Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lemon Meringue Pie

I love lemon meringue pies and, this time, I slightly adapted Martha's Mile High Lemon Pie recipe for the filling, though I just used a standard meringue topping instead of the one that she includes in her recipe. Her filling is unlike other lemon meringue pie recipes I've made as it includes butter in the filling; I reduced the butter a bit, and the filling was still a smooth balance of tart and sweet without being overly rich.

Prepare your favorite single-crust pie dough recipe and pre-bake the crust, lined with aluminum foil and filled with baking stones or beans, or pricked all over with a fork and lined with aluminum foil to avoid shrinkage. Let cool. Prepare filling.

Mile High Lemon Pie (filling) from
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sifted cake flour (I used regular, but a hair less)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I omitted this b/c I used salted butter)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (I'm lame and used bottled)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon rind
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (I used 3 tablespoons and think even less could be used without harm)
  1. To make filling, combine cornstarch, cake flour, salt, and sugar in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Gradually add 2 cups cold water. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly, about 4 minutes.
  2. Remove the pan from heat. Temper egg yolks by beating a small amount of hot mixture into the yolks before adding them to pan. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from heat, and whisk in the lemon juice and rind. Add the butter one piece at a time. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, and let cool.
  4. Pour the filling into the cooled shell and refrigerate, covered with aluminum foil, until firm, about 1 hour.
Standard Meringue Topping (Non-stovetop)

5 egg whites, allowed to sit until at room temperature
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla
3/4 cup sugar

Combine the egg whites, cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla and beat until soft peaks form. Continue beating and gradually add the sugar, beating until glossy, stiff peaks form.
(Don't be in a hurry like me and only reach stiffly soft peaks...) Spread the meringue over the cooled pie, taking care to spread all the way to the crust's edge to avoid weeping. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until golden-brown. Cool completely and serve. Lemon meringue pies are best the day they're made, otherwise the crust becomes soggy and meringue may fall.

(This picture, though, was taken the next day, and the pie was still finger-lickin' good.)

Sticky Caramel Rolls

Millie wanted to try sticky rolls for Easter morning, so I made these- sans pecans that we didn't have-- and they're yummy. But then, I imagine it's hard for a food that is mostly sweet dough, cinnamon-sugar, and caramel to be anything but yummy.

After being inverted onto a plate, in wan, electric light, they look like this.

A trusty Better Homes and Gardens cookbook was the source for this recipe.

Rolls4 to 4 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast (about 2 and 1/4 tsp.)
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
3 tablespoons butter, softened (I used a bit more)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon (I increase the cinnamon-sugar mixture by at least a third, and I use brown sugar rather than white for a richer flavor.)

In a mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of flour and the yeast; set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat and stir milk, the 1/3 cup sugar, the 1/3 cup butter, and salt just till warm (120 -130 degrees) and the butter almost melts. Add milk mixture to dry mixture along with eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl. Beat on high speed three minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

Turn dough onto a floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic. Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl; turn once to grease dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place till double in size.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. cover and let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the caramel below and spread in the pans.

Roll each portion of the dough into a 12x8 inch rectangle. Spread the softened 3 tablespoons (or more) butter over dough, and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll up, jelly-roll style, starting from a long side. Seal the seam and slice each roll into 12 equal pieces. Pl;ace in prepared pans and let rise in a warm place till nearly double.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Do not overbake. Immediately inverted baked rolls from the pan. Eat. (I believe these are best eaten fresh.)

***These may be prepared the night before, as I did. Simply cover shaped rolls loosely with plastic wrap, leaving room for them to rise. Refrigerate overnight. In the morning, uncover them and let them stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking.

(I usually increase this to 1 and 1/2 of a batch)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
2/3 cup chopped pecans, opt.

Heat and stir over medium heat until combined. Divide between two 9 1/2-inch round baking pans. Sprinkle 1/3 cup chopped pecans in each pan, if desired; set aside until rolls are shaped.

Streusel-topped Cheesy Broccoli

I really liked this broccoli, and it's my new favorite way to eat little trees. It's much more flavorful than the typical cheesy broccoli casserole, due mostly to the savory streusel topping seasoned with garlic, onion, spicy mustard, and parmesan.

1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds of broccoli florets

Streusel Topping
2 tablespoons butter
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 -1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
@ three slices of fresh bread (I used oat) broken into smallish crumbs
Parmesan cheese, salt, and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Cheese Sauce
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
@ 2 cups milk
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
salt, freshly ground pepper, ground cayenne, and ground nutmeg, to taste

Cook broccoli in boiling water for about 3 minutes until slightly cooked but still firm. Drain and set aside.

Saute onion and garlic in butter over medium-low heat until onion is translucent. Add the mustards and the bread crumbs. Fry until crumbs begin to turn golden and then season with salt, pepper, and parmesan. Set aside.

For the sauce, prepare a basic white sauce by melting the butter in a pan and then stirring in the flour. Whisk in the milk and cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens, whisking constantly. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne and add the grated cheese. Stir until cheese has melted and is incorporated completely, forming a smooth sauce.

Layer the broccoli in the bottom of a baking dish and spread the cheese sauce on top before sprinkling the bread crumb topping over it all. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the topping is nicely browned and toasted.

I added more mustard, garlic, etc., to taste as I made this, and the cheese sauce is just a guide. I usually just wing cheese sauces, so I'm not entire sure how much milk I added. It wasn't as thick a sauce as I'd normally make, but since it had additional baking in the oven, it turned out to be a perfect consistency.

Sour Cherry Sauce for Ham

This is a most excellent fruit sauce for ham. My mom's been serving it to us every holiday ham dinner since I can remember, and the tart sweetness of the sauce combined with the salty sweetness of the ham is heavenly. I'd love to give you her exact recipe, but I can't, because she doesn't have one. Here's the basic idea, though, thanks again to the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

A jar of sour cherries, canned by Mopsy, pitted and drained (Okay, I guess the cherries don't have to come from my mom)
3 tbsp. brown sugar
4 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
dash of ground cloves
1 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon vinegar
a few drops of red food coloring, opt.

In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir in apple juice, vinegar, and, if desired, food coloring. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Stir in as many of the drained cherries as looks right (the cookbook recommends 16 oz.). Heat through. Serve warm spooned over ham. Makes 2 and 1/4 cups sauce.

Spiced Honey Glaze for Ham

The glaze I used for the ham this year couldn't be simpler, and it's yummy, to boot. Any amount of brown sugar, honey, butter, and cloves could be used, depending on which flavor you want to be most pronounced, and a bit of ground mustard could also be added.

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup butter
1/4 tsp. cloves, plus more to taste
a few smidges of ground mustard
dash nutmeg

Increase these amounts depending on the size of your ham, and before placing ham into the oven, stud it all over with whole cloves.

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, while stirring, until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.

Baste the ham with the glaze before placing in the oven and continue to baste about every fifteen minutes until the ham is done. (I wasn't home to do this, so I just basted it once at the beginning and then liberally slapped more on when I got home for the last 1/2 hour of cooking.) The heat may be turned up for the last ten minutes or so of cooking time if the glaze hasn't caramelized sufficiently.