David says the only good thing about September is that it’s closer to October than April, which means cool weather is around the corner. We can only hope. I’d add that Labor Day is another good thing that comes with September. Couple that with the fact that my mother was born on September 4 and that always brings a smile to my face, along with a bevy of good memories and reminders of her traits and idiosyncrasies that I proudly (and not so proudly) carry on.
As we bid a welcome farewell to the dog days of summer, we’re making a clam bake to celebrate Labor Day. David’s northeastern roots tend to show themselves during the holidays when traditions run high.
Whether it’s making corned beef and cabbage for St. Patty’s Day or a clam bake at the end of summer, I’m happy to participate and continue making our own culinary holiday traditions. Even if we live in San Antonio where no one celebrates anything with a clam bake. (Perhaps you caught the story in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, our favorite section–Off Duty, that featured a story on the tradition of a clambake as summer comes to an end.)
In honor of Labor Day, our intent is to do as little laboring as possible. A clambake is easy–just throw everything in a big pot with a bit of water, Old Bay seasoning, salt and pepper, squeeze a half of a lemon and drop it in, put a cover on it and let it come to a boil. Add the seafood and any add-ins such as corn and potatoes, and voila. Dinner is served. With plenty of napkins, clarified butter and sparkling white wine, please.
We devoured the clambake that included clams, mussels, shrimp, potatoes, sausage and corn, but it was this lobster that stole the show.
Our first homemade clambake made an incredible impression and an incredible mess.
Not that we’re either fools or foolish, I whipped up lemon fool with berries for dessert. My mother used to eat any dessert with lemons–lemon custard, lemon icebox pie, lemon meringue. It was her all-time favorite flavor. So in honor of what would be my mother’s birthday and Labor Day, cheers to a tart-yet-sweet way to end an absolutely long, dreadfully hot and painfully dry summer.
P.S. Summer, sorry to inform you that I will not miss you. Not at all.
Lemon Fool with Berries
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 farm fresh egg yolks
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup whipping cream 35%
- 4 cups of fresh berries such as sliced strawberries, raspberries or blueberries
- Garnish with berries sprigs of fresh mint and lemon zest
In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch with water and whisk until smooth. Add sugar, lemon zest, juice and egg yolks.
Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a full boil. Once it boils, cook for 15 seconds longer and remove from heat. Pour into a large bowl and let cool slightly. It will thicken into a curd-like substance. Cover the surface of the curd with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or until chilled. (Recipe can be prepared to this point up to 1 day ahead.)
Whisk lemon mixture until smooth and then whisk in yogurt. Set aside.
In a bowl, using electric mixer, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into lemon-yogurt mixture.
Arrange half the berries in six parfait or large wine glasses. Top with half the lemon fool and layer with remaining berries and lemon fool. (Recipe can be prepared and refrigerated for up to 4 hours.)
To serve, garnish with whole berries, mint sprigs and grated lemon zest.