October 1, 2022

A la Carte: How Do I Love Lemons? Let me Count the Ways …

Lee White

Over the past few weeks there have been so many holidays– Easter Sunday, Passover and Ramadan– and all had something to do with food.

For Lent, we gave up something we wanted (often sweet stuff) for 40 days and had to have fish on Fridays; for Passover nothing leavening (desserts made with matzoh and matzoh for breakfast, lunch and dinner for eight days) and, at Ramadan, which lasts for a month, each day the first meal must begin before dawn, while the second meal begins after sunset.

This week it’s Mother’s Day.

For most mothers, me included, we are fasting — but dieting (except for those, who are doing the intermittent fasting, so never mind about that!).

I will try to get a reservation for Mother’s Day Brunch.

If you mothers are cooking (and many, like me, actually love cooking), make something delicious that is sweet but tart and pretend it isn’t caloric.

I love lemon anything and this may be my favorite of all. 

Lemon Shortbread
From Felicia Gotta, one of my favorite pastry chefs ever

Photo by Adam Bartoszewic on Unsplash.

1 pound unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon lemon oil (if you have it)
½ teaspoon lemon zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups cake flour
1 cup cornstarch

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add lemon oil and lemon zest and mix.

Sift together both flours and the cornstarch. Mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Do not overmix.

Spread and press into a greased 13”x 9” pan or use your favorite shortbread molds. Prick entire surface with a fork at one-inch intervals.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until slightly golden. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes.

Slice with a sharp knife into the size you’d like (1” by 1” squares is nice).

Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar (optional). Enjoy warm or at room temp. Store in an airtight container

Lemon Cream

Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax (Chapters, Shelburne, VT, 1994)

There is almost nothing better with a little lemon cream (or curd) on top. It’s incredible with the lemon shortbread or lovely in a little tartlet, topped with berries or even with a berry pie. This will keep in the refrigerator, tightly closed, for at least a week.

Makes about 3 cups

Grated zest of 1 lemon
½ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons water
3 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream, well chilled

  1. Place lemon zest and juice, sugar, butter and water in a heavy nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until butter melts.
  2. In a bowl, beat eggs and egg yolks with a whisk, just until blended. Whisk in about 1/3 of the hot lemon-butter mixture to warm the eggs; return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, just until the mixture thickens, usually about 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and strain into a large heatproof container. Press a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent a “skin” from forming. Refrigerate until cold. (The curd can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Chill until needed.)
  4. Up to 20 minutes before serving, beat cream until it forms soft peaks. Fool cream into the lemon mixture. Cover and chill until needed.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years but now lives in Groton, Conn. Contact Lee at leeawhite@aol.com.