Tasting Jerusalem: When Life Gives you Lemons, Preserve Them!

For June at Tasting Jerusalem, we return to focusing on a single ingredient, preserved lemons, and exploring how it is used in various recipes, but May was a broader look at the baking and dessert chapter of Jerusalem: A Cookbook. The choices are so diverse that we will surely return to this chapter again in future months.

May also brought a new Google Plus Community page and lots more activity on our shared Pinterest board.

Let’s take a quick stroll through the baking exploits of our growing community:

The spice cookies, which actually have roots in a German cookie called Pfeffernusse and also an Italian spice cookie are very popular at Ottolenghi’s shop in London around Christmas and Easter. In fact, Michelle from the Daily Waffle likened the flavors of the Spice Cookies to Hot Cross Buns in this charming post “Hot Cross Buns in Cookie Form”. Interestingly she notes that the chocolate, in her opinion, is superfluous if you love the flavors the blend of spices imparts.

Tasting Jerusalem

Photo by Michelle from the blog Daily Waffle

Emily from West of the Loop renamed them to Chocolate Spice Cookies as she found the chocolate to be quite prominent (a good thing always in my book!). Here is her informative and fascinating post on the cookies entitled “Chocolate Spice Cookies for Tasting Jerusalem”.

Tasting Jerusalem

Photo by Emily from the blog West of the Loop

And then there is Sue from Couscous and Consciousness ‘s take on the cookies which included some adjustments based on ingredients at hand and her personal tastes. Love the orange addition on top, in her post entitled appropriately “Spice Cookies”.

Tasting Jerusalem

Photo by Sue from the blog Couscous and Consciousness

And then there was the attempts at the peanut butter cookie of the Middle East: Tahini Cookies by both Hannah of Blue Kale Road and Sarene, our fearless co-leader. The cookies are a nod to the Middle Eastern treat halva (a sesame based candy) and do a good job of replicating the candy’s unique flavor.

Hannah creatively changed a few ingredients in the cookies, using coconut and almond flour as well as coconut sugar. I adore the lovely brown color she achieved and you can read more about it in her post called “Tahini Cookies”.

Tasting Jerusalem

Photo by Hannah from the blog Blue Kale Road

And Sarene didn’t like the idea of the cinnamon on the cookies, so she rolled some in sesame seeds and tried a pistachio on top. The sesame makes perfect sense with the tahini and the pistachio seems like it would be a lovely complement to the nutty flavor the tahini imparts.

Tasting Jerusalem

Photo by Sarene Wallace – co-creator of Tasting Jerusalem

The baking chapter has so much depth and variety – from some fun phyllo-based “cigars” to a stunning chocolate babka or krantz cake to an interesting “helbeh” cake that uses a slightly bitter seed popular in Indian cuisine called fenugreek, thought to have medicinal properties. We had a very interesting discussion about the spice on the new Google Plus group. Here is a taste of the gorgeous Krantz cake baked and photographed by Carol of  the blog InMediasRecipe. I apologize in advance if these photos cause you to drool on your keyboard, tablet, or smartphone.

Tasting Jerusalem

Tasting JerusalemJune Ingredient: Preserved Lemons

“Preserved lemons are so versatile and taste so delicious on many things,” says chef and owner of Michelin-starred Aziza restaurant in San Francisco (aziza-sf.com) and author of Mourad: New Moroccan (Artisan Books, 2011).  “They taste nothing like regular lemons and can add that element of unknown and exotic to any dish without tremendous effort.”

Tasting Jerusalem

Photo by Hannah of the blog Blue Kale Road

Preserved lemons are used in Indian and North African cuisines, and central to chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s cooking, they write in Jerusalem: A Cookbook.

The lemons are easy to make; they just take time and patience (recipe on pg. 303 in the book). The process is to drench quartered lemons in lemon juice and salt and let them rest for a month in the refrigerator. The same process can be used for limes Ottolenghi and Tamimi write.

During that time, the lemon’s rind will soften so that the perfumy rind’s flavor comes through. The rind is usually what’s called for in recipes. The flavor is too pungent to use whole, so chop it into dishes for a aromatic intensely lemony (not sour), and salty flavor.

