Finding inspiration can be a little elusive sometimes but I have been lucky lately and had it handed to me each day. I have been participating in Stephanie Alexander's A to Z food photo challenge - A letter a day relating to food. It has been lots of fun and today was the letter L. Of course the obvious is Lemons! Who doesn't love this citrus fruit? It has so many uses, freshening up a salad, tarting up a dessert, giving a kick to a marinade! Lemons do it all. My favourite application though? Lemon curd.
It's tart, its buttery and it tastes so good when you like the bowl. Or the spoon. Or your fingers when you dip them in the bowl. But shhh...don't tell anyone ;)
I am fortunate enough to have access to a lemon tree that has large, juicy and non-waxed/pesticide skin. They are as lemony as lemons can be and they have such an intense flavour. If you can get access to organic or as close to it does make a difference to have the juicier lemons and to use the skin in cooking without worrying what's in it.
Lemon curd is easy peasy but there are a few hints:
1. Use a low to medium heat as there are a lot of eggs in this recipe and they can over cook very quickly
2. If the mixture seems to be cooking too quick, remove from heat and keep stirring whilst it thickens and finishes cooking
3. Cut your butter into small cubes to allow it to melt and mix into the cooked egg mixture evenly
4. If there appears to be large cooked egg bits in the mix if you had the heat too high, don't despair! Either give it a quick blend with a bar mix or pop it in a blender and give it a quick whiz to mix together before adding the butter. Pass through a fine sieve and add the butter as normal
5. If you're really unsure, place the mix into a bowl over simmering water and cook out slowly - it make take up to ten minutes to thicken so be patient
6. If you'd like to store the butter for future use (I don't know how you can't help but eat it with a spoon right away!) then follow the usual preserving rules - boil the bottle and lids first and place on clean tea towel to air dry, pour the curd mix into the jar when still hot and place a lid on straight away and leave to cool. The cooling action will create a vacuum. I would recommend keeping the jar in the fridge to err on the side of caution, but with this method it will last at least two weeks unopened. Opened use within a couple of days.
So the recipe: (the photos feature a 1/4 amount of this recipe - this will make enough for one large lemon tart)
500ml lemon juice
1. Separate eggs and mix yolks with whole eggs.
2. Put sugar and lemon juice in pan, bring to simmer and stir until sugar dissolves.
3. Add lemon sugar mix to eggs slowly and whisk together.
4. Put into wide based saucepan, stir egg mix over stove until thickened, approx 5 minutes
5. Remove from heat, stir in diced butter until well combined
6. Strain through fine sieve and bottle if saving for later or put into container ready to spoon over scones, sponge, into a tart shell or just go right ahead and stick a spoon in. I did :)