It is not usually easy to get Meyer Lemons in Pittsburgh. I guess they do not travel well, and they certainly do not grow around here- although we do have really beautiful apples, including a kind called Honeycrisp, which are unequaled for eating out of hand.
Like alot of other people, I am particularly fond of Meyer lemons. So last July, when I saw a really raggedy little Meyer lemon plant on sale for five dollars at Lowe's, I succumbed to a sentimental impulse, bought it, and set it on my stoop, in a sunny spot. I was more than a bit surprised when it blossomed like crazy, shortly thereafter. It was pretty as a picture, and the scent was huge and intoxicating. Reward enough. Then came little green lemons (five).
Naturally I was over the moon, but I got pretty worried when the usual non-Floridean October weather started up. I can't safely bring plants into the apartment under most circumstances. Archie the cat, though otherwise angelic, is a demon where houseplants are concerned. The cute little green lemons would have been some high powered cat magnets.
So with the help of a friend with a car, I took my little tree to the office, and set it on my extra wide windowsill there. Although the window looks out on an actual brick wall, it is in fact quite sunny. Nonetheless, the tree dropped all five lemons in very short order. I was desolated, but kept watering the plant. And, what do you know, it bloomed again., and now has 3 fruits, one of which you see before you-in front of the window/brickwall. It is at least 2" in diameter, and I have high hopes of consuming it someday when it turns yellow.
I am afraid to move my tree back to the stoop for the summer, so it is still in the office. I did get myself a pretty little kaffir lime tree for home, though. Since you eat the leaves, rather than the fruit , it will in no event be a total loss (even if it is fruitless). The other few things I grow on the stoop are either much more sensible, or just for looks.
In the meantime, what should appear at the Giant Eagle but a small bag of reasonably priced Meyer Lemons. So I bought them, and made my favorite Lemon Tarts. They are very good with regular, homemade pastry, but I used, instead, store bought puff pastry this time. Also good. A Lemon tart is a classic treat I always like. It is common, but it is uncommonly good. I've noticed that it is often a big hit with guests, too. Usually I make one big one, but this time I made four little ones instead, as I didn't have quite enough juice for a nine incher. If you want to make one big one, double this recipe, which makes four five inch tarts. You will know what to do about adjusting the lemon slices in the middle, without being bossed by me.
1/2 package frozen puff pastry (1 sheet) defrosted for 30 minutes
2 1/2 lemons
2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 400. Cut the sheet of pastry into four squares, and roll each square just a little bit bigger, so that it can be dropped into one of 4 five inch false bottom tart shells. Fit each in loosely, and trim the top even with the fluted edge. Put some parchment paper and dried beans or pie weights in each to hold it down, and blind bake the shells for 15 minutes on a cookie sheet. Meanwhile, cut four thin slices from the center of one of your lemons, and set them aside. Juice the lemons over a fine strainer into a bowl. It should be 1/4 cup or so.
Zest the lemons with your trusty microplane grater, into the same bowl. Whisk in the eggs, and 2/3 cup of the sugar. Lastly, the melted butter. Now the shells are baked, so take them out, remove the beans and stuff, and very very carefully pour the lemon mixture into the empty shells. You must also be very careful when you put that cookie sheet with the tarts back in the oven for fifteen more minutes (20 if you are making the big one). While they are in there, you are mixing the remaining sugar with
1/3 cup water, bringing it to the boil, and sliding in the thin slices of lemon.
Just before you take the tarts out of the oven, carefully take the lemon slices out of the sugar solution, and put them on a little rack to drip a bit, over a paper towel. After you take the cookie sheet from the oven, you can use a spatula to move the tarts, in their pans, onto a cooling rack. You should do this at once, so any seeped juice does not cool down and become gluelike under your tarts. When they are cool, remove the little tart rings and top each tart with a lemon slice. You can serve these to your friend for dessert when she comes for dinner after work the next day. Or you can have them, one at a time, for yourself, as they last several days in the fridge. You could do both. And, of course, the fiddling with the lemon slices is optional, however they are really yummy, especially when made with meyer lemons.
...And here is one now. It occurs to me to point out that my lemons were quite small, so if you are juicing large ones, you will want to measure the juice. These are good at room temperature, but also cold, particularly on a very hot day. Of course, you can make them with any sort of nice lemons you like.