April showers? Lemons bring on the sunshine

Recipes include: Tilapia with Lemon, Lemon Pasta, Roasted Asparagus with Lemon, Lemon Cupcakes and Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

It’s mud season in New Hampshire and that April shower thing, it’s real. 

We can’t do anything about the weather but a little lemon lightens and brightens any meal. One of my year-round favorites, it’s my go-to flavor during this time of year, which can often be gloomy and gray as we make the transition to spring. Like a ray of sunshine, a little lemon flavor lifts the spirits.    

Tilapia with Lemon

Serves 4

1-1 1/2 lbs. fresh tilapia fillets
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2-3 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. paprika
Olive oil
2 T. butter, cut in small pieces
1/4 c. dry white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
Fresh chopped parsley
Lemon wedges

Season tilapia with salt and pepper. Combine flour and paprika, lightly dust fish with flour and shake off any excess.

Lightly coat a large sauté pan with olive oil and heat over medium-high. Carefully place the fish in the pan and cook a few minutes per side, in batches if necessary. Transfer fish to a platter.

Reduce heat to medium and melt butter in the skillet. As soon as the butter starts to bubble, whisk in white wine and lemon juice. Cook for about 1 minute, whisking constantly.

Pour sauce over tilapia, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Lemon Pasta

Serves 4 as a main course, or 8 as a side dish

8-12 oz. spaghetti or angel hair pasta
Olive oil
2 T. minced red onion
Pinch or to taste red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. dry white wine or chicken broth
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2-3 T. cold butter, cut in small pieces
Fresh chopped parsley
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese or a mix of the two

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions, less 1 minute.

While pasta cooks – lightly coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium. Add onion and pepper flakes and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another minute or two.

Stir in wine, lemon juice and zest and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add butter and whisk to combine.

Reserving a little of the pasta water, drain spaghetti, add it to lemon sauce and toss to combine. Stir in a little pasta water, cover and simmer for 1-2 minutes.

 Serve pasta in shallow bowls with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and cheese.

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon

Serves 4

About 1 lb. asparagus, tough ends removed
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2-3 T. chopped walnuts, toasted
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place asparagus on a large rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Roast in oven for 8 minutes or until asparagus is tender-crisp. Drizzle with lemon juice, sprinkle with walnuts and toss to combine. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Lemon Cupcakes

Makes 10-12 cupcakes

3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 c. sour cream
1 3/4 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

With electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and beat on high speed until smooth. Add sour cream and beat on medium speed to combine.

Put flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add lemon zest and whisk again.

With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and beat until combined.

Fill paper liners about 2/3rds full with batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Grated zest 1 lemon
About 4 c. confectioners' sugar

Put cream cheese and butter in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat until well combined.

With mixer on low, slowly add confectioners' sugar and beat until well combined. Increase mixer speed and continue beating for 2-3 minutes, until frosting is light and fluffy.

Susan Nye writes for magazines throughout New England. She shares many of her favorite recipes and stories about food, family and friendship on her award winning blog, Around the Table, at www.susannye.wordpress.com

Categories: Recipes, Spring Fun