Saturday, 29 November 2008

Aye, aye, lemon meringue pie

I had lemons, i had eggs and i thought, Mel, it's about time you tried making a lemon meringue pie. Never made one before, ate plenty and have fond memories of sitting in tacky new jersey diners watching them in the rotating cake display case. I don't know, until now lemon meringue pies have been something that somebody else makes. I just never thought to do it myself.

This particular pie was meant to make 8 individual pielets, but i don't yet have a set of individual tart tins (see i don't really have EVERYTHING in the kitchen yet). Instead i made one big pie, and well, being the piggies we are, kels and i finished this off in 2 days -- that's 2 portions x 2 days. Yup, that good.

This recipe is courtesy of one of last year's issues of
Olive Magazine.

Lemon meringue pie

For the pastry:
125g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
75g unsalted butter,diced and chilled
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 egg yolk

For the lemon curd:
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
75g unsalted butter, diced
100g caster sugar
2 unwaxed lemons, zested and juiced

For the meringue:
2 egg whites
50g caster sugar

  1. To make the pastry, put the flour, butter, icing sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor and pulse until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg yolk and 2 tsp cold water, add to the pastry mix and pulse until it comes together. Tip onto a lightly floured work surface, lightly knead then wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

  2. Dust the work surface with fiour and roll out each piece to thickness of a £1 coin. Carefully press the pastry into a 23cm loose bottomed tart tin and prick the base with a fork. Chill for 5 minutes.

  3. Heat the oven to 180C/160C/gas mark 4. Line the pastry case with a square of foil and baking beans or rice. Cook for 20 minutes or until golden.

  4. To make the lemon curd, beat the eggs and egg yolk together in a heatproof bowl. Add the butter, caster sugar and lemon juice. Put the bowl over (not in) a pan of simmering water. Stir until the mixture reaches the consistency of very thick custard. Take off the heat, strain into a clean bowl and add the lemon zest. Cover the surface of the lemon curd with clingfilm then cool. Fill each pastry case with lemon curd and chill for 20 minutes.

  5. Turn up the oven to 230C/fan 210C/gas mark 8. To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Gradually add the caster sugar, beating, until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Fill a piping bag with the meringue and pipe a generous swirl of meringue over the lemon curd (or just spoon it on top). Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the meringue is tinged golden brown at the edges. Cool before serving.

Monday, 24 November 2008

California sunshine in Crouchend?

We're all moved in, and the first week of the new job is history now. What better way to celebrate than an exploratory venture into the as yet undiscovered delights that our new hood offers.

Yesterday was sleety, gray, cold cold cold but still we made the three block trek to Pick more daisies. From the outside, and from the website it sounded like it could be a ray of sunshine on an otherwise bleak autumn day. What else does 'california cafe' make you think of?

When we got there at half eleven the place was packed and we resigned ourselves to an estimated 20 minute wait. Never mind, the seats were facing the open plan kitchen and I got to see the nimble chefs in action. I don't really know why, but the thing that always catches my eye is the various food containers that are used for mise in kitchens. I love to see what they prep beforehand and how it's stored. I don't know why?

Less than 20 minutes later we were seated in the front area and had a good look thru the menu. In addition to the breakfast offers there's a variety of other things on offer throughout the day. But breakfast was on the brain so we ordered.

Kelsie had freshly squeezed orange juice, and banana hotcakes. I had a cappuccino and huevos rancheros. Kelsie found the pancakes good, but (of course) not as good as mine. They were a bit dense, and she had to add lots of maple syrup to counteract the density. Remind me to post my banana pancake recipe. I swear it turns out the lightest, fluffiest pancakes i've ever had!

The huevos rancheros were a nice alternative to your traditional fry up, but, compared to other huevos rancheros i was a bit disappointed. Mostly i was disappointed by the slightly stale tortilla, which could have easily been revived by either a splash of water and zap in a microwave, or, a super quick toss in a lightly oiled frying pan. The salsa was a bit bland but that was easily counteracted with several dashes of habenero sauce.

All in all, we think we'd probably go back but not any time soon, as there's still so much to explore!

Here's our final ratings:
Atmosphere: 6/10 -- from the front room things seemed less lively than the back room and there was a mean draft from the front door which our host apologised for.
Food: 6.5/10 -- different offerings than your average caff but a bit mediocre in execution.
Service: 10/10 -- our host was really attentive and friendly and our server didn't leave us waiting.

Total score: 22.5/30

Pick More Daisies / 12 crouch end hill london n8 8aa / 020 8340 2288