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LOVING LEMON

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In early Spring the appeal of bright, yellow lemons is irresistible  The lemon’s tart citrus juices jolt  our palates awake after a long winter the way that the sight of a patch of brilliant daffodils blooming among barren trees raises our spirits.  Sure, the vitamin C in lemon is good for us, but more than that, we crave its mood enhancing properties.
 
Historically, the lemon has played a supporting role in the kitchen.  It's acidic juice can be counted on to rescue a recipe from being either too sweet or too bland.  Just one or two tablespoons will do it!   Before modern refrigeration, lemon juice was also an essential ingredient in preserving  and tenderizing foods.  Whole lemons preserved in juice and salt are a signature seasoning in Moroccan cuisine to this day.

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When the lemon move into the spotlight, as  the star ingredient in Lemon Curd, it does so with the addition of the grated yellow zest from its skin.  Adjectives like clean and refreshing don’t adequately describe the emotional appeal of lemon oil in zest.  It is the synergetic effect of lemon juice and zest that gives lemon the potential to draw a crowd.  Classes at my home cooking school devoted to lemon recipes were a perennial favorite. 

Preparing a recipe of Lemon Curd. is as easy  as whisking lemon juice, zest, sugar and egg yolks together in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until the mixture thickens enough to coat the sides of the vessel.  (To 180 degrees F. if you want to be exact.)  After straining the curd to removed the bits of zest, I like stir in a tablespoon or two of butter before letting it cool.

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Lemon Curd lends itself to being spread curd on a slices of bread fortified with eggs, butter and milk.  Challah, brioche and French sandwich bread are great complements to rich tartness. The preferred garnish is fresh sweet berries and a dab of  Greek yogurt thinned with milk or cream.  When I'm looking for an easy party dessert, I create a colorful striped effect by layering curd with crushed shortbread cookies, fresh strawberry puree and yogurt.

Let April temperatures take a dive.   We all can keep our Spring spirits up by keeping a supply of Lemon Curd in the refrigerator.