Lemon Possett is so easy to whip together, that only tossing a bag of Skittles at your guests could make for a simpler dessert. Take a bite of this deliciously light, lemon pudding and you would never guess that it only contains three ingredients: sugar, cream and lemon.
Normally my go-to dessert is creme brûlée, if I’m in the mood to treat others with something fancy and elegant, but this zestier, unscorched cousin of the brûlée is quicker and sure-fire, without having to worry about finicky egg yolks or burning down the house with the kitchen blow torch.
The secret to serving a possett is to keep it chilled until seconds before serving. Moments after biting into it, it will begin to melt, and if you leave room for conversation in between bites, you’ll be left with a ramequin full of lemony juice.
The intense lemon flavour make this a very light dessert, perfect to pair with a dinner of seafood or chicken, or with heavier meals where maternity stretch pants are in order. So essentially, eat it anytime.
Today marked the end of my short-lived backyard apple season as the last apple plopped to the soggy grass. My two, now bare, apple trees remind me of autumn family trips as a child to an orchard in Oka, Quebec. I remember climbing up the trunk of each apple tree, like a simian, and entangling myself in the upper branches elatedly. I loved the pull and twist of the fruit, with arms outstretched. I loved the quick polish of fruit on my grubby shirt sleeve, back before washing one’s fruit came in style, and the ultimate, mouth-watering crunch that followed. My brother and I would leave the orchard with belly aches from having gorged ourselves greedily on fruit, and would sneak past the gates with bulging pockets bursting at the seams, like those pirates in movies who stuff gold doubloons in every orifice as the ship is sinking.
I’ve been trying to find a use for the late-fallen apples from my two apple trees that didn’t fall early enough to make it into the now-fermenting batch of cider. This year’s harvest has been used in a couple of pies, a recent fruit crumble and enough homemade apple sauce to supply my local Costco.
I also stumbled upon a variation of traditional stove-top apple flapjacks which I had to try. Apparently German in its roots, this “oven pancake” gives the pancake a puffy, shell-like appearance that is both filling and slightly reminiscent of a distant Canadian cousin, the Beaver Tail – my favourite Quebec export after Maple Syrup, Poutine and Blanche de Chambly beer. Enjoy!
What better way to follow a post on homemade ice cream than with this mouth-watering variant of fruit pie. I had a craving tonight for something sweet and summery, with a crumbly crust that melts on the tongue, so conceded to this rustic fruit tart.
While I don’t have a bad word to say about traditional pie, its near relative – the galette – is a delicious alternative. It’s a dessert that one doesn’t typically see at a potluck, say, or a dinner party, so if you’re looking to jazz things up a bit and get your friends clucking in excitement by your end of the table, a galette may just do the trick. Or a nacho sampler, if that fails. Aesthetics aside, a galette is also easier to make than pie, as it only requires one bottom crust, which folds free-form over the filling and is then baked.
As a filling, I used plums, peaches and granny smith apples, but you can create these tarts using any combination of fruits, I’m sure, including blueberries which have just come in season here in the Pacific Northwest. Be sure to serve the galette warm with a generous dollop of creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream and you’ll be guaranteed an invite again to the next potluck.
A few months ago I subscribed to a BBC Podcast called the Food Programme, which I now listen to regularly while driving or when I’m really hungry and no food is available. One episode which I particularly enjoyed, on the joys of homemade Ice Cream, made claims that all-natural ice cream was richer, creamier and more decadent than commercial brands. A new kitchen gadget I had to have and Christmas was so far away. Unable to wait that long, I picked up a hand-crankable Donvier ice cream maker from my local kitchen store, on sale for $50. A bargain, for sure, as I did the math on the money I would save by eating a lifetime supply of frozen desserts that could be concocted at home in 20 minutes or less.
Ice cream makers, whether electric or hand-cranked, should be an indispensable tool in your kitchen, as they can whip together more than just ice cream: there are literally thousands of recipes for sorbet (a water-based frozen dessert containing no milk or cream), sherbet (dairy-based dessert, usually lower in fat, but sweeter than ice cream), frozen yogurt, or gelato (intensely flavoured Italian ice cream of a softer consistency). If it is liquid and somewhat able to freeze, chances are it can be made into an ice cream. Guinness ice cream, anyone?
Yes, I know French Vanilla is plain and boring, to some, and perhaps indicative of my personality type or some deep-seated mistrust of my mother, if you put any stock in Ice Cream Psychoanalysis. Truth is, it’s been my favourite since I was younger and I enjoy sprinkling it with chocolate chips when I’m feeling a little crazy. Don’t try to read too much into it.
You might think that Biscotti is a bit unconventional for a High Tea (and so did I), but it ended up being the perfect fit. These are crunchy enough that you can savour eating it through an entire cup of tea, but small and light enough that it doesn’t stop you from enjoying all of the other miniature goodies. They are very fast and surprisingly easy to make, and also offer many opportunities for personal variations. Enjoy playing around with the recipe and eating these with a good cup of coffee or tea.
the tea party spread in all its glory
I am not a connoisseur of many things. The nuances and subtleties of wine, beer, fast cars are all lost on me. I am, however, a lover of all teas irregardless of colour or origin. It was finally suggested to me that I host a tea party for friends, and I was very much up to the challenge. In my usual manner, I went to great lengths to create everything from scratch. In the end, I had quite the spread: cupcakes, blueberry scones, chocolate chip scones, sugar cookies, shortbread cookies, chocolate walnut biscotti, chocolate-dipped strawberries, miniature tea sandwiches and, of course, a plethora of tea. My favourite dessert I made was the one I was initially most intimidated by- cream puffs. Surprisingly, these were the most fun and the easiest to make out of all of them. Curiously, they were also the first dessert to be finished by the guests- in a mere 15 minutes!
I will hopefully share a few of the recipes (and photos!) from this great party, and these wonderful cream puffs will start it all off. Enjoyyour friends with this simple delicacy!
With the hot spell these last few days, lingering on from the sunny weekend, I’ve been staring longingly from my office window with wistful thoughts of approaching summer: a beach towel spread on a grassy field with a Nabokov novel, wine tasting on a wisteria-scented verandah, or evening bonfires with buttery corn on the cob and cold beer. I’m sure the productivity graph for most of my colleagues has shown a similar plunge. The weather in Victoria doesn’t stay agreeable for long this time of year, reassuringly for those with deadlines to meet, so undoubtedly this splendid sun-euphoria will be short-lived.
In the meantime, I’m going to induce an early summer any way that I can. I will play Beach Boys music and hop around the kitchen as I dry the dishes. I will wear my sandals, even when I can’t feel my toes in the cold of early morning. I’ve cleared out the wasp’s nest from inside my barbecue, unused through the wet winter, and have baptized it anew with a salmon fillet and sumptuous steak with melted blue cheese. I’ve knotted up my gums with my first corn on the cob of the season (imported from California, but corn nonetheless). I also picked up a basketful of inexpensive berries at the grocery store on the weekend. My reserves of jam are pretty well stocked, so when I saw pints of strawberries on sale, I knew that strawberry rhubarb pie beckoned instead, the quintessential summer treat. My unruly rhubarb plant has been giving me grief each time that I pass nearby with the mower, jabbing me irritatingly, so making this recipe was a good excuse to trim it a little.
Follow this simple Pie crust recipe for a no-fail two crust pie, or pick up one that is store bought if you want to save 10 minutes. But for the difference in taste and added crumbliness of homemade crust, I make my own from scratch every single time. Tonight, after the grilled steak and corn on the cob, why not turn on some Beach Boys and make room for dessert. Wouldn’t it be nice…