Lemon Merginue Pie

THE MOST DELICIOUS OF THE PIES!  Seriously, I’m not a big fan of pie, usually too much dry crust and mushy fruits.  But lemon meringue, there’s something about the sourness of the lemon and the airiness of the meringue that just gets me.  This is from Fine Cooking and they have a good video showing some of the tips here.  I will warn you this takes like four hours from start to finish with a fair amount of attention required, so make it when you have a free afternoon.
Note: The original recipe has you use some gingersnap cookies below the custard to keep the pie crust crisp.  I didn’t do this because I didn’t have gingersnap cookies and I didn’t want to go to the store, and my pie turned out just fine without them.

http://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/?ui=2&ik=fd478ff7f0&view=att&th=1386eccc674f4e1e&attid=0.1&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P8ze7QYLfx8veFRWY4x8oPN&sadet=1341888748168&sads=nuAVPCtIyvtPRyGTNRBpW3iZwBg&sadssc=1

Sorry the picture’s a little dark.  It took so long to make the pie it was dark out by the time we were able to eat it.

Serves 1 Pie Lover (1 Pie)
Lemon Meringue Pie
1 Pie Crust

For the Custard
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
5 large egg yolks (keep the whites for the meringue)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and softened
1 1/2 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest (about 3 medium lemons)
1/3 cup lemon juice (from those very same lemons)

For the Meringue
5 large egg whites, room temperature (I told you to keep them)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1.Somehow make yourself a cooked pie crust in a buttered 9 inch glass pie plate.

2. In a 3 quart saucepan mix together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.

3. Whisk in 1/4 cup cold water until the mixture is smooth, then mix in another 1 1/4 cups cold water until combined.

4. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally and the constantly as it starts to boil (a couple large bubbles will form and pop).  The mixture should turn into a semi-translucent gel, total cook time 4-6 minutes.

5. At this point whisk briefly and then mix with a spatula pulling the sides towards the center.  After doing this for one minute, remove the pot from the heat.

6. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks lightly.

7. Gently whisk in 1/2 cup of the sugar gel and repeat with another 1/2 cup.

8. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the remaining sugar gel and cook just as before. (4-6 minutes over medium-low until boiling then one minute more).

9. Remove the pot from heat and dot the filling with butter, pushing it below the surface.  Let it stand for a minute to allow the butter to melt.

10. Gently whisk in the lemon juice and zest until smooth.

11. Pour the filling into the pie crust and smooth with a spatula.  Let it cool for at least 30 minutes before making the meringue.

Meringue Time!  This is a Swiss meringue which means we are going to cook the egg whites and get a fluffy marshmallow like meringue, but you can feel free to do a classic French meringue by just whipping the hell out of some egg whites and sugar.  Also, to save time and your wrist, this assumes you have a stand mixer.

12. Bring 1/2 inch of water to simmer in a pot that you can makeshift into a double boiler with the mixing bowl of your stand mixer (but don’t put the mixing bowl over the hot water yet).  Turn the burner to low after it starts simmering.

13. In your mixing bowl (off the heat) whisk the egg whites by hand until frothy.

14. Add the sugar 2 Tbsp at a time, whisking for a couple of seconds between each addition.

15. Put the mixing bowl over the hot water and slowly whisk.  You’re not trying to add air yet, just dissolve the sugar and keep the eggs from cooking.

16. After 2-4 minutes the eggs should be warm to the touch and you should not be able to feel any sugar grit in the mixture.

17. Add the vanilla and cream of tartar and take the mixing bowl off the heat and put it in your stand mixer.

18. Beat the egg whites with the whisk attachment.  Slowly increase the speed from low to high over about a minute.  Beat to stiff peaks (3-5 minutes).

19. Spread all of the meringue over the pie with spoon, make sure it anchors to the pie crust the whole way around the pie.  Press down as you go to make sure there are no air pockets.

20. Make fun spiky curls by touching the back of the spoon to the meringue and pulling away.

21. Brown the meringue either in your ovens broiler or with a kitchen torch.  If you broil make sure to rotate it to get the whole thing.

22. Let the whole shabang rest for about an hour to setup and then enjoy.

Sourdough Bread

The best kind of bread.  It takes on a unique flavor based on the yeast that lives in your area.  Mine had a hint of Parmesan cheese, which was great for my lactose intolerant friend who’s never been able to taste cheese before.  At least not without it ending very poorly.  This recipe has been modified slightly from the one shown in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, I know its long and very tedious, but very worth it.  Pro Tip:  The longer its been since you’ve refreshed your barm (3 days max) the sourer your bread will be.
Makes 2 Loaves
Sourdough Bread
2/3 cup barm
1 cup bread flour
1/8 to 1/4 cup water

4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups water (90 to 100 F)
Corn meal for dusting

 1. Use a measuring cup dipped in cold water to measure out 2/3 cup of the barm into a mixing bowl.

2. Add the flour to the mixing bowl and the enough water to make everything a firm, slightly sticky, doughy ball.  This is your starter.

