Thursday, May 27, 2010
Happy Thursday all! Back blogging from London once again. Last night I went out in search of some good chicken tikka but ended up at a nice gastro-pub instead. Probably too nice, as my daughter was in a bit of a mood and I spent the entire time in terror that she would make a scene and disturb "his lordship" sitting directly behind me.
Certainly worth wrangling a fussy toddler for an hour.
Alright, today's pies! Leah of Wine Imbiber sent me three pies. Two of them Lemon and anyone who reads this blog faithfully knows how I feel about that gorgeous fruit. Of course, I'll not let my natural fruit biases sway me in my decision making. So Leah and her husband host Wine Imbiber and while the site isn't devoted to baking, Leah does post recipes on occasion and their appropriate wine paring.
" My husband is a wine writer, and me, well I like to drink wine. And eat and cook and bake. So, through the site we like to combine it all by giving wine recommendations that go with whatever recipe that is featured any given week. Some weeks are devoted solely to wine stories and other weeks we report on food & wine events that we attend or discoveries made while traveling."
What to know what to pair with a slice of lemon custard cream pie? Don't look at me. I have absolutely no idea. I love to cook with wine, but picking a wine that complements what I make, well that is just beyond me. That's what I need folks like Leah for.
Let's get to the pies!
First is a pie recipe that I’ve entered in contests many times in past years (prior to becoming a food blogger), but has never received even the tiniest bit of recognition. Nada. Zip. Zero. I was never surprised by this, though, as it has an ingredient that seems to rub people the wrong way (including most of my family). But oddly enough, it remains everybody’s all-time favorite pie. What’s the offensive ingredient? Tofu. That’s right. Plain ol’ simple (...dare I say, humble? Nah, that would be grounds for immediate disqualification!) soybean curd. Wait! Please don’t start scrolling to the next recipe. This really is good...delicious even! The tofu creates the creamiest of fillings that contrasts so groovily with the sandy texture of the crust that words can’t even describe the sensation! Add some whipped cream on top and you really have the makings for a party in your mouth. She ain’t the prettiest of pies, but no one seems to care after the first bite. Trust me on this one!
Raspberry Dream Pie
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 2 packets of crackers)
2/3 cup pecans
1/3 cup vegetable, safflower or grape seed oil
4 cups fresh raspberries (option: substitute 2 cups with blackberries)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 cup extra–firm silken tofu (one 12.3 oz box; I like MORI-NU brand)
1/2 cup brown rice syrup (I use LUNDBERG brand, available at Whole Foods)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream (for optional topping)
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Process the graham cracker crumbs along with the pecans in a food processor until the nuts are about the same consistency as the cracker crumbs. Keep the processor running and slowly pour the oil (through the feed tube) into the processor bowl until the crumb–nut mixture absorbs it. Stop the processor and scrape the corners of the bowl to thoroughly mix the oil in.
Check the consistency of the mixture by squeezing a small amount of the mixture between your fingers. It should hold together like moist (not wet) sand. If it is too dry, mix in a little more oil. If it is too wet, mix in more graham cracker crumbs.
Press the mixture into a 10–inch pie dish. I use a smooth, round meat mallet to press the crumbs compactly into the bottom of the pie dish. This will prevent thick pie crust corners if done correctly. Use your fingers and thumb to press the side crust into an even thickness.
Bake the crust for 8–10 minutes (or until lightly–browned). Set it aside and leave the oven on.
Meanwhile, carefully rinse the fresh berries and set aside to dry on paper towels. Select about a cup of the nicest looking berries and reserve to garnish the top of the pie after it has baked and cooled.
Take the remaining 3 cups of berries and combine with the lemon juice in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Process the tofu, rice syrup and vanilla extract in a blender or food processor until smooth.
Scrape the tofu mixture into the bowl of berries and carefully fold in the mixture. Try not to squish the berries.
Spoon the filling into the baked crust and smooth it until the top is even.
Put the pie back into the oven and bake for another 7–10 minutes (until the filling just barely starts setting up).
