Gail’s Meyer Lemon Tree (upper left) and Violas (lower right)
We’ll be hosting another one of our Sunken City Supper Club events soon, so my friend Gail and I have been busy in our “test kitchen” creating an exciting springtime menu. The Sunken City Supper Club is a fresh, local and secret place to seasonally mingle with friends and neighbors – to enjoy the camaraderie, great food, wine, the awesome intimate jazz standards (and perhaps a little dancing too) performed by local musicians Barry Anthony and Bill Ryan. We hold one event per season, and the menu always reflects seasonal ingredients.
The first absolute winner from our test kitchen is this gorgeous salad! The Meyer lemons are sliced thin, the entire fruit is edible, including the thin, soft, smooth rind. The violas, also known as Johnny Jump-ups, add beauty and a lovely mild pea flavor. It is imperative that we test every dish, not only for taste, but also to make sure we can prepare and serve the 5 courses to 24 people in a timely manner.
The Meyer lemon is a citrus fruit, native to China, thought to be a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin orange or sweet orange. The Meyer lemon was introduced to the United States in 1908 by the agricultural explorer Frank Nicholas Meyer. (more from wikipedia here)
Fava beans are definitely labor intensive. When I was guest Chef-For-A-Day in Charlie Trotter’s kitchen, shelling the fava beans was one of my prep assignments working the Garde Manger, the station where cold dishes are prepared. I learned that a few fava beans on the plate is all you need to give it a nice springtime accent.
Back to My Kitchen
Remove the beans from the pod.
Cook in salted boiling water for 4 minutes.
Let cool, then remove the outer shell. It does take time to shell all the beans, so think of fava beans as a complement to the dish, not a major component. That way the beans don’t take up too much kitchen time.
- 1/4 c. fresh meyer lemon juice
- 2 T. finely diced shallot
- 1/2 c. fruity olive oil
- 1/4 c. mimiccream (or heavy cream)
- sea salt & fresh ground pepper
Steep the shallot in lemon juice with 1/4 t. of salt. After 5 minutes whisk in olive oil. Then gently add cream. Add fresh ground pepper and more salt to taste. I found this delightful sauce recipe in Suzanne Goin’s fabulous cookbook, Sunday Suppers At Lucques and her salad was the inspiration for the one we tested here. Of course, she uses heavy cream. I found the non-dairy, no-cholesterol (vegan) mimiccream to work quite well!
A while back, after a great dinner at at AOC, I purchased Suzanne Goin’s cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques in which she penned, “Don’t wait til Sunday.” In addition to her snappy original recipes, she tells many charming personal stories. Her cooking style is pure and fresh and the book is an inspiration to cook local, organic, seasonal dishes using all the senses.
Assemble the Salad
- Belgian endive leaves
- Mixed baby lettuces
- Italian parsley
- Thinly-sliced Meyer lemon wheels, sans seeds
- Toasted pine nuts
- Kalamata olives, pitted, sliced lengthwise
- Johnny Jump-ups
- Shelled fava beans
Place 5 Belgian endive leaves on the plate in a star configuration. Toss mixed baby lettuces and chopped fresh parsley with Meyer lemon cream. Place a mound of the lettuces in the center of the plate. Arrange lemon slices between endive spears. Drizzle more Meyer lemon cream over the lemon wheels and endive. Top with olives, pine nuts, fava beans, and lastly a few pretty flowers.
If you live in the Los Angeles area, please let us know if you are interested in attending one of our Sunken City Supper Club events!
As always, only serve home-grown plants and flowers that are sure to be edible.
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