Friday, August 16, 2013

foodie friday mystery ingredient club~

today i am joining michael lee west in her brand new girls gone wild with mystery makings! ok, so maybe i embellished a little bit, but she was kind enough to send a group of us various jars of meyers lemon products, prepared in different ways, and its up to us to thrill our very own taste buds any which way we choose, and to hopefully entertain you in return~

i am rather a citrus addict, i have several lemon trees and adore the fresh taste of lemon 24/7, but preserved lemons are a totally different beast, their rich salty taste gives you a brand new experience with a well loved fruit. i have made preserved lemons before, but i didn't seek out recipes like i did this time, i can tell you i will be putting away many more jars of preserved lemons with this winters harvest because the choices are mouthwatering. usually i make rich savory dishes with preserved lemons, such as these exotic stews with moroccan and middle eastern flavors...

when my boxes arrived i was at sea dream, how exciting to get packages by the sea! and since i was by the sea, i just so happen to have some halibut, and this jar of meyers lemon zest in oil happily mentions its great with fish... it sounded like a win win for me! i think it took me all of 10' to have found a recipe, twisted open my jar and stepped into a world of new rich flavors. i don't have a very well stocked kitchen at the beach, but i had exactly what i needed to make this fast and delicious halibut~

Pan Roasted Line Caught Halibut with Soy-Lemon Sauce (ok my line was standing in costco)

4 6-ounce center-cut halibut fillets, skin-off
2 large minced shallots
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup chopped preserved lemons
1/4 cup chopped chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil to cook

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large saute pan or cast iron skillet, coated lightly with olive oil, season the halibut and sear until brown on top side, about 2 minutes. Flip halibut and add shallots and tomatoes in between the pieces of fish, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil place in oven. Roast for about 12-14 minutes until cooked through. Transfer the fish to a plate and place pan on high heat. Deglaze with wine and add preserved lemons and soy sauce. Reduce by half. Check for seasoning. Plate fish and encircle with sauce. Garnish with chives.

i confess i added some ginger halfway through my meal, i was craving lemon and ginger together, it was an excellent addition~


the preserved lemon zest was so delicious that i used it in a very quick and easy lunch the next day. i adore sourdough bread, only the finest from the west coast, thinly sliced. i then mixed shredded chicken with mayonnaise, heaping spoonfuls of the preserved lemons, some fresh lemon juice, pepper and loads of finely chopped fresh mint. i spooned it on the french bread and topped with fresh juicy heirloom tomatoes.

oh my... it was heaven. fresh, clean, savory, salty and smooth. i was truly licking my fingers. i make lemon chicken salad often, fresh from my trees, but this was different, none of the tart zing from fresh lemons, just a warm savory taste, coupled with the fresh mint and melt in your mouth sun warmed heirloom juicy tomatoes. simple living truly at its best~


another quick idea i had to jazz up our lunch of chicken soup was to prepare a prefab loaf of bread laced with the lemon preserved zest. i just slathered it in the slits, sprinkled some fresh thyme, baked and bingo i had a freshly dressed loaf of bread perfect for dunking~


along with the lemon zest in oil we each received whole preserved lemons and a gorgeous meyer lemon sea salt, great big bright flakes of power packed lemon zinging salt. WOW, i have never tried anything like that before! i was thrilled when i made a simple avocado shrimp salad and sprinkled the lemon sea salt through out the salad. omg is all i have to say, the bites are beyond flavor filled.

normally i would have loved to have shared loads of lemon dishes, platters, glasses, napkins, placemats, you name it, i own it kind of thing, back home, but i have been spending my days by the sea this month, the foggiest sea in the world... i just read we get 200 days of fog a year, that means the entire summer, so instead of sharing my hot inland citrus world of plenty, i am in the cool dark world of gray, greens and blues, BUT when i was staring at the sea, eating my salad today and i would get a bite of the lemon sea salt, i swear i saw little bursts of sunshine dance across the water... i am not kidding, the lemon salt is that vibrant.

i am glad it was a cold winters/summers day for my first taste, had i been home i don't know if the intensity would have been as brilliant as it was in the dark dank swirling world of gray. HERE it packs a powerful punch of sunshine~

shrimp and avocado salad

bay shrimp
red onion
meyer lemon juice and zest
meyer lemon citrus sea salt flakes


on to the beautiful jar of preserved lemons. since i have made savory dishes before i wanted to try something totally new for me. normally i have it tucked deep into richly scented stews, this time i tried it straight from the jar in a raw salad. WOW! BAM! KABOOM!

oh my, talk about a real zing in your step! i took fresh greens mixed almost 50/50 with fresh mint, i LOVE mint. i then layered red onions, the sweetest cantaloupe my neighbor just gave me, salty creamy feta and then sliced one quartered piece of lemon to spread about.

