Another week, flown on by. And it all began with that shocking season finale of Downton Abbey. Spoiler Alert! Skip to the recipe if you haven't seen Sunday's episode! It was all a bit reeling, wasn't it? And I can't seem to get Mathew Crawley's dead blue eyes out of my mind. And that little trickle of blood. Eeep! Just goes to show, one minute you're on top of the world with a brand new baby boy and a massive inheritance and the next your life comes to an untimely end via a milk truck. I know, it's not real life, and yes the actor desperately wanted off the show. But there are little truths here. Tragedy strikes any time, any place. So Carpe Diem friends. You only live once, or until Julian Fellowes decides your time is up. It's time to eat more pie.
Right now I'm seizing the season by laying my hands on as much citrus as I can. Yes, there were blood oranges and Meyer lemons and today's treat is brought to you by the bodacious ruby red grapefruit. At their peak, they are cheap and plentiful - my kind of fruit! And their taste is sweet and bright - I eat one almost daily for a mid afternoon energy boost. Just looking at that ruby red flesh makes me happy - it's a colour to shake away any late winter blues. I'm on the hunt for a lip gloss or a sweater in the shade of this ruby red - a little retail therapy has been known to kill the late winter blues too.
Curd. It's such an unfortunate word for something so glorious. Its beauty deserves a better moniker, I just don't know what it would be. I do know I've loved it with cranberries and lemons and today I can confirm I love it made with grapefruits. So much so I made a double batch. It would have been perfectly acceptable to keep the grapefruit curd in a jar and use for topping scones and waffles, and to have on hand for emergency late night fridge raids. Tell me I'm not the only one who eats curd out of the jar, spoons a-heaping, whilst pajama clad. It's good stuff, this curd. So good I decided to put it in pie. With a graham cracker bottom and a sweet whipped cream lid. I can also confirm that grapefruit curd is pretty fine in pie.
I was inspired by Heidi's recipe for grapefruit curd, which has a whisper of ginger and a grapefruit juice reduction. I doubled the batch, not knowing if a single batch would leave enough for the pie, and really, when making something so delicious that keeps so well, it would be wrong to not make a double batch. The recipe that follows is for a double batch, and you can use the remainder up however you like - the aforementioned ways, or just out of the jar in your jammies. It freezes super well, so while you might think boy, that's a lot of eggs and juice, in the whole scheme of life, it's not, really. Her method was a little different from what I'm used to, creaming the butter first, etc, but it worked well. Just don't be freaked when after you add the juice it looks all curdled. That's normal - it all smooths out once it's heated. Which reminds me to tell you to heat it carefully, gradually. You don't want to cook your eggs. And there's lots of stirring required so you'll have to babysit it for a bit and be patient. Knowing when it's done is also a little tricky. You want the curd nice and thick, but keep in mind it will also thicken as it cools. To test if it's done I just use the method of dipping in a soup spoon, running my finger along the back of it lengthwise and seeing if the curd will cross the line. If it holds, it's done. That being said, I secretly wish my curd was a bit thicker, so I'm tacking on an extra egg yolk to help matters out. I just found out you can freeze egg whites, if you have no intended purpose for them immediately. (I see angel food cake in my future...)
Once your curd is made, let it cool to room temp then let it chill completely in the fridge. Use this time to prepare your graham cracker crust. Both of these steps can be done a day ahead - just keep the crust wrapped at room temp until you are ready to fill it. I poured my cooled curd into the finished crust, topped it with a flourish of freshly whipped cream then put it back in the fridge to hang out for an hour or so before serving. Maybe because the curd had been sitting for a few days and lost it's body, or maybe it wasn't thick enough in the first place, let's just say the first piece I cut was a little wobbly. Delicious, mind you, but it came out in a couple of pieces. Fair warning if you are having the Dowager over for tea - she may not approve but your family probably won't give a hoot. The next night the pieces came out better, so chilling in the fridge may help matters, so by all means make it a day ahead if you are serving to company or are fussy about these matters. It's also worth noting that if dessert in jars is your thing, this dessert would work exceptionally well. I'm kinda kicking myself I didn't do that in the first place. Think of cute little mason jars, with layers of graham cracker crumbs (or granola!), grapefruit curd and whipped cream. And there is no worry of wobbly bits. Whatever you decide to do, I highly recommend seizing yourself some grapefruits and making some curd, if not for pie, then for the sheer satisfaction of standing in your kitchen at midnight with a spoon in one hand and a jar of curd in the other, contemplating the fate of Lady Mary and her brand-new babe.
Grapefruit & Ginger Cream Pie
2 cups ruby red grapefruit juice (from 3 large grapefruits, but you might need another half)
10 tbsp butter, softened at room temp
1 cup granulated sugar (I use organic cane sugar)
5 large egg yolks
4 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh ginger juice (grate ginger and strain out juice)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, strained
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
7 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup whipping cream
4 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla
To make curd: place the juice in a medium saucepan bring to boil. Simmer and reduce down to 1 cup of juice. Let it cool a bit. Meanwhile, cream butter in the bowl of a mixer. Add sugar and beat until fluffy and light, scraping down sides periodically. Add yolks and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping bowl. Stir in salt and gradually add in the cooled grapefruit, ginger and lemon juices. This is where it will look curdled. It's okay. Now, rinse out the pot you cooked your grapefruit juice in and fill it 1/3 full of water. Bring it to a simmer and set the bowl full of curd ingredients over this. Start whisking and keep whisking until mixture is thick and holds it shape on the back of a soup soup. This could take 15-20 minutes. When thick, pour into a large bowl. Let it come to room temp then refrigerate until fully chilled. (Curd can be made a couple of days ahead; keeps well in fridge for up to five days or can be frozen for one month.)
To make crust: Combine ingredients in medium bowl. Press into 9 inch pie plate. Bake in preheated 350*F oven for 12 minutes. Let cool completely. Can be made one day ahead, wrapped well and kept at room temp.
To assemble pie: Beat whipping cream in mixer with sugar and vanilla until heavy peaks form.
Spoon chilled grapefruit curd into cooled crust and top with whipped cream. (Reserve remainder of curd for waffles or scones, or freeze in a jar to keep for later.) Garnish with chopped pistachios. Chill pie in fridge for one hour or up to one day before serving. Serves 6. Recipe for grapefruit curd from 101 Cookbooks.