25 September 2011

Two of my favourite lemon recipes

I've been inundated with lemons this week, thank you, thank you, thank you, and not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth the kitchen has been full of jars of lemon butter, bottles of lemon syrup (just divine on a summer evening over ice and topped with slushy soda water) and lots of lemon halves in zippy bags to go into the freezer (for zesting and then resting my dainty and delicate lady-like elbows in).

Lemons are so versatile. They are a delicious food.  I use them in cordials, marmalades, sauces, icing, cakes, slices and biscuits and of course Heavenly Lemon Meringue Pie, named by my darling husband because he thinks it is heavenly to have homemade pie. If there are any left after all that cooking they get used for cleaning!

Anyway, here's my recipe for Wayne's favourite dessert:

Heavenly Lemon Meringue Pie

1 prepared 20cm pie shell*
1 1/2 cups lemon butter*
2 egg whites
2 tbsp castor sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.  Pour the lemon curd into the pie shell. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Add one tablespoon of sugar and continue beating until sugar is dissolved. Add second spoonful of sugar and beat until sugar is dissolved.  Carefully spread meringue mixture over the lemon curd, being sure to take it right to the edges to seal the pie. This stops the meringue from "bleeding". Place into oven and bake 10 - 15 minutes until meringue is golden and set.  Serve hot with ice cream or cold with thick cream.

*The pie shell - you can use a bought shortcrust pie shell or make your own. Elaine's Easy Pastry gives a nice crisp pie crust.  If you are making your own, pre-bake it before you add the filling and meringue.

*Either homemade or bought lemon curd is fine. Homemade is generally nicer of course but if all else fails a jar of lemon butter will do in a pinch.

I MOO lemon butter and you won't believe how easy it is. It takes all of 10 minutes and that is prep, cooking and clean-up time, truly.  The secret is the microwave oven. Just like microwave marmalade, lemon curd in the microwave is simple, quick and absolutely delicious.

Here's my recipe, it makes 2 cups.

Six Minute Lemon Butter

3/4 cup castor sugar*
125g butter (real butter please, not margarine)
3 whole eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice

In a deep microwave safe jug beat the eggs and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. An electric beater or stick blender makes this easy, but you can use a whisk, it just takes a little longer. Melt the butter and stir into the egg mixture. Blend in the lemon juice. Place the jug into the microwave and cook for two minutes on high. Stir well.  Cook a further two minutes and stir again. Cook two more minutes, remove from microwave and stir well. The mixture should be thick but still pourable. Pour into sterilised jars, seal and place in the fridge to cool. Once the mixture cools completely it will set into a nice spread. Keep in the fridge for up to two weeks (if it lasts that long).

This lemon butter is delicious on toast or spread on scones or pancakes. It also makes a lovely filling for a sponge or a lemon tart or meringue.

*Note:  You can use up to 1 cup of caster sugar, depending on the acidity of the lemons. I like lemony lemon butter so 3/4 cup is more than enough sweetener for my taste but if you like a sweet spread add a little more sugar.

Because it only takes a few minutes to make it's very easy to whip a batch any time you have a couple of spare lemons. Save your pretty jars and make a batch or two to give as edible gifts, I guarantee they'll be well received and as each batch costs under $2 to make (less if you have free lemons and eggs) it's a gift that won't break the budget.

Just another example of a grocery staple that we 21st century homemakers seem to think we have to buy because it's too hard and time consuming to MOO.  If you love lemon butter give it a try. It's much nicer than the bought stuff (for starters it tastes like lemon) and so much cheaper.

 And like I always tell you, if you don't like it you can always go back to your regular brand.

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