It’s finally spring, and I am itching to be outside in the garden, in the yellow sunshine, warming my wintery soul. The wisteria I planted five years ago has finally bloomed, with drooping shrimp-shaped pink and purple cascades; the more mature hydrangeas are opening tiny clumps of tender flowers; the day lilies are bright puddles of gamboge in the front yard. Around the corner a neighbor’s late-blooming daffodils have finally given up the ghost, nodding their solemn yellow heads goodbye in the rain yesterday.
There is a sudden tranche of lemon-zested recipes in all my favorite publications. The New York Times Lemon Sheet Cake with Buttercream Frosting (this is a gifted article, so you shouldn’t have paywall issues):
The Kitchn has feature a Five Ingredient Lemon Capellini recipe: https://www.thekitchn.com/five-ingredient-capellini-recipe-23523841 This is much easier than pie, trust me.
One of my favorite contributors to Food52 is MrsLarkin. She has the easiest recipe for Lemon Chicken, so simple that you’ll wonder why you haven’t thought of it already: https://food52.com/recipes/3840-lemon-chicken I’ve got everything needed for this recipe, except the parsley. Luckily, I need to head to the grocery store for some cheap white wine anyway…
Finally, Alexandra Stafford, of Alexandra’s Kitchen, has introduced the Spy Test Kitchens to Lemon-Blueberry Dutch Baby: https://alexandracooks.com/2023/04/22/lemon-blueberry-dutch-baby/
I am coming to the Dutch baby party rather late: this was my first time baking one – although I have listened to other cooks rave about how deelish they can be. This recipe was appealing as an elegant, though hands-off Sunday breakfast, in spring, when we wanted to linger over our papers for a little while, before seizing the day and going out to re-build the raised garden bed. We had the leisurely ceremony of a nice, baked, maple-syrupy Sunday breakfast, cooked in our cast iron skillet, and we also had motivation to get outside.
While Mr. Sanders took Luke the wonder dog out for a quick morning constitutional, I assembled the Dutch baby ingredients on the counter; no heroic steps needed to be taken to obscure markets to gather elusive or rare ingredients: butter, milk, flour, eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, lemon zest, blueberries and confectioner’s sugar. Once the energetic pair returned home I put the skillet on the stove to melt the butter.
I melted some more more butter in the microwave, and mixed it with the other ingredients with the electric mixer. I added the blueberries to the sizzling butter on the stove, rolled them around for about a minute, enjoying watching them pop and squirm, and poured the batter over the agitated blueberries. Then I popped the skillet into the oven for about 15 minutes. Our skillet is 10 1/2 inches, so I think the mixture spread out more than rose up, but there was a delightfully giddy and towering pancake dome when I first took the pan out of the oven. It soon collapsed, as the recipe predicted, and looked a little humbled. The confection’s sugar at the end isn’t necessary, but it does add a pretentious, decorative flourish. We bathed our wedges of Dutch baby warm maple syrup, added crispy slices of bacon, and just to be obnoxious, a wedge of orange. It felt a little like a hotel breakfast, though without the tiny pots of jams.
The lemon in all of these recipes is bright and sunny; a harbinger the warm weather ahead. It will help you to make hay while the sun shines. These are quick and easy recipes. There is no time for fussing with a Sunday red sauce, or a Sunday roast. You can prepare your meal with little fuss, a little fanfare, and then toss those dishes in the sink and head outside to weed. Quick! Before the mosquitoes get you!
“So the freshness lives on
in a lemon,
in the sweet-smelling house of the rind,
the proportions, arcane and acerb.”
― Pablo Neruda