Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lemon Meringue Pie

From: _The Perfect Pie_ by Susan G. Purdy

Note: The completed pie should be served the same day it is baked.

9" blind-baked crust or graham cracker crust

1 cp granulated sugar
1/3 cp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cp water
Grated zest form 1 lemon (about 1 1/2 T)
1/2 cp fresh lemon juice
4 lg egg yolks, room temp
2 T unsalted butter, room temp

No-Fail Meringue Topping:
1/2 cp granulated or superfine sugar, divided (2 T and 6 T)
1 T cornstarch
1/2 cp water
4 or 5 lg egg whites, room temp
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Prepare the Filling:
  1. In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
  2. Whisk in the water, lemon zest, and juice; scrape into the pan corners to incorporate all the dry ingredients.
  3. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring, for 7-8 minutes, until the mixture comes to a boil.
  4. Whisk constantly while boiling for 1 full minutes, until it thickens, looks clear, and generously coats a spoon.
  5. Remove from the heat.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks well, then whisk in about 1/2 cup of the hot lemon pudding to warm the yolks (work quickly so the yolks do not poach).
  7. Scrape the warm yolks into the hot lemon pudding in the pan, simultaneously whisking hard to blend in the yolk mixture before the eggs overcook.
  8. Return the lemon pudding to the stove over the very lowest heat and stir continuously for about 4 minutes, to cook the yolks and ensure a stable pudding.
  9. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter.
  10. Leave the pudding in the pan and set it aside.
Prepare the Meringue Topping:
  1. In a small saucepan, stir together 2 T of the sugar, the cornstarch, and water until the cornstarch dissolves.
  2. Stir constantly over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture bubbles up into a boil; it will immediately start to thicken and look almost clear.
  3. Quickly remove from the heat and set it aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  5. Place the egg whites in a large absolutely grease-free bowl.
  6. Add the salt and cream of tartar.
  7. With the mixer on medium speed, whip the whites until foamy.
  8. Gradually add the remaining 6 T sugar while beating continuously.
  9. Whent he whites look thick and foamy, increase the speed to high and whip unitl they look smooth and satiny and you begin to see beater tracks on the surface. When the mixer is turned off and the beater is lifted, the foam should make a soft, slightyly droopy peak.
  10. Add the vanilla, turn the mixeron to medium speed, and begin beating in spoonfuls of the cooked cornstarch mixture fro tehsmall pan.
  11. Beat on high a little longer, until the whites are smooth, satiny, and hold very stiff peaks. Don't overbeat or meringue will become grainy or broken.
Putting It All Together:
  1. Rewarm the lemon pudding by stirring it over very low heat just until it is almost hot to the touch; it must be hot enough to poach the surface of the meringue that will rest on it.
  2. Spoon the hot pudding into the pie shell.
  3. Add about half the meringue, spreading it out onto the edges of the crust to seal it and prevent shrinking.
  4. Pile on the remaining meringue and shape medium-high swirls with the back of a big spoon.
  5. Bake at 350F for 12 to 15 min, or just until the meringue swirls begin to look golden brown.
  6. Cool on a wire rack, and serve at room temperature.
  7. Refrigerate leftovers--if there are any!

Dried Lima Beans with Ham

1 lb dried lima beans
3 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
ca. 3 T flour (or Wondra)
ca. 1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 lb ham, cut into large cubes
1-2 garlic cloves, minced or garlic powder
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 cubes Knorr vegetable bouillon

1. Rinse and sort the beans. Do not soak.
2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Sauté the onion until translucent. Add flour and paprika and cook, stirring, for a minute. (You can also skip this and just add the rest of the ingredients. When it gets hotter, add the Wondra and paprika and stir well. Adjust to desired thickness.)
3.Add some water, stirring well to avoid lumps. Add the beans, ham, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper, bouillon cubes and water to cover.
4. Bring to a simmer and cook gently, for about 1 1/2 hours, until beans are tender and beginning to break down. You will probably need to add water several times during this process.
5. Remove the bay leaves before serving.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ruth Lawrence's Blackberry Pie

Ruth Lawrence's Blackberry Pie
Source: From Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds to Basic Apple, It's as Easy as Pie by Susan G. Purdy (I've checked out several books by her and she seems quite good.)

Cooking the berries ahead of time is a bit of trouble but worth it!

She says that the vinegar is supposed to soften the seeds. I've heard that this is folklore, but...who knows? She also says that these pies can be frozen unbaked and then taken out of the freezer and baked while still frozen and taste great:
--don't cut air vents in top crust
--wrap pie airtight in freezer-weight material (I like to stick things in freezer bags when I can b/c they're reusable--a great tip I got from my old aunts is to double bag everything in the freezer)
--don't forget to label!
--to bake:
--set pie in lower third of a 450F preheated oven for 20 min
--after the first 10 min, cut steam vents in the top crust
--after 20 min, lower heat to 350F, raise pie to oven center and cover pastry edges w/ foil or protector if browning too fast
--continue baking an additional 40-45 min or until pastry is gold brown
--if you want to glaze pie top, apply egg glaze and a sprinkling of sugar before setting pie in oven
--cool on a wire rack

I've never done that but if you've got a bush, you might get a lot of berries!
Baking time: 425F for 10 min; 350F for 40-45 min
Berry-cooking time: 5 to 7 min
Makes one double-crust 9-inch pie

Unbaked pastry for a 2-crust, 9-inch pie
Egg glaze: 1 egg beaten with 1 T water
4 cups fresh blackberries, picked over and quickly rinsed
1 1/2 to 1 2/3 cp granulated sugar (depending on the sweetness of the berries and your taste)
1/2 tsp cider vinegar
3 T cornstarch
1 T quick-cooking tapioca

1. Prepare the pastry, roll it out, and line the pie plate. Trim a 1/2-inch pastry overhang. To moisture-proof the lower crust, brush with egg glaze. Chill the crust in the fridge while you prepare the filling. Preheat oven to 425F.

2. In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine berries, sugar, vinegar and cornstarch, and add 2 T water (to prevent scorching). Mash the fruit very slightly with a potato ricer or spoon in order to start the juices flowing. Set the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, just until the mixture nears the boiling point. (You don't want to overcook cornstarch.) Remove from heat and cool completely. Stir in tapioca.

3. Add the cooled fruit to pastry-lined pan. Brush egg glaze over the edge of the lower crust. Roll out top crust and fit over pie. Trim a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold the top edge under the bottom crust overhang and pinch them together to seal, making a raised rim all around. Flute the edge. Cut vent holes in top crust.

4. Set pie in lower third of preheated oven and bake 10 min. Reduce heat to 350F, raise pie to center of oven and bake an additional 40-45 min, or until pastry is golden brown. Check pie after about half the total baking time and add a foil edging or protector to keep crust edge from overbrowning. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cold.