Spring is now well and truly underway and as the days grow longer and the buzz of native bees fills the air at Vaucluse House. Leila Wallace puts a special – edible – twist on our special springtime celebrations to mark Vaucluse House’s 100th anniversary as a public museum.
It is a perfect time to enjoy the gardens and grounds. A patchwork of picnic blankets adorns the lone-pine-lawn on warm weekends, as birdsong echoes throughout the pleasure gardens. We can once again enjoy the gentle cluck-clucking of the brooding chickens as they lay eggs in the mornings and take time to amble through the kitchen garden and discover treasures of the edible variety, and to gain inspiration for recipes new and old.
As a part of our centenary celebrations we hosted a country fair-styled Community Open Day at Vaucluse House. My colleague Latoya Schadel and I researched authentic recipes to provide sample-sized morsels of sweet and savoury dishes for visitors to enjoy in the colonial kitchen. At Vaucluse House we still keep poultry and grow lemons in the kitchen garden, as did the Wentworth’s all those years ago, so making this age old Lemon Curd recipe seemed perfect for celebrating Vaucluse House’s long history. Not to mention enjoying it spread generously on a nice, thick slice of toast!
‘the rind of three lemons shred fine’
Maybe it is no surprise to sweet-tooths everywhere, but the lemon curd we offered was a hit! Visitors loved the tangy, lemony, sweet spread and many were asking where they could get their hands on the recipe? The recipe we used was one adapted from Mrs Rundell’s A New System of Domestic Cookery, first published in 1806. In it, she discusses cheesecake fillings and lists various recipes including a lemon cheesecake filling, ‘…mix four ounces of sifted lump-sugar, and four ounces of butter, and gently melt it; then add the yolks of two and the white of one egg, the rind of three lemons shred fine…’. The recipe is an excellent way to incorporate the spring time abundance of eggs and lemons into a recipe which can keep for a time before spoiling.
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 3/4 cups caster sugar
- 80g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
- 2 large lemons, juiced and zest
|Whisk the whole eggs, yolks and sugar in a saucepan until smooth. Place over low heat. Add the butter, lemon zest and strained lemon juice and whisk until thickened. Spoon into sterilised jars.|
Chickens lay more eggs in spring time, like most animals, in an effort to reproduce when the weather is fair and food sources are abundant, as this is ideal for raising young. When the season changes, turning from summer to autumn, days shorten and egg reproduction can slow or stop. Being happy recipients of an abundance of fresh produce from the Vaucluse House kitchen garden our hens produce delicious eggs with rich golden yolks, adding to the colour and velvety texture of our lemon curd. Our heritage horticulturalist Anita Rayner can introduce you to the whole menagerie of chooks, ducks and goats on this video clip.
Leila Wallace, Visitor and interpretation officer at Vaucluse House, Elizabeth Bay House and Rose Seidler House, is this week’s guest author.