I am very attached this lemon tree. It has a difficult life here in Toronto sheltering inside during the winter months when the temperature can drop -20C and snow lies on the ground, and spending the short summers on my deck where it’s a magnet for bees. It flowers in the summer and again at Christmas filling the house with the fragrance of lemon blossoms. Now, in deepest winter, it’s covered with sunny orange, yellow fruit that cheer up my kitchen and my mood.
It’s a Meyer lemon tree and you can read all about these lemons here, thanks to to the talented Russ Parsons. I grew up with Meyer lemons in Australia. There is a large tree in the middle of my mum’s backyard, and it is still producing a huge bounty of fruit. We would never bought a lemon, and were always looking for ways to use them up, we made dozens of bottles of lemon cordial. My mum still drinks freshly squeezed lemon juice every morning. The Meyer lemon is much less acidic, almost sweet when compared to other lemons, it has orange genes. For the cook, its fragrant, aromatic peel is its best quality.
You don’t have to grow you own, these lemons make their way across the continent from California and you’ll find them at your local market now. Winter can be cruel, but it’s also the best season for citrus fruits, so cheer yourself up by buying some and realizing that is is warm and sunny in somewhere in the world.
Here is simple recipe to try –
250 ml whipping cream
125 ml grappa
400 g pasta
125 ml coarsely chopped fresh chervil or parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Peel 1 lemon carefully removing the skin and pith. Dice the lemon. Zest remaining lemon, set aside zest, then juice to obtain 2 tablespoons of juice.
Put large pot of water on to boil. In a large frying pan combine cream, grappa and diced lemon. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently, stirring occasionally until thickened slightly. When water boils, add pasta and cook until al dente, then drain. Remove cream mixture from heat and slowly add lemon juice. Return to the heat, then add half the zest, drained pasta and chervil. Toss, add remaining zest and season. Serve immediately in warmed pasta bowls.