Most of the time, recipes will have you rinse the lemon in water and pat dry so that they’re not overly salty. The preserved lemon liquid can also be used to lend a salty-lemony zing to dishes (try it in Bloody Mary’s one online source suggests).

You can use lemon zest and extra salt as a substitute, but only as a last resort. Preserved lemons have a lot more complex flavor than the zest provides.

If time is short, make the Quick Pickled Lemons (page 303) or purchase jarred varieties at Sur La Table (surlatable.com) or Williams-Sonoma (williams-sonoma.com).

Tasting Jerusalem

Photo by Hannah of the blog Blue Kale Road

We’ve found three recipes so far that use the preserved lemons in the cookbook. If you’ve uncovered anymore, let us know. Also check out Tasting Jerusalem’s Pinterest page for more recipes ideas.

Charred Okra with Tomato, Garlic & Preserved Lemon (page 74)

Fish & Caper Kebabs with Burnt Eggplant & Lemon Pickle – recipe called for quick pickled lemons, but we think you can use preserved lemons (page 221).

Braised Lamb with Tahini and Sumac (we wrote about this in January for Sumac and the round up for that month) – fabulous dish enhanced even further with the preserved lemons. A must try. (pg. 205)

If you’re new to the group, welcome! Here are our “rules” (there really aren’t any except to cook and share your experiences.)

Group Guidelines:

  1. How often will we cook: We’ll pick a new set of recipes monthly to allow us all to fit in the cooking when we can and to find any ingredients that might not be available at your typical grocery store stop.
  2. Do I need to cook all the recipes?: We offer up several recipes to fit your taste buds, menus, schedules – cook as many or as few as you desire. But once you start cooking from this book, you probably won’t stop!
  3. What do I need to participateThe cookbook! Plus an interest in cooking, willingness to try new flavors, and an electronic device that communicates via the Internet. We will always post the month’s information in a blog post via omgyummy.com so you can subscribe to Beth’s blog to be guaranteed to receive it or just check in frequently via the Facebook page or Twitter hashtag #TastingJrslm
  4. How to share what you cook: Tasting Jerusalem is open to anyone. You do not have to be a blogger or food professional of any sort. But if you have a camera, we encourage you to share photos of your dishes on Twitter or the Facebook page or Instagram, using the hashtag #TastingJrslm – we all love to see the results of your kitchen adventures. New to these types of social media? Just drop me an email beth (at) omgyummy (dot) com – I’ll be glad to help you get started.
  5. What recipes can be published and how to publish: We expect to cook through most, if not all, of the recipes in the cookbook over time. As such, for those of us blogging or writing about our experiences in any way, it’s important that we don’t include the recipe in our blog posts, unless Ten Speed Press has approved its use. The goal of the group is to learn together and enrich our experience using this cookbook, not create an online version of it. We are in touch with Ten Speed Press to find out which recipes we can post. For an example of another group that writes about their cooking but doesn’t post each recipe, please visit French Fridays with Dorie. If you legitimately change a recipe, rewrite the headnote and instructions, and choose to share it, please say you’ve adapted it, giving credit to the source including a link to purchase the cookbook.
  6. What if I have questions? Sarene and I will be monitoring the Facebook page and Twitter hashtag #TastingJrslm almost continuously so just leave us a note there. If you see a question and know the answer, jump on in before us. Part of the fun of the group will be each of us sharing our own knowledge, perspectives and ideas.
  7. What to include if you write a blog post: If you do post about what you cook, please let us know – we will link to it. And feel free to post it on the Facebook page and Twitter with the #TastingJrslm hashtag. We’d also appreciate it if you would include this verbiage in the context of your post:

“Tasting Jerusalem is a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ten Speed Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to omgyummy.com, following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, and liking our Facebook page.”

 

 

 

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16 Responses to Tasting Jerusalem: When Life Gives you Lemons, Preserve Them!

