Nothing works better in summer than light and citrusy lemon as a flavouring.
LOVE THE LEMON
Be it a curry or a gravy , veggie or a meat, Indian food is incomplete without a generous squeeze of lime!
This citrus fruit lends itself to both sweet and savoury dishes and is indispensable in modern cooking.
Although the juicy yellow flesh is a little too tart to enjoy on its own, its citrus fragrance and sourness make it a winner ingredient. The bright yellow skin can be used as well, when zested — A kitchen essential.
Summer cooking tends to be lighter and less oily and recipes using lemon as a flavour instead of heavy spices are a good alternative.
French cooking too, relies heavily on lemon as I discovered in the kitchens of the culinary legend, Eric Frechon, Executive Chef, Hotel Le Bristol, Paris — a bastion of gastronomic excellence with no less than three Michelin stars whose light and exquisite recipes from his 20th anniversary menu (which we share below) at the Epicure Restaurant in the hotel incorporate lemon liberally. One can sample this in many of his French classics as he is a great defender of French food —- His creations, particularly the Limoncello dessert are theatrical in production and taste as divine.
SELECTION AND STORAGE
Look for unblemished, firm lemons that feel heavy for their size and have no tinges of green (which indicates that they’re underripe). Avoid very light lemons, as they are older, and will contain less juice.
The best ones for juicing or squeezing on food are those with a smooth, thin skin. Zesting lemons are those with a thicker, knobbly skin, which tend to be on the large size.
If you intend to use the zest, buy unwaxed lemons . If you can’t find them, scrub the lemons thoroughly before zesting.
Keep lemons in a perforated bag in the fridge (for a couple of weeks); in a fruit bowl (for around a week). Once cut, wrap in clingfilm and keep in the fridge for up to four days.
STUFFED LEEKS WITH LEMON
For 4 persons
8 leeks, 24 oysters or fresh shellfish like crabmeat/ tuna
4 slices of rye bread,
4 scallions, 1 lemon, 1 shallot, 1/2 bunch of chives, 100 grams butter
40 grams oyster juice or shellfish juice
30 grams lemon juice
12 grams vinegar
8 oysters or equivalent shellfish
20 grams chiselled shallots, 24 grams lemon “brunoise”, 40 grams melted butter 60 grams oyster vinaigrette
13 chive stalks, chopped
Blazed onion powder
Cut the leeks, retaining the roots. Wash thoroughly. Wrap the roots in baking foil and cook the leeks under a salamander grill. Once the leeks are all ‘black’, check if the inner flesh is cooked. Once cooled down, cut the white part of the leeks into 2cm pieces. Put to the side.
Mix all the ingredients together and store in a cool place.
Toast thin slices of rye bread.
Onion powder :
Peel the onions and trim in slivers (2cm thickness), blaze both sides on baking foil, then sweat-dry. Once dry, blend to obtain powder.
Presentation and Plating
In a blazed leek, insert 4 layers of oysters and 4 layers of leeks. Cover with melted butter. Place in the oven for 2 minutes at 180°C. Mix the vinaigrette with the garnish and add the mixture onto the leek. Place some toasted rye bread chips on top.
Decorate the plate with onion powder, serve.
HOW TO EXTRACT THE JUICE
To extract the maximum amount of juice, make sure the lemons are at room temperature, and firmly roll them back and forth a couple of times — that helps to break down some of the flesh’s fibres.
Alternatively, microwave lemons for around 30 seconds, depending on the size of the lemon — warming them up helps them give up more juice.
NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS OF LEMON
“The health benefits of lemon are attributed to its vitamin C content that helps in weight loss, improves digestion, and acts as a breath freshener. Lemons also help with the treatment of constipation, gums —dental problems, throat infections, fever, burns, respiratory disorders, and high blood pressure, while also benefiting your hair. Known for its therapeutic property through the generations, lemon also helps to strengthen your immune system.” Says Dr. Arun Pillai, Wellness Director at Dharana Wellness, Hilton Shillim.
Lemon is been extensively used in Ayurvedic medicines
Vakrashodhi:- Lemon juice when used to rinse or when consumed, leads to the cleansing of the oral cavity. Hence lemon juice is a good remedy for bad breath or tongue coating problem
Rochana:- Lemon increases digestion power.
Dantaharshna:- Being sour in taste, it may cause a tingling sensation of the teeth.
Trushna nivarama:- It relieves thirst, hence lemon juice is one of the preferred drinks to quench thirst.
