Lemon Posset

I have these lovely friends, a couple, who are pretty much good at everything. One is a doctor, the other a nurse. They volunteer in a hospital in Haiti a couple of times a year. They renovated their home, deconstructing the chimney and building skylights with their own hands. They garden, and of course, they cook. And let me be clear—when I say “cook,” I mean one of them trained under a French chef. So when they invite me over for dinner, I always say yes. Then I have a brief moment of panic while I try to decide what to contribute to the meal.

Life has been busy lately, so I decided not to over think it and just make a chocolate espresso pudding I’ve made a few times before. It’s quick, it’s easy, and who doesn’t love chocolate? Sadly, I attempted to make the pudding while I was preparing dinner. My impatience meant that the pudding never thickened properly, and remained a soupy mess even after a full night in the fridge.

Meyer lemons are sweeter and milder than other lemons. Much of the lemon flavor comes from the oils in the skin.

Meyer lemons are sweeter than other lemons. Much of the lemon flavor comes from the oils in the peel.

That’s when I decided to take the risk of making a recipe that had caught my eye—lemon posset. Historically, posset refers to a drink of warm milk curdled with ale or wine, then spiced. Thought to have healing properties, this drink was enjoyed as a cold remedy in medieval England. Today posset more commonly refers to a custard-like dessert. The original recipe has only three ingredients: heavy cream, sugar, and lemon juice. With a recipe this simple I couldn’t resist adding my own little twist. First, I decided to use Meyer lemons. Since Meyer lemons have a more delicate flavor, adding a teaspoon of zest seemed like the best way to ensure the lemon taste would shine through. I also love the combination of lemon and lavender, so I decided to sprinkle the posset with dried lavender flowers just before chilling. I added raspberries just before serving, because it just felt right to incorporate the first local berries of the summer.

let the cream come all the way to a boil, but keep your eye on it so it doesn't boil over

let the cream come all the way to a boil, but keep your eye on it so it doesn’t boil over

This was so delicious that one of my friends licked the bowl! It was a success that bears repeating, except next time I plan to use fresh Oregon blueberries as a complement to the floral note of the lavender. This was the perfect dessert for an early summer dinner with such dear friends. Enjoy!

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Lemon Posset via Food 52

By Mrs. Larkin

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Black Bean and Corn Salad

It’s Memorial Day this weekend, and that means celebrating with potlucks and barbeques! I got this salad recipe from my mom and have been using for well over ten years now. It’s just the thing for a warm weather celebration because it’s colorful, filling, and tastes best at room temperature.

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Begin by rinsing two cans of black beans until the water runs clear. Drain them well and place them in a bowl with one can of corn, also well drained. (You can also use fresh corn and dried black beans.) To this add one large diced bell pepper, 3 sliced green onions (white and green parts), ½ pint halved cherry tomatoes or 2-3 chopped of your favorite tomato variety, and a full bunch of chopped cilantro (about ½ cup, or more to taste.) This colorful array of vegetables will be dressed in a lemon vinaigrette. Add five tablespoons of good quality olive oil and six tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss together and let sit for at least one hour at room temperature. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator.

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This can be served as a side salad, as a dip for corn tortilla chips, as a taco filling, or on top of warm quinoa for a satisfying lunch. Enjoy, and happy Memorial Day!

Baby Lettuces with Feta, Strawberries, and Almonds

This strawberry salad made a lovely contribution to my book group’s brunch this month. I wanted to make a salad that tasted summery and looked beautiful, and this recipe did the trick!

sweet strawberries and tender baby greens make up the heart of this summer salad

sweet strawberries and tender baby greens make up the heart of this summer salad

For the greens, I went with a mix of baby spring greens. The strawberries I used were rather large, so I sliced them instead of quartering them. I’m loyal to a mild goat’s milk feta that I love. Goat’s milk is also easier to digest than cow’s milk, so it’s a great alternative for people with sensitivities. (Note: this is not the same as lactose-free, it’s just generally easier to digest.) If you’re nervous about using shallots in the dressing—don’t be. The sharpness of shallots adds a needed contrast to the sweetness of the strawberries. As long as they’re properly minced, you’ll be glad you used them. Soaking sliced shallots in ice water for 10 minutes before mincing them will also lower the intensity if you prefer a milder flavor.

salty-sweet marcona almonds

salty-sweet marcona almonds

Surprisingly, my local grocery store was out of smoked almonds, so after considering my options I decided to go with Marcona almonds. These Spanish almonds are soft and sweet, and typically fried and heavily salted. They added the crunchiness and saltiness that the smoked almonds would have, but I prefer their mildness to the heavy smoky flavor of smoked almonds. They’re also soft enough that my lazy-self didn’t need to chop them first.

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This salad was a cinch to make and good the next day, as long as you keep the dressing on the side until serving. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 

Baby Lettuces with Feta, Strawberries, and Almonds by Jeff Banker

Food and Wine            June 2012

Coriander-Crusted Pork Tenderloin

I love pork tenderloin. It’s an easy cut of meat to prepare and pairs well with a wide variety of flavors. It’s also possible to cook quickly and still end up with tender, juicy meat. Because there are only two tenderloins per pig, it can be difficult to source this cut from an ethical ranch. That’s why I was delighted to find some at New Seasons, our local grocery market. This recipe was a great way to celebrate!

the timing of toasting spices depends on their oil content

the timing of toasting spices depends on their oil content

Although the recipe doesn’t call for toasting the coriander seeds and peppercorns, I know that the flavor of spices is significantly enhanced by taking this extra step. It only takes a few minutes in a hot, dry pan to create fragrant whole spices. I ground the spices with a mortar and pestle, then rubbed them into the dijon mustard on the tenderloin. This recipe follows a pretty standard preparation of browning the meat in a skillet and finishing it in the oven. My one amendment to the recipe is to take the pork out of the oven when the internal temperature reaches 145 F. If you wait until it reaches 155, it will be well done and possibly quite tough.

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I served this with a side of kale, which I quickly blanched and then sautéed with onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper, and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice just before serving. It felt like a weekday feast, without the fuss. Enjoy!

Coriander-Crusted Pork Tenderloin by Ellie Krieger

Fine Cooking            Issue 102

Chicken Paillards with Asparagus, Lemon, Garlic, and Dill

This simple recipe is surprisingly flavorful! Lemon, garlic, and dill are a reliably delicious combination. Paillard refers to meat that has been pounded flat. I’m tempted to prepare all of my chicken this way, because it tenderizes the meat and ensures even cooking. If you don’t own a meat mallet (I don’t), a sturdy rolling pin will also do the trick. I used a gluten-free flour blend for the light dusting of flour on the chicken breasts, but you could easily use rice flour instead. Be cautious about other flours on their own—the textures and flavors may create an undesirable result. Chicken broth is used to deglaze the pan. Deglazing can be done with any liquid, but you need cold liquid hitting a hot pan to effectively draw the browned ingredients (also known as fond) from the bottom of the pan.

trim off the woody ends at the base of the asparagus

trim off the woody ends at the base of the asparagus

Adding fresh lemon juice and dill at the end of cooking brightens the dish, and a small amount of butter gives the sauce a silky richness without making it heavy. This healthy one-pan meal only takes thirty minutes to prepare. Fresh asparagus is the perfect ingredient to celebrate Spring. Enjoy!

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Chicken Paillards with Asparagus, Lemon, Garlic, and Dill

Fine Cooking            Issue 129