Citrus in Florida meant winter to us. Oranges, grapefruits, tangerines in brown paper bags lined up atop the garage workbench like so many soldiers standing at attention or Santa’s elves waiting for orders from the Big Guy. Rushing out early morning into the cold to grab an armful and dashing back into the warm kitchen. Bundle up and hop in the old station wagon on a Saturday and be whisked off to the groves on the far side of the Indian River where we could collect as many as we wanted like golden gifts from Mother Nature, or pirates guarding their precious treasure from marauding enemies. As our store of delectable, tangy, sweet bounty dwindled, as one paper bag after another was carefully folded up and set aside, we would run to dad and beg for him to take us back for more. Those chilly Florida winters, checking the moving clocks on the weather channel before wheeling our bikes out of the garage into the dark, icy wee hours, coats buttoned up to our neck as we headed off for school, always an orange tucked into our brown bag lunch, finally tearing off the outer layers as the bell clanged 3, freeing us, letting us loose into the now-warm afternoon to bike home and grab a handful of tangerines on our way back into the house before joining all the kids on the block for after-school fun and games.
That craggy old lemon tree that dad planted in the backyard, so forlorn and alone in the icy morning dew, trunk planted firmly in the sparse thick grass and prickly stickers. Or a grapefruit half, each section carefully carved out with one of those specially curved, double-edged grapefruit knives, sprinkled liberally with sugar as it snuggled in the perfect grapefruit-shaped bowl, a jewel-like maraschino cherry delicately balanced atop, a most elegant first course served before dinner.
The simple navel or the humble grapefruit or tangerines that came by the sackful are my childhood, so simple and carefree, bare feet on hot cement, running through the pounding waves, backyard barbecues or curled up on the sofa with a good book, or winter walks around the block laughing in amazement at the shimmering icicles dangling from bushes, the sprinkler system having been inadvertently left on all night, or searching out the houses dripping with Christmas lights. Oranges and grapefruit are for eating, like tangerines; push your thumbs into the skin and the sharp smell hits you, making your tastebuds tingle, peel back the skin, pull apart the sections and pop them, one by one, into your mouth. And lemons are easy, pies and tarts, cakes and muffins or cooling sorbets. Winter fruit. (Except for an excellent Citron Pressé at a Parisian outdoor café in the hot, hot summer, lemons are for baking or squeezing into a marinade.)
Yet here we are smack dab in the middle of summer and all of a sudden we are talking about limes. My Kitchen Addiction, this week’s BSI (Blogger Secret Ingredient) host, has chosen the lime as the secret ingredient.
Limes are indeed citrus, but a whole different animal. No winter chill needed to eat these babies fresh off the branch. Limes make me think of tropical islands, tall, cool drinks sporting tiny umbrellas, fingers trailing in the blue, blue water, so cosmopolitan, or the steamy hot decadence of the Old South or Key West, sipped on front porches or baked in a pie slathered with freshly whipped cream.
Limes… I’m not used to limes. Limes, like coconuts, papayas and mangos, are exotic, Indian cooking, chutneys and curries, or Ceviche, Fajitas, Jerk or Salsa. Limes are culinary travel at its best, bringing me to foreign lands, ukuleles or banjos strumming, languid ladies in frilly, colorful dresses, palm trees and white sand beaches or columned porches and Southern Belles.
So I decided to bring it all home and prepare the perfect, homey, comforting treat, adapting recipes that I usually use lemons for. And what a treat this BSI turned out to be! Lime Poppyseed Scones served up with Lime Curd!
From Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess
6 Tbs unsalted butter
3 large eggs
½ cup sugar
½ cup lime juice (4 – 6 limes)
Zest of 1 lime
Have prepared a clean pint jar. I used an old jelly jar.
Melt the butter over low to medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add all of the other ingredients and cook slowly, whisking constantly, until a custard forms. This should only take a few minutes and the custard should coat a spoon when the spoon is dipped in.
Allow to cool before spooning into the clean jar; the custard will firm up into a curd while cooling.
Store in the refrigerator, but remove from the fridge to come to room temperature before serving so the Lime Curd is creamy, unctuous and smooth.
LIME SCONES (with or without poppyseeds)
I usually make this simple scone recipe with lemons. It makes an excellent scone, light and airy, just sweet enough with barely a hint of lemon, but delicious. Perfect for a tea party or watching Six Nations Rugby Sunday afternoon. Serve warm with butter and Lime Curd.
1 ½ cup flour
3 Tbs sugar + a bit for tops
1 ½ tsps baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ tsps grated lime zest, or 1 – 2 limes
6 Tbs unsalted butter, cubed
8 Tbs heavy cream + 1 Tbs for top
2 Tbs lime juice
1 – 2 Tbs poppyseeds (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, lime zest and poppyseeds (if adding) together until blended.
Add the cubes of butter and rub or cut into the flour mixture until it resembles sand or coarse meal.
Add the 8 tablespoons of cream and the lime juice and stir until all of the dry ingredients are moist and a smooth, sticky dough forms.
Drop the dough by tablespoons onto parchment-lined cookie sheets, allowing space to spread a bit between each scone. Using a soft pastry brush, dab the top of each scone with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for about 20 minutes, depending on how large you have made the scones, until puffed and golden.
Remove from the oven, slide the parchment paper off of the hot cookie sheet onto a cooling rack and allow to cool slightly before serving with the Lime Curd.
These scones can be kept in an airtight metal box and gently reheated the following day until warm.