June 27th, 2011
It seems that Meyer lemons are in season right now in California. Well actually, these marvelous trees produce fruit throughout most of the year. If you’ve never run across a Meyer lemon before, they are a peculiarly sweet and juicy varietal introduced by a fellow named Meyer (naturally) in the early 20th century. They were very popular in Edwardian hothouses — in fact, my first introduction to a Meyer lemon was in the conservatory at Rockwood Mansion. We ran out of lemons while throwing a tea party, and were permitted to raid the gardener’s prize lemon tree.
The lemon tree shown here isn’t in a hothouse though — it’s in our friends’ California garden!
During our recent trip to the west coast of America, we enjoyed Meyer lemons with shameless abandon. And we smuggled a bag of them with us on the airplane.
I wanted to share a bit of their marvelous flavor with my friends at the New York Nineteenth Century Society, so I determined to make something out of them for our June meeting. After reviewing a number of receipts, some of which I still plan to try, I finally settled on lemon cream tarts.
The tart shells I made according to modern directions. But for the cream, I used a receipt originally published in Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1854.
LEMON CREAM.—A large spoonful of brandy, six ounces of loaf-sugar powdered, the peel and juice of two lemons, the peel to be grated. Mix these ingredients well together in a bowl; then add a pint of cream, and whisk it up.
The theory is that the cream should curdle once it meets the lemon juice. But it didn’t really thicken as much as I was expecting. So I restored to whipping.
And the final result — shells lined with fresh New Jersey blueberries (’tis the season) and loaded with lemon cream. Delicious, if I do say so myself. And they were quite a hit at the meeting too!