Lovely lemons are a treat

Cathie Campbell/For The Madera Tribune Use lemon blueberry batter for a loaf of bread or muffins, whichever you choose. If you have a friend, neighbor, relative or co-worker who has a lemon tree, chances are you might be lucky enough to receive a gift of fresh, juicy lemons. In my case, my sister has at least two very large lemon trees, one of which is a Meyer. I love to bake with lemons, but sometimes I crave main dishes such as lemon chicken. The sauce is so good over some tender, steamed rice. And of course everyone is familiar with good old-fashioned lemonade, which is fairly simple to make. Just mix 6 1/2 cups cold water, 1 cup lemon juice and 1 cup sugar. (I like to use a little less than 1 cup sugar, for a higher level of tartness, but it is up to you how much to add.) I hope you enjoy what’s left of our summer season, and take the time to sit in the shade, with a slice of lemon blueberry bread and a tall glass of homemade, iced lemonade. Kids are already heading back to school, so watch out for school buses that are out and about. Lemon blueberry bread with glaze You can bake the batter in muffin pans if you wish. For the bread: 1 3/4 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 cup sugar 1/8 teaspoon salt 1 cup sour cream, room temperature 1/4 cup vegetable oil 2 large eggs, room temperature 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 teaspoons lemon zest 2 cups (about 1 pint) fresh or frozen blueberries, divided For the glaze: 1 cup confectioners’ sugar 2 teaspoons lemon zest 2 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice 1. For bread: Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper or lightly oil and set aside. 2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. 3. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs, oil, vanilla, sour cream, and lemon juice and zest. 4. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together until just combined. The batter will be pretty thick. Do not over-mix. Fold about 1 1/2 cups of the blueberries into the batter. 5. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and sprinkle the remaining blueberries over the top. Bake in preheated oven for about 55 to 70 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from the middle. 6. Cool completely on a cooling rack before removing from the pan and glazing. 7. For glaze: Place the powdered sugar and lemon zest in a mixing bowl. Add enough lemon juice to the bowl until the consistency is thick but pourable. If the mixture gets too thin, you can add a bit more confectioners’ sugar. Store bread loosely wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Meyer lemon shortbread cookies 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (1 1/4 sticks) 1/4 cup powdered sugar 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon lemon zest 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (may need more) Additional sugar for sprinkling tops 1. Preheat oven to 325. In large mixer bowl beat butter and sugars, salt and lemon zest until very fluffy and well blended. 2. Gradually sift in flour and mix well. Sprinkle lemon juice over dough and lightly knead until dough holds together. If the dough is too dry, add a few more drops lemon juice, the dough should just come together; do not over moisten it. 3. Press into an 8-by-8-inch baking pan and pierce deeply with a fork in a decorative pattern. Bake for about 40 minutes or until just slightly darker at the edges. Turn out of the pan while still warm and cut into bars and sprinkle with sugar. Allow the cookies to cool completely on a rack. Lemon and ricotta pancakes 2 large lemons (juice and zest) 2 large eggs 1 cup milk 1 cup ricotta cheese 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter (1/2 stick) 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1. Whisk the first 7 ingredients (lemons through vanilla) together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. 2. Pour the wet ingredients on top of the dry. Using a rubber spatula or large spoon, mix until the dry ingredients are well moistened and there are no large lumps. Some little lumps are expected; they should be viewed as a sign of not overmixing. Don’t stir this until it’s smooth; this will result in a chewier, bread-like pancake. Let the batter rest for about 5 min before cooking. Add more milk a tablespoon at a time if the batter becomes too thick. 3. Place a non-stick griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Grease with butter or non-stick spray. Once the surface is hot, pour about a quarter cup of mixture onto the pan. Cook pancakes about 4 minutes on one side. There are two visual cues to look for when the pancake is ready to flip. First, the amount of darkness on the side facing down. If it is starting to turn to a dark brown, go ahead and flip it. Second, check for bubbles on the side facing up. If you have the right temperature, bubbles will form. When they begin to set and are slow to disappear, the pancake is ready for turning. They should cook about 75 percent on the first side. Once flipped, cook them for another minute until both sides are brown. 4. You can sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar and a few chopped pecans over the top, to dress them up. Makes 10 to 12 four-inch pancakes. Chinese lemon chicken 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1-inch cubes) Marinade: 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1/2 teaspoon salt Batter: 2 large eggs 1/4 cup cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1 pinch white pepper (or use black pepper) Oil (for frying) Sauce: 1/3 cup sugar 1 cup chicken broth 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch 2 tablespoons lemon juice 3/4 teaspoon salt 3 slices of lemon (peeled) 2 tablespoons vegetable oil Yellow food coloring (optional) 1. Place cut chicken breast pieces into a bowl and mix with 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 2. To make the batter, beat 2 large eggs with 1/4 cup cornstarch, a pinch white pepper and baking powder. Coat the chicken with the batter. 3. Heat deep fryer to 350 degrees and deep-fry in batches until chicken is fully cooked. Drain on paper towels and set aside. You can also cook the chicken using a wok or deep electric skillet if you don’t have a deep fryer. 4. To make the lemon sauce, combine sugar, chicken broth, cornstarch, lemon juice and salt (if using food coloring, add it now). Mix until well combined and add 3 slices of lemon to sauce mixture. 5. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in your wok and stir in the lemon sauce mixture and heat until well mixed and sauce becomes clear. Remove lemon slices and pour the sauce over the chicken and mix. You can add the slices on top of the chicken later for eye appeal.