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I couldn’t imagine my kitchens without lemons; there is no other ingredient that can transform a dish in a single squeeze.
PRESERVED LEMONS

Although available all year round, Spanish lemons taste best when left to ripen on the tree and the months of January and February are the perfect time to enjoy their fabulous aroma.

Choose lemons that are brightly coloured and heavy for their size with a thin, undamaged skin. Lemons contain excellent vitamin c, lots of sharp, acidic juice, and also fragrant oil that's found in the zest. They have many health benefits that have been known for centuries. The two biggest are lemons’ strong antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting powers and their use as a weight loss aid because lemon juice is a digestive aid and liver cleanser.

The average lemon contains three tablespoons of juice. To get the maximum amount of juice, roll a room-temperature lemon on the counter before cutting it open. Applying a little pressure with your hand as you roll it. This bursts the tiny juice-filled cells in the lemon's flesh, allowing more of the juice to be extracted.

The acidity in lemons will react with different foods in different ways. For example, the acid will help dissolve connective tissues in meat, which is why lemon juice is commonly used in marinades — it also helps tenderize tougher cuts of meat. But be careful not to overdo it: too much acid, or marinating for too long, can have the opposite effect, causing the muscle fibres to get tougher. The acid in lemon juice can also curdle milk, and while it can cause green vegetables to turn a drab olive colour, it will help vegetables such as potatoes and turnips maintain their white colour.

As lemons are so plentiful in Mallorca, it’s a great idea to preserve them in salt. They make great gifts too for discerning cooks.  Many Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipes also call for preserved lemons, It's quite easy to do, though it takes at least three weeks before the lemons are ready to use and they are better after 3-4 months.


Preserved lemons have a deep, intense lemony flavor that goes in a completely different direction from the zesty sourness you expect from a fresh lemon.


ROASTED RED PEPPER SALAD WITH PRESERVED LEMONS AND CAPERS

Ingredients:            serves 4

4          red peppers
3tbsp.   Argan oil
2tbsp.    Chopped preserved lemons
2tbsp.   Capers
2tbsp:   chopped coriander
1tsp.     Toasted sesame seeds
            Seasoning


PRESERVED LEMONS
                                         
Ingredients:
10       lemons
500ml water
275g    salt


Bring to the boil the water and salt and remove from the heat. Cut the lemons into quarters and place in a jar. Pour over the salt water and chill. Cover with a tight fitting lid and store for at least 2-3 months.

Method:
Roast the red peppers in a hot oven or place under a hot grill. Cook until the skin starts to blister and blacken slightly. Place in a bowl and cover tightly with cling film. Make sure it is air tight. The steam will help to remove the skin. When cold enough to handle, peel off the skin and discard the seeds. Cut into large strips, add the rest of the ingredients and serve.


INDIAN LEMON AND CORIANDER CHICKEN WITH A SPICY POTATO SALAD

                      Ingredients:         serves 4
2 Chicken breast’s, cut into thick strips
1tbsp         chopped ginger
2tbsp         garlic
200g         fresh coriander
3tbsp          lemon juice
Tomatoes (peeled and diced)
½tspn          turmeric
         salt / pepper

Place the chicken breasts in a bowl, pour over lemon juice, chopped garlic, ginger and turmeric, leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Remove from the fridge and heat 3tbsp of olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pan. Remove chicken from the marinade and dry. Pan fry on both sides until golden, remove and place in a hot oven for about 3-4 minutes. Add the marinade and tomatoes to the pan and cook gently for about 4 minutes until the tomatoes break down and the sauce thickens, season. Place the chicken breasts in the sauce, sprinkle with coriander and serve.


Potato salad

4         large potatoes (cooked in their skins)
Cardamom pods
1tspn         cumin seeds
1tspn         coriander seeds
2tspn         fresh chopped ginger
1tspn         fresh chopped garlic
½tspn          turmeric
½tspn         cayenne pepper
2tbsp         chopped fresh coriander         
2tbsp         natural yoghurt
Tomatoes (peeled and diced)

Peel the potatoes while still warm, place in a bowl, add the chopped ginger, garlic and turmeric. Heat gently in a heavy bottomed frying pan and lightly toast the cardamom pods, cumin and coriander seeds. Place in a coffee grinder and grind to a powder them add to the potato salad. Add cayenne pepper, chopped tomatoes, coriander and the natural yoghurt. Mix well using a fork, season and serve.


Lemon and lime "creme brulee" tart

Ingredients:                  serves 8

Filling:
9                  eggs
300g                  sugar
                  juice of 4 lemons
                  juice of 4 limes
250ml                  cream
100ml                  milk
1                  vanilla pod
                  grated zest of 1 lemon
                  grated zest of 1 lime

Sweet pastry:
450g                  plain flour
                  pinch of salt
150g                  icing sugar
200g                  cold butter (diced)
3                  egg yolks

Place the butter, flour and salt in a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and egg yolks and pulse again, just enough to incorporate the eggs. Scrap out the pastry and wrap in cling film. Place in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 3mm thick.
Line a 20cm tart ring with the pastry and cover with greaseproof paper and baking beans.
Bake in a pre-heated oven (180ºc/350ºf/gas 5) for about 20-25 minutes.
Carefully remove the baking beans and greaseproof paper and cook for a further 10 minutes until golden.

"creme brulee" filling:
Split the vanilla pod and place in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Pour over the cream and milk.  Place over a gentle flame, bring to the boil and remove from the heat.
Beat the egg yolk with the sugar and grated zest. Add the lemon and limejuice and pour the hot cream over the eggs. Mix well and remove the vanilla pod.
Pour the lemon cream into the pastry case and bake for a further 35-40 minutes until the cream is just set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.


To serve:
Slice the tart into portions and sprinkle each piece with a little brown sugar. Caramelise the tops under a hot grill or with a gas gun and serve immediately.

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