When I left Australia for the USA in April of 2015, I had to make some incredibly difficult decisions about what to take and what to leave behind. I absolutely decimated my wardrobe, went from 40 pairs of shoes to about 5, and gave away almost all my books. I’m a Kindle user, so I didn’t have an enormous load of books, but I still kept some of them for sentimental reasons, like my Harry Potter box set, and the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman, a series which my sister and I bonded over throughout the years. I couldn’t take them all with me when I moved, so I had my dad bring them over on his next two trips to visit.
One of my favorite books from Australia is a giant, heavy tome found in many an Australian home cook’s kitchen, written by a beloved cookbook writer, Stephanie Alexander. It’s called “The Cook’s Companion,” and having it back in my hands felt just so right.
I really like the way the book is set out. It’s categorized by ingredient, rather than by types of recipes. So if I have a lot of something, if it’s cheap at the markets, or if my parents-in-law’s incredible garden bestows upon me boxes upon boxes of some ingredient, I can look it up and find many ways to use it up without wasting. We do everything we can to avoid waste in this house.
One of my favorite recipes from this book is the recipe for lemon curd. So, when I found myself with a bunch of extra lemons from an Aldi pack, I knew it was time to make this little drop of summer sunshine to store away for the winter.
Now, if you’re a longtime reader of Rutland Bites, you may remember that Steve Peters has already written a column about lemon curd. But I decided to do one of my own, because, and this is a huge deal for me, he said he thinks mine is better. No higher compliment exists, as far as I’m concerned!
I actually first made this when I first made apple tea cake a few weeks ago. It went perfectly with that, as it would with any similar mild-flavored cake. I would be careful using it with anything too rich or thick, though its brightness and tang could cut through the richness of, say, a cheesecake beautifully.
I poured it as hot as possible straight into small, freshly sterilized jam jars and let the heat seal the jars. I did still store them in the fridge, though; as a novice canner, I’m always extra cautious with ingredients like eggs and butter. However, I was hesitant to sterilize them by boiling in case it curdled the mixture. If you wanted to make more, just multiply the recipe as needed. This made about four small jam jars of curd.
Stephanie Alexander’s lemon curd
(adapted from “The Cook’s Companion” by Stephanie Alexander, available online at farmhousedirect.com.au if required)
- 4 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 60 grams (a little over 2 ounces) unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 100 milliliters lemon juice (about 3.3 fluid ounces)
In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until smooth and well combined, but not frothy.
Scrape this mixture into a heavy saucepan (I recommend against using nonstick, because of the vigorous stirring involved) and add butter, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stirring constantly (I used a small whisk) over a medium-high heat, bring to a simmer. Don’t boil. As soon as you see bubbles, remove from heat. Pour straight into jars if you aren’t going to boil the jars, otherwise allow to cool first.
Tip: Make sure when you are zesting the lemon that you aren’t getting any of the pith (the fibrous white part of the rind). You just want to do a few scrapes with your fine grater or microplane. The pith tends to be quite bitter. Avoid.