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Monday, April 5, 2010

Lemon Orange Curd- Huh?

I must have a very unrefined palate, because the first time I heard the name "Lemon Curd", my stomach churned. To me, curds were what happened when milk has spoiled so much, that gross separation of the curds and whey (when I get a little too grossed out to even make the spoiled milk pancakes that I usually make with sour milk). Milk also curdles to unappetizing lumps with the addition of lemon, so I thought that lemon curd was some sort of dish made by curdling milk with lemon. Yuck. (Ok, I know that that's basically how you make homemade ricotta cheese, but at least there you're rinsing off the curds when finished.)
Little did I know that lemon curd is basically lemon pudding made with egg yolks, the scrumptious filling of lemon meringue pie.

Lemon meringue pie was always "beyond my capabilities", something saved for the professionals, what my family would buy from the bakery for our yearly Thanksgiving dinner.
Fortunately, I've discovered that lemon meringue pie is totally doable and easy, non floppable (at least in my experience), and its so easy and made with cheap ingredients to boot! No need  to buy this from a bakery when this desert is so easy to make from scratch.



Of course, being me, I can't just take a recipe I find and actually use it.  I have to play around with it and use cheaper ingredients as well  as what I have in my house, because I only cook with what I have; I don't shop for menu items.

So here it is, my filling for lemon meringue pie. Only, it isn't lemon meringue. Its lemon orange meringue pie, because I had too many oranges that had seen better days.


Oh, and when I made this recipe, I didn't have access to my measuring cups, so I just used a disposable plastic cup as my measuring cup. If you do have access to a measuring cup, one of those plastic cups is approximately 3/4 of a cup. But you're in luck, because in this recipe, exact measurements don't make a difference. That's the real beauty of it.

Lemon Orange Curd
Ingredients:
Juice from 3 Oranges
Juice from 2 Lemons (I know each orange and lemon is a different size and  has a different amount of juice, but don't worry. Altogether, the amount of juice from both fruits mixed together should fill a little bit more than the aforementioned disposable cup.)
1 disposable cup of Sugar (the original recipes call for caster sugar or powdered sugar, but why waste money on more expensive sugars when plain old sugar will do the trick here?)
1 disposable cup of Water
4 heaping tablespoons Starch (any will do. I've made this both with corn starch and potato starch, and am sure tapioca starch will work as well.)
8 egg yolks (OK, maybe that looks expensive to some, but I buy my eggs cheaply and my stock gets supplemented by an egg or two a day from our chickens. Oh, and don't throw out the whites- they'll be used in part two of this recipe, the meringue.)

Instructions:
1. Mix all the ingredients (aside for the yolks) together. That is, mix the lemon juice, orange juice, water, sugar, and starch in a pot. Mix this pretty well; you don't want any clumps of  starch, and you want your sugar to dissolve before the curd thickens. 


2. Separate your egg yolks and beat them lightly with a fork.


3. Heat up your pot with the citrus sugar mixture. All instructions say to do this on a medium heat and not to let it boil, but I wanted this to go quicker so I put mine on an insanely high flame and did let it come to a boil,  but no harm done. You'll want to be mixing this pretty constantly so that it doesn't burn once it thickens.
4. Once your curd takes on the consistency of pudding, you'll want to take a spoonful of this and drop it into  the yolks and mix it relatively quickly. There are all these warnings on various recipes that it must be done in record time, but I did not work at light speed; I took my time, mixed it relatively quickly, and all was well. No, no picture, because I was using two hands for this.
5. Pour your yolk mixture into the pot, and again, mix it relatively quickly.
6. Heat up the mixture until the yolks thicken up. This should take a couple more minutes, and again, you'll want to be mixing it constantly.

That's it! All done! Wasn't so hard now,  was it?
You can either eat this plain, or save this to be used for lemon orange meringue pie.

Oh, and a picture of the finished product?


Oops! That's with the pie crust. Pretend that you're just seeing plain curd, with no pie crust. The pie crust is for part two of this recipe, which will hopefully be posted in a day or two.

Have you ever made lemon or orange curd? What is in your recipe? The original recipes called for butter and brandy and zest- things of that sort. I've made without every time. Is there even any reason to add those stuff? What do they add to the dish, aside for extra expenses?
Or does this recipe look too daunting, even with my reassurances?

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