I used to make Moroccan food all the time. Its spice-rich flavors please my palate.
Why I quit cooking Moroccan, I have no idea. It wasn’t a conscious decision to stop, but it's been years since I made more than a couple Moroccan dishes a year. In the past week, I’ve read about Elly’s Moroccan Chicken with Lentils and Mike’s Moroccan Lemon and Olive Chicken.
Now I’m craving Moroccan.
When we regularly ate the foods of Morocco, I always kept a jar of preserved lemons in the refrigerator. Yesterday I started a batch as a first step in restocking my Moroccan pantry.
I preserve lemons in lemon juice and salt. When I juice the lemons, I’m left with too many lemon peels to throw away. Instead, I peel the lemons before I juice them and make Candied Lemon Peel.
Of course, after making Candied Lemon Peel, I’m left with too much lemon syrup to throw away. The lemon syrup is a perfect building block for making Sparkling Lemonade with Mint, a light and refreshing thirst-quencher.
Preserved Lemons (Λεμόνια στην Άρμη)
For extra flavor, add Preserved Lemons to salads, vegetables, sauces, poultry, or fish.
1 cup salt
1 1/2 cups lemon juice (4 – 6 lemons)
Sterilize a large jar (2 quart) and lid.
Cut off the top and bottom of each lemon, without cutting into the flesh. Reserve the ends for another use, such as Candied Lemon Peel (see below). Cut the lemons into quarters, but do not cut all the way through – leave the lemons connected at one end. Thickly layer salt into the cuts, and pack lemons into the sterilized jar. Pour in enough lemon juice to cover the lemons.
Cover and let sit at room temperature for 7 days. Turn the jar several times a day to evenly distribute the brine. After 7 days, top off the jar with olive oil (to prevent spoilage) and refrigerate. The preserved lemons are now ready to use.
To use preserved lemons, remove the lemon flesh and discard. Rinse the peel and chop into appropriate sized pieces for the recipe you’re making.
Candied Lemon Peel (Γλυκά Φλούδα του Λεμονιού)
Candied lemon peel is tasty on its own as a sweet treat, and adds flavor when added to cookies, cakes, or ice cream.
2 cups lemon peel (peel from 4 - 6 lemons)
3 cups sugar, divided
2 cups water
Peel the lemons in large pieces. With a sharp knife, remove as much white pith from the lemon peels as is possible; the edge of a teaspoon works well to remove pith from a lemon’s top or bottom end. Place the peels in a pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, cook for one minute, and drain. Return peels to the pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, cook for one minute, and drain. Cut the blanched peel into thin strips.
Microwave method: Mix 2 cups sugar and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook for 10 minutes on high. Stir. Cook for 10 minutes on high. Stir. Cook for 4 more minutes on high. Stir the lemon peel into the syrup. Microwave on high for 8 minutes.
Stovetop method: Mix 2 cups sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, over medium heat until you have light syrup, about 45 minutes. Stir in the strips of lemon peel and cook for 10 minutes.
Let the lemon peels sit in the syrup until the syrup is cool and the lemon peels slightly translucent (I let the peels sit in the syrup overnight). Drain the lemon peel and reserve the syrup for another use.
Put the remaining 1 cup sugar in a plastic bag. Add a handful of lemon strips to the sugar and shake until the pieces of peel are completely coated with sugar. Spread out the candied peel on two baking sheets and let sit until dry. Repeat until all the lemon strips are coated with sugar.
Put in an airtight jar and store in the refrigerator.
Sparkling Lemonade with Mint (Λεμονάδα με Δυόσμος)
Makes 1 drink
1 sprig mint
3 Tbsp. lemon syrup (see Note)
1 cup seltzer water or club soda
Pull the mint leaves off the stem and crush them in your fingers. Put them in a glass, along with the lemon syrup and seltzer water. Stir to combine. Add ice cubes and serve.
NOTE: Use leftover syrup from the Candied Lemon Peel recipe (above), or make a simple sugar and water syrup with 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water, using the method in the Candied Lemon Peel recipe. When the sugar and water form a light syrup, let it cool, and add 1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice.
This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Erin from The Skinny Gourmet.