Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lemon Inspiration

Dan & his sisters have a project they're working on, and today he invited the three of them over for a lemon inspired late lunch.

The menu was put together by Dan, focused on bright, summery flavors highlighting lemon flavors.

We started off with lemon drop cocktails for the ladies, and some lemonade for Dan & I. I brought out some Moroccan carrot dip with pita chips to snack on.

A little later, I brought out some pan roasted chicken breast, marinated in lemon juice, topped with a pan sauce with lemon juice and capers. It rested on a bed of couscous, and was paired with sliced, roasted zucchini and yellow squash from our garden.

Finally, I presented a dessert I worked on for a couple days and was very proud of: Lemon Curd Ice Cream with a Lemon Tuile cookie and Candied Lemon Peel.

The ice cream and tuile recipes came from a beautiful cookbook I was given called Frozen Desserts. It's loaded with amazing recipes for all sorts of frozen treats, with focus on techniques and the science behind them, to help ensure great results. The only challenge is that the recipes are aimed at professionals, so have to be scaled down. I took this recipe for 11 lbs of lemon curd ice cream, and scaled it back by 1/10th to produce the perfect amount for the 5 of us (plus a little left over for later). The recipes also use weights, rather than volumes, for measuring - making for more precision, but a little extra work.

Lemon Curd Ice Cream
50g lemon juice
50g granulated sugar
50g whole eggs
261g whole milk
49.2g heavy cream
62.5g granulated sugar
27.9g egg yolks

Combine lemon juice, 50g sugar and whole eggs in a medium bowl and place over a water bath. (I used a metal bowl, and placed it over a small saucepan filled with water over medium-high heat). This creates less direct heat to cook the eggs slowly and avoid them clumping.

Whisk the ingredients together until a homogenous mass is obtained. Stir constantly and cook until the curd reaches 180 degrees F.

Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and cool over an ice bath.

Place the milk and cream, along with half the remaining sugar in a saucepan over high heat. Stir for about 1 minute to dissolve some, but not all of the sugar. (The undissolved sugar will settle at the bottom of the pan to prevent the milk and cream from scorching.)

While the mix comes to a boil, place the egg yolks and remaining sugar in a bowl. Whisk until it becomes a uniform mass.

Once the liquid comes to a boil, slowly pour half of it into the egg yolk-sugar mix while whisking constantly.

Once half the liquid has been tempered with the egg yolk-sugar mix, pour the contents of the bowl back into the pot while whisking constantly and turn the heat down to medium or medium-low.

Whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 170 degrees F. At this temperature the mixture reaches a consistency called nappe, or "coat".

Turn the heat off and strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into an appropriate container and place over an ice bath.

Add the lemon curd to the custard base once it is finished and cooled. Whisk thoroughly to completely dissolve the lemon curd.

Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer and cool over an ice bath. Age the base under refrigeration overnight.

Once the base has aged, churn to the desired consistency (about 20 minutes using a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker).

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