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Lighten Up with LemonsTammy Algood

Lighten Up with LemonsTammy Algood

Brighten your palate with the tangy, citrusy flavor of lemons winter

We could all use a little sunshine right about now. The calendar and the stars tell us that the longest and darkest days are already behind us, but after two months of rich, heavy foods, it’s natural for us to crave “light” in all its aspects. To brighten up your wintry fare, add the color and flavor of the sun with lemons. This popular citrus will come to the rescue, adding a tart, bright flavor to your meals and bringing with it a hint of the sunnier days to come.

Lemon-Roasted Potatoes
 
Ingredients

1 teaspoon salt, divided 2½ pounds white potatoes, cut in large cubes 1 large lemon, zested and juiced 1 tablespoon olive oil ¼ teaspoon black pepper 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add ¾ teaspoon of the salt and the potatoes. Boil for 8 minutes, then drain in a large colander for 3 minutes. Transfer to a rimmed roasting pan that has been lightly coated with cooking spray. Toss with the lemon zest, juice, olive oil, pepper and the remaining salt. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Remove from the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and roast for 45 minutes, stirring and tossing gently halfway through. When golden brown, remove from the oven, and transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with the parsley, and serve warm.

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Citrus Meltaway Cookies
 
Ingredients

1¼ cups all-purpose flour ½ cup cornstarch ⅓ cup plus ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, divided ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided and softened 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, divided 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, divided

Instructions

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, cornstarch, ⅓ cup of the confectioners’ sugar, 1½ sticks of the butter, 1 teaspoon of the zest and 1 tablespoon of the juice. Beat on low speed 3 minutes or until well combined. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into an 8-by-1-inch log. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With a sharp knife, cut each log into ¼-inch slices. Place the slices 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. The cookies will not be brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. In a small bowl, combine the remaining confectioners’ sugar, butter, zest and juice on low speed of an electric mixer. Increase speed to medium, and beat 2 minutes until fluffy. Frost the cooled cookies. Note: Store in cookie tins or any airtight container.

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Lemon Garlic Butter
 
(Perfect on grilled fish!)
Ingredients

1 tablespoon vegetable oil 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced 1 stick unsalted butter, softened Finely grated zest and juice of half a lemon

Instructions

Place the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. As soon as it gets hot, add the garlic and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool. Place the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice and garlic mixture in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Transfer to a large piece of plastic wrap, and roll into a 2-inch diameter cylinder. Wrap tightly, and refrigerate until ready to use.

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Lemon Crema
 
(Also perfect drizzled on grilled fish! Can easily be doubled.)
Ingredients

¼ cup sour cream ¼ cup crème fraiche* 3 tablespoons lemon juice Finely grated zest of half a lemon ¼ teaspoon salt ⅛ teaspoon white pepper

Instructions

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the sour cream, crème fraiche, lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

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Lemon Oil
 
(Yet another option for grilled fish! Can easily be doubled.)
Ingredients

½ cup light olive oil 1 teaspoon mustard seeds 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns 2 sprigs thyme 6 wide strips lemon zest

Instructions

Place the oil, mustard seeds, peppercorns, thyme and lemon zest in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the oil to 160 degrees. Remove from the heat and cover. Allow to sit at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, and discard the solids. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

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Lemon Chess Pie
 
Ingredients

1 single crust pie pastry 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 1¼ cups sugar 4 eggs 1 tablespoon lemon zest ¼ cup fresh lemon juice ¼ cup milk 2 tablespoons self-rising cornmeal 1 tablespoon self-rising flour

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Press the pie pastry into a 9-inch pie pan, and crimp the edges. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar, eggs, zest, juice, milk, cornmeal and flour. Mix well. Pour into the prepared crust. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until set in the center. Cool 1 hour on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

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Tips and tricks

Notes:

Lemons can be stored at room temperature if you are planning to use them rather quickly. If not, you will quadruple the shelf life by placing them in the vegetable crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
To squeeze the most juice from lemons, make sure they are room temperature. If they have been refrigerated, remove them for at least 30 minutes before use. Then using some pressure, roll the lemon several times back and forth on the countertop.
Always zest before juicing lemons. If you have extra, place it in a heavy-duty zip-top bag, and freeze it. Squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag before labeling use.
If you have extra zested strips of lemon peel, place in an ice cube tray and freeze with water to make attractive accents for iced drinks such as water and tea.
The average lemon will yield between 2 and 3 tablespoons of juice and about 3 teaspoons of grated zest.
Substitute lemon juice for vinegar in most recipes for a fresher, more lively taste.
Lemon juice keeps fruits that oxidize when cut from turning dark. Sprinkle or spray it on cut apples, bananas and avocados as soon as they are peeled.
Toss used lemons in the garbage disposal to keep it fresh-smelling.

Tammy Algood develops recipes for The Tennessee Magazine that feature farm-fresh Tennessee food. Those fresh, local ingredients will always add cleaner, more flavorful foods to your table. We recommend visiting local farms and farmers markets to find the freshest seasonal produce.

Ask Chef Tammy

Email your cooking questions to Tammy Algood: talgood@tnelectric.org.

Robert would like to know why his iced tea is becoming cloudy. “I allow the tea bags to brew for 5 minutes in the boiling water. Then I transfer the tea to a serving pitcher, add some ice and put it in the refrigerator. What am I doing wrong?” he asks.

Robert, you are cooling the brewed tea too quickly, which is why it is becoming cloudy. Your brewing is correct, but don’t add ice to it. I understand the temptation to cool it down, but allow it to cool to room temperature naturally. Then resist the further temptation to refrigerate it. Instead, serve it over loads of ice in the glass.

Lynette asks: I have some plastic bowls that I use often and love. Over the summer, I made loads of tomato sauce, and while stored, it has stained the plastic. I have washed them in the dishwasher and tried several different stain removers, but the stains remain. Can you help or am I stuck with stained plasticware?

Lynette, I have experienced the same problem, and here is what I do: First, I rub the stains with dry baking soda. Then the plastic bowl soaks in a gallon of hot water with a cup of bleach for 20 minutes. After rinsing, I wash it as normal, and most — if not all — of the stains disappear. If it doesn’t work on yours, save those pieces of plasticware just for tomato sauce!

*To make crème fraiche, place a pint of heavy cream in a glass jar, and add 3 tablespoons of cultured buttermilk. Cover tightly with cheesecloth, and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Then refrigerate for 24 hours before using.

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