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Archive for August 15, 2017

RECIPE: A Classic & Variations For National Lemon Meringue Pie Day

August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day, celebrating one of America’s favorite pies.

That are the top 10 pies in America, based on consumption? No one has done that survey.

Mrs. Smith’s released a survey of their top 10 based on sales, but it only included frozen pies in the flavors made by Mrs. Smith.

One thing we do know: Look at every list of the top pies in the country and you’ll find these nine (in alphabetical order):

1. Apple Pie
2. Banana Cream Pie
3. Blueberry Pie
4. CherryPie
5. Coconut Cream Pie
6. Key Lime Pie
7. Lemon Meringue Pie
8. Pecan Pie
9. Pumpkin Pie
 
What’s the 10th favorite? Depending on how the list was compiled, here are some from Top Ten Pies:

  • Chocolate Mousse/Silk Pie
  • Oreo Pie
  • Peach Pie
  • Peanut Butter/Snickers
  • Raspberry Pie
  • Strawberry Pie
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
  • Sweet Potato Pie
  •  
    Some flavors are seasonal (including berry and stone fruit pies). Peppermint pies come out during the holiday season.

    Some of our favorites, such as Black Bottom Pie, Grasshopper Pie and Tarte Tatin (a French upside-down pie with caramelized apples) aren’t even on the Top 20 list of sweet pies.
     
    TRIVIA: Banana Cream Pie is a layer cake, and cheesecake is a custard pie. Check out the different types of pie.

    THE HISTORY OF LEMON MERINGUE PIE

    Lemon-flavored custards, puddings and pies date to Middle Ages, which concluded in the 15th Century. But meringue was not perfected until the 17th century.

    The modern lemon meringue pie is a 19th-century recipe, attributed to Alexander Frehse, a Swiss baker from Romandy, the French-speaking part(s) of Switzerland.

    It combines a lemon custard single crust pie with meringue, the fluffy topping made from egg whites and sugar, baked on top. Here’s the classic lemon meringue pie recipe.

    August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day, celebrating one of America’s favorite pies.

    THE HISTORY OF LEMON MERINGUE PIE

    Lemon-flavored custards, puddings and pies date to Middle Ages, which concluded in the 15th century, bowing to the Renaissance. But meringue was not perfected until the 17th century.

    The modern lemon meringue pie is a 19th-century recipe, attributed to Alexander Frehse, a Swiss baker from Romandy, the French-speaking part(s) of Switzerland.

    It combines a lemon custard single crust pie with meringue, the fluffy topping made from egg whites and sugar, baked on top. Here’s the classic lemon meringue pie recipe from McCormick

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    RECIPE: LEMON MERINGUE PIE

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1 basic 9-inch pie crust*, baked and cooled
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 5 egg yolks, well beaten (save the whites for the meringue)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  •    

    Lemon Meringue Pie
    [1] One of America’s favorite pies. The classic recipe below is from the American Egg Board, IncredibleEgg.org.

    Lemon Meringue Pie
    [2] Browning in the oven can create an even color, which professional bakers often prefer for its perfect, even look (photo courtesy McCormick).

    Lemon Meringue Pie
    [3] You can brown the meringue as much or as little as you like (photo courtesy My Most Favorite Food).

    Lemon Meringue Pie

    [4] This meringue, from Centerville Pie Company, goes for a shade of mocha.

     

    For The Meringue

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    Optional Garnishes

  • Lemon peel curls/twists
  • Fresh mint, whole leaves or julienne
  • ________________

    *Take a look at this Egg & Lemon Juice Pie Crust from IncredibleEgg.org.

     

    Meyer Lemons
    [5] Mini-tip: Before you juice lemons for a recipe, zest them and save the zest in the freezer. Use it to perk up everyday foods like salad dressings, juices, soft drinks, hot and cold tea (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    Pete And Gerry's Organic Eggs

    [6] Do organic eggs taste better? Frankly, yes; although freshness also enters the equation (photo courtesy BJs).

     

    Preparation.

    1. PLACE the oven rack in the top third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 325°F. Prepare the filling: Mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt in large, heavy saucepan. Gradually stir in the water and lemon juice until smooth. Add the egg yolks; stir until blended, and add the butter.

    2. COOK over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon peel.

    3. IMMEDIATELY MAKE the meringue. Dissolve the cornstarch in cold water in one-cup glass measure. Microwave on High 30 seconds; stir. Microwave until the mixture boils, 15 to 30 seconds more. Remove and cover.

    4. BEAT the egg whites and cream of tartar in mixer bowl with the whisk attachment on high speed, until foamy. Beating constantly, add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition until the sugar is dissolved before adding the next.

