Nibbling Lemon Tart as the Snow Falls

March 11th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

Meyer Lemon Tart 

What is it about late-winter snow storms that inspires me to bake? Perhaps it’s the warm oven and comforting aromas, or maybe it’s post-snow-shovel sugar cravings? Either way, this has always been the case for me. Of course, baking during a blizzard —when the threat of a power outage looms large— is a big risk.  So, I try to think of things I can bake in less than an hour. Snow also means using the ingredients on hand, since travel is out of the question.

Walking back from my tractor after making a quick, snow-clearing pass down the drive, I paused to admire the snow-dusted Witch Hazel. Oh, sugar-sprinkled lemon tart? Inspiration struck! Homegrown citrus —lemon, lime and calamondin— I usually have from my own trees (see tips for growing your own citrus here). This year, my Meyer Lemon has been a little stingy —I think I brought it inside a bit late, exposing it to frost— but it has finally relented; offering up 3 ripe fruits. Fresh eggs? Check. Butter? Check. Cream? Oh yes . . . Always. Time for a lemon tart!

Inspiration for a Sugar-Dusted Tart: Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’

Dressed with Half a Container of Organic Raspberries & Dusted with Confectioner’s Sugar

Hamilton Beech Commercial Citrus Juicer. Less-than-Perfect Lemons = Perfectly Fine Juice for a Perfectly Delicious Tart

I am a fresh citrus lover. Long before I began growing my own lemons, limes and calamondins, I started pressing fresh juice for drinking, cooking, baking and cocktail-making. For years I had a cumbersome and flimsy citrus press, then voila, this fantastic, Hamilton Beech commercial citrus juicer appeared beneath the tree one Christmas and I have never looked back. If you love pressing citrus, this tool will make short work (and fun), of the process. I find that I get more juice (and if double pressing, pulp too), when using a strong press.

M e y e r    L e m o n    T a r t

I n g r e d i e n t s 

One pre-baked, sweet tart shell (see recipe below)

½     cup Meyer lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons & their zest, depending upon size)

2     eggs

3     egg yolks

6     tbs sugar

2     tbs cream

pinch of fine salt

6     tbs best-quality, unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

Confectioner’s Sugar & Organic Raspberries for Decoration/Serving

M e t h o d 

Juice the lemons, (I love my Hamilton Beech commercial citrus juicer), pressing as much pulp as possible through the strainer, and grate the peels. Add both juice and peel together, in a small bowl (watch for and remove seeds, if hand pressing). Beat eggs and egg yolks together with sugar until just mixed. Add egg/sugar mixture to a heavy saucepan and warm over low heat. Add cream, stirring constantly. Add the juice mixture, again stirring non-stop as you go. Add the salt and then the butter pieces, slowly stirring as they melt. When the mixture thickens enough to coat a spoon, remove from the heat and allow to sit 5 minutes. Whisk to smooth and pour into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate to chill for about a half hour or keep chilled for up to two weeks.

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

Fill the cooled, pre-baked tart shell (do not over-fill), and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until just set (slightly puffed and firmed but still a bit wobbly at center). Remove and allow to cool for an hour before serving or place in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

If refrigerating, allow the tart to come back to room temperature (about an hour), before serving. When the tart has reached room temp, garnish with raspberries, dust with confectioner’s sugar & serve.


P â t e    S a b l é e

(Sweet Dough for 9″ Tart)

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi

I n g e d i e n t s 

1 ½     cups (201 grams) all-purpose flour

½     cup (60 grams)  confectioner’s sugar

¼     tsp grated lemon zest

¼     tsp fine sea salt

9 tbs (4 ½ oz/128 grams) chilled, best-quality, unsalted butter, cut in small pieces

1     large egg yolk

M e t h o d

Place the flour, sugar, lemon zest and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend. Lift the lid and scatter butter over dry ingredients. Cover again and pulse until the mixture is roughly the size of peas. Slowly add in yolk, mixing in short pulses. Then, increase pulsing to 10 second intervals until the dough forms small clumps. Stop here. Do not overwork. Rinse your hands in ice water, dry and turn the dough out onto a work surface.

Mix with the heel of your hand, smearing across the counter, rather than kneading, until blended. Gather up in a ball and flatten to a disk.

