CITRUS-CENTRIC FLAVORS: Finding the best use for lemons by Debra Blake Ocock, LOL contributor

I don’t know what it is about lemons, but lately I crave the flavor and can’t get enough. Whether it’s water, a sweet treat, an alcoholic beverage, or even seafood, I’m drawn to anything lemony. Maybe it’s because we are in the midst of warm weather and the peak season for lemons—or maybe it’s all the health benefits I’ve been reading about lately. I put a lemon slice in my water, buy LaCroix Lemon Water, drink San Pellegrino Limonata, and even use lemonade as one of my favorite mixers. I’m hooked on lemons.
Lemons have so many benefits, whether for health or household. Lemons have been said to be great antioxidants and help fight cancer, assist with weight loss, help restore the body’s pH, rich in vitamin C, fight acne and have antibacterial properties. Lemons can be used in cooking in a variety of dishes: seafood, dressings, sauces, desserts, marinades…
Lemons not only smell nice, but they also assist with cleaning tasks around the house. Mix half a cup of baking soda, with enough liquid dish soap to make a paste, and then spread on half a lemon. Use it to clean stainless sinks or bathtubs, or any surface in the kitchen or bath. Toss a lemon half in the dishwasher to clean and freshen it during the next load of dishes, or put it down the garbage disposal to deodorize. Cut and use a lemon half to refresh cutting boards after chopping onions or garlic. Basically, anything can be cleaned in the house with lemons, water and a little baking soda. Afterward, throw a few lemon slices in a pot with some cloves and water, and simmer on the stove to revitalize the whole house.
While being healthy, cleaning and enjoying all the benefits of lemons, why not treat the palate to the citrusy flavor the fun fruit has to offer? Here are some recipes for many a lemon filled meal.

Ingredients, crab cakes:
3 Tbsp. butter
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp. red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 dashes cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. fresh basil, minced
1 tsp. fresh parsley, minced
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 lb. fresh lump crabmeat
¼ cup parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet and sauté the scallion, garlic and red bell pepper about 2 minutes. Add the cayenne pepper, cream and mustard. Cool slightly. Add the egg, basil, parsley, ½ cup of the bread crumbs and the crabmeat. Mix lightly and then mold into 8 four-inch patties.
Combine the other ½ cup bread crumbs and parmesan cheese in a dish. Roll patties in the mixture and chill for at least 1 hour.
When ready to cook, heat 2 Tbsp. of butter with the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the crab cakes about 4 minutes on each side. Serve with lemon dill sauce.

Ingredients, lemon dill sauce:
¾ cup mayonnaise
½ cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. grated lemon peel
1 garlic clove, minced

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until the mixture thickens. Serve with crab cakes.
NOTE: This recipe can be made as an appetizer or a main dish. If making as an appetizer mold the crab mixture into 16 2-inch patties rather than 8 four-inch patties.
Salad ingredients:
1 head Romaine, chopped
Small pkg. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, sliced
¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Add chopped lettuce to a salad bowl and toss in tomatoes, cucumber and onion. Top with feta cheese and serve with lemon vinaigrette dressing.

Vinaigrette ingredients:
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
½ tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Whisk red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, oregano, garlic, sugar, salt, and black pepper together in a small bowl. Slowly stream olive oil into the vinegar mixture while whisking briskly. Beat lemon juice into the mixture. Store dressing into a bottle and shake to mix well. Serve with salad.

Pie ingredients:
1 baked 9” pie shell
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. plain flour
1 Tbsp. grated lemon rind
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup light cream
½ stick butter
1 cup sour cream

In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the sugar, cornstarch, flour, lemon rind, lemon juice and light cream. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the butter and cook until thick and smooth. Remove from heat and cool. Stir in sour cream and pour filling into the pie shell. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Topping ingredients:
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
½ cup sour cream
½ tsp. almond extract
Grated lemon rind
Lemon slices for garnish

Whip the cream and fold in the powdered sugar, sour cream and almond extract. Spoon over the lemon pie filling. Sprinkle with grated lemon rind and decorate with lemon slices.

Lemon flavored vodka
Crystal Light lemonade
Ocean Spray cranberry cherry juice

In a highball glass filled with ice add 1 shot of lemon vodka. Fill glass ¾ full with lemonade and add a splash of cranberry cherry juice. Stir and garnish with a lemon slice.
NOTE: This is my new favorite drink for summer. Try substituting San Pellegrino Limonata Italian sparkLing water for the lemonade—or do half lemonade, half San Pellegrino. For a refreshing treat that’s not as sweet, substiture La Croix Lemon-flavored water for the lemonade. Play around with ingredients to get it just right for your taste buds.