i took the briney juice from the jar and added a bit of olive oil, pepper and honey and drizzled over the top. it was an explosion of taste in my mouth! the lemon with the mint and sweet cantaloupe with salty feta is THE perfect combo! since my neighbor had just given me her cantaloupe i took a salad over for her too, she had never tried preserved lemons before, as she took her first bite i watched her eyes pop large and round, as we chatted she couldn't stop picking at the salad, how fun for us both to try new flavors straight from the jar~


although my days at the beach are shrouded in fog, i know that cool soups would be a welcome taste back home for my husband in the heat of the day. this looked so simple and delicious with the flavorful mix of preserved lemons, tomatoes, tarragon and mint topped over your favorite cucumber soup~


when i opened my jar of lemons this wee little recipe was tucked in the label, i couldn't imagine what it might taste like, but on a foggy day i will to bake any thing that might be warm and wonderful... and it was! the shocking part is the heavens parted for the first full sunny afternoon in a month, but of course it brought the roaring cold wind, which made this perfect for a chilled afternoon to enjoy this warm, moist, airy, lightly lemon little wonder.

first i have to say i don't like pound cake, too dense for me, this was not. it was so easy to make i did it by hand. i took the cakes straight from the oven and placed the tray outside to cool in the icy air. as i carried them in, slightly warm to the touch in just scant minutes, i thought what the heck, cut into one, i mean i do NEED to know what they taste like... in a few minutes i had eaten 1/2 the cake before dinner... it was so delicious! as always i share with my neighbor, she was delighted with hers, ok more like ecstatic, pound cake is her thing, and it was a success for her! for my husband i ladled fresh fruit and ice cream, but let me tell you its perfect straight from the oven...


as long as we are expounding on these wonderful jars of meyers lemon, i would like to toss one more into the ring, and yes, i did save the best for last. hold onto your hats and buckle up, because i must tell you this is one heck of a ride, meyers lemon salted caramel... FAN FREAKING TASTIC! personally i don't know how i never ran into this before, its the richest, butteriest most wonderful taste i can truly recall... as a sugar addict, i have a vast recollection :-)

the moment i plunged my finger deep into the jar i knew i was a goner... what you don't use your fingers for tasting? i am sure there is a water shortage somewhere that i saved a spoon from needing a bath ;-) i knew instantly that i wanted to pair this with puff pastry, again, being at the beach, i have very little to work with, but i had some fresh pears and apples, thats all i needed for a sublime dessert~

the very worst part of my day is when i realized my husband was coming over for dinner, i thought i would get to devour everyone of these by myself drizzled with this fabulous decadent sauce, but alas i was forced to share :-(

and what was his unprompted comment? mind you, i live with a very staid individual, who barely grunts over all my cooking on a day to day basis. but this sauce... this sauce made this very quiet, very detached, very uninvolved man with food on any kind of basis, look up and say to me, that is one wicked sauce. who said that? wicked sauce? well he was spot on, true a term not heard since we were in our teens a gazillion years ago, but for him to actually look up and on comment on any meal was almost earth shattering, bottom line, i was not the only one having my socks knocked off with this tingling delicious sauce~


i would like to thank michael lee for her EXTREMELY kind and generous gift to all of us participating in todays foodie friday mystery meyer lemon ingredient day. what a treat to receive such beautiful gifts and to be able to share from our tables to yours, i am humbled and thankful to be included, thank you so much for bringing sunshine into my cold gray days~

*** as a funny aside, i received this beautiful tree as a gift, perfect timing to share with our mystery meyer lemon ingredient day. i thought it would be cute to haul the tree down to the beach to show off that california fun in the sun you all think we are always enjoying. i had to walk up a steep dune, trudging back and forth 2 times to haul up my props. i had noticed some people at a beach house staring at me, i had arrived just as the gates opened.

i am on my hands and knees trying to get a decent foggy shot when up marches a very angry redhead, ok lets be honest, her hair was maroon, the exact same color as her parka and lipstick, just her coloring along was frightening, but she is SCREAMING AT ME, YOU CAN'T PLANT A TREE HERE!

oh i thought it was hysterical, but she was so NASTY that i gave it right back to her... i said i was taking pics, do you see a shovel any where? i mean really, like i am going to plant a citrus tree in freezing temps and gale force winds on a public beach with no water, did i mention dunes, as in NO dirt? when i think of all the things that go on at that beach and i am being chased down for taking a pic of a citrus tree i will forever laugh until i double over on this one.

she was obviously not a gardener, a citrus tree, come on, it could have been a banana tree or an orchid being transplanted in the arctic with about as much chance of survival, but the reality is some home owner was spying on me and terrified that they would lose their view and be forced to drink lemonade, eat lemon meringue pie and preserve their very own lemons come winter!

thanks so much for ALL the fun MLW, my boxes of lemons were such a delight to play with at sea dream, and now i will forever have this beach memory of when i tried to plant a lemon tree in dune and was instantly caught!

if anyone is still here reading, i am joining foodie friday, please stop by and visit the links of the other participants, i only hope they had as much fun as me!