If February is a grapefruit (pink and bursting through it’s dull rind),
and March is a banana because what else is there?
If April is a mango, hopeful, often rotten and disappointing but every so often so rich and bright, and May is just blossoms,
promises of fruit.
If June is a strawberry, soaked through and so grateful for the sun, if July is a nectarine,
juice running all the way down to your knees,
if August is a blueberry, sad and sweet, struggling to just be in the present,
then September is an apple, finally here, warm on the outside and cool on the inside.
If October is a pumpkin, hunkered in and ready for the cold to come,
and November is a cranberry, bright, jeweled, needing sugar.
If December is a pomegranate, full of mystery and worth the work,
then January is a lemon,
useful, good for the liver, sour and thrilling, the rough and necessary bones of anything to come after.
Here, in January, it snows. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but always. And when we wake up (like today) and the snow reflects all the light that might hide in the gray sky, it pours through the windows and reflects against white walls. It’s a cold light to wake up to, and here, the floor is cold enough that you’d better leave your warm socks where you left them last night, balled up by the side of the bed, pulled back on until you start your day with new socks. It all creates a glow, white and sweet and cold. Somehow, it makes messes seem clean and complicated corners seem simple. And all it took was that little bit of light.
It was Rachel at Chez Nous Bistro who first taught me about posset, which, as I’ve described it before, tastes like the love child of lemon curd and panna cotta. It’s a creamy custard, perfect for dessert, great alone or with a little fruit compote on top. Rachel knows her way around a lemon like no one else (this Tuscan Almond Lemon Torte is exhibit A), and this is her recipe, slightly adapted mostly for the amount of cream I always have in my kitchen, which is 2 cups. It’s simple, simple, so lemony, and easy as they come.
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (Meyer lemons are great here, if you’ve got them)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1. Combine the cream and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil, stirring often to prevent scorching. Continue to cook at a low boil, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Add the lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and salt to the thickened cream. Stir well, and let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes so the zest can infuse the cream. Strain through a fine meshed sieve into ramekins or little jars. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.