Something lemony to finish the feast
By the time you read this, it will probably be too late. This paper comes out this Thursday, Thanksgiving day. However, if you havenâ€™t yet figured out what to make for dessert, if you havenâ€™t yet mastered the art of making pie crust and are starting to panic or if youâ€™re already thinking ahead to Christmas dinner, read on.
If youâ€™ve been following this column for the past few weeks, youâ€™ll know that weâ€™ve been writing about ways to make the annual American autumn feast a little less filling and a little less fattening.
One method, of course, is to take a big nasty walk in the cold, damp air right after dinner. My athletic and outdoorsy husband makes us do just that every year. Itâ€™s not my favorite part of the day, but I have to confess that it does aid digestion â€” and it takes away some of the sweeping guilt I would otherwise feel as I choose from among all the luscious Thanksgiving dessert options.
There are other, less strenuous ways to diminish that post-prandial guilt, of course, and one of them is to have some lightweight dessert options to offer to your guests (and yourself).
One of my favorites is not exactly low-calorie or low-sugar but itâ€™s full of vitamins and fiber, and isnâ€™t particularly filling. If you feel like itâ€™s cheating to offer a fruit-and-nut course in place of pumpkin pie, consider serving it as an intermezzo between the main course and the actual dessert course. Nowadays you donâ€™t have to go to a specialty store to find excellent dried fruit choices. Put some currants, dates, figs and dried cherries (or dried strawberries if you live near Zabarâ€™s) in sweet little bowls and serve them with some big, lusty whole walnuts. And at this time of year, pretty much everyone in America is happy to eat a few clementines. Add some of those to the platter as well.
Another light-weight dish that can be a dessert or an intermezzo is no-churn lemon ice cream.
This recipe is based on a technique that Nigella Lawson uses for making all kinds of flavored ice creams, and itâ€™s quite easy although it does freeze quite hard. Store it in small containers and take it out of the freezer about 15 minutes before you need it. Itâ€™s pretty simple. I used two cups of heavy cream and one cup of lemon curd (I made mine fresh, because I like to make lemon curd, but you can just as easily buy it; if you want to make it, I recommend Mark Bittmanâ€™s recipe, which I adapted and posted at our website, tcextra.com).
Combine the curd and cream and whip them with a whisk (Iâ€™m not sure why it requires a whisk but it did seem to come out better with a whisk than with an electric mixer) until soft peaks form and the surface becomes slightly glossy. This takes a good 5 minutes or more. Seek help if your arm gets tired. Freeze in a small container. This will feed about three people as an intermezzo or very light dessert. If you want more, donâ€™t double the recipe; make multiple batches.