Make It: Making My Daddy Happy Lemon Meringue Pie

My dad has always had a sweet tooth. He loves sugar, candy, pie, and baked goods. But, the one sweet that seems to be above all others when it comes to pie is Lemon Meringue.  So when I offered to whip him up the sweet of his choice for Father’s Day, that’s what he chose.

When I first put my mind to make a meringue, I was a bit intimidated. First of all, I don’t have a professional culinary torch, which is kinda key to getting that mouthwatering caramelized look to the top of your meringue. However, I decided to put my trust in the classic chef’s at Better Homes & Gardens to show me the way.

Lemon Meringue Pie:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 slightly beaten egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut up
  • 1/2 – 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons sugar

Prepare Baked Pastry Crust. In a medium saucepan stir together the 1-1/2 cups sugar, the cornstarch, and flour; gradually stir in water. Bring to boiling, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; cook and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Gradually stir about 1 cup of the hot mixture into beaten egg yolks; pour yolk mixture into remaining hot mixture in saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil; cook for 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in butter and shredded lemon peel. Slowly stir in 1/3 cup lemon juice. Keep filling warm while preparing the meringue.

For meringue, in a large mixing bowl beat egg whites and 1 teaspoon lemon juice with an electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until soft peaks form. Gradually add 6 tablespoons sugar, beating on high speed about 4 minutes or until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves. Pour warm filling into cooled crust. Immediately spread meringue over filling, carefully sealing to edge of crust to prevent shrinkage*. Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 15 minutes. Cool on rack for 1 hour. Chill 3 to 6 hours before serving. Makes 8 servings.
from the test kitchen

Note: Bakers sometimes notice that their meringues “weep” after baking. The key is to spread the meringue over the pie filling while it’s still very warm.

Overall, the pie turned out beautifully  The key is to keep it cool for as long as possible to prevent it turning into mush. Meringues are very temperamental but worth it.

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

P.S. Blogging brought to you today by Blizzard, the blog cat.

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Make It: Summer Wheel Salad (Rotelle with Onions, Cucumbers, and Herbs)

hJSbR4HItSypishoI3VfHckLO6ebOHx5 A huge part of being a creative cook isn’t necessarily coming up with your recipes out of thin air but taking one that you’ve found and making it your own with tweaks, new tastes, and additions.

I normally don’t invest in cooking and recipe magazines just because most of anything that you want to make can be found on the internet. Why waste the money on a magazine you’ll throw away when you could save that money for some high quality ingredients? Duh.

However, Martha, being the vixen that she is, seduced me into buying her June 2013 issue last week due to the promises of summer recipes and deserts; she didn’t disappoint. The issue has a bunch of easily punched out recipe-book-sized cards with fun, fresh pasta salad recipes on it for a new kick to some old favorites.

Summer Wheel Salad (Rotelle with Onions, Cucumbers, and Herbs)

  • 3 pounds Vidalia or other sweet onions, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper (I used Maui, but sweet red shallots can work too.)
  • 1 pound rotelle (wagon-wheel pasta)
  • 1/2 English cucumber or 2 Persian cucumbers, unpeeled, very thinly sliced crosswise (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cups packed fresh herbs, such as mint, tarragon, basil, and parsley, leaves torn into pieces if large (I skipped the tarragon, and doubled the mint. It plays nicely with the onions.)
  • 1/4 cup Champagne vinegar (I used Citrus Champagne Vinegar, it adds a nice twist.)

Note: When broiling your onions, mine finished in about half the time Martha suggested. Check them often to make sure they caramelize but don’t burn. You can check out her recipe here.

Preheat oven to broil, with rack about 8 inches below heating element. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil, and arrange onions on it in a single layer. Brush onions with 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Broil onions until golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. Flip onions and broil until golden brown on other side, 5 to 7 minutes more. Transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente; drain. Transfer pasta to bowl with onions. Let cool 15 minutes. Gently stir in cucumber, herbs, remaining 3 tablespoons oil, and vinegar and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This tasty salad will last for up to a week, great for taking to work or a picnic. I served mine up with some lightly sautéed garlic butter shrimp for a light summery dinner.

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

Where in the World is The Hearty Serving: Wine Riot 2013

Wine is crucial to a well-stocked and diverse kitchen, in my opinion. And clearly, I share the same opinion of many. To taste all the local wines galore, my boyfriend surprised me with tickets to attend the highly popular Wine Riot 2013, a national tour that makes stops at top cities across the United States to bring wines from all over to thirsty palettes.

Other than making the mistake of not eating enough before going on a tasting rampage or over 50+ different wines and wine cocktails, we had a fabulous time. If you’re a wine enthusiast like us, I highly suggest buying tickets early and attending one of the 2014 events. The tickets may be on the pricey side but the variety of local and family-owned wineries is completely worth it.