Butter a tart pan (I like to use a removable bottom tart pan), and evenly press the dough over the bottom and up the sides. Do not overwork. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork and cover with foil. Place in a freezer for about an hour or longer —or overnight— before removing to bake.

Center an oven rack and preheat to 400°F.

Place the frozen tart on a cookie sheet and bake blind for 25-30 minutes (or until golden brown). You need not use pie weights if you have properly chilled the tart, it should not shrink much. Remove from the oven and cool for at least ½ hour before adding lemon filling.

Meyer Lemons and Tart

Post-Nor’easter: Eighteen Inches of New-Fallen Snow in the Garden

Meyer Lemon Tart: Antidote to Late-Winter Blues


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Photography copyright Michaela Harlow at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Calamondin Orange: Sunshine in a Pot

December 9th, 2017 § 3 comments § permalink

Calamondin Orange Tree in the Kitchen

As we move closer to the shortest day of the year, and the long, dark nights of winter, sunlight begins to feel like a rare and precious commodity. During the cold, colorless months, I find myself seeking out warm hues —bright yellow, orange, lime green— and all things tropical. Something tells me I’m not the only northern gardener dreaming of a far-away paradise.

Last year, my sister and my nephew surprised me with a beautiful Calamondin Orange tree (Citrofortunella mitis), for my birthday. With its glossy-green foliage and abundant, golden fruit, this tree is a total knock-out. But the real surprise? Insect and disease resistance. Not a single battle has been waged with scale or spider mites. Of the three citrus trees growing in my home —which include an Improved Meyer Lemon and a Lime Tree— the Calamondin Orange has proven easiest and most productive, by far.

Calamondin Orange Tree in the Kitchen Today, with River Stone Mulch

If you’re new to growing citrus trees as houseplants, I highly recommend starting with an indoor-tolerant Calamondin Orange. And if you happen to be looking for the perfect gift for the gardening gourmet in your life, this tree could be it!

Small but abundant, bright-orange fruits appear at regular intervals on this cross between a Kumquat and Mandarin Orange. Calamondin oranges are quite tart and a good substitute for Persian limes in most recipes. Their tangy juice and sweet zest is delicious in many drinks, desserts, savory dishes and condiments; including salad dressings, marmalades, salsas, chutneys and pickled preserves. I love adding tart Calamondin juice to cocktails and spicing up a simple crème brulée with a bit of the sweet & tangy zest. Imagine the creative, culinary possibilities!

Freshly Harvested Calamondin Oranges


Tips for Selection & Care of Indoor Citrus Trees

Selecting: Ready to begin growing your own crop of tiny, golden oranges? Choose a two to three-year-old specimen from a reputable nursery for the earliest showing of blossoms and fruit. Look for healthy, green foliage and a well-pruned, full framework. Avoid trees with spindly growth, curled or yellowing foliage, and suckers at the base. Online, you can find beautiful Calamondin Orange Trees at White Flower Farm and Four Winds Growers.

Potting: When potting your newly acquired citrus tree, choose a ceramic, clay or plastic pot with adequate drainage. Ensure that the selected container has several holes at the bottom, and fill the drainage dish with gravel or stone to allow good moisture release and airflow. Well-drained soil is also critical. Buy pre-mixed potting soil specifically blended for citrus, or choose a slightly acidic, loamy potting mix with a pH of 6-7.

Placement: Citrus trees need 8-12 hours of sunlight per day. During the fall and winter months, place your Calamondin in a draft-free, south-facing window with even temperatures (55-85°F is ideal). Avoid locating the tree where temperatures fluctuate radically: such as near wood stoves, ovens, radiators or exterior doors. Calamondin Orange Trees may be moved outside in late spring (after the last frost date in your area). Be sure to slowly acclimate your tree to outdoor conditions by placing it in a protected spot. Try to find a dappled nook, shielded from high wind. After a couple of weeks have passed, the pot can migrate to its summer home in full sun.

Watering: Water your tree regularly (using a meter helps tremendously), and cover the soil with decorative river stone, moss or other mulch mulch to help reduce evaporation and temperature fluctuation at the root zone. Soil should be kept on the drier side during winter months to avoid root rot and fungal infections. Like most tropical beauties, Calamondins enjoy humidifiers and/or regular misting as well.

Feeding: Citrus are heavy feeders. Fertilize your tree every three weeks using a citrus-specific fertilizer, like this one from Jobe’s Organics, throughout the spring and summer months. During the fall and winter months, fertilize once every six weeks.

