Saturday, November 05, 2005
Channeling Julia Child?
In a recent post I wrote about the tart experience. Part of that was teaching my friends how to make lemon curd. Now lemon curd can be a wondrous thing to eat, but an intimidating or even tortuous experience to make. Since my friends were curd neophytes, I thought I needed a simpler recipe than the one I had been using which I thought could sour them on the whole process since it involved roughly 15 separate steps, two separate strainings and a huge chunk of time.
After a bit of research, I picked a recipe from Baking with Julia (see below) which seemed very straightforward but still classic.
I knew I had picked the right resource when I made a mistake in completing the recipe (I had my friends add the butter too early) and the recipe turned out just fine.
A bit embarrassed in front of my friends (after all I was playing teacher), I started to get flustered but then I flashed back on to those old French Chef shows where the chicken would go flying and Julia would pick it up with aplomb and just carry on.
You know what, that’s what I did, just carry on. We all laughed and my friends learned an important truth about cooking. Most recipes don’t include perfection as an ingredient.
Lemon Curd ala Julia Child and Dorie Greenspan
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (you are going to all this effort, don’t cheat now)
Grated zest of a lemon
½ stick of unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into eighths.
Put water in the bottom of a double boiler or large pan and bring to a simmer. In the top pan of the double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl that will fit on top of your pan for an improvised double boiler, beat eggs and sugar with mixer until light and fluffy. With the mixer running, add in the lemon juice and zest. Put pan with mixture on top of pan with simmering water. (There should be no contact between the bottom of the top pan and the water.)
Whisk the mixture by hand. Constantly. Sing songs to your self. Take a mental inventory of your spices. Keep whisking. The curd WILL thicken and be so delicious it will be worth all this time.
Once it has thickened, use oven mitts and transfer top pan/bowl to the counter and whisk in the butter piece by piece. Then, press plastic wrap directly on top of the curd and refrigerate until well chilled and set.