Thursday, March 8, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons

One of my dearest friends moved to the San Diego area a number of years ago.  When she lived in NYC, we talked often and routinely visited.  We share a number of things in common, like our love of animals, good wine, good food and spin classes.  Unfortunately, given the time difference between the East and West coasts, our phone conversations are much more infrequent than they used to be and neither one of us is interested in catching up on Facebook or Twitter.  There are some things you just don’t want to put out there for public consumption!

There is, however, a bright side to her move and that’s the fact that she has a prolific Meyer lemon tree in her backyard.  Can you imagine?  I would be in pig heaven!  Fortunately for me, she was kind enough to slip a dozen of those bad boys into a box the other day and overnight it to me. 

Now, you already know about my passion for Meyer lemons but in case you missed it, here are the links to my prior posts about them:

Naturally, when you receive bounty such as this, the only thing to do is make Meyer Lemon Curd.  Why, you ask?  Well, that's because you need to make use of these babies as quickly as possible, but you don't quite know what you want to do with them.  If you make lemon curd, you are left with infinite possibilities.  It's called breathing space.

The lemon curd recipe I use has never failed me and it comes from the late, lamented Cathie Touhy.  Cathie hailed from England and was a beloved caterer and cooking teacher here in Atlanta for many years.  In the early days, she had a company called "Kids in the Kitchen" where she hosted participation cooking classes in her home kitchen for young children (was she crazy, or what?) We held one of Andy's early birthday parties there and shortly thereafter, she and I became good friends.  I still miss her.

Cathie and Andy.  Blurry picture, but it's still worth a thousand words

Her recipes live on.  I never make this without remembering her.  Godspeed, Cathie.

MEYER LEMON CURD  (adapted from Cathie Tuohy)

1 cup unsalted butter, diced
3 tablespoons fresh meyer lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh meyer lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
3 eggs (I used extra-large)

Melt butter in a large double boiler set over simmering water. In a separate bowl, whisk lemon zest,  lemon juice, sugar and salt and blend well.  Whisk into the melted butter, then add eggs, one at a time.

Continue to cook in double boiler over medium heat, using a wooden spoon to stir constantly.  Cook for about 6 minutes, or until mixture just begins to thicken.  The froth on top will disappear and small wisps of steam will be evident.  Remove from heat immediately.  (Note:  if you are not comfortable with this "eyeball" method, you can use an instant read thermometer.  Curd is done when it reaches 165 - 170-degrees.  Do not cook beyond this as the eggs will coagulate at 180-degrees).

Strain the curd into a small bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto surface.  Refrigerate until chilled, then use as desired.

Yield:  approximately 1 cup

Alrighty, then.  Now that you have made this lovely stuff, what can you do with it?  Here are a few ideas:

*  Spoon it over toasted, buttered pound cake and eat it for breakfast.  Hit the gym next.  Alternatively, spread it on a piece of toast for a slightly less decadent start to your day.

*  Serve it over pound cake or angel food cake for a simple dessert; especially good when garnished with a sprinkle of fresh berries.  Come to think of it, you could omit the cake and just pair it with berries for a light and lovely ending to any meal.

*  Mix it with an equal amount of softly whipped cream.  Bake up some crispy meringue (to which you have added toasted walnuts).  Crumble up the meringue, then layer in a parfait glass with the lemon cream.  FYI, this is also wonderful as a Passover dessert.

*  Use it to make individual lemon meringue tarts.  Blind bake a few tart shells, then fill with the lemon curd.  Make a slightly sweetened meringue, mound over the curd and brown the top by placing under a broiler or using your trusty blowtorch.  We made these when I worked at Star Provisions and they would fly out the door!

Of course you can make this with regular lemons (or limes) with stellar results.

By the way, I think the student has surpassed the teacher(s).  Andy emailed me with detail of a recent dinner he made - pan roasted lamb chops with garlic and rosemary, whipped sweet potatoes with orange zest and chives, panfried baby turnips with mint and Hugh Acheson's baked beans.  Hmm.  Maybe he should be authoring this blog.


  1. I want to say that I LOVE your blog! :) I spent last night just combing through all of the recipes and reading the stories with laughter and smiles. Thank you. I am an aspiring cook but I have not dabbled into the sweets much. I am definitely going to now that I have you as a reference! I have added your blog to my blogroll. I have to share with the world! :)


  2. Zina, you made my day. Honestly, there are times when I wonder why I keep writing this blog, but messages like yours give me inspiration to soldier on. Thank you!!!!!