Pack tightly.
  7. When you have a layer of lemons packed in the jar, sprinkle more of the salt-sugar mixture on the top, pressing down with a potato masher to express as much juice as possible.
  8. Layer by layer, continue packing the jar with prepared lemons and adding a layer of salt-sugar mixture on top of each layer.  Continue to press down each layer with the potato masher. Top the lemons with more salt-sugar mixture, seal the jar, and set it aside for 48 hours.
  9. At that time, add more salt-sugar mixture and, if necessary, lemon juice so that the lemons are completely covered. Seal the jar tightly and set in a cool, dark place for three months.
  10. When the lemons have been completely preserved, store them in the refrigerator for up to a year.

Notes

  • Other recipes call for less salt, and I think you could cut back on the salt.
  • Use pickling and canning salt. Regular table salt may leave a residue from the anti-caking agent that is used.
  • The lemons must be completely covered with liquid, otherwise they are likely to spoil.
  • Use tongs when removing lemons for use. Hands, no matter how clean, may introduce organisms that can lead to spoiling.
  • Rinse the lemons well before use, as they will be quite salty. Use the rind and discard the flesh – unless of course you want to experiment with it.

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