Archive for January, 2008

Daring Bakers: Lemon Meringue Pie

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Lemon meringue pie

It’s time for another Daring Bakers challenge! Due to postponing December’s challenge until last minute and then catching a really bad cold on the day for publishing, I didn’t manage to bake the yule log that everyone was supposed to bake. But it feels good to have done the first challenge of 2008. The idea of the Daring Bakers is that every month one baking recipe is presented that all members have to follow exactly without any modifications except where specifically allowed. During the month we share our experiences and learn to be better bakers. The recipe, our photos and experiences are then officially posted on a specified day, this time on the 28th of January.

This month’s challenge was to bake a lemon meringue pie from Wanda’s Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver, and the recipe was picked by Jen from The Canadian Baker. I like lemon meringue pie but in the past, when I was around 14 years old, me and my mother took turns in making it once a week and gradually we got tired of our favourite pie. So these small lemon meringue pies were the first since then and it was like meeting an old friend again. I love the tart lemon filling and the crispy crust, and between the bites I asked myself how I could have neglected this lovely pie for such a long time.

The pie is very sweet, but the sweetness is balanced a bit thanks to the tartness of the lemons. It was nice to try a new recipe for lemon meringue pie and I had no problems what so ever, even though I just as usual waited with the challenge until the last minute. Both the filling and meringue came out perfect, however I must admit that I didn’t follow the recipe completely as I decided to cover the lemon filling while it was still warm. I’m not sure if that really matters, but it didn’t feel like a good idea to put the meringue on a cold filling as I thought that the bottom of the meringue would take longer time to cook. I choose to make 6 small pies instead of one large as the pie can get a bit messy after cutting it. But I felt that the servings were too big, so I would recommend to do more and smaller pies if you want to do individual ones.

Edit: The pies were perfect even on the day after baking. I kept them in the fridge, but completely uncovered. The meringue and filling were still perfect without any liquid, and the crust was great as well. The meringue didn’t sweat at all.

    Lemon Meringue Pie
    Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie or 6 small ones.
    Recipe from: Wanda’s Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver.

    For the Crust:
    3/4 cup (170 gram) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
    2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
    1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
    1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

    For the Filling:
    2 cups (475 mL) water
    1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
    1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
    5 egg yolks, beaten
    1/4 cup (50 gram) butter
    3/4 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
    1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
    1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
    1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
    3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

    To Make 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 1/8 inch (0.3 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 1/2 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. [I have a convection oven and baked the crusts in 175ºC.]

    To Make 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. [I didn't let the filling cool, but did the meringue and covered the pies directly]

    To Make 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. [Here I did a misstake, I forgot to change the oven temperature so I baked them in 175ºC for 15 minutes. But the result was great.]

Chocolate cake with yellow beets

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

This week I received yellow beets in my organic vegetable box. I was thrilled and thought about making a yellow beet soup, until I found a recipe for chocolate cake with yellow beets. And as I felt I needed to follow my Garfield quote in the blog header I promptly decided to make the cake instead. And as a matter of fact I still have 500 grams of yellow beets left, which I can use for something else (soup, beets with chèvre, yellow beet cookies?).

I decided to decrease the sugar amount in the original recipe from 400 gram to 300 gram and I also omitted to pre-boil the beets before grating them as I didn’t want all vitamines to evaporate by first boiling and then baking them. To make the cake look prettier I put some walnuts on top of the chocolate glaze. My husband was confused when I served the cake, beets and chocolate? It is in fact a very good combination as the beets are sweet and make the cake moist, but the cake has a distinct beet flavour and if you don’t like carrot cakes you won’t like this one as the amount of vegetables is high. But if you like those kinds of cakes you’ll definitly like this one.

If you don’t have yellow beets you can substitute them with red ones. The differences (that I know about) are that the yellow ones are sweeter and that they don’t bleed when you slice them. And who doesn’t like the beautiful sunny yellow colour now during winter? The colour is so pretty that it makes you smile when grating the beets.

Grated yellow beets.

    Chocolate cake with yellow beets
    (adapted from Ica-Kuriren)

    3 eggs
    300 g caster sugar
    125 ml canola oil
    1 tsp vanilla sugar
    300 ml flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 pinch of salt
    150 g dark chocolate
    400 g yellow beets

    Butter and bread crumbs for the pan

    100 ml cream
    100 g dark chocolate

    Walnuts for decoration

    Butter and bread the pan (~1.5 litre). Peel and grate the beets. Melt the chocolate in the microwave.

    Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric beater until fluffy and white. Fold in oil, vanilla sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Add melted chocolate and grated yellow beets.

    Pour the batter into the pan. Bake in 175 degrees C for 40-60 minutes until a tooth pick comes out clean. On the otherhand you want the cake moist so don’t keep it in the oven too long.

    Un-mold the cake and let it cool.

    Bring the cream to boil, then add the chocolate. Stir until combined. Spread glaze over the top of the cake and let it stiffen in the fridge.

