In all honesty, this post was prompted by the fact that I’ve finally found Meyer lemons in Singapore. For years, the Meyer lemon was one of those elusive culinary treasures that I’d read so much about but never tasted. And I never would’ve recognized the lemons as Meyers (given that they were only labeled with their country of origin, Australia) if I hadn’t happened to taste my first one just weeks before at the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival.
The lovely Linda Brennan of Ecobotanica took us on a brief garden tour as part of the Hinterland Food Trail. I’m not sure what possessed me to ask if Meyer lemons were grown on property, but I was completely over the moon when she replied in the affirmative. My first taste of Meyer lemon was a ripe one she had taken directly off the tree. It was a glorious cocktail of lemons and mandarins on the palate (in my mind, the kalamansi comes remotely close to tasting a little — but not really — like it), scented with an irresistible bouquet. I was so enamoured of its beautifully balanced sweet-sourness that I was immediately searching online for orchards on the Sunshine Coast that I could purchase the fruit from. I scanned every fruit and vegetable stall at the farmer’s market to no avail. I checked every gourmet providore and organic store we saw. I seriously considered purchasing a Meyer lemon seedling but worried about the legality of traveling out of Australia with a plant. Needless to say, I was obsessed.
So, imagine my delight when I spotted oddly orange-hued lemons at SuperNature Park House when I returned home. I could hardly contain my excitement when the sales assistant confirmed that they were indeed Meyer lemons. They receive fresh deliveries once a fortnight, on Fridays (I was told that a new lot would arrive today, but it’s always best to call ahead and check).
My favourite way to enjoy them is to drink the juice of a freshly squeezed one with warm water in the morning. But the rest of the family (including T) appreciates them more squeezed over a Dutch baby served with sautéed apples dusted with icing sugar; or zested and tossed into a madeleine batter or pasta dish.
There are many ways to savour Meyer lemons. I’ve just chosen to showcase them in my favourite lemon curd recipe (it’s Pierre Hermé‘s recipe for lemon cream, written in collaboration with the wonderful Dorie Greenspan) because it results in such a versatile and wonderful medium through which the charms of the Meyer lemon may take centre stage. Of course, the recipe works a charm even if you use regular lemons. Pair it with Hermé’s sweet tart dough from the same book (as I often do) and you have a sublime lemon tart. My plan is to use some in a chocolate soufflé roll cake next!
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The Ultimate Lemon Curd:
Pierre Hermé’s Lemon Cream
Adapted from Pierre Herme’s recipe in Desserts by Pierre Hermé.
Makes about 800ml
200g castor sugar
zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
175ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
295g unsalted butter cut into large cubes and softened
Bring a saucepan of water to the simmer. In the meantime, set up your food processor/blender or have a deep container and your immersion/stick blender ready to go. Also prepare a sieve that will fit over your food processor or chosen container.
Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a metal bowl that will fit over the simmering pan of water without its base touching the water (basically, you should be cooking the curd in a bain marie). Rub the sugar and zest together with your fingers until the mixture is moist, grainy and incredibly aromatic. Then whisk in the eggs followed by the lemon juice.
Place the bowl into your pan of simmering water. Keep whisking until the cream thickens and reaches 80° Celsius. Be sure to use a thermometer. You will go from liquid to cream in a flash.
I confess that I have a bit of a speed demon approach to this. I use a heavy-bottomed pan directly on my induction hob to prepare this curd. I set the temperature one notch below the maximum and whisk away while watching my thermometer closely.
Pull the curd off the heat the second it hits 80° Celsius and sieve it into your food processor/blender or container. I find that stirring it with a small spatula helps speed up the straining process. Let it cool to 60° Celsius.
Blend on high while adding pieces of butter into the cream, about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl when necessary. When all the butter has been incorporated, continue to blend for another 3 to 4 minutes to ensure that it is perfectly smooth and light.
The curd can be used immediately, stored refrigerated in an airtight jar for up to 4 days, or frozen for a month.