that perfect hand…

In Ocean's 11, Danny said that "the house always wins. If you play long enough, never change the stakes, then the house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet big… and then, you take the house." Here's the hand I've been dealt, sometimes it's risky and sometimes it's safe, but all the time… it's perfect. It's mine.


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group effort – lemon meringue pie

 

I have a post formulating that is going to blow your minds (probably not) but I am taking a hiatus from hashing out that essay for a little baker’s pride moment, which don’t happen very often. It’ll even include a recipe.

Check this out:

Yay for birthdays.

I know, right? It was Luke’s birthday yesterday and I wanted to make him his favourite – lemon meringue pie. Last year the pie I made him was unmentionable, not even worth being the punchline in the lamest of lame stories I tell my classes. Even though he ate it last year, smiling and nodding that he liked it, my goal this year was to make sure that the crust didn’t cook down, the filling wasn’t sweating or watery, and the meringue actually resembled one that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to give him. The result? The perfect recipe for lemon meringue pie (and the largest grin on my best friend’s face). Anyway…the recipe came from three different sources and with some tweakings done by me, risky but effective,  I suggest you put this little delight in your recipe books.

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The Crust (courtesy of my cousin in law and favourite person to waste time with, Chrissy)

1/2 lb shortening
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 a beaten egg (use your gut)
2 tsp salt
1/2 T vinegar

Add beaten egg to vinegar and add enough cold water to make 1/2 a cup.

Mix dry ingredients and cut in the shortening with a pastry tool. Mix in liquid with a fork.

Separate into two balls and refrigerate for 20 minutes or so. Roll the pastry between two pieces of wax paper so that the dough is 1 inch bigger than the inverted pie plate. Drape dough loosely into pie plate and pinch down. Prick holes with a fork and weigh it down with pastry weights. Or in our case, interior decorative rocks. Amazing. Bake until golden brown, 18 minutes I think @ 425. I can’t remember that part, I was playing with Eli.

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The Filling (courtesy of my sister and favourite person I’d like to get more chances to waste time with, Jes)

In a microwave bowl combine:
1/2 cup corn starch
1 cup and 3 T sugar (the extra 3 just makes it a little more delicious)
1/4 tsp  salt
Gradually add 3 cups boiling water and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stirring once halfway.
Stir a small amount, I used two spoonfuls, of hot mixture into 3 beaten egg yolks (reserve whites) and blend into remaining hot mixture. Cook for another minute or two.
Blend in:
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp grated lemon rind (took me 2 lemons, average size)
1/2 cup lemon juice (2.5 lemons)
Cool to lukewarm, whisking every now and then, and pour into  cooled baked pie shell. I think Jes and Mom are onto something here – shouldn’t be hot!
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The Meringue (courtesy of my friend and owner of my favourite cookbook I’d like to own so I can waste time with it (and her), Jaime – and The Joy of Cooking)
All ingredients MUST be at room temperature. No wavering. NONE.
Thoroughly mix:
1 T cornstarch
1 T sugar
1/3 cup water
Bring to a boil over medium heat, constantly stirring. Let it boil for 15 seconds and cover the pot with lid, remove from heat and set aside.
In a glass or metal bowl (essential) beat until foamy:
FOUR egg whites (I know, three eggs for filling, four for meringue…just trying to be especially complicated! :))
Once the whites are delightfully foaming, add and beat:
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (Don’t have any? Buy it at Walmart…it’s ridiculously cheap for a lot of it)
After beating for a bit, gradually add 1/2 cup sugar. Beat on high speed until very stiff and glossy, not dry.
Reduce speed to very low and beat in the reserved cornstarch paste, 1 T at a time. When done, increase speed for another minute or so. Spread over pie filling and crust
Very IMPORTANT: Make sure the meringue is ‘anchored’ to the crust or pie plate – this keeps the meringue from ‘going anywhere’ or shrinking away from the pie when cooling.
Bake in a preheated, 350* oven for 20 mins. Watch carefully but 20 minutes was all my pie needed.
The result?
This:
and then this, which made it alllll worthwhile:
That win didn’t hurt, either! Go Canucks!
Enjoy your pie.
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when life gives you lemons…

Make Sticky Lemon Rolls (with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze) and feel good about yourself for not eating a Cinnamon Bun instead. Fruit, baby, fruit. Here it is in all of its citrus goodness…thanks for giving me the recipe and demanding I try these out so you can taste-test them, Chrissy. My only fail was not saving zest for presentation. Oh well, I am terrible at plating any how (hence why we lose Iron Chef every time). I wouldn’t call these photos food art but they are pretty darn good so I don’t care how the pictures make them look, it’s about how tasting them makes me feel. And that is all that matters:

If you want to make this variation of the Cinnamon Bun, go to The Kitchn (click on the link and you’ll get to the recipe). Enjoy.


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made with love…

I would like to acknowledge the following people for making the, well…following, photographs possible (or what is inside them):

Dad – for telling me they taste JUST LIKE MOM’s a couple years ago, making me persevere to make them again and again. YES.

Chrissy – for the generous lending of your cooling racks — for the very first time I made biberli not using an extra oven rack or overturned dish drying rack. Trav you get thanked just for your association with Chrissy. And your commentary to my life.

Ky – for you generous donation of icing sugar. I needed more BUT yours got me through round one 3 days ago.

Tim – the guy I work with and his honey bees — the honey he gave me this summer was exactly what I needed for these cookies.

Megan – for being the very first person I made biberli with, I think I’ve come a long way since then.

My Nana – for her legacy of incomparable Christmas cookie recipes.

My landlords — God bless them for the smells they have to put up with wafting through the vents.

Jes — for your patience over my questions over the years, I think this year I might’ve done it solely on my own? Wait, I did ask how long the dough could sit out I think — it’s tough to make these in one sitting!

Luke – for being my biggest fan and favourite ‘critic’… insisting it’s not enough to fairly judge by trying just one.

My dear Mom — whose heart probably broke when her second daughter did nothing but sit around and watch all of the Christmas baking being done… little did she know my baby blues were suffocating my brain with every last detail for making the softest, sweetest, most deliciously golden brown and delightful Christmas cookie the world will ever have the privilege of recognizing. To you mom, I tip my hat.

SUCCESS, friends…SUCCESS!


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shaken iced green tea lemonade

So I love this drink at Starbucks in the spring-summer time. I thought I would try to imitate it by making my own iced green tea. A little of this and a little of that later, I had what tastes EXACTLY like the Starbucks drink! Yet another conventional way to save money…make it yourself:

1.5 L of boiling water

4 green tea bags

1/2 cup of sugar

Between 1/8 cup and 1/4 cup (depends on how lemony you want it) lemon juice.

Put the teabags and hot water in a pitcher. Add the rest right away, stir, and let steep/chill in the fridge for X number of hours.

Yum!

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guess what?

Tonight I cooked my first meal in my kitchen that is semi-operational!! Not even kidding, I made chow mein, ginger beef, sweet ‘n sour pork, beef/broccoli, and egg rolls!! It was a magnificent feast with a couple guys from home followed by episode 2 of Prison Break’s new season. What a relief… I spent the entire evening going over in my head, “I could (and will) get used to this!”

Now the pay-back dinners to family and friends who have fed me for three weeks will begin!

Cheers!