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

Make It: All Veggie Three Bean Burgers

 

One major power to cooking at home is you get to control what goes into your food. This blog isn’t mean to be entirely veggie but summer just makes me think light veggietastic meals.

I’ve never had a veggie burger, house made or prepackaged, that I thought was to-die-for. Most of the time they end up being rather bland and run into the problems of either too chewy, not structured enough and end up falling apart, or dry as the desert. My goal is to make a tasty, easy, fairly inexpensive solution to all three of these problems.

Note: You can attempt this using the classic fork and mash it all together but honestly, a food processor will seriously make the process that much quicker. You can cook up a few to eat immediately but theyre great frozen for the next time you have a BBQ and you’ll never settle for Gardenburgers ever again.

All Veggie Three Bean Burgers:

  • 1 cup pink beans, soaked
  • 1 cup white beans, small or Great Northern, soaked
  • 1 cup red kidney beans, soaked
  • 1 cup quinoa, soaked and cleaned
  • 2 small red shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs (for a bonding agent, optional if you’re trying to keep it all veggie.)
  • 3 cups of breadcrumbs, fresh or store bought
  • Dried Oregano
  • Dried Parsley
  • Garlic Salt
  • salt and pepper

Part one: cooking with dried beans.

Overnight Soak
Combine the beans in a large bowl or stockpot with 6-8 cups of cold water per pound of beans. Let stand for 6-8 hours or overnight. Rinse and drain the beans.

Note: In general, this recipe is very forgiving. If you like it spicy, add some peppers. If you like it drier, add more breadcrumbs. Add as many different kind of veggies as you like: such as diced sweet peppers, carrots, celery, or bean sprouts. BUT make sure that if you add wetter veggies, make sure to balance out with more breadcrumbs because if they are too wet, the patties will fall apart, and you’ll end up with a gross mess.

Drain your beans. Drain your quinoa, which you’ve fluffed in 1 can of chicken broth.  Mash them all together, making use that you get it as smooth as possible. Add in you veggies, onions, seasonings, and breadcrumbs. Add additional spice to taste. Form the mixture into balls, flaten into 2 inch thick patties, and layer between sheets of wax or parchment paper. Seal the patties in a freezer zip seal bag and freeze for at least three hours to set the patties before cooking. If frozen, the patties will last quite a while so you can make them days or weeks ahead of your next grilling party.

Once  ready to eat, grill them up at medium to high heat for just a few minutes until you get a nice crust on the outside. Top with any and all of you favorite burger dressings and enjoy. (I served mine with melted fresh mozzerella, lettuce, tomatoes, and grilled onion-garlic-mushrooms, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.)

If you need some solid, filling protein without the fat of ground meat, I highly suggest these babies.

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

Make It: Quinoa Summer Salad filled Endive Spears

When the weather heats up, sometimes you want to avoid the big heavy dinners. In the everlasting quest to be healthy, integrating fresh veggies in new ways can be a challenge and a pleasure.

I took some of the classic cold summer salad recipes and merged them to include tiny stelline “star” pasta and quick cooking quinoa on top of some fresh endive spears to create a fast, crunchy, and healthy bite. It’s perfect as an app, a side, or the main dish.

Quinoa Summer Salad filled Endive Spears:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups of chicken stock or chicken broth
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup stelline “star” pasta
  • 5 pickling cucumbers, peeled, ends trimmed, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (can also use a red shallot)
  • 1 large (firm) tomato, cored, and diced
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 bunches mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 heads endive, trimmed and separated into individual spears

Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the quinoa, stir once, and return to a boil. Cook uncovered, over medium heat for 12 minutes. Strain and rinse well with cold water, shaking the sieve well to remove all moisture.

Boil the stelline pasta in one cup of water for about 6 minutes. Since it’s so small, it cooks pretty quickly. Drain and cool, combining with the cooled quinoa.

When dry, transfer the quinoa and pasta to a large bowl. Add the cucumbers, onion, tomato, parsley, mint, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and toss well. Spoon onto endive spears, top with avocado (optional), and serve.

We made some quick marinated rosemary-lemon chicken which we grilled on an electric grill. Super easy and light summer meal, which kept us both full for hours afterwards.

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

Summer Adventures: The San Francisco 14th Annual Guinness Oyster & Music Festival

One of my favorite things about living in such a foodie-centric area is that people here love their food and they like to celebrate it publically: food festival style! This weekend, we attended the San Francisco 14th Annual Guinness Oyster & Music Festival, which was replete with food, cocktails, and lots of amazing live music.

While I’m not a crazy oyster fan, my friends got to enjoy a nice selection of live and BBQ-ed oysters from all over the west coast, with neighboring food experts coming in from Seattle to San Diego.

As the icing on the oyster cake, I got to see one of my favorite bands live, wailing on the keytar: Mutemath! They definitely made the whole experience sweeter.

If you get the chance to visit, food festivals would definitely be a must-see on my list for any visits to San Francisco.

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa