I’m trying not to be dramatic here, but I can’t avoid the second half of this sentence: if you haven’t had a Meyer lemon, you haven’t lived!
Yes, that was a pretty dramatic thing to say, but let’s look at the facts: (1) A regular lemon isn’t very subtle, it’s an acidic attack on your taste buds. A Meyer lemon? It’s a subtly perfumed orangey lemony hybrid—it makes a regular lemon look like a punk; (2) regular lemons are around all year long, they pile up in their sad bins at the grocery store, and you grab them more out of pity than anything resembling delight. But Meyer lemons? They’re only here for a short time–the winter months up through the start of Spring (i.e. right now!)–and discovering a bin of Meyer lemons at the store is, for a food lover, like a baseball card collector stumbling upon a (insert rare baseball card here) at a garage sale. It’s cause for celebration.
The Gourmet Garage near my apartment has had a bin of Meyer lemons these past few months and I’ve been buying them up whenever I can, unsure of how I’ll use them but entirely aware that the mere act of buying Meyer lemons will, undoubtedly, yield wonderful results.
It all started, really, when my friend Morgan Tingley invited us to dinner in January. He served a Meyer lemon dessert that Craig, usually an anti-dessert person, went crazy for. It was a Meyer lemon buttermilk pudding cake that was so good–rich and citrusy and refined–that the world let out a collective sigh when Morgan finally linked to the recipe in his post about Meyer lemons on The Community Blog.
Since then, I’ve made all kinds of dishes featuring Meyer lemons. I made that asparagus dish with fried Meyer lemons on Food52, but I’ve also made a Meyer lemon lemon drop (based on the recipe in Morgan’s post):
It’s a very simple cocktail that explodes with Meyer lemon flavor. You achieve that by making a simple syrup with the Meyer lemon peel; you shake it up with vodka, Meyer lemon juice, and ice. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a cocktail shaker so I brilliantly used two glasses pressed together. You can see the shocking result here:
Yes, one of the glasses broke when we tried to wedge them apart. Yikes. But none of it got into the cocktail itself and when we drank it out of plastic cups (just to be safe) it was, truly, wonderful. Once you’ve had a Meyer lemon lemon drop, a regular lemon drop just won’t do.
I also baked Meyer lemon biscotti from a recipe I found online:
I’ll be honest, it wasn’t a great recipe–the biscotti was a bit too dry and brittle to recommend at home (I like a toothsome biscotti, yes, but it has to have a little give too). Still, the Meyer lemon flavor really came through (mostly from the zest) and if you have a favorite lemon biscotti recipe, swap in Meyer lemons and watch your taste buds cheer their approval:
The best use for Meyer lemon, though, I’ve found lately is another Amanda Hesser recipe from “Cooking For Mr. Latte.” This one’s for linguine with Meyer lemon and creme fraiche.
It’s a remarkably easy recipe. In a bowl grate a bunch of Parmesan cheese and Meyer lemon zest:
Add a big heap of arugula:
Then boil linguine until it’s done, toss it around with everything in the bowl plus creme fraiche (as much or as little as you like), some of the Meyer lemon juice, a little pasta cooking water (to make it stick) and some fresh ground pepper until you smack your lips in delight. Doesn’t this look lovely?
Those of you who’ve spied Meyer lemons at the market this winter, I urge you to gather ye Meyer Lemons while ye may. And those of you who have been gathering them, do you have a favorite Meyer lemon recipe? Please share in the comments.