Enhancing Flavor With Zesty Lemon

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - May 25, 2005
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Pat and Joe Guillermo have been married for 13 years and are both prayer ministers at His Highest Praise Kaneohe. They attend Bible college, and Pat says that one of their greatest joys is witnessing for the Lord.

This loving couple owns Windward Vacuum and Sewing Center and Windward Auto Body Repair and Paint in Kaneohe. Pat started in the vacuum business in 1980 in Temple Valley, and is now in her 25th year of business servicing vacuum cleaners and sewing machines, and carries a full line of products for both. Joe has done auto body work for 40 years, and they both developed Windward Auto Body Repair and Paint 16 years ago. For relaxation, they like to go fishing, and “cook ’em up” for their friends and family.

This recipe is dedicated to this caring and devoted couple.

The lemon tree is believed to have originated in China or India, and has been cultivated in Asia for over 2,500 years. The Arabs introduced the lemon into Spain in the 11th century, and the Crusaders returning from Palestine were largely responsible for spreading it across the rest of Europe.

It was not until the 15th century that Western Europeans began to use lemons in cooking.

High in vitamin C, this yellow citrus fruit was used as a cure and preventive for scurvy; in the 1849 Gold Rush, miners were willing to pay exorbitant sums for a single lemon. Because of the demand, lemon trees were planted in great numbers.

When purchasing, choose lemons that are firm, heavy for their size, and have thin, smooth skins. Avoid lemons with bruised, discolored or wrinkled skins, or hard or soft patches, as these are indications that the fruit is not fresh. Green-tinged lemons tend to be more acidic, and coarseskinned lemons usually have a very thick skin and not as much flesh. Ripe lemons should have a pleasant citrus fragrance. Lemons may be kept at room temperature for about a week; for longer storage, keep refrigerated. Both the juice and the zest of lemons may be frozen.

Lemons are a good flavor enhancer and a good substitute for salt. Lemon juice may be used to replace vinegar in salad dressings and is used to tenderize meat, poultry, fish and game. The juice also prevents cut fruits such as apples and bananas from discoloring. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over cooked vegetables, seafood and salads for a healthful and flavorful seasoning. Add grated lemon peel to baked goods, fruit compotes, desserts and sauces. The zest of lemons can be grated or sliced and is available candied or dried.

Lemons, like all citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, and they also provide potassium and folic acid.

I like to serve this with a lettuce and tomato salad to complete the meal.

TANGY LEMON HERB CHICKEN AND POTATOES

• 6 large Russet potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into eighths

• 8 skinless whole chicken breasts (bone in)

• 1⁄3 cup white wine

• juice of 3 medium lemons

• 5 cloves crushed garlic

• 2 teaspoons dried oregano

• 1 tablespoon dried parsley

• 1 teaspoon dried thyme

• 1 teaspoon paprika

• 1⁄4 cup fresh minced Maui onion

• 1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper

salt, to taste

• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put cut potatoes into a microwave-safe pan and microwave on high for five minutes, or until a fork can be inserted fairly easily.

Arrange the chicken breasts and potatoes in a 9-by-13-inch roasting pan. Combine the wine, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, parsley, thyme, paprika, onion, pepper, salt and oil and pour evenly over potatoes and chicken. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for one hour, spooning sauce over the chicken and potatoes a few times. Uncover and bake for about another 20 minutes until the chicken and potatoes start to brown, and juices run clear from chicken when pierced with fork.

Makes eight servings.

NOTE: If you like the potatoes more brown, turn oven to broil and broil for a few minutes, but watch carefully so they don’t burn.

Approximate Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories: 260

Fat: 6 grams

Cholesterol: 60 milligrams

Sodium: 75 milligrams

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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