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It’s about that time again. I have a bad case of summer brain. It’s serious. I can’t focus. I find myself daydreaming about beaches and coastal drives and a house in the woods. Midday cocktails. Ice cream for dinner. Fireworks.
Nothing is getting done around here. Except for this salad. This salad is happening.
Earlier this year, I woke up one morning and decided I must have preserved lemons in my life. I proceeded to salt-pack a couple pounds of Meyer lemons; I had a feeling they would come in handy in the months ahead. I’ve waited very patiently for the magic to happen, the transformation from their natural, fresh-off-the-tree state to that salty, tender, essence of lemon entity. After four months, they’re finally ready.
This salad has been on my to-do list for over a year. I knew I would get to it as soon as those lemons were ready. I think of it as a reconstructed potato salad. It involves fingerling potatoes, a smear of mayonnaise, and chopped preserved lemon. It’s finished off with a drizzle of olive oil, flaky sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and chives. The preserved lemon really takes it to another level – I love that salty-lemony element; I want to put it on everything. I’m so happy I had the foresight to take care of that lemon situation back in March.
Because of the simplicity of this dish, the ingredients are key. Naturally, you can buy preserved lemons and mayo, but as the ladies at the Canal House say, why buy it when you can make it? I am a firm believer of this philosophy. Plus, as you know, starting with the best ingredients is really important when preparing something so minimal. In this dish, it makes all the difference.
reconstructed potato salad with preserved lemon
from Canal House Cooking Volume No. 1: Summer by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer
2-3 pounds small potatoes
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper
rind from 1 preserved lemon, rinsed and chopped
chopped fresh chives or parsley
Put the potatoes in a large pot of cold water generously seasoned with salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until they are tender. Drain.
When they are cool enough to handle, slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and arrange them on a serving platter, spreading mayonnaise on one side of each potato as you work. Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and garnish with the preserved lemon and chives.
lemons, preferably organic and unsprayed, washed
sterilized wide mouth container with an airtight lid
Cut the lemons (almost all the way through) into quarters, keeping them attached at the stem end. Working over a bowl, tamp the inside of each lemon with salt. Tightly pack the salt-filled lemons into the sterilized container. Pour more salt over the lemons as you fill the container. Cover the salt-packed lemons with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Store in the refrigerator. Turn the container occasionally for the first few weeks to moisten all the lemons with the salty brine. The lemons should eventually become submerged in the brine. If the brine doesn’t completely cover them after one month, use a metal kitchen spoon to gently press the lemons under the surface. The longer the lemons cure, the saltier they will become; taste them first before using. Preserved lemons will last up to one year in the fridge.
It has recently occurred to me that I almost never make muffins. I think it had been well over a year since my last batch. And then these millet muffins happened.
I love millet. Lately, I’ve been throwing a few spoonfuls in with my oatmeal in the morning. I especially I love the texture it lends to baked goods, that super satisfying crunch. I’ve never met a millet bread that I didn’t like.
So when I spotted millet muffins in Super Natural Everyday, which has become one of my favorites, I immediately flagged the recipe and couldn’t wait to make them.
I’ve made these muffins twice now and I’m sure I’ll make them again. Here’s why:
These guys are made with whole wheat flour without tasting like they’re whole wheat. In other words, they’re moist and have a really nice crumb – not too delicate, not too dense. They’re sweetened with only honey, making them just sweet enough; not quite dessert sweet, but more of a breakfast or midday sweet, which means a little butter and jam are perfectly welcome. They are fragrant with lemon and most importantly, they’re studded with crunchy bits of millet. These are definitely a keeper in my book. And a nice way to get reacquainted with muffins.
makes 12 muffins
2-1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup raw millet
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 cup plain yogurt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup barely melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey
grated zest from 1 lemon, plus 2 tablespoons of juice
Preheat the oven to 400°F and position rack in the top third of the oven. butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan or line with paper liners.
Whisk together the flour, millet, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, butter, honey, and lemon zest and juice until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling each cup about 3/4 full.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the tops of the muffins are browned and just beginning to crack. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn the muffins out of the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.