I come from a long maternal line of lemon lovers. My mom loves lemon, my grandmother loves lemon, I can only assume my great grandmother, inasmuch as she could get a hold of lemons on the barren plains of North Dakota in the early part of last century, loved lemon too. So for mother's day the kids and I made a big batch of Lemon Curd to package up and give to Grammy and Grandma as gifts. Curd is an unfortunate name for such a delectable treat, but don't let that stop you. If you have a lemon loving mom figure in your life you can make this in plenty of time for Mother's Day. All it takes is a half hour of your time and a few simple ingredients. Some cute jars and a bit of ribbon make this totally gift worthy.
I adapted Ina's recipe slightly for this project and used Meyer Lemons and a couple Key limes to make up for an unanticipated juice shortage, but any lemon/lime combo will work beautifully. Curd making is relatively quick and easy to pull off, though I will warn you the degree of difficulty rises in direct proportion to the number of small children you have helping you. The degree of deliciousness, however, remains constant. Also be aware that you need to babysit this one a bit through the cooking process at the end, "stirring constantly" for about 10 minutes. For me, this all but guarantees that someone will need their butt wiped during that precise 10 minute window. If that is not an issue for you, you are golden.
This project lends itself nicely to cooking with kids. Older children can do some of the zesting, and any age child might enjoy squeezing the lemons in their tight little clutches. As for the aforementioned constant stirring, if you are comfortable (and there to supervise, of course) with your child at the stove, this can be a great way to keep a kid busy for 10 to 15 minutes.
Lemon Curd (adapted from Ina Garten)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
4 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons or a combination of lemons and limes if you like)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Using a carrot peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.
Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.
Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 - 15 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate. If you like your lemon curd silky smooth I suggest passing it through a fine mesh sieve once it's done cooking to catch any large bits of zest. Personally, I am rarely looking for an extra fussy step, and do not mind a zest flecked curd one bit, but I'll leave it to your preference.
Oh, Lemon Curd, how shall I enjoy thee? Here are some of our favorite ways:
- Spooned on top of a cream cheese schmeared graham cracker.
- As a dip for strawberries
- Spread on a waffle or pancake
- Added to plain yogurt - a shower of granola encouraged.
- On a toasted English muffin with a dollop of ricotta
Happy Mother's Day to all! I'll be heading to California for the weekend to visit Rolph and check out my new digs. How weird to be away from the kids and my mom on Mother's Day? I must admit to being excited about taking a break from single parenting and getting some much needed alone time traveling. You know it's bad when the thought of a 4 hour layover in Denver sounds like a day at the Spa.