There’s something utterly delicious and refreshing when it comes to citrus fruits. In the midst of summer, when the heat goes up and the appetite goes down, who wouldn’t go for a glass of thirst-quenching orange juice? Who wouldn’t crave an aromatic lemon-infused ice cream? Who wouldn’t dream of getting their teeth into a blood orange and wipe their face of the juice bursting through every tiny pocket of ruby red orange goodness? Yes, yes, yes: I’m a big fan of citrus, and I’m very loud and proud about it 🙂
Cooking with citrus is a great way to add an extra layer of flavor to both savory and sweet dishes, and if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know that I use citrus in my recipes extensively (here’s one example). And yet, buying fresh citrus from the grocery store is sometimes impossible, for various reasons. The weather might be so hot that you don’t feel like getting out of the house and driving to the grocery store. On other occasions, you simply cannot leave the house because family members need your undivided attention. This is when citrus extracts from your spice cabinet can actually come in handy! Being housebound due to the squelching heat across Chicagoland and to the new addition to our family, I can definitely vouch for that 😉 Thankfully, my citrus extract collection has got bigger recently, when I was contacted by Nielsen-Massey to review an item from their new line of organic products. As someone who had collaborated with Nielsen-Massey in the past (check out my previous reviews here and here) and as a big fan of lemons, I was definitely interested to review the latest Nielsen-Massey pure lemon organic extract. What follows is my full review of this new item.
Nielsen-Massey’s new line of organic pure extracts features four flavors (almond, lemon, orange and peppermint) made with certified organic ingredients. The organic pure lemon extract contains California lemon oil rounded out with peel notes, and it offers “a convenient and tasty alternative to having to zest or juice lemons.” According to Nielsen-Massey, you can use this extract to add a splash of bright flavor to both sweet and savory dishes.
I was interested to see how versatile this extract really was, so I decided to use in two dishes, one savory, one sweet. For my savory dish I picked one of the recipes featured on the Nielsen-Massey website, which I was sure DH would enjoy: Easy Stove Top Tikka Masala Style Chicken. This truly was “a blast from the past” – I used to make this dish a lot when we lived in the UK, but for some reason never made it again ever since we moved to Chicago. The recipe called for conventional lemon extract, but I used the organic variety, and the dish was a great success. One teaspoon of the extract was just what was needed to cut through the dense heavy cream&tomato-based sauce, and to infuse the chicken with a vibrant, zesty flavor. I thought the use of the lemon extract in this dish was appropriate and inspired, and I will definitely make it again in the future. This straightforward, simple recipe is a keeper!
For dessert, I went back to one of the best recipes ever posted on this blog, and a definite crowd pleaser: éclairs! I swear by the pastry cream featured in this recipe, which is also one of the reasons I make it so often (I used it recently in a dessert I made for Mother’s Day). I made two portions of éclairs and doubled the quantities for both the choux and the cream. I used 1 1/2 tsp organic pure lemon extract in the latter, and the cream got a delightful flavor and perfume. It tasted of real lemons, so different from the artificial flavors you encounter with some other extracts. I was looking for authenticity in terms of taste and smell, and my expectations were fulfilled.
I was so inspired by this extract that I decided to use it in a cherry compote as well, to complement the éclairs. I made the compote with 2 cups pitted cherries, 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, 1/2 cup water and 1 tsp lemon extract. I recommend this compote as a fitting summery addition to the éclairs – and another excellent way to use organic lemon extract!
I thoroughly enjoyed the bright, zesty taste and perfume of the Nielsen-Massey pure organic lemon extract I tried. Not only did my dishes gain an extra layer of flavor and freshness, but they also showcased the versatility of flavor extracts more broadly, and made me want to continue to experiment with extracts in the future. As an added bonus, I didn’t have to leave the house to face the hot weather outside. I stayed inside, cooked and baked, and spent a wonderful time with my newborn – and that’s the best bonus of all 🙂
Nielsen-Massey is offering Chicago Loves Panini readers the chance to win one bottle of organic pure lemon extract to recreate the aforementioned recipes at home.
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post and answer the following question: What extracts do you normally use when cooking?
Giveaway open to US residents 18 years of age or older. One entry per person. Deadline for entries is 6PM central time on July 13th, 2018. One winner will be chosen on or around July 14th, 2018 by using a random number generator and will have 72 hours to respond to the winner notification email. I reserve the right to pick an alternative winner if the original winner does not contact me 72 hours after receipt of winner notification email.
*Disclaimer: While I received a complimentary product to facilitate this review, all opinions expressed here are my own.