If you were going to go and have a fruit named after you, you could do a lot worse than the Meyer lemon. Sweeter, richer, and less acidic than a regular lemon, it bears the name of USDA scout Frank N. Meyer, who lugged the citrus back from a trip he took to Beijing in 1908. The main season for these elegant mandarin-lemon hybrids runs through March. Time enough for a few more pitchers of Meyer lemonade and this “marmalade” recipe (actually, a delicious purée) from Adour Alain Ducasse chef Joel Dennis.
Joel Dennis’s Date-and-Meyer-Lemon Marmalade
3 Meyer lemons
1/4 cup water
2 tbs. sugar
1 lb. Medjool dates
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the lemons: (1) Zest with a vegetable peeler. (2) Remove any remaining pith from the zest. (3) Stack the zests a few at a time, and slice into a fine julienne. Juice the lemons, and reserve. Blanch the zest three times, changing water each time to remove any bitterness. Add the water, sugar, 4 tablespoons of the reserved juice, and lemon zest to a small pot, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to lowest setting, and cook gently until zest is tender and translucent. Cool and reserve. For the dates: Soak them in warm water for 10 minutes to soften the skin. Drain and peel the outer skin with your fingers. Discard the skins. Cut the dates in half lengthwise, and remove and discard the pits. In a food processor, combine pitted dates, the remaining lemon juice, and olive oil. Process until smooth and reserve. Place the candied lemon zest and a bit of the syrup on top of the date mixture. Serve beside or as a base for foie gras or as an accompaniment to a strong blue cheese. Yield: 10 servings. Store up to a week in the refrigerator.