13 August 2009

Lemon Meringue Pie


Out the Door

This summer my daughter is learning to cook. Just the thought of it makes me smile! Ever since she was little I have dreamed of spending time with her in the kitchen. I have wanted to pass on the things I have learned and share with her the special kitchen stories I treasure.

Nonetheless, aside from one or two brief periods of interest, the dream that my daughter would join me in the kitchen as she was growing up followed many illusions I once had about raising children - right out the door! My daughter had her own ideas about food as she had her own ideas about many things. So I tried to employ patience as she followed her own sense of timing.

Now that she has left home and is living alone she has discovered an interest in cooking. She is learning to feed herself on a budget and how to entertain friends on her own terms. Suddenly the seeds planted as she was growing up have sprouted. Now she has stepped into her own kitchen and is courageously trying new things. In the process she is enjoying the fruit of her labor.

Discovering a Favorite

She is also expressing appreciation for my cooking when we are able to spend time together. She is eager to know about whatever I am working on in the kitchen. She has taken a special interest in the pies I have been making this summer. She has been home to taste some fruit tarts, Rhubarb Cream Pie and a number of different pies with meringue toppings. She tries them all, smiles and asks questions. The one that stood out as her favorite was my latest version of Lemon Meringue Pie.

Since then, whenever I see her, she askes if we can make a Lemon Meringue Pie together. This weekend we are going to do it. I will show her how to seal the edges of the meringue to the fluted crust and remind her that the meringue needs to go over the lemon filling while the filling is still warm. Along the way I'm sure I will slip in a few stories about her Great Aunt Hen and the way I helped her cook when I was just a girl.

Uncovering Treasures

Talk about a teachable moment. But then again I've pretty much given up on the illusion that I can instruct. What I hope for is to encourage my daughter's process of discovery. The kitchen is so full of treasures to be uncovered. There is the confidence she will find as she learns how to use kitchen tools and techniques with skill and efficiency. There are recipes to share and then experiment with as she discerns her own tastes and nutritional concerns. There is history to discover in the origin of recipes, the journey that brings them into her kitchen and the way she can use them to nourish friends and family. And then, there is the opportunity to spend time with others sharing kitchen tasks and taking pleasure in the many ways in which we can work together and get to know each other better. It has taken a while for us to get here but, like her mother, my daughter is discovering the art of cooking in her "own sweet thyme."

The Pie

There are many variations on the filling for a Lemon Meringue Pie. I made one version last year as I struggled with pie crusts and ended up making an Upside Down Lemon Meringue Pie. I liked the consistency of that filling but found that the flavor was a little too sweet for my taste. Here I have adapted it to dwell more on the fresh tartness of the lemon. The result is a fantastic filling, bright and tangy, a perfect contrast to the soft, sweet cloud of meringue on top.


Lemon Meringue Pie

Line a 9 inch pie plate with pastry for a single crust pie, using the recipe for (Nearly) Foolproof Pie Dough, your own favorite recipe or a prepared pie crust of your choice.

Prebake the pie crust - first prick it all over, bottom and sides, with a fork, then place it in a preheated oven at 475 degrees for 8 - 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Remove the pie shell from the oven and allow it to cool.

Prepare the pie filling.

Lemon Pie Filling
(adapted from “Better Homes and Gardens Complete Step-By-Step Cookbook”)

1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons flour
dash of salt
1½ cups water
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
½ cup lemon juice

Mix sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt in a medium saucepan, stirring well so that ingredients are thoroughly combined. Add water gradually stirring until all ingredients are well mixed.

Cook mixture over medium high heat until thick and bubbling across the entire surface, stirring constantly, then cook and stir for another 2 minutes.

Remove from heat. In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks. Gradually pour 1 cup of the cooked mixture into the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Immediately pour the yolk mixture back into the cooked mixture remaining in the saucepan and cook for two more minutes, stirring constantly.

Add butter and gradually stir in lemon juice until well combined.

Turn filling into prepared pie shell.

Top the warm filling with Meringue That Won't Weep.

Bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees or until the top of the meringue is a golden color.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Note: This pie is best served several hours after cooking, when the filling has had time to cool and set but before putting it in the refrigerator. In fact the pie tastes delicious served warm, but while it is still warm the filling will run.


Lemon Meringue Nests
based on a recipe found in the 5/9/06 issue Women's Day Magazine

I saw this recipe and immediately tore it out and put it in my recipe file. It uses Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Shells, Royal Lemon Pie Filling Mix, and a meringue topping. Simple, no?

The little tarts were so cute I was eager to try them but I looked a long time before I was able to find a box of Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry shells. When I finally did, I made the tarts using the recipe for Lemon Pie Filling that is described above.

To make them I baked the pastry shells according to package directions, scooping out the center as described there. Then I made the Lemon Pie Filling and scooped it into the shells and topped them with Meringue That Won't Weep.

They were good, and quite attractive. Still, in my humble opinion, a slice of Lemon Meringue Pie in a home made pastry crust cannot be beat. Even so, it is nice to have an arsenal of alternatives to turn to as the need arises. I am not above using a frozen pie shell when it is more convenient and these puff pastry shells make another nice variation for individual servings and an elegant presentation.

Serve and enjoy!

9 comments:

Grace said...

good googa mooga! nope, no weepy meringue for you--that's one heck of a thick and perfect layer of the stuff! great pie, lisa, and have fun teaching your daughter the tricks of the trade. :)

the ungourmet said...

It's wonderful that you can have these special times in the kitchen with your daughter. This is what life is all about.

I might just gather my courage and make those little nests! They are darling!

Pam said...

I loved this post. When my daughters were teenagers, they each had an assigned night that they had to make dinner. Now they all know and love to cook.

Bunny said...

OMG the pie looks fantastic , but those little nests are right up my alley! I love them!!

Bellini Valli said...

Lemon is my chocolate and lemon meringue my favourite pie:D

Theresa said...

Ah yes, to be appreciated by our children....

Josh said...

i just found your recipe and it's in the oven right now. the filling tastes wonderful and i'm sure it's going to turn out amazing.

one comment though: you seem to have forgotten to mention what to do with the two tablespoons of butter. i'm assuming it goes in the filling right before the lemon juice. anyway, thanks!

Lisa said...

Good call Josh! I've amended the post. Thanks for your comment. Feedback is greatly appreciated.

I'm glad you decided to try the recipe. It really is a delicious pie. Enjoy!

TAITx3 said...

Great post!! Just one question about the nests... Do you bake the nests after you pile the meringue on top and if so how long to bake the nests? It's just to brown the top a bit, correct??