Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hello New Orleans Spring, Meyer Lemon Shortbread!

Like it or not, it looks like winter in New Orleans has come to a close. Spring flowers are out, and the buck moth caterpillars in the oak trees are in full armor. One of the great culinary benefits in New Orleans this time of year is the abundance of Meyer lemon trees around the neighborhood loaded down with fruit. Meyer lemons are different from their smaller cousins that are usually found in a grocery store, with an average size of a navel orange. Once native to China, they were brought to America by Frank Meyer in the early 1900's and were adopted in citrus growing climates for their hardiness and their tangerine-lemon zing. The darker flesh and sweeter flavor work well in baking, and lend a unique flavoring that can make a cookie "Pop!"

Growing up with Meyer lemon trees in the back yard, my family always found uses for the citrus fruit in pies, lemonade, and cakes. A single tree would easily supply more than needed for a family, and useful recipes were often traded between families that had a tree or two. My absolute favorite were the lemon cookies, buttery and rich, yet packed with a delicate hint of lemon that made the cookie anything but usual. I began playing with my own recipe before I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and sort of gave up after a while when I didn't believe that I would be ever making cookies again. Eight months ago, I went back to it with a fresh outlook and now I am happy to make Meyer Lemon Shortbread Cookies available for the remainder of the season at Who Dat Coffee Cafe. Enjoy!

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