Simple pleasures

Curds and wa-hey!

It’s a constant, if not full-time job to keep enough food in the house for the seemingly hollow children. And while bergamot curd may not be up on the list of household necessities, as the saying goes, when life gives you lemons…

I had a box of bergamots hanging around as one does, and after trying palm them off here and there on unsuspecting family and friends, the remainder were destined for a slow and sad decline. I’d used some in a pasta dish with broccoli, garlic and Parmesan in place of lemon and I’d squeezed the juice into sparkling water for a touch of the bath bomb in my evening drink. I was considering using the rest for a lemon-style tart, but seeing as the children seem to have developed a new and mysterious love for lemon curd on toast I had my solution.

And it’s very nice. Perfumed but not like walking past a soap shop, it’s citrussy and delicate. I know bergamots are not really the kind of thing you come across that often –it’s almost exclusively grown in Calabria — but if you do, this is a good use for it. And, as a bonus you can spoon it into little sweet pastry cases for a speedy little tart.

This recipe works just as well with blood oranges, which is my next stop if I’m lost for curds.

Makes: 2 jars
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes


4 bergamots, juice and zest (giving up about 160ml juice)
4 eggs
1 egg yolk
200g golden caster sugar
100g unsalted butter

Zest the bergamots into a heatproof bowl big enough to sit on top of a small saucepan. Halve the fruits and put them in a bowl. Microwave them for one minute. This will give you all the juice from them. An astonishing amount comes out. If you don’t a microwave, roll them really hard on the bench before slicing open. It will help, but isn’t as good as the micro.
Put some water in the bottom of the pan and bring to the boil. Add the butter, sugar and juice to the bowl and stir well. Put on top of the pan, making sure it’s not touching the water and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Stir, dissolving the butter and melting the sugar.
Lightly whisk the eggs and yolks and tip into the bowl. Whisk in well until incorporated and cook for about 10-15 minutes, very gently. Stir occasionally with a spatula until the whole thing is beautifully and gently set.
Remove from the heat and put into jars. Leave to cool and store in the fridge.

This week
Jiro dreams of sushi. I now want to retrain as a 90 year old Japanese sushi master, but I feel some ambitions are impossible.
‘Somebody feed Phil’ on Netflix; another travel-food-ologue, but as usual, interesting and hosted by someone who seems genuinely enthusiastic and nice.
Coco, from Pixar with the children. I didn’t know where to look there was so much going on.
Blind Melon: not listened to them for a long time. Uplifting in a melancholy way.
Kodaline: thought I’d try them out, see what the youth of today are listening to. Or something like that. They probably aren’t, it’s more likely to be hairdressers in Newbury or somewhere that listen to this boring snorefest of a band. 
Dull Indian takeaway. Dull Italian food at Ecco, Clapham and a dull lunch at Franco Manca after the cinema. Followed by heavenly gelato from Odono’s on Lordship Lane. Homemade spinach and ricotta ravioli with sage butter. Children hated it. Savages. Philistines. It’s one of the world’s finest dishes.
A steak sandwich with anchovy, melted cheddar, watercress, salsa verde, chillies, radish, cucumber and gherkins. That was a sandwich alright. Nico dreams of sandwiches.
Death in Sardinia, ’60s set Italian detective novel, lots of good food descriptions as well as the usual detective formulas.

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