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NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus Lemons are used in almost every layer of this meal prepared by Jessica Schneider of Tonica. The orzo was cooked with lemon juice, the chicken was topped with a lemon and caper sauce, and a lemon twist was used as a garnish. Schneider said she often cooks her asparagus with lemon juice and adds lemon pepper to her chicken, as well.
What are they good for?
Squeezing some fresh lemon juice into the water you drink does more than provide a pleasant flavor, according to Steve Marcellis of Ottawa, who has been studying herbal medicine for more than a decade. If you make that a part of your daily routine, it can keep you healthy.
“That’ll kill any kind of virus,” Marcellis said. “You’ll never get sick.”
Lemons have antibacterial qualities and can reduce the body’s pH to bring it back to a healthy level, according to Marcellis. They also can help alleviate intestinal problems.
“I just can’t say enough about them, honestly,” Marcellis said.
Just a couple squeezes of lemon in a glass of water can bring relief from flu symptoms in a matter of hours, Marcellis said, adding that he recommends the practice to maintain good health.
“Start your day with that, because it’s phenomenal,” Marcellis said. “It will change your life.”
Steve Marcellis creates and sells natural remedies through his home business, Mondo Botanicals. You can find him online at mondobotanicals.com or on Facebook.
Tip: Cut a lemon long-ways into a triangle wedge to get juice. Cut it in half the other way and slice into circles to perch on a glass or twist into a garnish.
Zesting a lemon: Grate only the thin, yellow outer layer of the lemon peel, not the white layer beneath it.
The “underappreciated” lemon will steal the spotlight from other citrus fruits this year, if the dining trends prediction of Sterling-Rice Group is correct.
Nora Suarez of Peru, a baker at Nonie’s Bakery in Utica, shared what she thinks is so special about lemons.
“People want that refreshing lemon, spring/summertime flavor,” she said, adding that lemons are enjoyed year-round. “That flavor kind of brings you out of the winter blues.”
Suarez described the taste of lemon as a “clean” flavor and said it plays a unique role in a sugary cake.
“That tartness tones down all the sweetness,” she said. “It is a nice contrast.”
But lemons shine beyond the bakery, as well.
Jessica Schneider of Tonica keeps lemons on hand for a variety of purposes. She uses the acidic fruit to help bring balance to a meal.
“According to the Food Network, you always have to have a little bit of acid and a little bit of sugar,” Schneider said.
Here are some fun places to find lemons this season:
On the side Schneider makes orzo with butter, lemon and parsley. The pasta can be used as a side dish or serve as a bed for the main dish.
In a sauce Chicken picatta gets a light, summery flavor when topped with a sauce of garlic, capers, white wine, butter and lemon juice.
At the bar “I put them more in my cocktails than I cook with them,” Schneider said.
She whips up a lemon martini with Vanilla Smirnoff to provide sweetness and offset the tart lemon liquor.
“It’s refreshing,” she said of the drink. “It’s summery. It’s very light.”
What type of occasion elicits a homemade lemon martini?
“A Saturday,” she joked, noting that lemon-flavored drinks are fun all year long.
On the grill Asparagus and lemon juice are staples for Schneider in the summer months.
“Anytime I make asparagus on the grill anywhere I always put lemon juice on it,” she said. “It’s so yummy that way.”
Added to fish on the grill, lemon juice actually changes the consistency of the meat, Schneider said.
The citrus also goes well squeezed over a bacon-wrapped filet mignon at a cookout.
In the seasoning Lemon pepper goes well on chicken, Schneider said, even when it is just tossed into a slow cooker.
As a garnish You’ve seen a lemon slice served with a glass of water or tea at a restaurant — why not try it at home? You can also twist that slice and use it to top off your entree with a bling of color.
For dessert Danish and cupcakes and bars — oh my!
Nonie’s Bakery uses lemons in — and on — a variety of baked goods.
“It’s pretty versatile, so we’ve got it in pastries, cookies, cakes and pies,” Suarez said. “We’ve always got fresh lemons.”
Her lemon chiffon pie is made with lemon zest, with more of the flavorful part of the fruit sprinkled on top.
“It gives it a lot more lemon-intense flavor,” Suarez said.
The “lemon cloud” cupcakes served at Nonie’s have a lemon filling and lemon icing, served with a candy rainbow garnish.
Some people just can’t get enough lemon, and Suarez sometimes makes lemon cake with lemon curd filling and lemon icing — triple the flavor.
The “lemon crinkle” cookies Suarez makes are rolled in powdered sugar, giving them a crinkly yellow-and-white appearance.
Lemon juice is a practical ingredient, too. It can be sprinkled over fresh fruit toppings to keep them from oxidizing and turning brown before they are eaten.
LEMON CURD (CAKE FILLING) 3 lemons 1½ cups sugar ¼ pound unsalted butter, room temperature 4 large eggs ½ cup lemon juice (3-4 lemons) 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Remove the zest of three lemons. Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.
Pour the mixture into a 2-quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees, or just below simmer. Remove from heat and cool or refrigerate.
EASY CHICKEN PICCATA Serves two 2 skinless boneless breasts Salt and pepper to taste All-purpose flour for dredging 1 egg Panko bread crumbs 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon capers, drained ½ cup white wine Juice from half a lemon 2 tablespoons cold butter 1 crushed garlic clove 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
Pound the chicken breasts until thin and even. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Coat with flour, dip in beaten egg, cover in Panko crumbs.
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken until nicely browned and crispy. Set aside.
Add garlic and capers to oil (lightly smash to release brine). Pour in the white wine and deglaze the pan. Reduce by half. (About two minutes.)
Combine lemon juice, water and butter. Cook and stir continuously to form a thick sauce. Reduce heat to low and add fresh parsley.
Serve with sauce spooned onto chicken over orzo with steamed asparagus.
LEMON MARTINI 4 shots vanilla Smirnoff vodka 4 shots lemoncello liqueur Splash of lemonade
Combine in a martini shaker with ice. Shake until ice crystals form on shaker. Pour into chilled martini glass rimmed with sugar. Garnish with lemon slice.
LEMON CRINKLE COOKIES 2¾ cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon salt Zest of 2 large lemons 1½ cups granulated sugar 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 large egg ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice ½ cup powdered sugar for rolling cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Beat butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add lemon zest, egg, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Mix until combined. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
Roll rounded tablespoons of dough into balls and roll in powdered sugar. Place on prepared baking sheets, about 1½ inches apart.
Bake 8-10 minutes or until cookies are slightly brown around the edges and set. Let cookies sit on the baking sheets for two minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
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