And so the end of the meal has arrived. This glorious feast that has been the month of April has reached the finale. I bid adieu to the month of lemon and to Lori Longbotham’s Lemon Zest.
Having never made anything from this cookbook, I didn’t know what to expect when I selected it as my Flavour of the Month. To say that I am pleased with my choice would be an understatement. I enjoyed every recipe I tried and only wish that I had the time to try even more. The Lemon Oil I made became the basis for several dishes including Green Olives with Lemon and Fennel, Lemon and Fig Tapenade and Roasted Artichokes with Lemon. Without question my two favourite recipes were the Creamy Lemon Fettuccine and the Lemony Bread-Pudding French Toast.
But it’s time to move on. May is just around the corner and there are new opportunities to discover within the cookbooks that sit on my creaking and groaning Overburdened Bookshelf. As some of you may already have heard, May is the month that has been chosen for the eat local challenge organized by Jen of Life Begins at 30. Sponsored by Locavores, the challenge aims to encourage participants to try a and eat as much locally-grown and produced food as possible. Check out the details of the May Eat Local Challenge and think about taking part. It’s an opportunity to discover some great resources where you live, as well as find out a bit more about the food you eat!
So as I welcome May, and the challenge ahead, I end my meal for the month of April with a digestivo or digestif. It is very common in Italy to end your meal with a drink to aid in digestion (especially if you’ve had one of those marathon, multi-course Italian Sunday lunches). Longbotham’s book offers a recipe for a sort of lemon vodka/limoncello/lemon syrup that can be used both as a topping for ice cream or a special dessert, as well as an after-dinner liqueur. I was intrigued. Initially I’d thought of trying a recipe for preserved lemons, but decided against it. If you’d like to try a great recipe for preserved lemons, check out Darla’s preserved lemons at Messy Cucina. And by the way, if you want to read some more lovely prose about citrus and this lovely time of year, check out some of Tea’s posts at Tea and Cookies. Her writing makes you want to immerse yourself in a garden of lemon trees!
In Italy, it is common to clink glasses and say "Alla Salute!", which means "to your good health". But we can also clink our glasses and say "Cin Cin!", or "cheers!" So I raise my glass to all of you. April was a wonderful month. I wish you all good health and happy eating in the month to come.
Sweet Preserved Lemons
Adapted from Lemon Zest by Lori Longbotham.
- 4 lemons
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 1-1/4 cups vodka, or as much as needed to cover the lemons
- 1 cup sugar
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the lemons and return to the boil. Allow to boil for 1 minute. Remove the lemons and allow to dry and cool down slightly.
- Cut each lemon lengthwise into quarters from the blossom end to within 1/2 an inch of the stem end, being careful to keep the lemon intact.
- Place the vanilla bean in the jar. Be sure to use a wide-mouth jar with at least a capacity of 1 quart. Pack the lemons into the jar.
- Combine the sugar and vodka in a pan. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Do not boil.
- Pour the syrup over the lemons. If necessary, add more vodka to cover the lemons.
- Seal the jar and refrigerate for at least 2 weeks; shaking the jar occasionally.
- The lemons will keep tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 months.
Note: The original recipe also calls for 1 star anise.