Archive for June, 2011

Lemon meringue pie – 2nd attempt

Normally, baking comes easily to me.  I follow the recipe closely, and have had very few disasters.  My first attempt at lemon meringue pie several weeks ago (maybe it was in March?), was certainly one of those disasters.  It was a Martha Stewart Recipe, and I cheated by using pre-made pie crust.  I’m also awesome at making meringue, if I do say so myself.  My only issue with meringue is if I don’t watch it closely enough and it burns.  Martha’s recipe for lemon filling was the part that came out a mess.  Literally.  It’s a double-boiler method, and I used fresh lemon rind, and hand-squeezed lemon juice and everything.  I followed every instruction perfectly.  The lemon mixture was thickening nicely, and when I poured it into the crust, it seemed to be setting correctly.  So I spread on the meringue, baked it, and burned the meringue.  So I picked off the burned bits, and put it back in the oven for a minute until it was just golden.  It looked good, but when I got it to my parents house and cut into it, the lemon part was downright soupy.  Not “set” like it should have been at all.  My parents still ate it, because while ugly, it did taste good, but it was more like a lemon pudding than it was like lemon pie.

So, now that Dad’s appetite & taste buds are recovering from the side effects of chemotherapy, he mentioned that lemon pie sounded good again.  So, I decided to try again.  This time, I used a different recipe, because despite Auntie Joyce’s sage advice to use a lemon filling mix, I wanted to make it from scratch.  I used a family cookbook to get the recipe, and there were two.  One that called for flour as the thickening agent, and the other called for cornstarch.  Not wanting the pie to have a floury taste, I opted for the cornstarch recipe.  Neither called for a double-boiler, which made me optimistic that I’d get better results, because I wondered if maybe I used too much or too little water in my double-boiler last time?

Anyway, the mixture this time seemed to be coming together nicely, but after the prescribed boiling time of 4 minutes, the mixture was hardly thick enough to set to a custard-like texture.  Ack!  So, I took a deep breath, and decided to let it sit in the pot for a few minutes to see if it would thicken that way a little, then I’d spread it in the pie crust.  I am disappointed to report that it did not.

So, being somewhere around 3:00 a.m. at this point, because I am nothing if not a procrastinator to my core, I had the bright idea to try to salvage it by adding more cornstarch.  So I did, but it wasn’t dissolving into the still-warm goo, so I added a little more.  Then I realized it might thicken better over heat, so I brought it back to a boil, whisked the hell out of it, and just for good measure, added 2 tablespoons of butter (which the Martha & flour recipes called for, but the cornstarch recipe didn’t).  This seemed to thicken it to my satisfaction, but I still had no idea if it would go runny on me like Martha’s did.  I also had no idea if it would taste right anymore, but I had faith in the power of fresh lemon zest and freshly squeezed juice.

Those fresh lemons didn’t let me down.  I cut into the 2nd attempt, and while there’s a little bit of sticky syrupy stuff oozing at the bottom of the pie plate, the lemon filling itself held its shape & texture quite nicely.

So maybe lemon meringue pie isn’t my baking nemesis after all.  Maybe I just haven’t found *the* perfect recipe for it yet.  If anyone has a scratch recipe for it that they use with uniformly reliable results, I’d love for you to share it with me.

Pretty please?

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My favorite kind of sky – clear blue wit

My favorite kind of sky – clear blue with puffy white clouds

Golf lesson

Golf lesson

Golf pose

Golf pose

Mini golf time

Mini golf time

Looks like chocolate cake mix, right? Bu

Looks like chocolate cake mix, right?
But it’s not! D’oh!

Apple Chicken Salad

Also known as “food-your-kids-might-claim-disgusts-them-but-really-is-delicious.”

This is not the most creative recipe in the world, but I was feeling experimental to make a chicken salad with the meat from a rotisserie chicken we bought this week, and this is what I came up with:

Ingredients:

Approx. 4 oz. white rotisserie chicken meat (without skin), chopped or diced

1/8 c. (2 T.) chopped nuts (I used pecans, but only because I couldn’t find walnuts – almonds would be yummy too)

1/4 c. dried cranberries

1 medium apple, diced (I used golden delicious, with skin, but I’m sure any kind would also be tasty)

2-3 T. Lemonaise Light

Preparation:

Chop or dice chicken & apples to the desired size pieces.  I chopped to about 1/4 – 1/2″ chunks, but I would chop smaller to use this salad in a sandwich.  In a small mixing bowl, add pecans, cranberries, and Lemonaise Light.  Toss together & serve chilled or at room temperature.

This also nicely stretches the chicken to about 2 servings of chicken salad.  I think chopped celery would be another delicious addition, but I didn’t have any on hand.  The recipe could also be easily modified to use more of each ingredient for a bigger bowl & more servings.  In the proportions I used, each serving has approx. 300 calories.

Veronica (predictably) said “eeeeeew” and made a disgusted face when I made her try a bite.  Sabrina said “eew” before she tried it, but after I told her I like it, she  (also predictably) said she liked it too.

For those who’ve never heard of Lemonaise, it’s a light seasoned mayonnaise substitute, and I buy it at Whole Foods.  It’s mild, and has a slightly different taste than plain mayonnaise, but I think it tastes better than lowfat or fat-free mayo too.  Here’s a picture of the label, if you want to look for it to try for yourself: