Lemon posset, ricotta buttercream cookies

Lemon posset, ricotta buttercream cookies

We’ve been having a lot of ‘compost’ dinners this week. These meals arise from uninspired conversations I’ve had with our fridge. A cook’s salvage operation, if you will (now why isn’t that a cookbook title?).

Most recently, gradually petrifying parsnips were turned into a puree to serve with beef and braised mushrooms and a shrivelled green apple was peeled, diced and folded into brown sugar cake batter, topped with crumble. It’s all a bit of fun but at the same time makes me quietly thankful for things that do nothing but improve with age. Cucumber pickles, pu-erh tea and gingerbread, take a bow.

A neighbour left a bag of home grown lemons at our door recently. Shall we all agree that the best way to say hello to a cook and baker would be with lemons, not flowers? Lemons are one of those great contributors to any compost meal – it doesn’t take much of this great ingredient to add a surprising spark to curries and a fragrant lift to some sauces.

In this instance, I returned the favour with a tin of semolina cake drenched in lemon vanilla syrup. The juice also went into dressing a cabbage salad and lots of grated rind flavoured a marble cake and butter cookies. If like me, you have also been finding yourself rediscovering the simple, classic things in life, you won’t be at all surprised to hear that stirring freshly squeezed lemon juice into warm cream and sugar makes for a pretty damn good dessert!

Lemon posset :
(potentially enough for 2 if you’re trying to be polite)

1 cup thick cream
4 tablespoons sugar
juice and zest of 1 large lemon (you will want at least 2 tablespoons of juice, or a bit more if you like zingy lemon desserts)

Bring cream, sugar and lemon zest to boil in a pan, making sure all the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the lemon juice and strain into two cups or ramekins. Chill overnight or for at least 4 hours. Eat.

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Lemon pie

(Lemon pie)

Lemon tarts, I’ve had a few.

But double crusted pies, encasing an unusual and utterly luscious citrus filling? Not until now.

In a season of sticky baked puddings and molten chocolate belly-enhancers, who knew that a whole litre of water, sugar, three lemons, two egg yolks and a little potato starch, would now my answer to the impending Winter blues.

It’s only just occurred to me despite several years of blogging on this site, that I’ve never featured a lemon pie on my blog. Consider this minor error now rectified. With thanks to Stefano Manfredi, the pie recipe by Caterina Nuzzo is here. Go forth and bake pie.

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Summer tendencies. A chilled buttermilk soup

(Cold buttermilk lemon soup with fresh mango and biscotti)

“But here they were, and Olive pictured two slices of Swiss cheese pressed together, such holes they brought to this union – what pieces life took out of you” — Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout.

It’s a terrible cliche, but every time B goes away, it feels as though a little piece of me is missing. It’s like, all spiders and no boyfriend, in this empty house.

Especially since I’m about to leave my current job to embark on a quiet holiday. What mad timing! But I’ve resolved to try to be productive with this abundance of spare time that I’m now faced with. In the next few weeks, I’d like to read more, listen more, learn more and eat better. Starting with breakfast.

This buttermilk soup, also known as Kærnemælk Koldskål in Danish, doubles as breakfast, an afternoon snack or a very satisfying light dessert. As the Summer heat and the fruit it reaps is starting to slowly creep into our lives here, I’ve dressed my soup up with a little fresh mango.

Cold buttermilk lemon soup:
(serves 4; from The Scandinavian Cookbook by Trina Hahnemann)

1 vanilla bean
3 egg yolks
6 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
juice of 1/2 lemon
6 cups buttermilk

To garnish : 1 whole lemon and homemade biscotti

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a knife. In a bowl, beat together the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla seeds until pale and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and juice and the buttermilk. Chill for 1 hour.

Cut the whole lemon into slices and add to the buttermilk soup just before serving. At the table, break biscotti over the soup and eat immediately.

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