Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Oops, I Forgot to Give You the Recipe!

I guess it would help if I posted the recipe for the lemon meringue pie from the Daring Bakers Challenge, wouldn't it? I'll get the hang of this, please be patient with me.

(from "Wanda's Pie in the Sky" by Wanda Beaver)
Daring Bakers Challenge #15: January 2008

Lemon Meringue Pie

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:
3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

To Make the Crust:
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

To Make the Filling:
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

To Make the Meringue:
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge

Hoo-rah! My first Daring Bakers Challenge Post:

When I heard that my first Daring Bakers Challenge was a pie, I was thrilled! (Tales of the Yule Log Challenge last month had me shaking in my Crocs!) Pies are my thing—they are what I bring to potlucks and family gatherings where a contribution of food is needed. But I had never made lemon filling from scratch, so that, I thought, would be my challenge.

But as I began following the recipe for the crust, I realized it was a lot different from my usual crust. (I use vegetable shortening and just a little more than a cup of flour for a single crust pie.) The butter and 2 cups of flour made it much richer, heavier, and more difficult to work with. The resulting crust was very thick and doughy, not flaky at all, but had a wonderful flavor.

The meringue, with 5 egg whites as a base, was too much for the pie (2 or 3 would have been more like it) but I followed the recipe and used it all. By the time the meringue was golden on the outside, it seemed still almost raw inside.

The filling turned out to be the best of all! It was lemony and light, not at all rubbery as is sometimes the case with a boxed mix. It had a wonderful fresh lemon tang to it which everyone loved. I added grated lemon peel on the meringue, and the pie was very pretty!

I’ll definitely make a pie using this filling recipe again, but I’ll stick to my own recipe for crust and meringue. All in all, I’d grade this one a B-minus.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cough Remedy

Well, I have this cough, Doctor, says I. Says he, well get some over-the-counter cough syrup and take 2 teaspoons 4 times a day. And in the evening, he says, take a little honey and add some whiskey. Not much, he says with a grin, just a little. And sip it, slowly.

Ooh... what a great little cough remedy that is! A little local honey, a little Irish whiskey. It doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Elegant Eggplant

Sometimes I wish I was fluent in another language. For example, take the humble eggplant. Who came up with that name, for heaven's sake? In French it is aubergine. Now there's a word. All soft consonants and vowels, romantic as all get-out. And our translation is "egg plant"?

Slice it up, salt it down to reduce bitterness, and cook it on a grill brushed with a little EVOO, and you have a little taste of the earth that nurtured it. Underused in American cooking, the eggplant may be staging a comeback thanks to a cartoon movie named after a dish made from it: ratatouille.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

First Post

A journey of a million miles begins with a single step, or a single blog post.