Today: Custard gets all grown up in 6 minutes flat, with a little help from olive oil and Meyer lemon.
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Meyer lemon season is almost over, so we'd better hustle.
You can blend them up whole in a tart, bronze slices on focaccia, preserve jars of them in salt. I even stuff their spent carcasses into my water glass for a lazy lemonade, refusing to let any of their perfume go into the trash.
Here's a new way to get your lemons while the getting's good, one I bet you've never had: olive oil custard. Yes.
Though it's called a custard, it doesn't stand up straight and proper the way other custards do -- it sort of mounds and sways. It's thicker than than a creme anglaise, but not so sharp-edged as a curd.
It could stand in for any of these things, but it's in a class alone. Honestly, what it most resembles is a good homemade mayonnaise. As writer Indrani Sen pointed out when she sent this recipe my way, "It's basically a sweet aioli!"
(You were looking for a mayo you could eat for dessert, right? You got it, friends.)
If you have a high-speed blender like a Vitamix (not pictured), you will have custard in six minutes, and it's fully cooked without ever dirtying another pot. (If you don't, there's hope for you too!)
High-speed is how author and strategic advisor Caroline J. Beck developed this recipe, and it's brilliant. You blend up lemon juice, zest, eggs, sugar, and vanilla for four minutes, stream in olive oil, and a smooth, swoopy curd forms.
The eggs will have gently cooked from the frictional heat of the blades, without dampening the fresh, balmy scents of citrus and olive oil.
"I’m unabashed in embracing technology in the kitchen." Beck told me. "I’ll happily use any tool that gets the job done faster, easier, and better. Like a blender that can whip up a perfectly cooked sauce in minutes."
I don't have that kind of blender, but wanted to eat this -- which led to me running my Oster for 20 minutes on ice crusher mode, which almost led to a loss of touch with the living world, and a breakup. It also didn't work and was probably dangerous. So don't do that.
Instead, you can just blend until it's frothy and smooth in whatever ratty blender you've got, then pour into a double boiler or similar contraption and cook, stirring, until it thickens up. It works, and it's nearly as fast as the high-tech way. In either case: if you've ever been afraid of custard, it just got more user-friendly.
Below are a few ways we've been putting this miracle substance to use. You can even freeze it for later in the year, to keep Meyers alive long after they've faded away.
3 Ways to Use Your Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Custard (of Many)
Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].
Photos by James Ransom except Caroline Beck, by Jeremy Ball
The Genius Desserts cookbook is here! With more than 100 of the most beloved and talked-about desserts of our time (and the hidden gems soon to join their ranks) this book will make you a local legend, and a smarter baker to boot.
I'm an ex-economist, ex-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."