|One of each, February 2014
I had done what I always do when making marmalade - bought too many lemons. I therefore decided to make lemon curd, with the addition of two more lemons. The recipe is from the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book, 1966 edition (one of the things I'd try to save from a fire, along with the cats and my husband). For me, lemon curd involves a gadget! My mother's Swan Brand double saucepan comes into its own for lemon curd. You can find one on E-bay for less than a tenner.
|Never mind photographing that saucepan! Where's my supper, you worthless dog?
This is basically one saucepan that fits closely inside another. You place a little water in the bottom pan, and the food goes in the top pan, to be cooked by steam from beneath. This permits gentle cooking of sauces, eggs and anything else that requires consistent low heat or that burns easily. Egg dishes in particular are very heat sensitive and the protein in the egg denatures (and goes hard) if it gets too hot. The double saucepan makes perfect creamy, smooth scrambled eggs - as my landlady, Vera Sargisson, taught me when I first started work, in York in 1973. Mrs Sargisson was the widow of a housemaster at Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire and no doubt she used to scramble eggs for the boys of his house when they were feeling low.
Double saucepans are known in the US as double boilers. The classic French bain marie was once the same thing but has spawned numerous offspring with the addition of electricity, steam valves, etc. You can substitute a basin standing over a saucepan of simmering water, but it's tricky to lift in and out without a handle, and painfully slow unless you have a metal (stainless steel) basin.
Lemon Curd is a British delicacy, in French properly called "pâte à tartiner au citron" - lemon spread for bread - but also called "lemon curd"!.
|Lemon curd on Carré moulé bread from the Abilly bakery
According to my Good Housekeeping Cookery Book, 1966 edition, lemon curd is made as follows:
Four eggs, beaten (I added an extra yolk, because they were small eggs)
grated rind and juice of 4 lemons
100g (4 ounces) of butter
450g (1 lb) of sugar
Put all the ingredients into the top of a double saucepan. Heat gently and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Continue heating, stirring from time to time, until the curd thickens. Pot and cover in the usual way. Keep in a cool place, refrigerate once opened. Keep no longer than two months..
Makes about 700g (1.5 lb, or three more jars).
The secret of the process is not to stir continuously, whatever your recipe book says, because it will never thicken if you do! Some recipes say strain the eggs, some say strain the cooked curd, some don't say to strain either. The objective of all this straining is to get rid of the slime strings which turn into wiggly white lumps in the curd. The easiest way to eliminate these is to pick them out of the cooked curd with a teaspoon as you see them while filling the pots. It's a good idea to strain the lemon juice, to remove those tiny seeds and bits of fruit.You can make curd with any citrus fruit in the same way - substitute 6 or 8 limes, clementines or tangerines, or a couple of oranges, or a grapefruit for the lemons.
The jar count is now 26. And then Tim bought 2kg of Clementines, variety "Nour". These were plump and gleaming, but turned out to be incredibly sour, and suitable only for cooking or juicing. Eight of these became five jars, albeit small ones, of Clementine Curd, courtesy of Jamie Oliver (recipe here).
|Clementine curd, to a Jamie Oliver recipe
Incidentally, my Fuji Finepix JZ300 camera recognised a human face in one of these photographs, and put a green square around it to show how clever it had been. Anyone who spots this face before I give the game away gets a jar of marmalade, or curd, according to preference.
|The makings of a reet good tea