Harvesting Calamondin Oranges from My Tree

Harvesting: Calamondin oranges take about one year to ripen from the time blossoms appear. However, because the tree will produce flowers and fruit at the same time, harvests can happen over a period of weeks or months. Snip bright orange fruit from branches with sharp pruners (I use Felco 8s) to avoid tearing the tender skin. You’ll know the oranges are ripe when they are just soft enough to give slightly under the pressure of your fingertips.

Pest Management: Calamondins do seem to resist insects and disease, however all houseplants are vulnerable to infestations and stress increases the risk, so be sure to meet your tree’s needs as listed above. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, tiny insect pests hitch a ride on newly acquired plants or on fresh produce and flowers from the grocery store. Insects will also set up camp while potted plants are living outside during the summer months. Once the trees come inside, away from predatory insects —boom— bug explosion. Should your citrus tree become host to spider mites, scale, mealy bugs or aphids, try treating organically with insecticidal soap and horticultural oil, or neem oil for tougher pests like spider mites and scale. The key to success is repeated treatment at regularly scheduled intervals (see manufacturer’s recommendation by pest), until the infestation is under control.

With proper attention and care, a Calamondin Orange Tree will provide many golden harvests of fruit and years of beauty, inside and out.

Article & Photography copyright Michaela Harlow at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through the affiliate-links here. A small percentage of each sale, at no additional cost to you, will be paid to The Gardener’s Eden to help with site maintenance and web hosting costs. Thank you!

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Cranberry-Basil Margarita with Homegrown Citrus & Herbs

December 8th, 2017 § 4 comments § permalink

Cranberry-Basil Margarita

Tis the season for entertaining, and for many of us, that means welcoming guests with refreshing, festive cocktails. At the moment, I’m planning a Winter Solstice get-together for family. This will be more of a roam-about the room and chat party than a sit-down dinner, so I’m dreaming up tasty libations to set out in punch bowls and pitchers, or perhaps even prepare —at least in part— a day in advance. I’ve been trying out a few different twists on favorite cocktail recipes and this fresh take on a classic Margarita definitely fits the bill.Don’t you just love cranberries? They glow like ruby beads and they’re so willing to wait around in the fridge! As a life-long New Englander, I always make my own cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, and an extra batch or two for using on sandwiches, later. While they are in season, I pick up a few extra bags of fresh cranberries whenever I’m at the market. I freeze what I can’t use and thaw them when I need some bright color in the dead of winter.Calamondin Orange in the Kitchen

I’ve always used cranberries in baked goods and savory sauces, but more recently, I’ve been experimenting with them in cocktails. Cranberry juice is one of the most popular mixers, so why not put the whole fruit in your drink? Cranberries combine well with so many things. Citrus —especially oranges and limes— is an obvious choice, but the tart flavor and bright red color of cranberries practically begs for fresh, green herbs as well. Hello windowsill herb garden and potted citrus trees, what do you have on offer today? Basil? Ripe calamondin oranges? OK, lets play.First, I make up a basic cranberry sauce, aka cranberry “jam”, (see recipe, below). This tart, multi-use condiment will keep well, covered in the fridge, for a few days. Obviously, cranberry sauce is great on sandwiches, but it’s also delicious when swirled into plain, Greek yogurt or dabbed atop warm oatmeal with cinnamon and a touch of maple syrup. But wait! Don’t eat it all! You’re gonna love using this jam in cocktails —especially this Cranberry-Basil Margarita!

Cranberry-Basil Margarita

Single recipe serves 1, Pitcher recipe serves 8


Cranberry Sauce

1       12 oz. package of fresh or frozen cranberries

1       cup fresh-squeezed orange juice

½     cup sugar (add more for sweet-tooths, up to 1 cup, to taste)

1        tbs fresh orange zest (optional)


¼       cup kosher salt

¼       cup granulated sugar

Single Cocktail 

sugar-salt mixture for rimming glass (recipe above)

1       calamondin orange or lime wedge

2       fresh basil leaves

1 ½  ounces blanco tequila (100% blue agave)

¾     ounce fresh squeezed calamondin orange or lime juice

½     ounce orange liquor, such as Cointreau, or triple sec

1       ounce cranberry sauce (recipe above)

