Posts Tagged With: crust

Lemon Meringue Tart (Tarte au citron meringuée)

Passing a recipe from one person to another is a practice that deserves some attention.  Like getting a letter, a recipe reminds you of something – a memory, a friend, a moment – and today I made a little dessert that my darling souris taught me to make.  Though I’ve made it since our last encounter, I think that handwritten recipe page complete with images of dancing lemons will always make me smile.  What’s more – I’ve not yet failed this recipe, which at first glance seems a wee bit complicated.

When in France (oh so many moons ago…), I NEVER ate lemon tarts (tarte au citron for those who have visited ze land of wine and cheese).  I didn’t like the taste or the texture, finding it to be far too bitter a choice when situated next to the oh so sweet and visually appealing tarte aux fraises…creme patissière…miam….but I digress.

When Pauline decided, in a spur of the moment frenzy of Sunday afternoon decisions, to prepare this delicious creation, I was skeptical…lemons….meringue….together ?!  It was, however, warm and creamy, just sweet enough to tingle the tastebuds without leaving them thick and mute.  I think it’s safe to say I fell in love with the shortbread crust, lemon curd, and delicate floufs (yes, floufs – what would YOU call them ?) of meringue topping.

And so it happened that I purchased lemons.  Eggs.  Butter.  A 10 pound bag of sugar (it was on sale…).   Oh.  And I brought a champion whisk from home with me to school – all in preparation for the serious whisking needed to make this treat.

Without further ado, I present to you Pauline’s “tarte au citron meringuée” or lemon meringue tart.

For the crust :

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
7 tbsp butter (almost a stick !)
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375F.  Combine the flour and butter and sugar in a bowl.  Mix together either with a fork or with your hands (I start with a fork and move to hand kneading…) until crumbly.

Add the egg and continue to mix until very malleable – it ought to look like dough, very easy to pinch.

Press into the bottom of a tart pan (or a cake pan – I used a 9” round cake pan lined in tin foil) until evenly distributed.  Score with a fork to prevent air bubbles while cooking.

Place pan in oven and cook until golden brown – about 15 minutes.  You will probably smell the crust and know then that it is done cooking.  Let cool in pan.

For the curd :

Juice of 4 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
7 tbsp butter (almost a stick !)
2 egg yolks + 1 whole egg
2 tbsp flour

Juice ALL OF THOSE LEMONS.

(I had a difficult time…but ended up with just enough juice.) In a pot, combine the lemon juice and half the sugar (1/4 cup) and whisk over medium heat.

Let this come to a rolling boil for a few minutes (this is to make sure the sugar is well-dissolved into the lemon juice).  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, flour and sugar.  Make sure this is nice and light – don’t be afraid to put some elbow grease into the situation !

Once the lemon juice is ready (and so is the egg yolk mixture) temper the yolks by pouring half the boiling sugar combination into the egg yolks and whisking fiercely.  Then, pour the NEW egg mix into the leftover lemon/sugar pan.  Whisk AGAIN and place back on the heat (reduce the heat though – down to low ought to be fine).

I know this is a lot of work, but whisk whisk whisk so that clumps of cooked egg yolk don’t form – it’s just not elegant – and you end up with a NICE, SMOOTH, VELVETY custard.  🙂  Once the curd has thickened (this will happen quickly), remove from heat and stir in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time.

Pour the finished product into the pie crust and use the back of a spoon to flatten.  Let glaze while you prepare the meringue topping.

For the meringue :

2 egg whites (leftover from the curd)
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt or cream of tartar

Place the whites, salt, and/or cream of tartar in a clean bowl.  With a CLEAN whisk (any impurities will make it very difficult to whip the egg whites), beat those egg whites until they hold peaks all on their own – probably the “soft peaks” stage – I think they look like clouds.

Add the sugar and continue to whisk until the egg white mixture thickens – your arm will probably be quite exhausted by the end of this experience if you don’t use an electric mixer (like me) but I promise, it’s worth it in the end…

Set the oven to broil.  When it is the consistency of marshmallow fluff, pour it onto the lemon curd and smooth it out with the back of a spoon.

I like to make little peaks on top – these will broil nicely – and I just stick the back of the spoon on top of the meringue and lift up gently – you’ll get a lovely little flouf.

Place the tart into the oven and broil for about 3 minutes – be sure to watch the tart because it has a tendency to burn (!) and that wouldn’t be fun…or delicious.  Use your nose – it will smell like toasted marshmallow in the house when the tart is done.

Let cool and serve !

Bon appétit ! 🙂

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Nora’s Ephron Peach Pie

I know, it’s a funny title – but that is how Mrs. William H. Hammond baptized her pie dish in the 1984 edition of “Needle the Cook,” a recipe book released by the New Canaan Sewing Group.  I’m not entirely sure how we came to possess this (well-worn and homemade) booklet of local recipes…but that’s part of the charm.  Probably typed-up on a typewriter, the book features two colors – blue and white – as well as the recurring image of a bee sewing…it’s a bit bizarre but has some gems that the dames of New Canaan wanted to pass on to their progeny.  It has, evidently, worked.  🙂

This peach pie has been a family favorite for years.  Normally, my mother makes it and I eat it.  Ah, the life…

However, it seems like I’ve “come of age” and it is my turn to prepare the pie.  Rather than being filled to the brim with fruit and covered with a sheet of dough, this pie features a custard filling and an open top.  Lots of peaches are (of course) welcome, but too many will change the nature of the custard and the filling.

The crust is rich, the custard is creamy, and the peaches HAVE TO BE FRESH.  In my town, they are rolling in much earlier than normal – which just means more peach pies for me.  🙂

For the crust : 

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp sour cream

Preheat oven to 425F.  Put all the ingredients in a Cuisinart and mix until a ball forms.

If you don’t have this fancy machine, use your fingers  OR a fork and mix until the dough is uniform and easily malleable – rather like sugar cookie dough.

Grease the pie pan.  Press this into the BUTTERED pie pan until you have an even layer all the way around.

Place in oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until just starting to brown.  Remove and let cool.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350F.

 

For the filling :

3 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup sour cream

Beat all ingredients together until frothy and yellow and smooth.  I put my mixture back in the Cuisinart, but this can easily be done with a whisk.  Peel and slice five small peaches (three large ones) and place them in the pie dish.

This is an opportunity to be artistic…and normally, I am…but when you have an aunt hovering in and out of the kitchen, a mom checking on certain elements of the pie, an uncle and a father attempting to grill (but not cooking the chicken enough) and an adorable little grandmother who is repeatedly asking you what day it is…you just want to finish the pie and get out of the kitchen, seeking refuge in the piano room…or is that just me ?

Anyway, place the peaches in the pie pan, arranged as you see fit.  Pour the egg mixture (eg the custard) on top of the peaches.  I didn’t have any with me…but I think that sprinkling a little nutmeg overtop of the pie would be super delicious.  Maybe a little cinnamon, too.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the custard is set.  You’ll know when the custard is cooked when you can touch it with your finger and a small amount will come off OR when you shake the pie and the center will jiggle rather like pudding but not actually pour/spill.

If your pie crust starts to burn (depending on the strength of your oven), cover the pie with tinfoil.

I would serve this pie warm rather than cold.  This way, the custard is so much more creamy and comforting.  It’s a great summer dish best enjoyed outside on a picnic table (or in front of the Olympics…) It’s also fantastic the next day….I just ate the leftovers.  Miam miam !

Bon appétit !

Categories: English | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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