Monday, January 28, 2008

100th post and Daring Bakers Challenge!!

I have actually cooked a lot this month but after my New Years post I realized that my next post would be number 100. I couldn't post just a random run of the mill dinner. It needed to be something special. What is more special than a Daring Bakers challenge?? This month was a double whammy for me. The challenge: Lemon Meringue Pie. It was my first time to make my own pie crust and I have never made meringue. Of course this is the beauty of the Daring Bakers and I'm sure I will be saying "I've never....." a lot when posting my challenges. I am going to keep pushing myself to try new things and to become the best baker that I can be! Now enough with the cheese on to the challenge.

The crust came together pretty well. I was excited because I had read how others crust was really crumbly. Once I had rolled the dough to the correct thickness I transferred it to the pie pan and then I realized I had no idea how to properly flute (thanks for the correct word, Amber) the crust. I tried my best to pinch it all the way around and I thought I had done a pretty good job. Then I did the blind baking and it all went to hell. Parts of the crust fell off into the bottom of my oven and the other parts shrunk. It was a sad sad sight. For a brief moment I thought about ditching that crust and trying again but I didn't have enough butter and I didn't want to be up until midnight making the pie. So instead I moved forward.

The rest of the pie was pretty uneventful. I followed the advice of some fellow DBer's and put the meringue over the hot filling rather than the cold filling and it worked out really well. After an hour of cooling I had a little separation from the crust on one side and a few small slits where the meringue was "weeping" but over all it looked good. I would definitely like to try to make this recipe again to see if I have more success with the crust. But I was pretty happy with the over all result.

Don't forget to check out my fellow DBer's to see how the challenge went for them! Thank you Jen for hosting the event!

Lemon Meringue Pie

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:

¾ cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces

2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour

¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar

¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt

⅓ cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:

2 cups (475 mL) water

1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar

½ cup (120 mL) cornstarch

5 egg yolks, beaten

¼ cup (60 mL) butter

¾ cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest

1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:

5 egg whites, room temperature

½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar

¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt

½ tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract

¾ cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

For the Crust: Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

For the Filling: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.

Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

For the Meringue: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Pie recipe courtesy of Wanda’s Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver, 2002

Posted by Jen @ The Canadian Baker

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New Year!!


Welcome to 2008. Since our first New Years as a married couple Jesse and I have had pork and sauerkraut for our first dinner every year. I guess it is an old German/Pennsylvania Dutch tradtion that is supposed to be good luck. Well if it comes with luck that's great - but really I just use it as an excuse to make my favorite meal!! I know that sauerkraut is a love hate kind of thing. You either love it or you hate it. And I LOVE it. Especially with little sausages and slow cooked pork, of course with mashed potatoes as a side.

This year was no exception to our tradition. Honestly, I'm not sure this is even blog worthy because it is so easy but I thought I'd share any way! Happy New Year!

Slow Cooker Pork, Sauerkraut and Sausages

1 jar old fashioned sauerkraut (I prefer Claussens)
1-2 lb pork roast
10-12 breakfast sausage links cut in half
1 Polska Kielbasa cut into chunks
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in crock pot (pork first because it takes the longest and keilbasa on top because it's already cooked) Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Serve with mashed potatoes.
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