tips for tuesday
notes from maggie's farm
Not much goes to waste around here.
Eggshells are roasted, crumbled, and returned to the chickens via feed to add calcium to their diets, thus making nice, thick eggshells, again. Whey from cheese making goes into baked goods, fermented vegetables, and pets' watering bowls to add protein to their diet. Meat bones are roasted for stock. Onion skins dye eggs. Carrot tops join herbs for pestos. Coffee grounds add necessary acid to the soil. Vegetables beyond their peak of freshness are fed to the goats, weeds pulled are rabbit feed, old jeans are cut into patches for newer mates, old t-shirts are staining rags, orphaned socks are dusting mits, magazines go to nursing homes....you get the idea.
So when I've been a little overly ambitious with the lemon buying, as is often the case (anyone who's been around here a while knows my love for all things lemon-y), and they're just past their prime, but still pliable, and recognizable, they often become a condiment I've come to count on to perk things up even in their late life-- Roasted Lemon Powder.
You may have spotted roasted, or dried, lemon zest in your market's spice aisle. Or perhaps have run into the project on the worldwideinternethighwaywebs. I've taken to zesting a lemon whose juice is called for in a recipe, wrapping the scant tablespoonful in foil, and stashing it in the freezer in a bag filled with other little aluminum foil packets of the same ilk. It looks a little shady, but it's really quite convenient.
And then there's this. This Roasted Lemon Powder. Made from the whole fruit, slow roasted lemon slices become bone dry, then ground, rind and all, in the food processor until powdered. You'll produce a less-than-uniform powder. That's okay. The rustic texture fits quite nicely with the slightly caramelized flavor of lemon, and the rustic flavors it will enhance. A few of the stubborn, hard, larger pieces, the ones that might be a little tough to manage, will do quite nicely stashed in a bottle of vinegar or oil. Simply drop them into a small bottle of either, and let them rest in there to do their flavoring-magic-thing for a few days.
The rest, I store in a jar in the dark shelves of my spice cabinet, and dole out lovingly on all manner of dishes. I especially like to use it to brighten the flavors of anything heavy, or a touch oily, like this olive salad I prepared. Olives, carrots, celery, garlic, onions, capers, peppers, and lots of good-quality olive oil. Delicious, yes, but the flavors can get muddied without a little kick. Salt would do, but might just overdo. Cracked red pepper would do something else, entirely. But a sprinkle of roasted lemon powder perks the flavors right up, without overpowering, helping each individual component shine through. Nice sprinkled over soft cheeses, in salad dressings, tuna and chicken salad, inside the chicken as it roasts, as a healthy alternative salt stand-in--you'll think of a number of dishes to which this roasted lemon powder will add its sparkle.
Here are the details:
Wash lemons well, and slice uniformly, about 1/8" thick. Carefully remove pips from each slice. Line a baking sheet with silicone sheet, aluminum foil, or parchment paper. Scatter slices in a single layer over sheet. Bake in a 200-250 degree oven, turning occasionally, until golden brown, and dried. It usually takes a few hours for me, but ovens vary, and age and rind thickness are variables that might require a time adjustment. Remove and allow to cool. Transfer to food processor bowl, and grind in pulses, until powdery. (Remember that a few stubborn bits will remain large, and use those as suggested, or toss away. Oh how it pains me to say that. At least add them to compost, or the squash beds, to fend off pesky bugs.) Transfer to a jar, and seal. Keep in a dry, cool, dark cabinet to help it preserve its perkiness. Enjoy at will.
Join us tomorrow for a meander down the sweet, sultry river roads of south Louisiana plantation country on (almost) Wordless Wednesday, notes from maggie's farm.
Have a great day!