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Lemon curd - sweet or savoury?

"The best lemon curd is the colour of the sun" Nigel Slater

I made some lemon curd the other day. Not something I do on a regular basis because unlike jam, lemon curd doesn't last, and is not quite as versatile. Which today I have proved to myself as I searched for things to do with the remains of the lemon curd that I made to make Nigel Slater's Apricot and lemon curd cake for my weekend luncheon party. (Picture further down the page - this beautiful photograph is much more arresting as an opening picture.) I should give credit where credit is due here - I think the photograph was taken by one Ali Allen.

And another thing, whilst we are still on looks, in spite of Nigel Slater's, as always, somewhat poetic words at the top of the page, we normally think of the sun as orange don't we? - and lemon curd is definitely yellow. So is he right and really the sun is yellow or is he just trying to be poetic? Perhaps it is indeed yellow. Alas I cannot check. There is no sun today and I believe it's about to pour with rain.

So what is lemon curd and when did someone invent it? Well it's a mix of lemons (juice and zest), sugar, butter and eggs. So of course there are lots of arguments about how much of each, egg yolks or whole eggs, and so on. Felicity Cloake will take you through all of those little arguments, and I note that her 'perfect' version is indeed a little more orange, as I note is Nigel Slater's - shown here beside the above mentioned cake that I made. However, I used his recipe for the lemon curd and mine is definitely yellower. Maybe it's an 'improved' photograph. Maybe my eggs weren't good enough. Either way it was indeed a lovely cake, although possibly a mite too dense. And I didn't put nearly as much icing sugar on top. Mine was just a discreet sprinkle.

But I see I have strayed from origins. Melina Hammer of Food 52 tells us:

"Lemon curd dates back to at least the early 19th century in England, but it’s changed a whole lot since then. It started not as the velvety, creamy confection we know and adore today. Rather, it was cream curdled (get it?) with the addition of lemon juice, then separated from the whey through cheesecloth." Melina Hammer/Food 52

Which is a bit like making cheese and is why some other fruit curds today are still called 'cheeses'.

"Formerly often known as fruit cheese (curiously, this name survives only in the sugary, dairy-free damson and quince varieties served with actual cheese" Felicity Cloake

Unlike David and I today, as a child we did have desserts on a very regular basis and lemon meringue pie and lemon tarts were two of those that were often served. My mother would have made the meringue - difficult, but I'm pretty sure she just bought the lemon curd - simple to make.

So we always, or at least often, had a jar which we would also have had on bread - like jam.

How do you make it? Well I found three versions although some of the recipes for specific desserts, etc. that I found also tell you how to make the curd. One classic version from The Australian Women's Weekly; Honey lemon curd from Alice Medrich of Food 52 and perhaps most surprisingly Bramley apple lemon curd from River Cottage.

Mostly pretty yellow I see.

Of course you can make curds with any other fruit that you can juice, but I'm ignoring them today. Lemon curd is my problem.

So back to my lemon curd dilemma. What to do with about the same amount as shown in those pictures above - perhaps a little less, but not much? I was hoping to find something savoury because we don't really do dessert in this house unless we have visitors but it took me ages to find anything. There was a suggestion from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to use it in a vinaigrette instead of lemon juice, which I guess could work but really it was roast chicken that seemed to be the thing. So let's begin with the chicken and TikTok - where most faintly and hugely weird things seem to come from these days - in this case from someone called Ali Slagle who inspired Claire Lower of Lifehacker to adapt it from a whole butterflied chicken to Sticky lemon curd thighs. I also found two other roast chicken recipes - Roast chicken with lemon curd, garlic and chiles from Melina Hammer of Food 52 and Roasted chicken with lemon curd from Recipe Girl. The only other savoury dishes that I found were Duck breasts with lemon curd from Hank's True BBQ and Cod fillets with Asian lemon curd glaze from Rita at

If you can glaze a chicken, then surely you could glaze a ham, or some roast pork? Ottolenghi and co - surely you can think of something?

The drinks people, however, seem to be on to it because I found two cocktails, which must mean there are others. The two I found were called Pearls before swine cocktail from Joaquín Simó on Food 52 and Lemon pie cocktail from a bar called Pied à Terre and featured by The Guardian.

So what about all those dessert things? Well there are endless suggestions out there, from just simply swirling it through ice cream, to complicated cake and pudding recipes. So here is just a very brief selection of some that looked good - mostly from the Australian Women's Weekly because they had a lot of suggestions: Earl Grey bombolini with lemon curd; Lemon curd crepe cake; Lemon curd and poppy seed crepe cake; and Almond meringue and lemon curd cake. And yes Ottolenghi gets a look in with his Skillet blintzes with lemon, mascarpone and thyme and Nigel Slater gets a second showing with Lemon curd and orange parfait.

So maybe I should treat ourselves to something sweet this weekend if we survive the oncoming storm that is predicted to come in the middle of the night.

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