July 5, 2005
Lemon Drop Martini...With a Twist!

lemon drop.jpgLast year, my lemon tree yielded one smallish precious lemon and I asked our readers for suggestions on what to do with it. Unfortunately, I had one of those incompetent moments (come on, we all have them once in a while) and I accidentally deleted nearly all the comments from that post. So yesterday, when I decided that I really needed to find a use for the two new lemons the tree has produced (yay!) I was stuck scratching my head and trying to remember the suggestions.

Alcohol was one. Candied lemon peel was another. I'm trying to cut down on the alcohol lately as it seems to be going straight to my middle and jiggling there in a taunting way. So I checked epicurious.com and found a) a recipe for candied lemon peel and b) a use for candied lemon peel. Perfect! I really wanted to use the peel from these lemons as they are of course unwaxed and completely organic.

lemons.jpgHere you see my darling lemons.

I can't believe how lucky I am to have such a productive tree. At there moment there are another eight lemons growing and all I have done to nurture the tree is stick it in the lightest spot of the apartment and water frequently.

naked lemon and peel.jpgThe epicurious recipe called for peeling the lemons carefully so as not to include any of the white pith. I don't know what kind of miracle vegetable peeler they have over there in the epicurious labs but I don't have one in my kitchen. It was next to impossible to avoid having some of the pith on the peel. Okay, it was impossible for a person of my patience, with my tools. I managed with a couple tiny pieces to almost exclude the pith. For the most part, though, I had long strips with pith on the back. In the photo, I included the naked lemon after shedding its peel. Of course, I didn't leave it in the pot: this was just a more visually interesting shot. (Always keeping you, the loyal readers in mind!)

The epicurious recipe called for boiling the peel of one lemon in two cups of water. I used the peels of two lemons and used enough water to cover them (which was about two cups). I don't see the point in measuring the water at this point as all you are doing is covering the peels with water, bringing it to a boil and then straining the peels and starting over with a fresh lot of water. You do this bring-to-a-boil-and-dump-the-water three times.

Next, the epicurious recipe called for dissolving two cups of sugar in two cups of water. Opening my cupboard, I discovered with dismay that the sugar container in fact contained a scant 1 1/4 cups sugar. So I dissolved one cup of sugar in two cups of water and added the peels.

I brought it to a full boil, then turned down the heat and left it at a merry bubble. At this point, the epicurious recipe called for leaving the mix for 15 minutes. Well, actually, I have no idea how long I left it. I called my sister in Chicago and you know how it goes when you start chatting with your favorite sister. It was probably half an hour later when I remembered the peel. Yikes! All was well, the water had turned into a lovely yellow syrup and the peels were almost transluscent.

I strained the peel, being careful to reserve the lemon syrup. It looked far too good to waste.

candied peel.jpgThe last step in making the candied peel was to toss the pieces in the last 1/4 cup of sugar. And here you can see the result. Isn't it pretty? And I tried a piece and it was excellent. Sweet and lemony and a little crunchy from the sugar. I could hardly wait to use it.

And then I remembered the alcohol suggestion. And I remembered the recipe for a Lemon Drop Martini posted by the Food Whore (my new virtual best friend, though she doesn't know it*). I've been meaning to make her recipe and here, to hand, I had the material to improve it.

With a little arm twisting, I managed to convince the Critic to be my guinea pig.

prepared cocktail.jpgHere you see the ingredients of my Lemon Drop Martini With A Twist:

Shaker, containing lots of ice (love my fridge with the automatic ice machine), 1/2 cup vodka, 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 cup lemon syrup.

Bowl of candied lemon peel.

Martini glass with 1 tsp lemon syrup in the bottom.

Shake the cocktail shaker vigorously for at least one full minute, pour carefully into the glass and garnish with a little bit of candied peel. And you get the gorgeous concoction pictured at the start of this post. The Critic thought it was pretty nice, but he needed several more just to make sure. You can't be too careful when your critical reputation is at stake.

seedless lemon.jpgHere you can see the proof that my cocktail was seedless. In fact, my lemon appeared to be seedless. How perfect is that?

And, alas, my middle is even fatter this morning. But it was worth every calorie...

* If by best friend you mean someone who can bitch about everything to you and make you laugh and feel like life is worthwhile...

Posted by Meg in Sussex at July 5, 2005 3:03 AM | TrackBack Print-friendly version

I think you should dip the rim in powdered sugar like a margarita.

Posted by barrett on July 5, 2005 at 4:38 PM

She's my new virtual best friend too!!!
I made her Lemon Drop recipe a few months ago, and dipped the rim in regular sugar (must meet Barrett someday), so great. But alas I suffer from the growing middle and haven't made them again.
This is a wonderful post - could even call it a short story. Nice photos too!

Posted by Alisa on July 5, 2005 at 5:04 PM

Actually, The Food Whore recipe calls for dipping the rim in sugar. And I suppose I could have used powdered sugar. But as I used the last of the normal crystal sugar, my mind went a bit blank...undoubtedly with the anticipation of tasting the lemon drop!


Posted by Meg in Paris on July 5, 2005 at 5:11 PM

clearly i drank too many at the time, and completely forgot that it was in the recipe to dip!

Posted by Alisa on July 6, 2005 at 3:31 PM

Clearly, you drank the RIGHT amount and were smart enough to drop the inessentials!

Posted by Meg in Paris on July 6, 2005 at 3:45 PM

In fact, as I recall the original recipe does note that you can dispense with the glass entirely and drink straight from the shaker...

; )

She's my kind of gal, that Food Whore!

(Alisa, have you met her friend Da Momma from the site Motherhood is not for wimps? There's a link on the home page - she's very funny too!)

Posted by Meg in Paris on July 6, 2005 at 3:49 PM

Mmmmmm. Lemon Drops.

As a peeling tip: while those who are neat-handed and have very, very sharp knives can take off the peel with a paring knife, I find my serrated-blade swivel-edge vegetable peeler to be Just The Thing for taking off peel-not-pith when large pieces of peel are required.

Mine is made by Messermeister and I got it at Sur La Table.

Congrats on your lemon crop!

Posted by Charlotte on July 6, 2005 at 8:08 PM

Charlotte, I used a standard vegetable peeler for mine - should have made that explicit.

Your tool sounds perfect, but I'd have to check out how sharp it is. I'm not so good with really sharp objects! (I used to be ashamed of this fact but after reading the Food Whore's section "Klutziness" I have decided to come out of the closet and admit that I, too, am a Kitchen Klutz.) I know that the common wisdom is that a properly sharpened tool is much less likely to slip and cause a wound...but when it does the wound is much much worse. This I know from experience!

Thanks for the suggestion, though! I'll have to go and check it out!

Posted by Meg in Paris on July 7, 2005 at 2:10 AM

Meg, I am a bit of a klutz too, so I don't dare use my knife. I've used regular veggie peelers on lemons and find the serrated-edge one to work better for this task.

(Thank you for the hat tip to the FW. I have been busy catching up.)

Posted by Charlotte on July 8, 2005 at 9:07 AM

OK, how the fuck do we make these without a ton of sugar? We have been paying $8.00 each and they are great and all but we are cheap. So, what makes them not bitter or Vodka-e tasting but taste so frickin good?

Any serious ideas are greatly appreciated. See, most links spell out a shot version of the recipe but we want the real Martini.....

Posted by Harldey on February 18, 2006 at 10:31 PM
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