The Tart of the Meal from Distinctive Inns of New England

funny lemon comicWhile some boast of the Art of the Deal, when it comes to the Distinctive Inns of New England (DINE), it’s all about the Tart of the Meal.  Not only is breakfast the most important meal of the day, it’s also the highlight of any stay at the ten Distinctive Inns of New England.  Yet breakfast isn’t the only time you will experience the finest in flavors at DINE Inns. In fact, with an acronym like DINE, you know that the food will be a highpoint of your romantic getaway in DINE country.

We’ve featured literally hundreds of recipes on the DINE blog, but this is the first post focusing entirely on tart flavors. While the word tart has many definitions, such as a “tasteless or provocative woman” or a pastry with fillings, today we will focus on tart dishes that feature the freshest of flavors with sweet pucker power.

Lemon Basil Sorbet, handmade at the Grafton Inn

Lemon Basil SorbetThis recipe is ridiculously simple but so fresh and filled with the tart flavors of lemon and garden-fresh basil.

Lemon Basil Sorbet – Ingredients

1 quart of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)

1 quart of fresh squeezed lemon juice

2-3 T minced basil


Mix together all ingredients and place in ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s directions.

Allow to ripen overnight for the best flavor.

Yields 3 quarts (enough for a crowd!).

Lime Curd Muffins from Rabbit Hill Inn

This Rabbit Hill Inn muffin recipe is a big hit at breakfast.  Best of all, the Rabbit Hill Inn Lime Curd part of the recipe can be used in many other ways, including lovely lime curd desserts, pie and tart fillings, and spreads for scones.

Lime-Lime curd - RHIIngredients for muffin batter:

2 cups sugar

1-cup oil
4 eggs

2 cups sour cream
4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
Lime Curd (use a good quality jar curd or make your own. See Rabbit Hill Inn’s lime curd recipe below.)

Ingredients for streusel topping:

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

½ cup melted butter

  • In a separate bowl, blend these ingredients together and set aside.

Ingredients for Lime Curd:

3 eggs & 3 egg yolks  -> place in bowl & whisk
5 oz of lime juice (fresh) & 1 cup of sugar -> bring to simmer in saucepan to dissolve sugar
1 tsp of lime zest
1/2 cup of butter, softened

Method for lime curd:

  • Pour 1/4 of the warm syrup over the egg mixture, whisking.
  • Then pour egg mixture into the rest of the simmering syrup – whisking constantly to slowly thicken to a custard consistency
  • Immediately strain through a fine sieve into a storage container
  • Add 1 tsp of lime zest and 1/2 cup butter.  Stir to incorporate. If you wish for a deeper green color, add a drop of food color.
  • Cover and refrigerate until cool.

Method for muffins:

  • Mix together sugar, eggs, and oil.  Pour in sour cream and continue to mix.
  • Add flour, baking soda and baking powder. Mix only until these ingredients are  incorporated.
  • Scoop into greased muffin tins.
  • With a spoon, make an indentation on top of each muffin.  Fill with a tsp of lime curd.
  • Sprinkle top with streusel and bake at 350°F for about 15-20 minutes (or until done).

Recipe Yield: 12 standard size muffins

Ginger Pancakes with Lemon Sauce from Captain’s House Inn

Here’s a perfect pucker-up pancake recipe, perfect for the summer months, or to spice up a winter breakfast table.


For Pancakes:

3 Cups All-Purpose Flour

1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Cinnamon

1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Ginger

1 Large Eggs

2 Cups Milk

1/3 Cup Molasses

2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. Corn Oil

For Sauce:

2/3 Cup Sugar

1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Cornstarch

Pinch Nutmeg

2/3 Cup Cold Water

1/3 Cup Butter

1 ½ tsp. Granulated Lemon Rind – Dry

1/3 Cup Lemon Juice


For Pancakes:

  1. Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and milk, then add the molasses and corn oil. Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients with a fork. Leave to stand at least 30 minutes to thicken.
  3. Drop approximately 1 cup of the mixture onto a hot griddle and turn when bubbles begin to form and steam rises from the pancakes.


For Sauce:

Mix sugar, nutmeg, and cornstarch in a sauce pan on medium heat and gradually add water. Stir constantly until thick and clear.

Add butter, lemon rind and lemon juice. Be patient as the cornstarch takes time to act as a thickening agent.

Cranberry Relish from Chesterfield Inn

Another favorite recipe from Judy at Chesterfield Inn for the holidays is a cranberry relish that her friend taught her years ago. When you see how easy this is, and how delicious, you’ll never buy canned cranberry sauce again! All you need is:

Cranberry sauce - Chesterfield Inn1 bag fresh cranberries

1 jar orange marmalade

1/2 cup orange juice, and more if needed


Put the cranberries in a saucepan, add the marmalade and orange juice.

Cook on low heat until the cranberries pop, and everything has melded together nicely.

Let cool. Refrigerate until needed.

Keeps for at least a week in a covered refrigerated container.

As we look out our windows, we are beginning to see the vestiges of very early fall color in the Northern Parts of DINE country, with summer-like temps and green foliage in the southern parts.  It’s not too early to start planning your next DINE getaway, as fall dates – especially weekends – tend to fill up fast throughout all the DINE inns. Don’t forget, when you reserve your stay, don’t forget to book directly with the inn for the best rates and availability.

In New Hampshire:  Manor on Golden Pond in Holderness & Chesterfield Inn in West Chesterfield

In Connecticut: Inn at Harbor Hill Marina in Niantic

In Maine:  Camden Maine Stay Inn in Camden and Inn at English Meadows in Kennebunkport

In Massachusetts:  Harbor Light Inn in Marblehead, Deerfield Inn in Historic Deerfield and Captain’s House Inn in Chatham on Cape Cod

In Vermont:  Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford & Grafton Inn in Grafton

Photo above: Complimentary breakfast at Inn at Harbor Hill Marina.