  1. Gretchen Preville June 3, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    Preserved lemons, how do I love thee! So many ways!!! Here’s one: For Friday night’s, I often roast a chicken or two and tuck a preserved lemon in the cavity. On the outside, I’ll use a mixture of olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice (from a fresh lemon), dijon mustard and some dried thyme and rosemary. I might also add a frew sprigs of fresh rosemary under the skin of the breast and the thighs. Roast at 375 F until done – about 1 1/4 hours – depending on the size of the chicken. Can also be grilled on the BBQ. If this recipe sounds familiar, I mixed up two of my favorites here; Gordon Hammersley’s Bistro Chicken and Zuni Chicken. If you are using a kosher chicken, no need to brine it as Zuni’s recommends. Preserve some lemons and you will begin finding so many uses.

    • Beth Lee June 4, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

      Oh Gretchen – how do I love this comment just bursting with great ideas; let me count the places I plan to repost it! Come chat with us over at Tasting Jerusalem! I am loving these lemons – working on a gremolata to top a flank steak tonight. Thanks for the great ideas!

  2. Emily June 3, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    Excited to use my preserved lemons. So glad you gave us the heads-up so we could make them in advance.

    • Beth Lee June 4, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

      Oh I think you are going to love them Emily. Can’t wait to see what you do with them. How was Eat Write Retreat?

      • Emily June 18, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

        EWR was amazing. I learned SO much. It was very intense. I came back with a to-do list a mile long. Not that I have actually done much of it.

        • Beth Lee June 20, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

          Pace yourself – pace yourself! I’ve seen lots of great things you’ve been doing! Glad you enjoyed the experience. I really enjoyed meeting Casey at IACP. Thanks for the great lemon post!

  3. Hannah June 3, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    I am indeed drooling over Carol’s Krantz cake, Beth! Thanks for sharing this lovely round up of the month’s baking. And now I’m excited to use my preserved lemons – charred okra is sounding very appealing. Lots of lemony happiness ahead! Happy birthday to you!! 🙂

    • Beth Lee June 4, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

      Thanks Hannah. So grateful for all the wonderful activity to be able to share. I feel like I am learning so much even when I don’t have time to cook. I hope others feel that way too! Hope you are enjoying these last few days of high school…and the lovely early days of summer.

  4. Couscous & Consciousness June 3, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    Thanks for sharing the great round-up. I still really want to try those Tahini Cookies, and I have the Krantz cake bookmarked too, along with several other “sweet treats” in Jerusalem, so I’m very glad that we will be revisiting this chapter at some stage in the future.

    I adore preserved lemons – I always have them on hand and love using them in all sorts of dishes, so this is definitely going to be a happy month. I just last week tried the quick pickled lemons with Fish & Caper Kebabs – fantastic dish. Think that Braised Lamb with Tahini might be on my radar.

    • Beth Lee June 4, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

      You will LOVE the Lamb dish. And please let us know some of your other fun uses for the lemons, even if they have nothing to do with Middle Eastern cuisine.

      So excited to have you in the group and hope we can get a chance to meet in person later this summer!

  5. ashley June 10, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    Those cookies look delicious! And i’ve never tried to preserve lemons but I definitely think I should give it a shot!

    • Beth Lee June 12, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

      Yes Ashley – definitely give preserved lemons a try and consider the quick pickled ones as an option too. We’ll definitely be getting back to the baking so keep those cookies in mind!

  6. Suzanne June 13, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    Sounds like a great use of lemons and I’ve been interested in trying preserved lemons. I wish I could participate this month but time does not allow me too, hopefully next month.

    • Beth Lee June 14, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

      Welcome Suzanne – your blog looks like a lot of fun with so many great ideas. Come chat with us even if you don’t have time to cook – I bet you have great ideas to add. We’ll look forward to you joining us on the cooking as soon as you can! July promises to be a perfect summer topic…

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tasting Jerusalem: Celebrating Summer with Salad - OMG! Yummy - July 16, 2013

    […] lots and lots of content. While you were all dutifully preserving your lemons from scratch for our Tasting Jerusalem June topic, I bought mine at Williams-Sonoma, too busy with high school graduation and my milestone birthday […]

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