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“When life gives you lemons…” people say, meaning, here’s a bleak thing life’s done to you, ugh, but you have to make the best of it. How that phrase became attached to lemons, I don’t really know, because lemons are so useful and generally great. The bitterness, perhaps? But radicchio is bitter, and you can’t do nearly as much with a basket of radicchio as you can with a basket of lemons. It’s a poser.
The last time I heard the phrase, it was uttered by my hairdresser — a Hairdresser to the Stars, no less, who used to sweep up cuttings back in the day at my mother-in-law’s local salon in Edinburgh. That’s my in, and my access to Mates Rates. (“Bring gin, and I will cut your hair.”)
So I was at his Gramercy duplex apartment the other night with my head glamorously in his kitchen sink when he said, “We didn’t really intend to buy a basement, but it does have the patio, which is nice, so when life gives you lemons…”
And suddenly, the phrase made perfect sense. A basement duplex with a patio in Gramercy IS lemons. Stringing up twinkling lights is Making Lemonade. Or, in my case, lemon curd.
Zest and juice a lemon (you want 2.5 to 3 tbsp juice)
2.5 to 3 tbsp sugar (75g)
2 large eggs at room temp
3.5 tbsp (50g) butter, cut into cubes
What to do with lemon curd now you’ve made it?
1. Simple: spread on hot buttered toast.
2. Cupcakes: scoop out a tsp from the top of a cupcake and spoon lemon curd into the crater
3. Lemon Eton Mess: whip cream, fold in lemon curd and crushed-up meringues. Spoon into glasses and top with lemon zest.
4. Fancied-up pound cake: warm in the microwave to a pourable consistency. Drizzle over slices of pound cake. Serve with slices of orange.
5. Sandwich together 2 shortbread cookies with lemon curd. Drizzle with melted white chocolate and chill to set.
6. Ice cream: whisk 175g condensed milk and 300g cream together until soft peaks form. Swirl in lemon curd and fresh blueberries. Freeze.
7. Pies: prebake little pie cups in a muffin tin (use store-bought pastry for ease). Fill with lemon curd and top with raspberries and flaked almonds.