Friday, March 20, 2009
My Oh My, My Ode to Pie
I can't think of a more perfect food! A bold statement, I know, but I believe it to be true. I have always been a fan of pies. All kinds from sweet to savory. Pies come in all sorts of variety, from fruit filled pies like apple and cherry, to vegetable filled like pumpkin and sweet potato to savory pies like quiche, Cornish pasties or shepherds pie. According to Larousse Gastronomique a pie is defined as "a filling topped with a crust and baked". The term pie is believed to come from Magpie. A bird that is known for taking items and hiding it in its nest. The idea that a collection of ingredients hidden under a pie crust seems aptly named after that notorious bird.
I wanted to celebrate the unfussiness of pie. I made two of my favorite sweet pies, cherry streusel and Meyer lemon meringue. The cherry pie recipe was from an old Country Living magazine that featured an article on the Farm Chicks. I love the streusel topping on the cherry pie. The original recipe called for walnuts to be mixed in, but I didn't have any in the house, so I left it out. It still was delicious.
Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup freshed squeezed Meyer lemon juice
3 egg yolks, well beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
1 baked 9 inch pastry shell (recipe below)
In a 2 to 3 quart saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch and salt together, using a wire whisk. Still using a whisk, gradually blend in the cold water, then lemon juice until smooth. Add beaten egg yolks, blending very thoroughly. Add butter. Add boiling water gradually stirring constantly with a spatula. Gradually bring mixture to full boil; stirring gently and constantly with spatula over medium high heat. Reduce heat slightly as mixture begins to thicken. Boil slowly for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in grated peel. Pour hot filing into baked pastry shell. Let stand, allowing a thin film to form while preparing meringue.
6 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar
Place egg whites in mixer bowl. Beat with whisk attachment in mixer several seconds until frothy. Add cream of tartar. Beat on high speed until whites have lost there foamy appearance and bend over slightly when beaters are withdrawn, forming soft peaks. Reduce speed to medium while adding sugar, gradually about a tablespoon at a time. Return to high speed and beat until whites are fairly stiff, but glossy and soft peaks are again formed when beaters are withdrawn. Place meringue on the hot filling in several mounds around the edge of the pie. Using a narrow spatula, push meringue gently against inner edge of the pie crust, sealing well. Cover the rest of the filling by spreading meringue from edge of pie to the center, forming decorative swirls with the spatula Bake at 350 degrees F. for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack at room temperature away from drafts for 2 hours before cutting and serving.
Fool Proof Pie Crust
Makes 2 double crust pies
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup shortening
1 cup butter
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/2 cup cold water
Mix together flour, shortening and butter with a pastry blender. Beat remaining ingredients together and combine the two mixtures. Stirring together until all the ingredients are moistened. Then with hands mold dough into a ball. Divide dough into 4 balls and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill dough at least 30 minutes before rolling.