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Sour power: 17 delicious ways to cook with lemons, from sponge cake to sorbet | Fruit

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It’s always lemon season somewhere. Even across Europe the harvest period is so long – running from November to July – that it would make more sense to speak of a brief off-season, and even then I’m sure you wouldn’t notice any shortage.

But for what it’s worth, we are now embarking upon the more lemon-saturated period of the year, and those fancy, expensive lemons with the leaves still on are just starting to appear in shops. They bring a strong note of summer to the dark winter months, and to almost any dish you make with them. Now is the time to expand your citrus repertoire.

Lemon appears in all kinds of cooking, sometimes as the star, sometimes in a small, uncredited cameo. It’s almost always worth a try; I can’t recall a time when I’ve spontaneously added a squeeze of lemon to a dish and regretted it. There’s no rule about how much lemon must be used for a dish to count as an actual lemon recipe, so I made one up: at least one whole lemon – juice of, zest of, or both.

Jeremy Lee’s lemon tart.
Jeremy Lee’s lemon tart. Photograph: Ola O Smit/The Guardian

Jeremy Lee’s lemon tart is an easy qualifier, using nine lemons. It also requires a little faith: a raw, well-beaten mixture of lemon juice, zest, sugar, creme fraiche, half a dozen eggs and a bit of rum is poured into a blind-baked tart case and then left in a low oven (like, 130C/gas ½ low) for between 45 and 90 minutes until set, but not even slightly coloured. Forget lemons: belief might be the main ingredient here.

There are many ways to get the zest off nine lemons, all of them pretty labour-intensive, but a box grater is possibly the easiest, using the second-to-smallest holes. Be careful not to grate down to the white pith, which is bitter, and be sure to use unwaxed lemons, which tend to be more expensive because of what they don’t put on them. Unwaxed lemons don’t keep as long as waxed ones, and for this reason a lemon with leaves on it is more than mere affectation: it gives you an idea of how long ago your fruit was picked.

Tamal Ray’s lemon, rosemary and olive oil cake.
Tamal Ray’s lemon, rosemary and olive oil cake. Photograph: Yuki Sugiura/The Guardian

Lemon meringue pie occupies a category somewhere between “classic” and “unfashionable” but Felicity Cloake makes an admirable stab at reclaiming the retro dessert for the modern age by producing the best possible example. It happens to use the ideal egg yolk-to-white ratio: four of each, so no wastage.

Rachel Roddy’s Sicilian lemon pudding is pleasingly simple: just lemon juice, zest, sugar, cornflour and eggs, with perhaps a few cherries on top for serving. Tamal Ray, meanwhile, has two delicious lemon cake recipes: the first is a sophisticated lemon, rosemary and olive oil cake, the second a cosier sponge and buttercream affair. The latter was intended as a Mother’s Day tribute. You’ve got two months to practise it, so you don’t disappoint your mum.

Lemons form the base of countless sauces and dressings, but here are two you need to know about. The first, gremolata, is a traditional Italian condiment used to accompany lamb, chicken, osso bucco, fish, pasta and almost anything else that needs its help. With just three ingredients – lemon zest, garlic, parsley – it hardly requires a recipe, but here’s one anyway, just for rough proportions. Gremolata will keep for a few days in the fridge, but it’s meant to be a fresh and zingy addition, whipped up as needed.

The other topping, salmoriglio, is just as basic: olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and oregano (fresh is good, dried is better). Rachel Roddy’s method is a good standard. It may not sound much, but spooned on to a just-grilled piece of fish with a few fork-holes poked in it, or over a plate of warm veg, it makes a world of difference, especially if your lemons happen to be the finer sort.

Rachel Roddy’s salmoriglio.
Rachel Roddy’s salmoriglio. Photograph: Rachel Roddy/The Guardian

Roddy has another meal that deserves a place in your weeknight rotation: spaghetti with lemon, basil and breadcrumbs. It’s a handy reminder that as long as you’ve got some lemons in, you never need to visit the shops in order to make yourself some supper. If, however, you fancy the walk, Paslia Anderson’s tom kha tai can be thrown together with stuff you should be able to buy at any supermarket. If pressed, you can use limes instead of lemons.