Remove from the oven and the pie to cool to room temperature. Garnish the top of the pie with the reserved cup of fresh berries once it has cooled down.
Chill the pie in the fridge until serving time. Serve with a big dollop of whipped cream if desired.
Baker’s notes: You can substitute frozen berries for the 3 cups that get mixed into the filling if you come up short on fresh berries. Don’t use frozen berries for the garnish, though. I’ve also substituted golden syrup for the rice syrup with nice results. Either regular or low–fat tofu can be used. Just be sure it is extra–firm and silken for the creamiest results.
The next pie recipe conjures up memories of my first attempt at creating something other than lemonade with the fruit from our Meyer lemon tree. We had just moved into our first house (as newlyweds) and discovered that the lemons growing on our tree tasted like no other. I didn’t know what to do with them all, and at the time, food blogs didn’t exist. I had only my subscription to Sunset magazine to rely on for suggestions. Luckily, someone wrote an article with recipes dedicated to Meyers and what do ya know? This wonderful pie recipe was in it! This recipe couldn’t be easier to make (especially when using a store-bought crust). It produces a lush, creamy filling that would easily be complimented by some berries and whipped cream. It’s considered a classic around our house, so I had to include it on the blog.
Meyer Custard–Cream Pie
10 (about 2–1/3 lbs) Meyer lemons (I needed only 5)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whipping cream
Baked, cooled 9–inch pastry shell (if purchasing, use a deep–dish crust)
Grate 2 teaspoons peel from lemons. With a zester or Asian shredder, make a few long, slender strands of peel from Meyer or regular lemons; set aside. Ream 1–1/3 cups juice from the lemons.
In the top of a double boiler, mix cornstarch and sugar. Stir in juice and grated peel. Fill bottom of double boiler with 1 inch water. Place pans over high heat and bring water to a simmer; adjust heat to maintain simmer. Stir until mixture is thick and shiny, 8 to 9 minutes. In a bowl, whisk eggs to blend. Whisk in about 1/2 cup lemon mixture, then return all to pan. Stir until mixture is very thick and reaches 160° F on an instant–read thermometer, about 5 minutes.
Remove top pan. Place in a bowl of ice and stir often until mixture is cool to touch, about 6 minutes.
In a bowl, beat cream with a mixer until stiff. Fold in lemon mixture, then spread evenly in pastry shell. Scatter reserved strands of peel on top. Chill, uncovered, until slightly firm to touch, about 2 hours. Serve, or wrap airtight and chill up to 1 day.
Lastly, we come to another favorite lemon pie recipe. It’s a meringue pie, but not the usual sort that first comes to mind. In fact, it is more similar in texture to what you typically get with a key lime pie. The filling isn’t cooked (only the crust and meringue are baked), so it might be wise to use pasteurized eggs if you worry about that kind of thing or if you’re serving this pie to someone in a high–risk health group. I love this pie for its contrast of textures. No whipped cream needed here. The meringue does a nice job of cutting the tartness of the lemon, so go ahead. Dig right in!
Lemon Silk Meringue Pie
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract
4 pasteurized eggs, yolks separated from whites
2 14–ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 375° F. Combine the butter, nuts and crumbs in a bowl and mix well. Press the mixture into a 10–inch pie plate and bake for 9–11 minutes or until lightly browned and crust has set. Remove the crust from the oven and allow it to cool completely. Don’t shut the oven off.
Combine the lemon juice, extract, 4 egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk in a medium bowl and mix well. Pour the mixture into the cooled pie crust and put in refrigerator.
Combine the 4 egg whites with the cream of tartar in a large bowl and beat with a hand held mixer until soft peaks form. Slowly add in the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Check the meringue to see that the sugar has completely dissolved by feeling it with your fingers. It should have a smooth consistency; not gritty or sandy feeling.
Spread the meringue on top of the lemon filling, making sure it seals the entire top by going to the inside edge of the crust. Make decorative swirls in the meringue with a spoon or offset spatula.
Bake the pie for 11–15 minutes or until the meringue turns golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool down a few minutes before placing it in the refrigerator to chill completely (about 4 or 5 hours).