Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fear and lemons

When does it start exactly--your fearless child starts seeing spooks in the dark and eyes under the bed and creepy things in the closet? Like shyness or embarrassment, fear sneaks up on your when you're least expecting it. Things that were once fun and exciting suddenly strike terror into your little darkling child's heart. And there is often little rhyme or reason to what inspires the fear.

My mother was concerned the art we chose to hang in his room would be "way too scary," but he loves it and finds something new going on in the scene nearly every week.

And while he adores fairly dark movies like Labyrinth, Pirates of the Carribean, and Jim Henson's The Storyteller, he was terrified by a seemingly innocuous picture book retelling of little red riding hood entitled Little Red Cowboy Hat.

His imagination is like wandering through a wild wood--full of shadow and light. The question is how to nuture the infinite possibilities of that mind without letting all the boogeymen slip in? Apparently there are rules to follow. Like a red cotton ribbon can actually keep the scaries from sneaking out of the closet when it is draped over both door handles. Who knew?

Since it seems we’ve had 40 days and 40 nights of rain already this spring and endless grey, foggy days, I decided to welcome in the sunshine to clear away the cobwebs with a scrumptious lemon meringue pie.

Instead of the bordering-on-jello lemon filling thickened with liberal amounts of corn starch, I did a smooth and juicy lemon curd. This really is how all lemon meringues should be. The little bear ate a huge slice and asked for seconds. It went so fast, in fact, I didn’t get any pictures of the lovely lemon curd center.

Lucious Lemon Meringue Pie (adapted from the Joy of Baking)

1 disk of your favorite pie crust (I do an all butter version)

Lemon Curd:
3 large eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temp)
1 tablespoons lemon zest

4 large eggs whites
1/2 cup plus 2 tabelspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out your pie crust and line your pie plate with the dough trimming and crimping the sides. Line the pie shell with aluminum foil and fill to top with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 25 or 30 minutes until the crust is dry and lightly golden brown.

While the crust is baking, make the lemon curd. Place a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk together the eggs, sugar and lemon juice. Cook, whisking constantly until the mixture becomes light, thick, and frothly (about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat, cut the butter into chunks, and whisk inot the mixture until it has melted. Add the lemon zest, immediately pour the curd into the baked crust, and smooth the top.

Reduce the oven temp to 350 degrees F and bake the tart for 10 minutes until the curd is firm but still wobbly in the center.

Meanwhile, in a very clean bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks are formed. Gradually add the sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.

Starting at the outside edge of the tart, dollop the meringue over the entire surface of the hot lemon curd. Make sure the meringue comes right up to the curst and there are no gaps between the crust and the lemon curd. With your spoon, gently press down on the meringue to get rid of air pockets and smooth the meringue over the curd. Swirl the meringue and make some decorative peaks. Return to the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes until the meringue has lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack before devouring. Serves 6-8.


Alison said...

Sounds delicious! I think I've always made the bordering-on-jello version. I will have to try yours. :-)

Amanda said...

My grandmother made an incredible bordering-on-jello lemon meringue pie I'll always hold close to my heart. But if you really like lemon (like I do), a lemon curd is waaaay stronger than your typical filling.