½     ounce agave syrup (or simple syrup), or ¾ ounce, for sweeter taste

¾     cup of ice cubes (about 6-8 cubes, plus more for glass)

Pitcher of Margaritas 

sugar-salt mixture for rimming glasses (recipe above)

16     fresh basil leaves

½     cup agave syrup (or simple syrup), or ¾ cup for sweeter taste

1       cup cranberry sauce (recipe above)

4       calamondin oranges or 1 lime, cut into wedges

¾     cup fresh calamondin orange or lime juice

½     cup orange liquor, such as Cointreau, or triple sec

1 ½  cups blanco tequila (100% blue agave)

6       cups ice cubes, plus more for glasses


For Cranberry Sauce

Heat a cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice and stir in ½-¾ cup of sugar on medium-high. When the mixture begins to boil, stir in 12 oz. of cranberries. Continue stirring and allow the mixture to bubble for a minute or two. Lower the heat and simmer for 5-8 minutes. When cranberries begin to pop and juice starts to foam, turn off the heat and crush the berries with a potato masher. The sauce should be chunky, with bits of fruit and some whole berries. Consistency will become more jam-like as it cools. Cover and refrigerate (up to 3 days), until ready for use.

For Sugar-Salt

Combine sugar and salt in a small container with lid. Shake and pour onto a small plate (be sure to choose one wide enough to fit the overturned rim of your cocktail glass).

For Single Margaritas (up to two servings will fit in a standard sized cocktail shaker)

Moisten the rim of an Old Fashioned or Margarita glass with the citrus wedge (a wide-mouth, stemless wineglass will also work). Turn the rim down on the plate of sugar-salt and give it a slight twist while digging into the mixture.

In the bottom of a standard-size cocktail shaker, crush the basil leaves with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon. When coarsely mashed, add the tequila, citrus juice, orange liquor/triple sec, cranberry ‘jam’ and the agave syrup. Stir. Add ice. Cover and shake for at least 30 seconds. For a rustic cocktail, pour (or, for a more refined cocktail, strain), into the sugar-salt crusted glass and serve immediately with a citrus wedge garnish and/or sprig of fresh basil.

For Pitcher of Margaritas

In the bottom of a large pitcher, crush basil leaves with muddler or the back of a wooden spoon, until coarsely mashed. Add tequila, citrus juice, orange liquor/triple sec, cranberry ‘jam’ and agave syrup. I like to throw in a few decorative wedges of citrus when using a glass pitcher. Cover the pitcher and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until well chilled.

When ready to serve, pour the sugar-salt mixture on a small plate. Rub the rims of 2 Old Fashioned glasses with a citrus wedge (a classic margarita glass or stemless wine glass will also work, in a pinch); dip and twist the rims in sugar/salt mixture.

Stir the pitcher of margarita mix. Fill a cocktail shaker ½ full with ice and pour in 1 cup (plus) of the margarita mixture. Be sure a bit of muddled basil gets in! Shake until chilled and pour (unstrained for a rustic drink or strained for a more refined cocktail) into two of the sugar-salt crusted glasses. Garnish with a citrus wedge and basil leaf. Repeat for remaining guests or servings.

C  H  E  E  R  S   !  ! 

Article & Photography copyright Michaela Harlow at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through the affiliate-links here. A small percentage of each sale, at no additional cost to you, will be paid to The Gardener’s Eden to help with site maintenance and web hosting costs. Thank you!

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Oh Sweet, Sweet, Sugar Moon: Celebrate The Vernal Equinox & Celestial Beauty With a Seasonal, Maple Syrup Cocktail…

March 19th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

The Sugar Moon: A Maple Syrup Cocktail to Celebrate the End of Winter & March’s Full Moon at Perigee

With the full moon at perigee, Winter’s end and Spring’s beginning, it seems there’s plenty to celebrate this weekend. Last night —eager for a preview of tonight’s celestial events— I took a tour of the local Connecticut River Valley, seeking a spot to watch the big moon rising. I wasn’t disappointed. With the sky still blue and clear, La Luna rose proud and full on the horizon. What a spectacular dress rehearsal. And tonight —with beautifully clear conditions in Vermont— I am looking forward to bundling up and taking my front row seat on the terrace here at home.

