While preparing a meal for friends coming over for family-style eating, I found myself singing a chorus from a Harry Belafonte song that I loved as a child growing up in Florida … “Lemon Tree.”
The song was later recorded by Peter Paul and Mary in the ’70s and is still one of my favorites. The chorus goes:
“Lemon tree, very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.”
That chorus was a perfect metaphor about a young man being jilted by a beautiful young lady but it certainly is not true when it comes to the fruit of the lemon.
I love lemons so much that I make my own lemon pepper to use on most anything that needs a powerfully delicious flavor-zap. For others so inclined, here’s how simple it is to combine:
Carefully avoiding the bitter white pulp, grate the zest of two large lemons. Dry for 20 minutes in a 200 degree F. oven. Mix with any commercial ground pepper and store in an airtight container. Note: If you’re in a hurry, dry the zest in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes on high. However, you’ll lose some of the intensified flavor that a slow oven produces.
Anyway, back to preparing for dinner guests and singing that song. It made me crave a strong lemon taste so I decided to add a mound of lemon potato wedges to the menu.
Like most folks, I love very thick potato wedges with fried chicken or steak but basic baked wedges lacked the zing that would kick my pork chops smothered in onions up an entertaining notch or two. I knew my fellow foodies would love the taste adventure.
The following uncomplicated gem is “oh so easy” and guaranteed to produce requests for a recipe copy:
Lemon Potato Wedges
4 large baking potatoes scrubbed and unpeeled
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons garlic salt (or more)
Paprika to taste
Lemon pepper (homemade or commercial)
Cut the potatoes lengthwise into wedges. Place in large bowl and toss with olive oil and lemon juice. Cover and let sit for about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Toss potatoes with half of seasonings, reserving other half. Spray a shallow-sided baking tray with no-stick spray and then arrange wedges in single layer.
Bake 20 minutes, turning the wedges once and sprinkling with rest of seasoning. Bake another 15-20 minutes or so until nicely browned and tender. Check seasoning and add more salt and Lemon pepper if necessary. Serves 6 to 8.
Added Bonus: The baking lemon fragrance is a yummy welcome to arriving friends.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Leba also writes the “Upon Reflection” column which runs bi-monthly in the Banner Sunday edition. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.