Monday, January 2, 2012

Lemon Meringue Pie

I made a wonderful Prime Rib (will post about it later) the other day and wanted to make a light dessert to go with the meal.   I had two Meyer Lemons left on my tree, so I thought a Lemon Meringue pie would do the trick. 
I was just a little crunched for time and oven space, so decided to make the pie a little differently, than I usually would.  And with a couple of minor glitches I think I'd do it the same way again.   I was going to be competing for oven space with the roast so I tried something just a tad weird.   I did use a commercial pie crust, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.   I unrolled it and fit it into the pie pan, and blind baked it.  Did the usual pricking of the crust with a fork, and then looked at it and went "Oooh pretty pattern, I gotta remember how to do this again",  I don't care that you won't see it, I know it's there.  And I did take some pictures so I can prove it.
Unbaked Pie Crust
I used my two lemons, (gotta say, I get a kick out of knowing I grew these, giggle),
Meyer lemons

and got the exact amount of juice the recipe called for, made the filling, and cooled it rapidly over a bowl of ice cubes and water.    I set that aside while I whipped the egg whites and made the meringue.   I thought at first about making several tarts, but realized I didn't have the fridge space to keep them, so I just made one large meringue.  I made a circle on the parchment paper, and spread the egg whites out onto the circle and baked it for about 10-12 minutes, just until it browned.

Took that out and let it cool.   By the time everything was cool enough to handle, I decided to put it together.   My 'great' idea of baking the meringue separately, wasn't such a great idea as I had trouble peeling it off of the parchment paper in one piece.  Maybe if it had been baked at a lower temperature and let set overnight, it might have been different.
Lemon Meringue Pie without the meringue.

  But, I persevered and got that little sucker onto the top of the pie and it FIT!!!  Just kidding, some triumphs just require a shout, or a pat on the back.
Lemon Meringue Pie

I've also been experimenting with lemon fillings, some of the lemon curds are just too 'eggy' for my taste, and some just don't have any zing.   So I put together the elements from a couple of recipes and I think I found a keeper.   I adapted the recipe from one I read about here:   Kitchen Konfidence.  

Lemon Filling.   

1/2 cup lemon juice, about the yield from two large Meyer Lemons
1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup, cut into 8 pieces)

Combine all the ingredients on top of either a bain marie or double cooker, and stir, stir, stir to get everything incorporated.  Or just whisk the living daylights out of it.   I hadn't let the butter come to room temp first, so it took just a tad longer.   Keep stirring the mixture until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.  Should only take a few minutes from the time the butter has melted into the rest of the ingredients.   Keep stirring.    You are allowed to taste at this point, and if you need to add a little more sugar, do so before it gets too thick.   I find with Meyer Lemons, you don't need a lot of sugar.   They're edible just by themselves.  Hey, I've had Navel oranges that were more sour than my lemons.   Sorry, got sidetracked there.    When the filling is thick enough, pour it into a strainer that's been set over a clean bowl, and press the filling through the strainer with a spoon or silicone spatula or...   This helps to remove those pesky little bits of egg whites and ensures a lovely smooth finish.    Place in fridge to cool down and set up or do like I did, place a bowl over some ice water and let set there.

And I have to say, the end result was very good.   Even if I do say so myself.   The meringue wasn't as big and fluffy as I've made in the past, but it was acceptable.

 Lemon Meringue Pie slice
And the whole point of making any food is to make it taste good.   And this did, the fact I had a slice for breakfast should prove it.   Hey, it had eggs, butter and juice in there, why not have it for breakfast?  

And wishing everyone out there, all the best cooking adventures in 2012.  

Most important of all, have fun with cooking, try a little something new, life's serious enough already.  

Sidsel Munkholm - Author
Sidsel Munkholm - Author

Sid loves to cook, feed people and have fun in the kitchen. She shares her successes and the involuntary offerings she sometimes gives the kitchen goddess as well. And she's still looking for the mythical fairy to help her clean the kitchen after a marathon cooking session. Currently working on a cookbook showcasing the recipes from her Danish heritage.

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