It’s May in Jerusalem and nothing could be more delightful. The days are warm, the evenings are breezy, and our loquat tree is bursting with fruit. The old ladies that wander the shuk with their backyard-offerings are selling a variety of basil that lasts for weeks in a glass of water set out on our table (it even starts to root), and smells amazing. My fruit and vegetable guy had organic lettuce this week, grown by his teenage neighbor, and bright, sweet cherries, also grown without pesticides. I know that the heavy, sticky heat is imminent and I am enjoying every second of this season.
I’ve been making a pitcher of my favorite iced tea every few days, which is basically just a fruity tea mix with berries, apples and hibiscus, sometimes mixed with a little white or mild green tea, steeped in a litre of just-boiled water for a few minutes, cooled, chilled and served over ice. Sometimes I mix it with bought or homemade lemonade and sprigs of fresh mint and verbena.
And after our five week stay in Boston this winter reminded ever more how lucky I am to have access to cheap lemons (80 cents a piece at the markets in Boston!!) I have been also been using them in everything from salad dressing, to dips, to this lovely tea cake adapted from The New York Times Cookbook:
Simple Lemon Cake
1.5 cups flour – I used 50-50 white and whole wheat (you could also use part spelt)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 lb butter (~125 grams)
2 large eggs, at room temp
3/4 cup sugar
6 Tbs milk
2-3 Tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
2-3 Tbs lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350F/180C, grease and flour a loaf pan (English cake pan)
Add a little of the lemon juice to the milk to curdle it.
Sift flours, baking soda, powder and salt together in a bowl, set aside.
In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, and then beat in lemon zest and vanilla.
Alternately beat in flour mixture and liquids. Beginning with flour, then adding a bit of the milk and lemon juice etc, ending with flour. Do not overmix.
Spread batter into loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes on the center oven rack.
Happy Spring, listen to this if you haven’t yet (or even if you have).