Shula nivarana:- Relives abdominal colic pain, and hence one of the main reason where we use lemon as a home remedy
Lemon is been proven not only to help in cases like excess body weight and fat also in following conditions
Rehydrates Your Body
Flushes out Toxins
Aids Digestion and Elimination
Boosts Immune System
Lowers Blood Pressure
Boosts Energy Level
Freshens Your Breath
Improves Skin Complexion
FISH WITH LEMON AND ALMONDS
The following quantities are based on 4 people?Line-caught fleshy fish
2x 1kg firm white fish,
1 white bread loaf (unsliced),
1 egg yolk,
20 flaked almonds,
5cl olive oil,
1 small shallot
Curry & pepper oil
1cl lemon juice,
5cl olive oil,
2g curry powder,
10g crushed pepper,
10g chopped chives,
Warm the olive oil and add the curry powder, then mix well and leave to infuse. When the oil has cooled completely, filter and add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
Carefully clean the fish using a small knife. Rinse, then wash and debone the fillets. Cut the thickest part of the fillets into 130g portions. Keep chilled. Use a salami machine to cut four slices of bread, 1mm thick. Stick five of the flaked almonds onto each one using the egg yolk beaten with a little water. Turn the slice over and set on top of a fillet seasoned with salt.
Remove the stalks from the spinach, then rinse and drain in a salad spinner. Transfer to a mixing bowl with the finely diced shallot.
Cooking the fish
Pour a dash of olive oil into a hot non-stick pan, then place the fillets in, bread-side down. Cook for 3 minutes on a gentle heat. Turn the fish and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. Sprinkle a few grains of coarse pepper and sea salt on the top (bread side).
Plating and garnish
Season the spinach with two tablespoons of curry oil and adjust the seasoning. Mix the chives and pepper in with the remaining curry oil. Arrange the spinach leaves on the plate and place the fillet on top, then finish with a dash of the curry oil.
(RECIPES COURTESY LE BRISTOL, PARIS)
LEMON DESSERT? Frosted with Limoncello, with pear and preserved lemon
The following quantities are based on 6 people
Lemon glaze 500g (17.6 oz) neutral glaze, 100g (3.5 oz) lemon juice,
3 lemons, 40g (1.4 oz) Limoncello liqueur, yellow food colouring
Lemon foam 300gr (1 oz) lemonade, 150g pear juice 75g (2.6 oz) lemon juice, 25g (8.8 oz superfine sugar), 4 gelatin sheets
Accompaniments 2 pears, 200g (7 oz) preserved lemons, 4 sprigs of lemon thyme, juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
Green sugar leaves 250g (8.8 oz) superfine sugar, 100g (3.5 oz) water, 10g (0.35 oz) glucose syrup, green pistachio and lemon yellow food colouring, lemon flavouring
French meringue 100g (3.5 oz) superfine sugar, 100g (3.5 oz) egg white, 100g (3.5 oz) icing sugar, zest of 1 lemon
Wash the lemons and zest. Squeeze to obtain 100g juice. Mix the lemon zest and juice with the rest of the ingredients and mix with a hand blender for 3 minutes. Leave to infuse overnight. Pass through a fine-mesh and keep chilled.
Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water. Heat half the pear juice and allow the gelatine to melt in the liquid; then add the rest of the ingredients. Mix, pass through a fine strainer and chill in the fridge. Mix the jelly in a blender, transfer to a siphon, and keep chilled.
Wash and peel the pears, then cut into 5mm cubes. Mix with the lemon juice and preserved lemon. Add the lemon zest and chopped lemon thyme, then mix and keep chilled.
Green sugar leaves
Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a pan, then add the glucose syrup. Heat to 120°C and add a few drops of the food colourings. Using a brush, wash the edges of the pot and allow to cook to 165°C. Add a few drops of the lemon flavouring when the pot is off the heat. Pour onto baking sheet and fashion six leaves from the mixture.
In a stand mixer, beat the eggs at a medium speed, gradually adding the superfine sugar. Add the icing sugar and lemon zest. Pipe the meringues onto parchment paper and cook for 3 minutes in an oven set to 120°C, then lower the temperature to 80°C and leave to cook for 2 hours. Store in a dry area.
Siphon the lemon foam into a lemon-shaped mould, then place a teaspoonful of the lemon garnish into the centre of the foam. Close the mould and freeze. Remove the lemon from the mould and coat in the glaze. Set on a plate covered with crumble meringue and decorate with a sugar leaf.
(RECIPES COURTESY: LE BRISTOL, PARIS)