Pucker-up! Spring is here!
Last week, I wrote about how our bodies naturally crave the seasonal foods of spring. The first fruits and veggies in spring are astringent, bitter, sharp and refreshing. In our area of the Midwest things like rhubarb, nettles, chives, asparagus, radishes, spinach, peas, fiddleheads, and ramps come to mind.
It’s going to be a while before anything is ripe. I still have two feet of snow covering my garden. I’m resisting the urge to go shovel it off and start planting. It’s only March. Last year, if I remember correctly, it snowed in May.
I’m grateful we live in an era of mobility. We can buy almost any fruit or vegetables anytime we want it.
In the meantime, I naturally gravitate towards foods that have the flavors of spring and are already growing elsewhere like Florida and California.
There is one fruit that encompasses all the flavors of spring—astringent, bitter, sharp and refreshing—lemons.
Lemons can be used in many different ways. I keep a bowl on my kitchen counter and use them in all different kinds of recipes—from sweet to savory. Lemons make everything taste better.
For breakfast, I squeeze the juice into my smoothies or over fresh fruit. At lunchtime, I make quick salad dressing of vinegar, olive oil and lemon. At dinner time, Lemon bars, lemon quick bread, and lemon pavlovas find their way on my dessert plate.
Lemon pavlovas where one of the first things my dad taught me how to bake. We made them together every spring, and they were always our family’s Easter dessert.
These may seem complicated, but they are really easy to make. While the meringues are baking, make the lemon curd. Both the meringues and the curd keep well. Store the curd in the refrigerator and the meringue shells in an airtight container for up to a week.
3 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tsp corn starch
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 -1 cup of lemon curd**
2 cups whipped cream
1 pint of raspberries
Preheat oven to 275℉. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites, with a hand mixer until foamy. Add vanilla and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1-2 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff peaks form.
With a large spoon, spoon about 1/2 cup of meringue into eight mounds on the parchment lined baking sheet. Shape into a 3-inch circle with a well in the center. Bake at 275° for 50 minutes until the meringue shells are very a very light golden brown and dry to the touch. Turn off oven and keep the door closed until the oven is cold. Remove meringues and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
3 eggs, plus one yolk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 tablespoons butter
In a large saucepan, over medium heat, whisk eggs, sugar and lemon zest. Slowly add the lemon Juice. Cook over medium-low and whisk until mixture is thickened. Add the butter and stir until combined. Pour into a glass bowl; cool. Cover and keep frigerated until ready to serve.
To assemble the pavlovas:
Blop a dollop of lemon curd in the center of each meringue shell and smooth out with the back of a spoon. Top with whipped cream, and raspberries (optional) for garnish. Serve immediately.