What to do with 30 freshly picked lemons without spending endless hours drilling them out to make lemon sorbets (more about that in a later post!)
There always seems to be a glut of lemons here in Kefalonia, which is perhaps why all meat dishes – well, most recipes here in fact – have a lemon added to them, or at least a lemon sitting decoratively on the side of the plate.
There’s just so much lemon juice a freezer can take! And my recent foray into the world of filling citrus fruit with sorbet is definitely not energy, or quantity, efficient.
When I was given all these lemons by our neighbours I had a momentary panic. Like most people, I hate wastage, and I just couldn’t think past lemon ice cubes and drizzle cake. Then I pictured our kitchen counter back home; we still have a jar of preserved lemons – a lone lemon left – that I made a year ago, a recipe taken from Ottolenghi’s first cook book.
So that’s what I’ve started. Two jars for us and some smaller jars for presents. Patience is required because the end result takes a minimum of 5 weeks
Ingredients per jar:
6 organic unwaxed lemons
6 tbsp salt
3 sprigs rosemary
3 small hot chillies (optional)
juice of 6 lemons
Sterilize your jar – I put mine in a hot oven. Make a horizontal, then a vertical cut (yes, otherwise known as a cross!) in the lemons, about 3/4 of the way down so they stay attached at the bottom. Fill each one with salt and then place into your jar, squeezing them down so it’s a really nice tight fit.
Seal the jar and leave for a week on the kitchen counter.
Part 2: one week later
Push the lemons down with a wooden spoon, or anything that will apply pressure and release the juices without squashing the lemons completely out of shape.
Add the rosemary, chilies and lemon juice, and then finish off with a thin layer of olive oil.
Seal the jar and leave another 4 weeks in a cool place (THAT will be the challenge here in these Greek 35 degree summer days!)
Add it chopped or sliced to any meat dish or stew for that lovely lemony flavour.
For anyone who has given mushrooms a dismissive shrug in the past, this recipe may just be the one to change your mind.
Packed with the flavour of mixed, exotic mushrooms (or just flat and portobello if you don’t want to stray too far into the world of fungi), with hints of lemon, thyme and garlic and the thick creaminess of blended butter beans, you will be wishing you’d had that proferred second helping instead of letting someone else have three bowls!
I thank Sarah Britton’s ‘My New Roots’ inspiration… although I have played a bit with her original recipe.
Ingredients: Serves 4
250g assorted mushrooms or a mix of flat and portobello (give button mushrooms a wide berth)
1 litre vegetable broth (you can use Marigold powder instead)
2 red onions, chopped
1 large leek, chopped
1 generous tbsp coconut oil or olive oil for cooking
2 tsp fresh chopped thyme (or 1 tsp dried if you can’t find fresh)
3 garlic cloves, squeezed, minced or otherwise mushed
juice of 1/2 lemon …or lime
400g can butter beans (235g drained), or any white bean you like
freshly ground black pepper
garnish of chopped coriander, parsely or basil
olive oil to drizzle at the end
Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp cloth then chop into rough chunks (they’ll end up blended so don’t fret about size).
Heat the coconut or olive oil and add the chopped onions and leeks as well as thyme.
Cook over a medium heat until they are soft.
Add the garlic, lemon juice. some sea salt and the mushrooms. Stir until these are also soft – ensure nothing catches or burns.
Remove some of the smaller mushrooms, or decorative, exotic ones and put aside for decoration at the end.
Meanwhile (and for those who don’t ‘do’ meanwhile, this is an easy one), blend the butter beans and vegetable broth until creamy. That’s it! .
Add this creamy mix to the mushroom/leek/onion pot and simmer for about 5-10 minutes before blending the lot. Add more broth or water at this point if it’s too thick – I found that the consistency depended on the type of mushrooms I’d used.
Taste and season as desired. Ladel the soup into separate bowls, garnish with the cooked mushrooms you put aside as well as some chopped greenery and a drizzle of virgin olive oil.