The acidity of lemons provides a sharp, rewarding contrast to rich meats and fish, although in the case of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s fried fish with very lemony mashed potato, all the acidity is in the side dish. Joe Trivelli’s sausages, lentils and lemon is a one-pot, slow-cooked winter stew with a hint of spring in its step, while this pork shoulder with lemon is slower still – almost four hours’ cooking time, most of which you can spend away from the kitchen watching a feature-length film, possibly even two.

Joe Trivelli’s sausages, lentils and lemon.
Joe Trivelli’s sausages, lentils and lemon. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

Even the freshest lemons don’t keep for ever, so if you’ve got a glut, a spot of preservation is in order. Lemon curd is a traditional option and Nigel Slater’s recipe comes with a bonus: another recipe for a lemon curd and orange parfait – a frozen, sliceable confection of cream, curd, orange and meringue.

In the same vein, following Fearnley-Whittingstall’s instructions for preserved lemons will yield you, in about a month’s time, an ingredient you can use for all sorts of other dishes, such as Yotam Ottolenghi’s butter beans with preserved lemon, chilli and herb oil. Bear in mind that the bit of the lemon you’re preserving is the rind, so you’ll need unwaxed ones again.

To finish, a lemon sorbet recipe from Cloake requiring no fewer than 14 lemons, plus sugar and water. Once you’ve got that together, try Rachel Roddy’s sgroppino al limone cocktail: sorbet, vodka, prosecco, and maybe a chair.


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Signs your wife loves to gossip about your married life

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It is a major red flag if your wife enjoys listening and giving opinions about unhealthy gossips about others. These may include big quarrels, fights, dramatic family matters, or even in-laws related problems. Listening to such gossips and further spreading these as rumours can be really harmful to the targeted person or family.

If your wife displays these signs very clearly, chances are very high that she talks about the problems in your marriage to other people as well. This is when, you really need to have a stern discussion with her.


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Rachel Roddy’s recipe for spaghetti with lemon, parmesan and cream | Food

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Lemons are many things, and January is a good time to fill a bowl with half a dozen. Take one, dig your nail into its oily, open-pored skin, sniff and make a mental list. Lemons are also full of particles with a positive electric charge, which, when on the loose, are like teenage boys in a brand new electric car, cruising around looking for other molecules to attach to, and in doing so they change them. It is this concentrated proton activity that the nerves in the tongue and brain interpret and experience as the sensation of sourness when they encounter lemon.

We studied this at school, and also stuck copper wire in oval fruits with nipples in order to make a lemon battery. However, it was rereading Margaret Visser’s tart and witty chapter on lemons in her book Much Depends on Dinner that reminded me of the science; how the movement and proton pumps result in the formation of citric acid, which explains much. Lemons are not just handy, long-lasting, perfectly packaged, sunny, essential, beautiful and so on, they are charged, they are jump leads, they are a sort of edible electricity. No wonder we get such a thrill from a wayward spritz of juice that hits an eye, a twist or a slice.

January, particularly this January, is a good time to make spaghetti with lemon, parmesan and cream; a smooth and sharp dish that is also useful in that the sauce takes almost exactly the same amount of time to prepare as the pasta takes to cook.

Don’t worry about the lemon juice splitting the cream; by melting the butter with the lemon juice, grated zest and slivers over a low heat, you create a pretty stable emulsion to which the cream can be added, and the parmesan thickens further, but remember to the keep the heat under the pan low and gentle. Another thing to remember is not simply to toss, but to really swish the pasta when you add it to the pan, so the starch is released and jolted into the butter and cream sauce, which helps it to thicken and, in turn, cling to the stands of spaghetti.

We don’t need science to tell us that lemon juice is a great awakener; just a few drops can bring out other flavours and heighten our appreciation of them. It might sound like overkill, but spaghetti with lemon, parmesan and cream is even better when followed by a green salad in an olive oil, salt and lemon dressing (I shake them in a jam jar with a drop of water), and better still if you have a slice of chocolate cake for pudding.

