I grew up with lemons and took them for granted...until friends from the East Coast would come visit and--to the one--would remark on the magnificence of having lemon trees in one's very own backyard. Yep, we really are pretty lucky.

Here in Los Angeles, lemons, limes, oranges, even kumquats dot many gardens. And across the street, my friend June Bardwil grows yuzu! You may recognize the floral tang of the fruit from tasting it in Japanese food but June uses it creates a remarkable facial toner. Her secret recipe was handed down to her by Japanese mother and, after receiving so many compliments on her gorgeous skin, June decided to make it available to all. I recommend it and her website, Pur Jun Life, which is filled with inspiration.

But back to lemons. I didn't totally take them for granted. One of my absolute favorite scents comes from their blossoms. Smelling those flowers takes me back to my childhood and long, lazy days spent by the pool. The occasional breeze would send the scent wafting over from the trees where it would mingle with the stony smell of the warm concrete under my wet towel and me. My eyes would be closed, the birds would be chirping, and I would just take it all in.

And I love to cook with them. I use them--their juice and/or their zest--in soups, tagines, pastas, everything, really. One of my favorite recipes, though, is from one of LA's best chefs, Suzanne Goin, where the meyer lemon is front and center.

Give it a try:

Suzanne Goin's Meyer Lemon Tart with a Layer of Chocolate from Sunday Suppers at Lucques

1 portion of pate sucree to cover a 10inch tart dish
2 oz bittersweet chocolate (70% is good)
4 extra large eggs
3 extra large egg yolks
1 cup plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup Meyer lemon juice
10 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
A pinch of kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream for whipping

Preheat oven to 375
Line tart pan with pate sucree and prick the bottom with a fork. Line with parchment paper and fill the tart shell with beans or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes then remove the parchment paper and weights. Return the tart shell to the oven and bake another 10-15 minutes until the crust is an even golden brown. Set aside to cool.
In a double boiler over medium-low heat, melt the chocolate. Spread the chocolate evenly over the bottom of the tart shell and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes until the chocolate has solidified.
While the crust is chilling, make the lemon curd. Whisk the egg yolks, eggs, sugar and lemon juice together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, alternating between a whisk and a spatula, until the curd has thickened to the consistency of pastry cream and coats the back of the spatula. Remove the curd from the heat and stir in the butter a little at a time. Season with the salt. Let the curd cool about 8 minutes and then strain it into the prepared tart shell.
Chill the tart in the refrigerator for several hours. It should be served cold with a dollop of whipped cream.
January 31, 2024 — Christy Hobart

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