Lemon Meringue Pie Heaven

This pie is old school delicious.  This is my mom’s bastardized version of a Betty Crocker recipe and made gluten free with my favorite crust.  It has no gelatin for you gel haters! I make it with the lesser amount of sugar in the filling but you can more than double it if you are a sweet freak.  I have never met a man who didn’t love it, well…maybe one. My friend Russel doesn’t care for anything with lemons. But his wife Claire adores lemon so this pie is for her and Mom…and my brother Christopher who often requests this pie when he is in town.

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If I have them, I always use Meyer lemons for this recipe.  Your pie will have a delicate flavor – so light I sometimes call it lemon cloud pie!  Don’t worry; regular lemons work just fine. It can be difficult to find Meyer lemons and pricy too.

I have never gotten my mom to admit it but I am positive she added extra egg whites to her meringue.  Her pie was towering with the white fluffy stuff unlike my nearly level pie made with just three whites.  It is up to you how impressive you want your dessert to look. But if you have company you might want to go for the big bang of a four- five egg white meringue topping for maximum wow power!

My mom added the corn syrup to replace some of the reduced sugar and because it makes the texture of this pie creamier and more delicate.  Don’t make this pie on a very humid day or the meringue will weep and bead on the top.  It will taste fine but the look will suffer from the humidity.

Store any leftover pie in the fridge. It doesn’t keep more than two days but frankly none of it ever lasts more than two days.

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Thickened cornstarch, sugar and water mix all stirred up.

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Baked pie crust.

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Mom’s Lemon Meringue Pie

Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbps. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbps. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

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Spray 9 inch metal pie pan with cooking spray, dust with white rice flour.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes. Then roll it out and line a 9 inch pie pan with it.  Make sure you get the middle nice and thin; this crust can be tough to get the center as thin as the edges. Prick it all over with a fork to keep it from bubbling out and bake the empty crust at 375 for 10-12 minutes until light brown.  Let cool to room temperature.

Lemon Filling:

Ingredients:

1/3 to ¾ cup sugar

1/3 plus 1 tbsp. corn starch

1 ½ cup water

3 eggs, separated; yolks for filling, save whites for meringue

3 tbsp. butter cut in small chunks

2 tsp. lemon zest

½ cup fresh lemon juice

2-3 tbsp. clear corn syrup

Directions:

Start oven heating to 400 degrees for browning the topped pie.

Mix the sugar and corn starch in a heavy bottomed medium sized saucepan.  Add the water, stirring.  Heat until it boils, stirring constantly, boil one minute, take off heat.  Beat yolks briefly in a small mixing bowl, then add the hot stuff slowly to it; half the hot mixture, stirring constantly.  Then dump it all back into the saucepan, bring to a boil, stir like a crazy person so it doesn’t scorch. Boil 1 minute at medium heat.  Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Let it melt as you stir. And then stir in the lemon juice and zest. Glug in some corn syrup. Pour the hot lemon filling into the pie crust.  Top while still hot with the meringue you just beat up. Make sure you get the meringue all the way across the top and along every single edge. No cracks, no gaps. Bake it 10-11 minutes until light brown. Cool to room temperature (avoid drafts while it cools) and then chill your masterpiece for 2-6 hours.  Slice and serve. Makes six-seven lovely slices.

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This slice is from the second day; we were in a feeding frenzy and forgot to take a picture when the pie was cut and served. It is a tad weepy from the passage of time.

Meringue topping

three egg whites (or 4-5)

¼ tsp. cream of tarter (or 1/2 tsp)

6 tbsp. granulated sugar (or 8-10 tbsp.)

Directions:

Beat the three whites and the cream of tarter until it is past the foamy stage, add the sugar half a tbsp. at a time beating on high until the whites are stiff and glossy.  This will take several minutes.

If you add one or two extra egg whites add another ¼ tsp. cream of tarter and add 2 tbsp. sugar for each extra white.

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Brown Rice Flour Mix  (same as King Arthur blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

Gluten Free, Low Carb Barbecue Feast

It can be a challenge making a party meal for family when I can’t eat gluten.  It got a bit more challenging this weekend when I made a meal for family including my brother. He recently had to go on a low carb diet for medical reasons, he is already slim and exercises a lot.  But, now he has to cut way back on carbs.  So no burgers with buns, no rolls, no big fat birthday cake for my mom. What to make? What kind of cake could we all eat?

I decided to go with this menu: deviled eggs to start, then grilled marinated chicken thighs, my version of doctored baked beans, old school potato salad and a veggie/fruit jello salad followed by a fruity pavlova for dessert.

pavlova

The deviled eggs are always popular; I gave my recipe early this spring for them and no one ever gets tired of them.  I made half with gherkins in them and half plain.  All gone in a matter of minute.

The potato salad is a family tradition; I used my sister Karen’s version because it tastes better than anyone else makes. I knew my mom would be pleased and my brother who probably doesn’t eat such treats except when he visits me.  I used Light Hellman’s Mayonnaise and light sour cream in my creamy dressing on the golden potato slices.  The seasonings are celery seeds, cider vinegar and some dill pickle juice!  I went light on the dressing for the sake of my brother and his wife who doesn’t eat much of any fat.  I added some chopped celery and a touch of chopped onion.  Yumm!

