Lemon Curd with Vanilla Sugar and Clotted Cream

I served a Cream Tea at my book signing at the Vero Beach Book Center on March 19, and made Lemon Curd with Vanilla Sugar, Orange-Vanilla Scones, Clotted Curd, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and hot and iced tea.

Not everyone is as obsessed with Vanilla Sugar as I am, but I love it and take any opportunity to bump up the flavor of anything I make by using it. It’s as easy as putting used vanilla bean pods in sugar and letting the sugar absorb the flavor, or cutting open the vanilla bean pods, scraping the seeds out and combining them with sugar, and adding the empty pods in the mixture.

Lemon curd is expected at tea, and is easy to make. A few staple ingredients, a little time, and tangy golden lemon curd is at hand. I served it with Orange-Vanilla Scones at the Cream Tea, and had it with strawberries and shortcake sponges for dessert later in the week. It’s possible I ate the curd and cream off the serving spoons to minimize the clean-up 🙂

Real Devonshire Cream, aka Double Cream or Clotted Cream, is available to me locally at Fresh Market in a small jar for a lot of money. I found a recipe online that was fast and easy. I put the metal bowl and whisk attachment for my KitchenAid mixer in the freezer overnight. (Cream whips faster with cold beaters and bowl.) For each cup of heavy whipping cream that I used, I added a tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar to the cream and whipped it to stiff peaks. Once the stiff peaks formed, I added 1/3 cup of sour cream for each cup of cream I started with, and gently folded it into the whipped cream to avoid deflating the mixture. The sour cream and confectioner’s sugar help stabilize the whipped cream, and I stored it in a lidded container. It won’t last a long time, but I anticipate it lasting for at least two days.

I saw this beautiful blue-and-white footed Spode bowl, with a gorgeous scalloped top edge, and bought it for my collection of blue-and-white bowls. I thought the gold of the lemon curd would look as delicious in it as it does.

Lemon Curd

Makes 3 cups

3 lemons, rind removed with a large vegetable peeler (taking just the colored rind, not the bitter white pith)

1 1/2 cups vanilla sugar (instructions above)

1/4 lb unsalted butter at room temperature (1 stick of a pound package)

4 large eggs at room temperature

1/2 cup lemon juice (my lemons were juicy, and the three I zested had all the juice I needed; you might need another lemon to get as much juice)

1/8 teaspoon iodized table salt (1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt)

Put the zest in a food processor with the vanilla sugar. Using the steel blade, pulse/process until the zest is finely minced and combined with the sugar.

Cream the butter. Add the sugar/lemon mixture and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each fully before adding the next. Add the juice and salt; mix until combined.

Place the mixture in a medium saucepan. The mixture will look curdled at this point. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened (when bubbles start to form around the edges, just below a simmer). As the mixture heats, it will come together and stop looking curdled. It is thick enough when you can drag a line through the curd on the back of a spoon and it doesn’t close up.

Remove from heat, strain, and let cool. I put it in quilted Mason jars, and let them cool on a wire rack before I put the tops and rings on. I wanted to make sure the curd was cool enough to go in the refrigerator without breaking the glass, but you can put it in sooner if using a plastic container.

Serve with scones or fruit. It’s also a tasty spread on toast or English muffins.

Nana’s Teapot

I’ve been sharing recipes and will again. Today I’m sharing my grandmother’s teapot.

Dorothy H. Richardson died January 3, 2017. We called her Nana. She was born in 1914, and Thursday would have been her 103rd birthday. Longevity runs through the maternal line; her mother – my great-grandmother, called Grammie by my generation – died several weeks before she turned 102. They had the usual mother-daughter tensions, and I sometimes thought Nana wanted to live longer than Grammie just to say she had.

She was an avid reader as long as I can remember, and the first Nora Roberts book I read was one of her earliest category romances for Silhouette, borrowed from my grandmother during a visit to my grandparents’ home.

Nana had a way of doing things throughout her life that were givens. Fresh flowers on the table was one of them. My husband made a big impression on her when he met her for the first time, using the best flowers from my aunt’s Christmas arrangement and mixing them with new flowers from the florist to create the centerpiece for dinner. She was struck by several things, not least of which was his ability and willingness to do this.

Age and illness had taken their toll on Nana. She’d been living in an assisted living facility for the past several years after leaving Hospice care. At the time, she and her doctor thought she was close to the end. She entered Hospice, went off all her meds, and got better. The decision to leave was mutual: Hospice had a policy that precluded extended stays, and Nana was getting depressed seeing the friends she made while she lived there dying.

When she turned 100, we surprised her at lunch on her birthday. Both of her children, all five of her grandchildren, and a couple of her great-grandchildren were there, and she Face-Timed with a great-grandchild and her only (at the time) great-great-grandchild. She wasn’t up for a long visit and went back to her room after a short time, overwhelmed by the number of people celebrating what she hadn’t considered to be a big accomplishment.

Fast forward to the week before Christmas 2016. She decided she would leave on her own terms, and made the decision to stop eating. My mother was scheduled to go to New Hampshire January 4, but her brother called the week before to say she needed to come sooner. Mom flew up to NH from the family gathered for the holiday in Jacksonville, Florida. She visited with Nana for a couple of days before the morphine that eased her pain ended conversation. Nana died a short time later.

She liked her tea, and her teapot is below. My mother brought it back from New Hampshire to St. Louis, and gave it to me when I was in St. Louis two weeks ago. Not wanting it to break if I carried it on the airplane, I opted to have FedEx deliver it.

I haven’t used it yet – I know she’s gone, but I feel like the first time I use it will reinforce her absence. For now, I have it on the counter as a reminder of my proper grandmother who sent thank you notes, wore scarves around her neck almost daily, and loved her tea.