Friday, September 14, 2007


Taste of Home had a "Love That Lemon" recipe contest which ends 9/15. The recipe I wanted to submit needed a lemon curd as part of it, but I didn't want to submit anything too involved, so I searched for something quick and easy. Never mind that I don't like using microwaves for anything except boiling water because I think they are much more dangerous to our health than any of us realize and we all tend to overuse them now that they have mass produced them so that we will all put them in our kitchens. I was skeptical that lemon curd made in the microwave would turn out ok and had visions of scrambled lemon eggs. Was I ever amazed! This recipe is so easy and so delicious, it kind of makes you feel like a masochist if you cook it over the stove. (I have to make an exception for microwaved lemon curd because it's just so easy. My compromise will be that I won't eat too much of it.) I halved the recipe, so I only got about 1 cup which is all I needed for my recipe. (The full contest recipe turned out great and I wish I could share it with you, but that's one of the downfalls of entering these contests. If I don't win, you can be sure I'll post it.) The recipe below will yield you 2 cups of lemon curd, but you can halve it if you don't need that much, or make the whole recipe. It will keep up to 3 weeks in the fridge and you can use it for scones, biscuits, toast, crackers, eat it by itself like a soft pudding, or put some on poundcake or even over ice cream (that is if you don't share my aversion to microwaves). My best friend in high school enjoyed lemon curd all the time, as her mother always made it for their Sunday dinner table to accompany roast beef. The British serve lemon curd with clotted cream at high tea with their biscuits and scones. Our local Harris Teeter sells clotted cream. I haven't bought any because I have enough saturated fat in my diet, thank you very much. I know it's good stuff because I had some when we went to England in '88. Any way, here's the recipe:

Microwave Lemon Curd
INGREDIENTS: 1/2 cup white sugar
1-1/2 eggs (I would use 2 medium eggs; if all you have is large eggs, then
break one egg into a measuring cup, mix with fork, measure half)
1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh is best)
4-1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

DIRECTIONS: In a 1-1/2-quart microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until smooth. (The reason you need a large bowl is because the curd will bubble up and increase in volume as it cooks.) Stir in lemon juice, lemon zest and melted butter. Cook in microwave on high for about 1 minute. Whisk. Cook for another minute. Whisk. Repeat till mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. (i.e., take a metal spoon, put it into the curd, let it drip into the bowl and look at the spoon -- is there curd residue left on the spoon or did it all drip off? If the spoon is coated with lemon curd, it is done. Please note that it will look runny, not thick. It will thicken as it cools, but will not be like a stiff pudding. Also note that when I halved the above recipe, it took about 2 minutes total in the microwave-- unbelievable, huh? -- the above recipe will undoubtedly take longer, maybe 3 minutes, maybe 4) Remove from microwave and pour into small sterile jars. (1/2 pint canning jars would be perfect for this) Store for up to 3 weeks in the fridge. Yield: about 2 cups.

Below are two indispensable tools for helping you make the lemon curd. First, the lemon squeezer. If you watch the Food Network, you have seen this little gadget in lemon yellow and lime green. I would gladly pay the $20.00 price tag for these little gadgets if only they weren't powder-coated aluminum. I had a powder-coated aluminum garlic press and it chipped eventually. I refuse to buy anything else powder-coated. So I opted to pay something like $3.00 for a cast-aluminum press at Wal-Mart. It's smaller, so it calls for some improvising. If you have a large lemon, you may have to cut it into smaller pieces, but the gadget works great. I use it so much, it's almost ridiculous to put it away.

The next gadget is the microplane grater. I don't know how I ever lived without one. They have different sizes for different jobs. I have two -- and I use them constantly. Zesting/grating has become so easy with this tool. It's also easier to wash than a regular grater. I think I will sell my old grater at the next garage sale I have because I will never use it again. I paid $15 for this at Bed, Bath and Beyond, but it's worth every penny.
Here is the lemon curd after it came out of the microwave. It's hard for you to see the consistency, but trust me it was runny. After it cooled, though, it was perfect, like a soft pudding.

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