Our family loves the baked beans;  made quick and easy with a can of good quality old fashioned baked beans, Bush’s works perfectly but don’t use Campbells; they are just not as good a bean.  I often use the Giant name brand and they work great.

baked beans

For fun I put my Perfection Jello Salad in a copper lobster mold.  This was for the delight of my 2.8 year old grandson. He knows what a lobster is and loved it when the orange and golden mold was carried out on a large oval platter. My salad is created from lemon jello spiked with a touch of cider vinegar and full of well drained crushed pineapple and shredded carrots.  It was pretty and pretty tasty. I thought someone took a picture of it but no such luck.

pavlova

Dessert was a big pavlova meringue which I have posted the recipe to here recently.  This picture is from Sunday’s meal. I topped mine with slices of ripe kiwi, ripe local peaches and fresh raspberries as I was low on peaches and didn’t have time to run to Bechdolts Orchard for more….  Everyone devoured their slice and it was accorded five stars by my sister-in-law who doesn’t even eat cake normally.  It is fairly low in carbs and you get bites of ripe fresh fruit and tasty real whipped cream on the tender meringue. I put some candles on top and we sang happy birthday in the back yard as the sun set.  Perfect birthday barbecue….

Here is an approximation of my baked bean recipe: I never measure but I will do my best to replicate the proportions.

Mom’s Baked Beans (about 6 servings)

Ingredients:

4 slices of raw bacon cut into ½ inch chunks

One big can Bush’s original baked beans; 32 ounces I think

1 medium onion, chopped

About 1/3 to ½ cup of catsup

1-2 tbsp. yellow mustard

3-4 tbsp. cider vinegar

2-3 tbsp. light brown sugar

Fry the bacon in a large frying pan. I like cast iron best for this recipe but most any pan will do.  Once it is about ¾ done to your liking (4 to 6 minutes) add the chopped onion.  Cook 4-6 minutes until it is softening.  Open the beans and drain off any excess liquid especially any separated thinner liquid. Pour in the pan on top of the onions and bacon.  Dump in the rest of the ingredients and stir well.  Heat to a low bubble, turn down and allow it to cook slowly for 10 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently so the beans don’t stick and burn.  Taste it and adjust by adding more of any of the four condiments. I like it sweet and tart at the same time. I suggest you start with the lower amounts of condiments especially the sugar and vinegar and see how it is after cooking 5 minutes; add more to taste.  It is great warm but equally yummy left over cold for lunch the next day.

I sometimes make it in the dead of winter for a cold weather inside picnic.  Sure you can make the really slow cooked beans in a crock but this is addictively tangy and every member of my family adores it. My mom always made these beans and I finally got brave enough to just dump and create my own version which I must say is remarkably like Mom’s.

All in all it was a pretty good family meal, not too complicated as I could make the jello salad in advance and the meringue the day before. The potato salad and the beans could also be made in advance. You would never guess by the menu that this was a gluten free meal or a low carb one; just good old school yummy-ness on our plates!

Pavlova, You Will Be Drooling For Some!

My sister Elaine makes this dessert all the time. It is a specialty of hers. I think it is her go to company dessert when nothing else comes to mind. When she first described it I was not impressed. I wasn’t even looking forward to it at our family dinner party she throws every summer when I come up to visit. So I was surprised when I bit into my slice of it. Clearly this is a case of the results being far more than a simple sum of the ingredients. It is light, sweet, airy, fruity and basically melted in my mouth. I have had it at her house one other time and have made it a few times myself. It is easy to construct and it can be varied in the fruit topping.

The old school classic topping is fresh passion fruit. Elaine mostly serves it with sliced fresh strawberries, perfection! It is decent with blueberries too. I once used a mixture of ripe summer fruits; peach, nectarine, blueberries, mango and kiwi. That was really memorable. Ripe local strawberries would be super tasty too. Go with what is ripe and flavorful when you are shopping for fruit. I used blueberries and strawberries for the Fourth of July but you decide what works for you. No canned fruit though, only fresh will do.   pavlova cake

My sister got the recipe from Food network – a 1999 recipe. It is naturally GF so no one will ask where the wheat is! Don’t leave out the red wine vinegar; totally necessary.

Pavlova

Ingredients:

1/2 cup egg whites at room temp (about 4 eggs)

1/8 t of cream of tartar

1/8 t of salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 t cornstarch

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/2 t vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

2 T light brown sugar packed or white sugar

1 quart fresh strawberries for top, sliced

½  to 1 cup fresh blueberries

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a clean, dry bowl until foamy. Add the granulated sugar, cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla and continue whipping until stiff, smooth and glossy, about 8 minutes more.

On a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit a sheet pan, use a pencil to draw or trace a 9 inch circle in diameter. Line the sheet pan with the parchment, pencil side down (you should be able to see the circle). Spoon the egg whites in the circle, using the back of the spoon to smooth the top and sides of the disk. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake until the meringue has puffed up and slightly cracked on the top and the surface is highly browned to the color of cafe au laid, about 45 minutes more. Turn off the oven, prop open the oven door, and let it cool in the oven at least 30 minutes, to room temperature. This ensures a gradual cooking, which protects the delicate meringue.

Whip the cream and brown sugar (I use white sugar) until stiff. spoon it in the center of the cooled pavlova and spread out to within 1/2 inch of the edge, arrange the slices of strawberry in the middle. Sprinkle the blueberries around the edge of the strawberries. To serve, slice into wedges with a serrated knife.

Yeah, I know that was a corny title but I couldn’t resist using it….  So make a pavlova and make everyone happy; it is beautiful to look at and even better to eat. Happy Fourth of July peoples!