Marinated Eggplant

marinated eggplant dishThis delicious Italian-style eggplant is marinated in olive oil, Meyer lemon and a touch of balsamic, with garlic and oregano. It makes an excellent side-dish for Italian food.

Make the dish a day before serving and marinate overnight in the fridge. Serve at room temperature.

eggplants3 medium or 4 small globe eggplants

1/4 cup kosher salt

1 leek

1/4 cup plus 2 Tb garlic infused olive oil

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

12-oz jar Italian-style roasted red bell peppers

1 cloves garlic, minced fine

1 Tb balsamic vinegar

several grinds black pepper

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 tsp dried oregano

2 slices Meyer lemon (from blossom end)

Finely grated peel of Meyer lemon

Juice of Meyer lemon

chopped eggplant with leeksCut the eggplants at different angles into 2 inches pieces. Each piece should have skin on it. Put them on a rack above a rimmed baking pan, such as a jelly-roll pan. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the eggplant. Let it sit for 30 minutes. You will see it sweat. This improves the texture of the eggplant and is supposed to make it less bitter.

While eggplant is sweating, heat the oven to 350º F. Cut the white part of the leek length-wise and then into 1 ” pieces. Soak in a salad-spinner, then rise thoroughly. Spin until dry. Grease a roasting pan with 2 TB garlic infused olive oil and add leeks.

After eggplant sweats for 30 minutes, briefly rinse the pieces in the basket of the salad spinner, then spin, and pat dry with a paper towel. Add to the leeks in the roasting pan. Pour in the rest of the garlic oil and toss so that all the eggplant is coated with oil. Bake for 25 minutes at 350º F. Turn off the oven and let the baking dish sit in the oven until it is cool, about an hour. The eggplant and leeks should be very tender. Transfer to a deep casserole dish. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano. Cut two thin slices of lemon from the blossom end (opposite the stem end), then cut each in half and set aside. Finely grate the peel of the rest of the lemon, then juice it. Add peel and juice to the eggplant.

Pour the jar of roasted peppers into the eggplant, then fish out the peppers and slice them in half cross-wise, then into strips length-wise and stir into eggplant. Place the lemon slices on top.

Let the eggplant sit at room temperature. Adjust seasonings. Refrigerate for about 24 hours, then let sit at room temperature for a few hours before serving.

Meyer Lemon Bread and Blossom Tea

Meyer Lemon Bread

Any self-respecting Berkeley foodie knows the value of Meyer lemons from tasting Meyer lemon ice cream or cheese at the local farmer’s market. They are sweeter and more flavorful than plain old lemons, and ripen to a lovely orange-yellow. Back in the 50’s, when my parents first planted a Meyer lemon tree in their suburban backyard, they had no idea how trendy this fruit would become.

My mother made a delectable Meyer lemon bread, which is moist and fragrant with Meyer lemon juice and peel. It was a family favorite, and brings me back memories of crawling underneath our lemon tree to nab the ripest ones in the thorny center. I would just lie there, inhaling the delicate scent of lemons. I finally brought the bowl, heavy with fruit, to my mom. She would send me and my sister around to our favorite neighbors to give them lemons.

I now own my own dwarf Meyer lemon tree and make this recipe for my family and friends. I added a 1/2 tsp ginger powder to complement the lemon.

This recipe also works for cupcakes, but can be too sweet if you use a high sugar frosting. Try a cream cheese lemon frosting that’s not too sweet. But you really don’t need to frost it at all. The lemon syrup is delicious as is.

I also make a Meyer lemon blossom tea (recipe below.) A hot cup goes perfect with the cake.

I am going to visit my dear 90 year-old mother on Sunday and bring her a slice of Meyer lemon bread and some tea.

Meyer Lemon Bread

makes one loaf, cake or dozen cupcakes

Set oven for 350·  Generously grease a 5×9 loaf pan or 8 x 8 cake pan with butter. Or use 12 cupcake holders.

Ingredients (that is my mom’s original retro flour canister!)

ingredients for Meyer Lemon bread

½ cup butter (my mom used margarine  back in the day) at room temperature, plus at least a teaspoon for greasing the pan

½ cup milk

1 tsp Meyer lemon juice

1 cup sugar

2 eggs at room temperature, slightly beaten

1 ¼ cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp ginger powder

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup chopped nuts

Grated zest of one large or 2 small Meyer lemons (yellow part only)

Lemon syrup:

Juice of one large or 2 small Meyer lemons

2 Tb sugar

Add lemon juice to milk. This will make the milk curdle for a more delicate crumb.

Cream butter with 1 cup sugar. Mix in eggs and scrape bowl and mix again.

Sift flour with baking powder, ginger powder and salt. With mixer on low, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk to the butter-sugar-eggs mixture. Mix in the nuts and lemon zest.

alternate flour and milk in batter

Bake the loaf for one hour. Cupcakes should take approx 20 minutes. While it is baking, juice the lemon and stir it with 2 Tb sugar. When you remove cake from the oven, poke a bunch of holes in the top with a fork. Pour in lemon syrup. Spread a few teaspoons of what’s left on the top like a glaze. Enjoy!

lemon blossoms

My Meyer lemon blossom tea has a delicate natural sweetness. I’ve added a squeeze of lemon juice, fresh mint and lavender for a complex taste. Try the different combinations. You won’t need much sweetener, unlike regular lemonade.  Serve it iced with your picnic.

lemon blossom tea

Lemon blossoms are fragrant and sweet. If you don’t use too much lemon juice, you won’t need much sweetener.

Pick about 10 lemon blossoms and buds and rinse. Steep in hot water for at least half an hour. Add a squirt of lemon juice and agave nectar or honey to taste. The longer you steep it, the more flavorful.  Serve hot or  iced.

Lemon blossom – mint tea

mint leaves

Prepare as above with 2 sprigs of mint per glass.

lemon blossom mint tea

Lemon blossom-lavender tea

lavender

Prepare lemon blossom tea adding 2 lavender blossoms. Don’t steep this tea too long or the lavender will overpower the other herbs.

lavender lemon blossom tea