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Sorrel Custards with Lovage

This is the perfect custard for people who love sorrel's sour tang. Lovage, which is a tall, large-leaved plant with a strong celerylike flavor, can be found at some farmers' markets. You can make this custard with texture or pureed smooth. For lunch, serve warm with toast.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter, plus melted butter
      for brushing
  • 2 bunches green onions or thin spring leeks,
      including white portions and 1 inch of the
      greens, thinly sliced (3/4 to 1 cup)
  • 1 bunch sorrel (about 4 oz.)
  • 3 lovage leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 3 eggs
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese (chèvre)

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Brush four 8-oz. ramekins with a little melted butter. Have a pot of hot water ready.

Melt the 2 1/2 Tbs. butter in a medium fry pan over medium-high heat. Add the green onions or leeks. If using leeks, add a little water. Cook until softened, 5 minutes for green onions, 12 minutes for leeks.

Add the sorrel and lovage and sprinkle with the salt. Cook until the leaves are wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the half-and-half and heat until warm but not boiling.

In a bowl, beat the eggs well and stir into the sorrel mixture. Season with pepper and crumble in the cheese. For a smooth custard, pour the mixture into a food processor and process using on-and-off pulses. Don't overmix or it will become foamy.

Divide the custard among the prepared ramekins. Place the ramekins in a baking pan and add hot water to fill the pan halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the custards are thoroughly set and a knife inserted into the center of one comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma TASTE (February 2001), "Morning Glory," by Deborah Madison.