Kitchen Witch - A Puckery Picker Upper

In this country, we have lemon furniture polish, dish detergent, tile cleaner and air freshener. We love how the lemon cleans our house and our bathrooms. But somehow, we forgot that the lemon, the fruit of citrus medica, is good for our bodies and helpful in our cooking.

Although ghettoized to the dregs of cleaning product world, the little ol’ lemon is quite the culinary powerhouse. First, the juice. We all know how wonderful real lemonade is on a hot summer day, but, for a moment, consider this: A squeeze of a lemon can save your vinaigrette from distress, or perk up a lentil soup just before serving, or freshen up a bowl of hummus that already has plenty of salt. Lemon refreshes our palate. It wakes us up, both physically and spiritually. A lemon should always be in the fridge, and not just for tea when we have a cold.

Then, there’s the zest, aka the peel without the bitter, white pith. The zest is best extracted using a handy little tool called a zester (only about five bucks at your local cookware store). The uses of zest are seemingly endless - on rice, in green salads, over roasted asparagus, on pasta, in pizza dough, cake, sorbet, with garlic and herbs ... the zest list goes on and on.

Don’t take this wrong way, but after you read this, do yourself a favor and go suck on a lemon - after zesting, of course.

Real Lemon Curd

8 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups sugar

Zest and juice of 6 lemons (approximately 2 tablespoons and 1 1/2 cups, respectively)

1 stick unsalted butter, diced

Generous pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in a heavy saucepan, over low-medium heat.

Stir constantly with a rubber, heatproof spatula or balloon whisk, for up to 45 minutes. You’ll notice change in color (from orangey to yellow) and texture (from liquid to almost hollandaise). But you’ve got to keep stirring or whisking to keep eggs from scrambling.

When you’ve got a nice thick streak on the back of a spoon, pour curd through a sieve to remove zest and unwanted egg particles. Immediately cover with plastic wrap. Keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Makes approximately 2 cups, enough for a 9-inch tart shell, plus extra for scones, pound cake, tea biscuits or snacking with a spoon.Culinary questions? Reach CL’s Kitchen Witch at