Wednesday, 12 June 2013 16:05

The true way to a father’s heart is his stomach

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In what can only be imagined in a singsong voice, the first card begins, “Dear Dad. I may have made you worry when I came in after hours...” It goes on, rhymes, and I return it to its duplicates.

“Dear Dad,” begins the next. “A bond like ours doesn’t happen overnight. It takes effort, interests, and a willingness to...”
“Dear Dad. Family is so much more than just a word. It’s an unceasing feeling of love and caring that neither time nor distance...” I pause and take a moment to appreciate that the drug store I’m in must surely carry Dramamine.
“Dear Dad. May the joy you experience on Father’s Day last longer than the aroma of one of your...”
Full stop!
This time I take a time out. I snatch a Toblerone from the next aisle, peel back the foil, and think seriously about whether I have any coloured paper and glitter at home.
A few minutes later, I return to the rack, where it still seems there are only three themes (funny, fawning and flatulent) to choose from.
“Dear Dad. Somehow we always say the least to those we love the best...”
I like that one and set it aside, along with a single other that doesn’t dissolve into soppy sentimentalism, or jokes about jiggling the toilet handle, hoarding the TV remote, or playing golf when there’s yard work to be done. Or farting.
In the checkout line with my half-eaten chocolate, I wonder about who might buy all those other cards.
Chefhusband, for instance, has the kind of relationships where a joke translates easily into love. But who are the sons and daughters whose fathers inspire bad poetry? Who are the fathers who, according to said poems, never missed either a tender or a teachable moment?
I love my dad.
I am a good daughter.
But every Father’s Day I end up frustrated in the card aisle, wanting to enjoy the tradition of the paper card thoughtfully chosen, yet thwarted by what’s before me.
I’ve been lucky this year, though. Two cards. And because I may not be so lucky with next year’s batch, I buy them both, while thinking of better ways to tell my dad that I love him. Ways that don’t include singsong poetry or tiresome clichés.
By the time I’m in the car, I’ve concluded that ooey gooey sentiments are better expressed through sugar and butter and a good heaping of meringue.
And since my dad happens to love lemon, I decide that lemon tarts, with swirls of bruléed Italian meringue, are just the way to say the things that are hard to find in print.

Lemon Tarts
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
3 large lemons
1/2 pound unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 tsp plain gelatin powder
1 Tbs cold water
24 2-inch tart shells
Blind bake tart shells and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl (that will be the top half of a Bain Marie), whisk together eggs and 1/2 cup of the sugar.
In a small pot, combine remaining sugar with zest from 2 of the lemons and juice from all three. Bring to a boil, cook for 1 minute. A little at a time, add hot juice to egg mixture to temper the eggs, whisking constantly. Place bowl over a boiling water bath and whisk frequently until mixture is the consistency of warm custard.
Soak gelatin in water and whisk into lemon mixture. 4-5 cubes at a time, quickly whisk butter into mixture until melted and mixture is smooth. Cool completely. Spoon into cooled pastry shells. Top with meringue (follows) and brulée using a kitchen torch.
for Italian meringue:
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 Tbs granulated sugar
1 1/4 Tbs corn syrup
2 Tbs water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Combine corn syrup and water in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Cover and boil 2-3 minutes. Remove lid and fit pot with candy thermometer.
When the sugar syrup reaches 225 degrees, start whipping your whites on medium speed. When they reach a stage of medium peaks, and your sugar reaches 242F, carefully pour a thin stream of the hot sugar syrup down the inside of the bowl (avoid splashing onto whisk).
When all the sugar has been added, increase mixer speed to high and whip until the mixture is cooled down to about room temperature and the peaks are very firm. Beat in vanilla.

Read 3762 times Last modified on Wednesday, 12 June 2013 16:08