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Today: Custard gets all grown up in 6 minutes flat, with a little help from olive oil and Meyer lemon.
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.
A Thick Layer in a Parfait, Trifle, or Cake
On Scones (or Biscuits or Toast)
To Dip Cookies in, à la Dunkaroos
Caroline J. Beck's 6-Minute Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Custard
Adapted from "A Secret Weapon For Silky Custard: Vitamix Blender," Zester Daily (February 20, 2013)
3 whole eggs, room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ cup Meyer lemon juice, strained
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon zest
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, preferably fresh olio nuovo
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