The days are getting longer and the calendar, despite the excess of snow around town, doggedly remains set to spring. But even if things around town seem wintery and cold, the chickens know it’s spring.
There’s a really good reason why we celebrate Easter by painting eggs…Eggs are synonymous with spring! After months of stagnant darkness, the chickens begin laying again. Now, of course, modern egg facilities account for a laying hen’s natural tendency to stave-off production when it’s dark (and cold). Modern eggeries are artificially lit and heated all year ’round in order to maximize on poultry’s penchant for producing eggs. But traditionally, before the advent of commercial egg-laying operations, chickens were tied as much to the mercy of the seasons as the rest of us. No eggs in the winter and then, once the hours of sunlight accelerated beyond the spring equinox, lots and lots of eggs.
In the spirit of spring, this week’s recipe is all about eggs. Custards are an ancient European food that has been prepared across the pond for hundreds of years. Ingredients are simple, basically a combination of cream and eggs- both of which would have been bountiful around this time of year. Custards are full of protein and if your ingredients are naturally sourced, custards are also saturated with great omega three fatty acids and a plethora of vitamins.
This citrus custard is light and zesty with a little tang that is smoothed over by the cream and egg yolks. It is simple too- using few ingredients. The ingredients that are invited to this custard party are as unprocessed as they can be which makes for a more authentic and satisfying dish.
The trick with a custard is to only cook it until it sets. If it gets too hot, it will curdle. Curdled custard tastes fine but it’s texture is clumpy and stodgy.
Preheat oven to 375F
2 egg yolks
1/4 c. whipping cream or half and half
1/4 c. icing sugar
zest from one lemon and one orange
3/4 c. orange and lemon juice
*optional- 1 Tbsp orange juice concentrate
Whiz all of your ingredients together in a blender until combined. Pour your custard into ramekins (or any small oven-proof baking dish). Place your ramekins into a large dish (a casserole dish works well). Pour hot water into the casserole dish until it is about 1/2 way up the outside of the ramekins. This water bath will slow down how quickly the custard will cook and will help avoid the dreaded custard curdle. Cover the casserole dish with foil and place in the over. Begin by baking for 15 minutes. To test whether your custards are cooked you can either insert a thermometer and look for a reading of 75 degrees Celsius. If you don’t have a thermometer, try the shake test. Give your casserole dish a little wiggle and observe what your custard does:
Is it thin and runny? Not done yet.
Is it thick and set? It’s been overcooked.
If the custard moves with trepidation, appearing thick and slow, it’s perfect.
Remove from the water bath and let cool.