Monday, March 23, 2009

i get a little obsessed

several weeks ago,
i had a moment.
i had just
written about preserving
and a sandwich that
used the fragrant fruit,
when i came across
a one-year-old article from 
the los angeles times:

i froze.
maybe i had been too
sure, the preserved
wedges were good
and i was glad
to have them, but shouldn't
i have
candied them?
marinated them with olives?
saved the juice for lemonade
for later this year when it's
unbearably hot?
put them into the cavity of
a duck?
made spa water with them?

i was losing my mind.
i don't even like duck.
i don't live in a spa.
i've never made a pitcher of lemonade.
but it was all that i could think about.

and then, the best thing - or worst,
depending on how you look at it -
just when i thought the
season had passed,
i fell into a large bundle
of meyer lemons.
it started all over, not
wanting to waste a drop
of juice or a sliver
of zest. not remembering
that next year, meyer
lemons will
grow again.

i squeezed them into
dressings, squirted wedges
over fish and froze some
juice for later in the year
(you never know - it could 
get really hot). i made
a meyer lemon chutney with shallots
and figs that was only ok
and enjoyed an absolutely
lovely side dish of
yukon gold potatoes
that i roasted alongside
very thinly sliced
meyer lemons until they
were golden brown.
i felt less...rushed.

but i could not let go 
of the lingering voice in
the back of my head,
insisting on curd.
i really wanted to make
a batch, but every time
i did, i just saw the amount
of butter required staring out at me,
as if i had a magnifying glass
placed squarely over those words.

still, i was tempted, but
and then, when searching
for a way to use the nopales,
i turned right to the page in
sally schneider's 
james beard award cookbook,
for a no-butter lemon curd,
with a meyer variation.
in order to successfully 
eliminate the butter, schneider 
adds a touch of unflavored gelatin,
which ensures body and stability.
it is so little, that you don't taste
it or know that it is in there
until it has been chilled.

once cold, it does firm up
considerably and change in
color from a milky pale yellow
to a bright and solid one. 
stirring with a spoon, 
softens it again, making it
easy to spread,
as we did on irish soda bread.
but if you plan to pour
the mixture into a tart shell,
i recommend it as soon as the
finished curd reaches room 

i could not figure out how to take a picture of the double boiler set up while also whisking constantly. the pictures kept looking like i was on a roller coaster - until i was lucky enough to have larry step in and whisk so that i could snap a few shots.

tart and smooth,
the meyer lemons add
a floral sweetness that 
makes you want to dip
your spoon in the bowl
just one more
time, or scour your cabinets
for another item
that would benefit from
the spread.

you could also fold
whipped cream, sour cream
or creme fraiche into the
curd to lighten it up
before frosting a cupcake,
filling a torte
or dolloping over
angel food cake
and serving with sliced
strawberries like we did.

with the exception of 
having lemons 
at the ready, 
i was not prepared
to make anything that day. but,
this recipe is so fast and easy,
the curd was in a bowl, cooling,
less than 20 minutes after i
had flipped to page 532.

making the lemony confection
was the
perfect end to the 
meyer lemon windfall:
sweet, creamy, special,
and just satisfying enough,
that finally, i think,
i've gotten it out of my system.
i no longer regret 
(or resent) preserving
the first batch.
thank goodness -
i've still got a long
way to go with those.
meyer lemon curd
from a new way to cook
the only real trick i see with this recipe, is that you really want to have everything ready before you start - there's nothing like fumbling around for a strainer with your right hand, while holding a hot pot in your left hand. oh, and if you're making the curd with regular lemons, simply increase the sugar to 7 tablespoons to help counter their natural tartness. 

1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup fresh meyer lemon juice (for me, this was 5 lemons)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 3"x1" strip lemon zest, removed with a vegetable peeler

in a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice; place near the stove.

place strainer over bowl.

in a small saucepot, bring 1" water to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. in stainless steel bowl that will sit on the saucepot without touching the water, combine the remaining lemon juice, sugar, egg, egg white and zest. set the bowl over the saucepot. whisk mixture 5 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon. stir in the gelatin mixture and cook 1 minute longer, stirring. strain the mixure into bowl; allow mixure to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. transfer the curd to a jar or bowl; cover against the surface and chill. the mixture should keep for about 1 week.


Col said...

I love curd. I love that you just throw in the strip of zest too, the bane of my curd-making existence is the zesting. I also love your fancy whisk. What do they call that one?

The Bean said...

Good thing you pointed out that Larry was doing the whisking. I thought you had caught some sort of hairy-hands disease for a second there.

brooke said...

col, the strip makes it really easy. i'm not even sure where i got that whisk from, but i just looked it up and it's called a double balloon whisk, which they say, is meant to incorporate air into whatever you're whipping, faster.

and yes, i felt that picture needed an explanation. always on the same page, you and i.