Spaghetti with lemon, parmesan and cream

Serves 4

2 unwaxed lemons
Salt and black pepper
450g spaghetti
50g butter
12
0 ml single cream
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed but whole
4 heaped tbsp grated parmesan

Bring a large pan of water to a boil for the pasta. Using a vegetable peeler, pare the rind (and as little pith as possible) from one lemon, then cut the pared strips into very thin slivers. Grate the rind from the other lemon, then squeeze out the juice.

Once the water boils, add salt, stir and add the spaghetti, setting the timer for a minute less than the recommended cooking time.

While the pasta cooks, in a wide frying pan over a medium-low heat, warm the butter with the lemon slivers and and two tablespoons of lemon juice. Once the butter is foaming gently, stir in the cream and two tablespoons parmesan, and bring up to a bubble. Turn the heat to low and keep warm.

Once the timer for the pasta goes, drain, reserving some of the cooking water (or lift it directly into the frying pan with tongs), then toss in the creamy sauce and swish vigorously so the starch from the pasta combines with it. Add the rest of the parmesan and a few grinds of black pepper, and toss again so the sauce clings to the strands; if it seems stiff, add a little of the reserved water and stir again. Serve immediately.


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Old v young: 11 things that show the generation gap between you and your parents | Parenting your parents

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It won’t be news to hear that your parents are mostly baffled and bemused by their children. You seem to know more about technology, global politics and climate change than your folks did when they were spring chickens. In fact, you seem to know more than they do now. And there’s such a huge difference between your views that you often wonder if it’s worth taking a parental DNA test. Here’s just how big the generation gap is between you and your folks …

Give me wifi

Illustration of the figure 40% with a wifi router and a sink plunger



Apparently, a whopping 40% of generation Z said that they’d prioritise working wifi over a functioning bathroom. But if the bathroom’s out of order, where are you meant to do your scrolling?

Good hair day

According to a study that appears on Statista, people aged 50 to 64 spend twice the proportion of their average household income on hair and cosmetic products than those in their 20s do. It must be nice to be able to afford all the luxury stuff and have a lovely pension to rely on, hey?

Ripping yarns

Ilustration of young woman with ripped jeans and quote: 'About half'



About half of the population of twentysomethings have jeans with purposeful rips in them. Not one single person over 50 has ever understood why. Annoyingly, 87% of people over 50 will always “cheekily” remind people in their 20s that there are holes in their jeans – 0% of twentysomethings will ever laugh.*

Biting the hand

According to a study on Statista, fiftysomethings are 36% more likely to get bitten by a dog than twentysomethings.

Mind the gap

The gender pay gap is actually way more prevalent among older workers, with those in their 50s averaging a 30% difference in pay, compared with a difference of 9% among 22- to 29-year-olds, according to a study that appears on Statista.

Lotta bottle

Illustration of paper bag containing alcohol bottles and cigarettes with quote: 'Spend more'



People between the ages of 50 and 64 spend a higher proportion of their average weekly household outlay on alcoholic drink, tobacco and narcotics than people in their 20s, according to a study that appears on Statista.

Question everything

All 20-somethings truly want to know the reasoning behind things in order to be more educated about the world around us. This is not helped by 100% (yes, 100%) of parents answering any query of “why?” with a stern “because I said so”.*

Out and proud

According to the Office for National Statistics, people under 34 are more likely to identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual than people over 50. A great sign that youth are tolerant and accepting, so if anyone in their 50s did want to come out, they’d have a trusted ally in generation Z.

Storm warning

According to a 2018 analysis by Gallup, 56% of those aged over 55 care about climate change. What’s up with the other 44%? Happy swinging around your non-recyclable plastic for future generations to use to build their first homes atop piles and piles of landfill? Many thanks.

Good neighbours

Apparently 77% of people aged 50 to 64 speak to neighbours at least once a month, according to a study on Statista. This compares with 62% of those under 34, who are probably too busy worrying about job prospects, financial ruin and the burning of the planet and everything on it to say a quick hello to Alex at number three.

Lost in translation

Approximately 99.999% of time spent together between parents and children is used to slightly change stories and anecdotes to hide the real truth from both parties.*

*Correct at the time of looking out of the window and making this up.

Need help talking to dad about milk? Visit oatly.com/helpdad


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