Chocolate muffins with chocolate chunks

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

This it THE chocolate muffin recipe or at least has been for the last few years until I’ll find or make up a better one. What even makes these muffins better are the chunks of your favourite chocolate that you’re supposed to stick in before baking. This time I made some with white chocolate, some with dark chocolate and the final ones with milk chocolate containing Nonstop (the Swedish equivalent to Smarties). The muffins are quite sweet, even though I’ve decreased the original amount of sugar, but they go perfect with a glass of milk. They have a rich taste of chocolate and are lovely and moist.

    Chocolate muffins with chocolate chunks
    (adapted from Chokladfabriken by Annika Edestrand and Helena Annerén Ullstrand .
    Results in 12-14 medium sized muffins, ie not the large American ones)

    200 g butter, at a roomtemperature
    300 g (350 ml) caster sugar
    200 g (4) eggs
    1 tsp (3 g) vanilla sugar
    1 tsp (5 g) baking powder
    70 g (175 ml) cocoa, unsweetened
    180 g (300 ml) flour
    Your favourite chocolate, in bite size chunks

    In a bowl beat butter and sugar with an electric beater. Add the eggs, one at a time while beating. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then fold into the egg/butter/sugar bowl. Spoon the tough and sticky batter into paper molds. Stick chocolate chunks into each muffin. Bake in 190°C for 10–15 minutes. Make sure not to overbake, you want moist and not dry muffins.

Lobster on pumpernickel with saffron sauce

Monday, January 14th, 2008

This is a super simple recipe for a very tasty starter. I found it in the Swedish magazine “Mat & Vänner” and decided to bring it to Anne’s Twelwth Night dinner. As we eat so much during Anne’s annual gourmet Twelwth Night dinners I halfed the whole recipe except from the sauce, but if you want larger servings than just add another lobster tail. We got the lobster from F’s parents as they live on an island in the Gothenburg archipelago since last year and have a lot of fisherman friends with all sorts of delicacies from the sea.

    Lobster on pumpernickel with saffron sauce
    (Makes 8 small servings. Adapted from “Mat & Vänner”, issue 6 2007)

    8 round slices of pumpernickel bread (either buy a round bread for appetizers or cut out circles from normal slices with a cookie cutter)
    1 lobster tail (cooked, shell and membrane removed)
    200 ml crème fraîche
    0.25 gram saffron
    1 tbsp canola oil
    Maldon Sea salt
    white pepper
    dill for decoration

    Combine saffron, canola oil and crème fraîche. Salt and pepper to taste.

    Cut the lobster in slices. Put the lobster slices on the bread circles and pour some saffron sauce on each one. Decorate with dill.

New year, new resolutions

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

Paris, December 31st 2007

Even though it’s already January 6th I would like to wish you all a happy and wonderful new year, I wish you the best for 2008. Thanks for all emails and comments, they always make me very happy.

As it’s a new year, it’s time to go through last year’s food related resolutions and make up new ones. So how did I manage?

1. I will learn and dare to do Polish pierogi.
Done, unfortunately I didn’t blog about it even though I planned to for a long time. But I have photo proof over at Anne’s as I made it for last year’s Twelwth night dinner at her place. And of course I will start to make it more often and actually blog about it.

2. Hmm, actually there are a lot of Polish dishes and recipes for me to learn like pączki, barszcz, pyzy….
I did pączki, barszcz, racuchy, kalafior z bułką tartą (maybe not so Polish but still) and twarożek z szczypiorkem i rzodkiewką. I will continue with Polish cooking this year as well, for example I’m very keen on making Makowiec (Poppy Seed roll).

3. I will get better at using all left over ingredients instead of forgetting about them and finally having to throw them when they get too old.
Much better now!

4. I will get better at blogging about all those food related travels from Japan, Italy and other destinations. And of course I will blog about our wedding from a food point of view.
Oops, still not done….But I will, someday :-)

6. I will use my old ice cream maker more often. I can’t understand why I don’t use it as I really love ice cream.
I made a LOT of ice cream, even though I only blogged about it once. As a matter of fact I made so much ice cream that it’s now justified to buy a compressor ice cream maker….

7. I will make sure that we always have a nice red wine at home for unplanned and unexpected events and guests.
Much better now!

8. I will take care of my starter, named Hampus, and make sure that he’ll live a long life with many offsprings.
It died…. I didn’t take care of it…. But I did bake quite a lot of sourdough bread.

9. I will plan weekly dinner menus.
Haha, this worked for 2 weeks….

10. I will cook Fredrik a delicious Boeuf Bourgogne (He’ll get so exited when he reads this :-)
OK, a new year and plenty of new opportunities!

New resolutions for 2008:

1. I’m addicted to Macarons since our visit in Paris, so I’ll be baking and experimenting a lot!

2. I will make more home made pasta.

3. I need to find decent bacon.

4. I need to blog more often, there are so many recipes and photos that I never post.

5. I will make my own sausages!

And the last thing isn’t really a resolution, but a way to become more daring and to have more interaction with you. My plan is to every second month or so, let you readers pick a baking recipe (either sweet or savoury) that I will make and then post. More about this in a week or two!

Take care everyone!