Friday, January 30, 2009

Pie Party Success

The Pie Party last Saturday was a hit! The original intent was to have a pizza party for our friends. We had one last year and it was a blast. My husband makes a lot of pizza dough and continuously turns out neapolitan style pizza with all different toppings. From walnut/carmelized onion/blue cheese to a simple margherita - they were all terrific.

When we found this fun graphic for the evite - we decided to turn it into a true 'pie party' and that I would bake pies to go along with the pizza. So, I made an apple, cherry, lemon meringue, and a chocolate cream. I found that fruit pies in the middle of the winter are not ideal. It might be the negative temps that drive the desire for rich and filling food - or it could be the many miles the fruit needs to go to get to this northern post. Either way, the lemon and the chocolate were the winners in my book.

I didn't pull the camera out fast enough to get pictures of the whole pie - so here are some slices for you. Also, the recipe for the lemon meringue - my favorite!

Lemon Meringue Pie

For shell
One single-crust for 9- to 10-inch pie
raw rice or pie weights for weighting shell

For filling
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
4 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

For meringue
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar

Make shell:On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin roll out dough into a 13-inch round, (about 1/8 inch thick) and fit into a 9-inch (1-quart) pie plate. Trim edge of dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, and crimp edge decoratively. Prick shell in several places with a fork and chill, covered, 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Line shell with wax paper and fill with rice or pie weights. Bake shell in middle of oven 10 minutes. Remove paper and rice carefully and bake shell until golden, about 12 minutes more. Cool shell in pie plate on a rack.

Lower oven temperature to 350°F.

Make filling:In a heavy saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt and gradually whisk in water and milk, whisking until cornstarch is dissolved. In a bowl whisk together egg yolks. Cook milk mixture over moderate heat, whisking, until it comes to a boil. Gradually whisk about 1 cup milk mixture into yolks and whisk yolk mixture into milk mixture. Simmer mixture, whisking, 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter, lemon juice, and zest until butter is melted. Cover surface of filling with plastic wrap. (prevents skin and keeps heat in.)

Make meringue:In another bowl with an electric mixer beat egg whites with cream of tartar and a pinch of salt until they hold soft peaks. Beat in sugar in a slow stream, beating until meringue just holds stiff peaks.

TIP: Warm up the filling to get it hot right before pouring into the shell. A hot filling will ensure that the bottom of the meringue is properly cooked!

Pour filling into shell and spread meringue on top, covering filling completely, sealing it to pastry. Draw meringue up into peaks and bake pie in middle of oven until meringue is golden, about 15 minutes.

TIP: Overcooking the meringue (waiting for the deep golden brown?) will make it bead. Stick to the 'light golden' and your meringue will hold up even on humid days.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cookie Tips

What is better than fresh baked cookies? How about fresh baked cookies without the mess?!

The cookie dough rolls made by tollhouse is the idea. Homebaked/homemade still tastes better - so make your own roll!

Tip #1: move your finished cookie dough onto a large piece of parchment paper. Push the dough into a roll with the paper and put the whole roll into the fridge (or even freezer). If storing for more than 1 or 2 days - you can wrap the parchment in another (more airtight) method such as plastic wrap or using a ziplock bag.
Tip #2: always weigh your ingredients!
Check out "compromise with cookies" for a great recipe.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Piece of Cake (favorite things Wednesdays)

I came across this great cake pan/mold that makes a very cute and modern looking cake with the message baked right in! There is still space in the middle for a name if needed - and plenty of room for candles. Now that the holiday cookie season is behind us - it is time to start looking at the cakes!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Retro kind of mood

My mood to go retro with my food must be a post-holiday syndrome of sorts. Although, I've always been drawn to tradition in an odd way for someone my age. Current focus is on a "pie party" that we are throwing for some friends. It's really a pizza party - but my husband and I both loved the evite template too much to argue.

The Menu
retro appetizers
- cheese ball with crackers
- ham and pickle rolls
main course
- pizza's rolling right out of the oven all night
- jello molds (mini-bundts)
- mini pies (for the pie party)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I saw this website and immediately prioritized the items at the top of my mental baking to-do list. I ate a lot of karelian rice pasties while I was in Finland ages ago- and have not been very successful in replicating the breakfast treat in any tasty way. So, to the top of the list it goes! I hope I have time to try them all soon. Until then I hope someone can find inspiration within the Finfood site.