Moonrise is at 7:23 pm ET tonight, and as the glowing orb inches over the horizon, objects in the foreground will have a tendency to magnify her already super-sized appearance (click here for an article explaining tonight’s “super-moon” at perigee from With the silhouetted maple trees —swollen buds on full view— for inspiration, I decided to concoct a special end-of-winter/super-full-moon, cocktail. And at this moment of seasonal transition*, it seemed only natural to combine the sweet flavor of locally produced maple syrup with the earthy, warm taste of bourbon; creating a special, celebratory drink. Meyer lemon adds a perfect floral note to this delicious, golden cocktail, and offers the slightest hint of sour to contrast with maple’s rich sweetness.

So enjoy the evening, whatever your pleasure. And wherever you may be, I hope the skies are clear and the moon is bright and the new season brings you health and happiness

Cheers! xo Michaela

*The Vernal Equinox will occur at 7:21 pm ET tomorrow, March 20th (23:21 UT), making today the last full day of Winter in North America.

The Full Moon Over Budding Trees

The Sugar Moon Cocktail


(makes one cocktail)

2 Ounces of Bourbon

1 Ounce Fresh Squeezed Meyer Lemon Juice

1 Ounce Grade A Vermont Maple Syrup (+/- for sweetness)

Lemon peel for garnish


Pour maple syrup, bourbon and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake, shake, shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a bit of sliced lemon peel (or a twist).

Toast as the Full Moon Rises

Sugar Moon, Sap Moon, Lenten Moon, Crow Moon or Worm Moon. Call it What You Will… This One is Sure to be Super!

Photo ⓒ Anita from “The Croggery” via  In the Company of Stone: the Art and Work of Dan Snow (click here for a peek at the maple sugaring process in this post by Dan Snow)


The Sugar Moon cocktail is an original variation of an old, New England classic known as the ‘Maple Leaf’

Article and photographs (with noted exception) copyright 2010, Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden. All rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without written consent.

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through the affiliate-links here. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to The Gardener’s Eden, and will help with site maintenance and web hosting costs. Thank you!

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I’ve Got Sunshine On A Cloudy Day… My First In-Print Gardening Article for Martha Stewart Living Magazine!

January 20th, 2011 § 9 comments § permalink

Enjoying the Fruits of my Labor in Martha Stewart Living Magazine

Some moments are worth celebrating with friends! My first gardening article for Martha Stewart Living —“Sunshine in a Pot”— has just been published in both print and electronic format. Savor the sweet moment with me and pick up a copy of February’s Martha Stewart Living Magazine or download the iPad App— it’s a beautiful issue…

Martha Stewart Living Magazine – Subscription via Amazon

Johnny Miller’s gorgeous photographs set the sunny mood for my citrus-growing article; filled with all of the horticultural information, online resources and cultural tips you’ll need to get started with these rewarding plants. Martha Stewart Living iPad edition also contains wonderful citrus recipes; including Meyer lemon butter, lemon pine-nut tart and Meyer lemon coffee cake.

A Splash of Sunny Color and Lively, Citrus Flavor Brightens Grey Mid-Winter Days and Helps Chase Away the Blues…

Imagine waking up to the scent of citrus blossoms; their sweet, delicate fragrance perfuming the air. Picture yourself stepping through the door and into the next room; plucking a plump, juicy lemon, glowing orange or shimmering lime from the branches of your own tiny citrus tree…

Slice a bit of fresh lemon for your morning tea. Close your eyes and breathe deep. Instantly, the fragrance transports you: grey clouds and dingy snowbanks disappear as you are whisked away to a sunny Mediterranean terrace; sampling a zesty lemon granita as the vespas fly by…

Have an Apple iPad ?
If you do, click to download Martha Stewart Living Digital Magazine and Mobile Apps

The pulp: “Sunshine in a Pot” contains all of the sweet, cultural details you need to succeed with homegrown citrus. Also inside this issue of MSLiving: discover the southern charm of Camellias in a feature gardening article by Stacey Hirvella —with dreamy photographs by Ngoc Minh Ngo— along with the always delicious recipes, fantastic decor and fabulous crafting ideas you know and love.

The beautiful sea-green glazed mug in this post is by Virginia Wyoming

Special thank you to Stacey Hirvella and Miranda Van Gelder


Article and Photos (excepting links from Martha Stewart Living) ⓒ Michaela at TGE

All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without prior written consent.

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through our affiliate links. All proceeds go toward web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you for your support!

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