Gardeners delight: Palate-pleasing citrus

If you subscribe to the idea of eating locally, February can be a rather dismal month in the fruit department. You can find berries from South America, melons from Mexico, cherries from Chile and peaches and plums from anywhere south of the border. Not exactly local eating.

So let’s turn our attention to sprightly but sometimes neglected citrus fruits, which we often grow right in our own back yards. Oranges and lemons are amazingly versatile and can be used to brighten up a savory dish as well as a sweet-tart dessert.

Citrus makes fabulous preserves and puddings, and can be added to a green salad to enhance the flavor and surprise the palate.

The smallish Meyer lemon has less acidity than the large Eureka lemon and is perfect for marmalade of lemonade.

Avgolemono soup originates in Greece, and is used by many Balkan and Turkish Jews to break fasts.


Avgolemono Soup

Serves 6

3 Tbs. Arborio rice

4 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 eggs

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

In a medium saucepan, bring stock to a boil.

Add rice to stock and cook until rice is tender, about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice and eggs until well blended. Add a ladleful of hot broth to egg mixture in a slow stream, whisking steadily. Whisk mixture into remaining soup. Add peas and heat gently until slightly thickened. Taste for salt and pepper and serve.


Citrus and Honey–Glazed Chicken

Serves 8

2 chickens split in half (butterflied)

salt and pepper


1⁄2 cup honey

2 Tbs. fresh orange juice

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

3 Tbs. cumin seed, toasted and crushed

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine glaze ingredients.

Rinse chickens and blot dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using about 1⁄3 of the glaze, brush both sides of chicken halves. Place skin side down on a baking sheet that has low sides. Place in oven and roast 10 minutes. Turn heat down to 375 degrees, brush again with half the remaining glaze and roast 10 minutes. Turn over and roast 20 minutes. Brush with remaining glaze and roast about 10 minutes more, until deep-golden brown. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving.


Lemon Bars

Makes 24

2 cups sifted, all-purpose flour

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 cup butter, melted

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour

1⁄2 cup plus 2 Tbs. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together 2 cups flour and confectioners’ sugar. Blend in melted butter. Press into bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until light. Combine sugar, baking powder and

1⁄4 cup flour until there are no flour lumps. Stir sugar mixture into eggs. Finally, stir in lemon juice. Pour over prepared crust and return to the oven.

Bake for an additional 30 minutes or until bars are set. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.

Louise Fiszer
is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to

Louise Fiszer