Meyer Lemon Season: A Winter Sanity Saver

In my humble opinion, I think that winter - especially dark, gray, gloomy ones - should be divided into multiple seasons based on the fruits and vegetables that are at their peak. Wouldn't this make the months go by faster, always having something delicious to look forward to? Some suggestions might be: Succulent Satsuma Mandarin Season, Greatest Grapefruit Season, Sweetest Broccoli Season and there should definitely be a Meyer Lemon Season.

I’ve already gushed on this blog about how much I love Meyer lemons and the foods made from them: Meyer Lemon Layer Cake, Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade, even a simple salad dressing of Meyer lemon juice and olive oil somehow brings the dish from humble to exquisite. These tangy, orangey, almost-but-not-quite sweet little beauties are something that I look forward to every year, relying on their Spring-like flavor to get me through the winter. Somehow, the contrast of that bright, golden yellow peel (somehow brighter and more orange than the pale skins of normal lemons) against the gray backdrop of rainy Oregon weather makes it bearable to stay inside so much.

While I was in Colorado for Christmas (a place blessed with winters full of sunshine as well as snow), my family roamed around the desert tasting the wines of the region and I found myself falling into my usual wine-tasting trap. It’s the same story every year: we start drinking and the competition begins...it’s me, and my pocketbook, against the Marketing Guru who first decided to line up gourmet food items along the shelves of various wineries. Unfortunately for me, he or she always wins and I come home with a few jars of something yummy-sounding (It must be the alcohol?! Damn!).

This year I came home with a Meyer Lemon Spread and a jar of Caribbean Rum Caramel Sauce. The caramel will top a bread pudding later on or perhaps go into a batch of ice cream with candied pecans. The Meyer lemon spread ended up in some Coconut-topped Meyer Lemon Bars this weekend. The bars got rave reviews from the male football-watching contingent taking over my couches last Sunday (oh, there's nothing like feeding a bunch of hungry men who have been busy watching football all afternoon and are more than happy to be offered any kind of snack - a great ego booster). However, the spread was a bit sweet for my tastes – I like my lemon bars a little more tart and tangy. Next time, I’ll be using the Meyer lemon curd that is already in my repertoire, and I can already imagine that sunshiny yellow curd (the spread had only a pale yellow color) sandwiched between soft, sugar cookie-like crust and crumbly coconut-scented topping washing the winter away.

Coconut-topped Meyer Lemon Bars, makes 16 bars
inspired from a little recipe attached to the spread

**I made these with whole-wheat pastry flour, just because I could, and while you can certainly use all-purpose flour, the taste of these little bars was not compromised – so, why not? The recipe is an amalgam of a few recipes for lemon bars, modified for my tastes and to boost the flavor of them. As always, use the most high-quality ingredients you can afford, and you’ll be rewarded with high-quality taste.

½ cup powdered sugar
10 tbsp cold unsalted sweet cream butter, cut into cubes
1 ½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. Meyer lemon zest
pinch of salt

6 oz. Meyer lemon curd (recipe here)
**Remember, leftovers of lemon curd are never a bad thing! Try these.

1 cup grated coconut (with the tang of the curd, use sweetened or add a little sugar to the mix )
3 tbsp. cold unsalted sweet cream butter, cut into cubes
1 ½ tsp. good vanilla extract
2 tbsp. whole-wheat pastry flour

Preheat your oven to 325F. Cover the bottom and sides of an 8” square pan with parchment paper. Combine the sugar, butter, zest, flour and salt in a food processor and pulse until it resembles a fine meal. Dump the meal into the prepared pan and press it down with your fingers along the bottom of the pan to form the crust. Bake for 30 minutes or until a light golden brown. Let cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300F. Spread Meyer lemon curd evenly on the on the crust. Combine coconut, remaining butter and vanilla extract in the food processor (no need to clean it) and pulse several times. Then add the 2 tbsp flour and pulse a few more times until it becomes crumbly. Sprinkle this on top of the meyer lemon curd, then bake the bars for 20 minutes. Let cool, remove by lifting the parchment paper, then cut into 16 squares.

11 comments from you:

cookiecrumb said...

I'm looking out the living room window at the rain slashing the Meyer lemon tree and the navel orange tree. Both are bright beyond reason.
I'll be making candied orange rind soon, and tomorrow we're taking a huge box of oranges to the local food bank! Feels so good.
But we're keeping the lemons.

vlb5757 said...

Beautifully written and there should be sub-seasons according to what we are eating. Everything sounds just wonderful and I truly wish I could be there or you can be here cooking for me!

Julie said...

Citrus fruit certainly does brighten the winter months and there's such an amazing variety. Sadly, Meyer lemons appear only occasionally at my grocery store. I'm sure you see them more regularly on the west coast and I'm completely envious of people like cookiecrumb who are able to grow their own.

I can just imagine how wonderful lemon curd made with Meyer lemons must be. And coconut bars with lemon curd? Wow!

Ann said...

Wonderful! They look mouth-watering delicious.

Meyer lemons are the best for preserved lemon, too. And they look beautiful in the jars (http://www.redactedrecipes.com/2006/07/preserved_lemon.html).

michelle said...

Cookie, soooo good to *see* you! Hmm, I'm not envious of the rain, but I'm certainly envious of your citrus trees...especially the lemons. Might have to come and get some...

Vickie, hello dear! I wish the same! Wait until I move to a warmer climate though...THEN we'll wash away the winter with some tasty food!!

Julie, I had never even heard of Meyer lemons until I moved here, and I'm going to truly miss them if I can't get them after I leave! And I have to say it's the most flavorful and complex lemon curd I've ever had (way better than regular ole lemons!!). I wish I could send you some!!

Ann, Hello! I'm inspired! I think I'll have to do that and take a jar with me! Thanks for coming by!

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

I absolutely adore your food-labeled seasons idea. Thinking of December & January as Meyer lemon season rather than the heart of winter would be a great shift.

And Meyer lemon and vanilla marmalade?? I have to get me some of that. Or make it. I'm going to be googling it now.

katiez said...

I'm going to be in the U.S. in Feb. Maybe it will still be Myer Lemon Season and I can finally find out what makes them so wonderful.... something else I;ve never eaten...

Caty said...

They look wonderful! I'd love to try a meyer lemon, I've heard so much abut them but I don't think you can get them round here.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Goodness Michelle I do love your seasons and it's soooo easy to see Meyer Lemons washing the winter away. I'm all for it!

michelle said...

Hi Sally, Thanks for coming by my little blog. The Marmalade recipe came from Saveur magazine - let me know if you can't find it and I'll send it to you.

Katie, they should still be here in February. What part of the US will you be coming to? And really, everything about them makes them wonderful!!

Caty, If you ever come across them, do try them - you won't regret it!! BTW - I love the name of your blog!!

Tanna, Anything to get some sunshine in the winter gets my vote!!

Anonymous said...

We have a very young Meyer Lemon grove that is just hitting maturity so we'll have a lot of Meyers hitting themarkets this fall. It's exciting to hear that so many of you love these great lemons. Its been difficult however, to the the retail grocers to carry them! Keep asking your local retailer for them. We start picking in early October and the season won't end until March.