This year, Christmas baking reached a new culinary high: lemon tarts filled with lemon curd made from lemons from my own 'Improved Meyers Lemon' tree.
Not only is it an attractive and exotic-looking plant, especially in winter, it is relatively easy to grow and the fruit are an added bonus.
The original 'Meyer' hybrid, probably a lemon x Mandarin Orange cross was 'discovered' growing in a garden pot near Peking, China in 1908 by the agricultural explorer, Frank N. Meyer.
The true lemon, 'Citrus limon', is a thorny tree reaching 10-20 ft. in height. The familiar fruit is light yellow, oval shaped and ranging from 3-5 inches in length. In comparison, the 'Meyer' lemon is a shrubby, dwarf hybrid, growing 6-10 feet in height and can be grown indoors in a container. The 'Meyer' lemon is oblong, light orange in colour and 2-3 inches in length. The fruit is very juicy, with a significantly less acidic flavour and thin, soft peel.
In the early 2000's Martha Stewart championed the 'Meyer' lemon and it became a culinary buzz word. This isn't Martha's recipe, but one that made delicious lemon tart fillings.
Lemon Curd (makes 11/3 cups)
1/2 cup fresh 'Meyer' lemon juice
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (freeze lemon first so that you can grate the soft 'Meyer' peel easily)
1/2 cup sugar
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 large eggs
Using a double boiler, whisk together juice, zest, sugar and eggs in upper pan. Stir in butter over low heat and cook, whisking frequently, until thick. (About 6 min.)
Cool and fill your favourite pastry tarts.