3. Lightly oil the starter ball and seal with plastic wrap.  Let sit at room temperature until it doubles in size (4 to 8 hours depending on temp and humidity).  Then put it in the fridge.

4. Remove the starter from the fridge 1 hour before making the dough.

5. Cut the starter into 10 pieces, lightly cover in oil and let sit another hour to take the chill off.

6. Stir together the salt and flour in an electric mixer bowl.  Add the starter pieces and enough of the lukewarm water to bring everything together into a ball.

7. Mix with a dough hook on medium-low speed for 4 minutes, rest for 10 minutes and then mix another 4 minutes.  The dough should be firm but tacky.

8. Lightly coat the dough with oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

9. Let sit at room temperature to double in size (4 to 8 hours again).

10.  Dust a baking towel with cornmeal, split the dough into two equal parts and form into loaves gently being careful not to degas the dough.

11. Mist the dough with oil and cover loosely by folding over the towel.

12. Let the dough rest for 2 to 3 hours.

13. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Put a baking pan on the top rack (you will add water to this right after the bread goes in to create steam).

14. Score the dough diagonally like you see done with real dough (or in the movies).  Dust a peal or cookie sheet with cornmeal and put the loaves on it.

15. Put the loaves in the oven and add a cup or two of water to the baking pan on the top rack and close the door.

16. After 30 seconds spray the walls of the oven with water using a mister.  Repeat two more time at 30 second intervals.

17. Reduce the oven to 450 degrees and bake for 10 minutes.

18. Rotate the loaves 180 degrees and cook another 10 to 20 minutes until its rich golden brown all over and sounds hollow when you tap on it.

19. Transfer to a cooking rack for at least 45 minutes before eating your delicious, delicious reward.

Cranberry Salad

This is a classic Christmas and Thanksgiving side dish in my family.  I’ll often bring it to holiday potlucks and no one will touch it because it’s bright pink.  And I’m kind of okay with that because it’s delicious and that just means more for me.

Serves 8
Cranberry Salad
12 oz fresh cranberries
1 can crushed pineapple (strained)
marshmallows to taste
1 cup sugar
pecans to taste, chopped
Cool Whip (full fat please)

1. Chop the cranberries in a food processor.  Add the pineapple and marshmallows and mix thoroughly (probably not in the food processor unless you like tiny marshmallows).

2. Let this sit in the fridge overnight

3. Add the sugar, and chopped pecans.

4. Mix in cool whip until it looks bright pink.

Herb Roasted Pork Loin

Last night I had a couple of people over for Dexter and pork.  This recipe comes from Cole and is part of a larger recipe book he is working on.  I was expecting 8 or 9 people over so made 4 pounds, but it turned out only about 5 showed so I ended up with 2 extra pork loins (which means tasty cuban sandwhiches in the days to come).

I am naturally fearful of recipes that call for dijon mustard because way too many things do (I’ve seen “authentic” beef strogonoff recipes with it, I’m pretty sure peasants in Russia did not have dijon) but the pork turned out really really good, very moist and flavorful.  The herbs definitely came through in the pork and complimented the  tang of the mustard.  To go with it Will made some green beans and onions in butter and we also had wild rice with walnuts and raisins.

Serves Eight

For Pork
4 lbs pork loin
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper
1 T olive oil
6 sprigs rosemary
8 sprigs thyme
8 sprigs savory
8 sprigs sage
5 shallots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 T Dijon mustard

For Sauce
1/3 C dry vermouth
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 C chicken broth
1 1/2 T butter
1 1/2 T flour

Making It
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Coat the pork in salt and pepper and heat some oil in our broiler ban over a burner.  Put in the tenderloin and brown on all sides for a few minutes.
3. Place half the herbs on a broiler rack and put the pork on top.  Mix shallots, garlic, oil and dijon and smear the mixture all over the pork.  Put in the oven fat side up.
4. Cook about an hour (until thermometer reads about 155-160).  Put the remaining herbs on top, tossed in some oil, and cook about 5 more minutes.
5. Pull out pork and set aside to rest about 15 minutes while you make the sauce in the bottom of the broiler pan.
6. Put the broiler pan back over a burner on medium.  Add vermouth and dijon, scrape brown bits off bottom of pan.
7. Melt butter and whisk in flour.  Add to the vermouth mixture and simmer till thick.
8. Serve pork with sauce.