    5. CONTINUE beating until the whites are glossy and stand in soft peaks. Beating constantly, add the cornstarch paste, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat in the vanilla.

    6. POUR the hot filling into the pie crust. Quickly spread the meringue evenly over filling, starting at the edge of the crust. The meringue should overlap rim of the crust. Swirl with the back of a spoon to provide waves.

    7. BAKE in the upper third of a 325°F oven until the meringue is lightly browned, 16 to 18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack 30 minutes to 1 hour; then refrigerate until serving. Garnish as desired.
     
     
    TIPS

  • Serve freshly made pie at room temperature, or refrigerate, uncovered, until ready to serve. Let the pie warm up on the counter.
  • For neat slices, dip knife into glass of water, letting excess water drip off, before each cut. This prevents the meringue from sticking to knife and tearing it. Be sure to cut completely through the crust.
  • A hot filling is important. The heat of the filling cooks the bottom of the meringue and prevents it from weeping and creating a slippery layer between filling and topping. Set up your equipment and measure meringue ingredients before you make the filling and work quickly to make meringue before filling cools.
  • To check if the sugar is dissolved, rub a bit of meringue between your thumb and forefinger. If the sugar is dissolved, it will feel completely smooth. If it feels grainy, continue beating.
  • To check for soft peaks, stop the mixer and lift the beater. The peaks left in the meringue should curl at the tips. If the peaks stand straight and tall (stiff peaks), the meringue has been overbeaten.
  • Anchor the meringue. Be sure to attach the meringue to the crust all around the edge of the pie. This prevents the meringue from pulling away from the edge during baking.
  • If beads form on the refrigerated meringue, gently blot them with the tip of paper towel.
  • Refrigerate any leftover pie promptly.
  •  
     
    VARIATIONS TO LEMON MERINGUE PIE

  • Crust: Try a chocolate cookie crust, coconut crust, graham crust, nut crust.
  • Filling: Add lemon zest, lime zest, orange zest or shredded coconut.
  • Topping: flavored whipped cream, plain or flavored, instead of whipped cream turns it into a lemon pie.
  • Garnish: If you have candied lemon peel, use it!
  •   

     
      

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    EVENT: Kids Food Fest In NYC, August 26th-27th

    Got kids? Got kids who should learn to eat better—while having fun?

    Take the family to the Kids Food Fest, Saturday and Sunday August 26th and 27th.

    The Kids Food Fest is a celebration to educate families about making balanced food choices—choices everyone needs to create wholesome, lifelong eating habits. (Parents: You, too can learn a lot here.)

    Festivities include hands-on cooking classes in collaboration with the James Beard Foundation, the Balanced Plate Scavenger Hunt, family-friendly entertainment and activities, and more!

    There’s no charge for general admission, although hands-on classes require tickets that can be purchased at the event.

    This Kids Food Fest is held in its most beautiful space yet: Oculus at Westfield World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, known worldwide for its exciting architecture (we personally call it New York’s complement to the Bird’s Nest Stadium built for the Beijing Olympics).

    If you haven’t yet been to the Oculus, you’ll love the soaring bird architecture (photo #1) and the internal beauty of the light-filled, climate-controlled halls (photo #2). [That it cost $3.74 billion dollars might make you want to become more politically active, and insist that proven business people manage government projects.]

    The Oculus is easy to get to: Just take the A, C, J, M, Z, 2, 3, 4 or 5 to Fulton Street (directions).

    You’re also close to these downtown destinations, including The National September 11 Memorial & Museum and 15 other museums.

     

    The Oculus NYC Outside

    The Oculus NYC Inside

    The Kids Food Fest will be inside the Oculus transportation hub in New York City | World Trade Center (photos courtesy Port Authority Of New York & New Jersey).

     
    Kids Food Festival 2017

    The Kids Food Fest is proud to support the American Heart Association and their initiatives to improve kids’ health.
      

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    RECIPES: Potato Salad Reveries

    The summers of our youth meant that on the three holiday weekends—Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day—Mom was going to put out a major spread. You could have held a wedding reception with the diversity and quantity of food she set out.

    Aside from the fruit pies and trays of brownies, what we most looked forward to was her potato salad.

    It was so much better than anybody else’s mother’s, which was more like deli potato salad: potatoes and mayo.

    Not our mom. Gifted with a super-palate and member of a family of competitive (with each other) cooks, her potato salad consisted of:

  • Red jacket potatoes (the most posh of that era)
  • Red onion
  • Small dice of red and green bell peppers (the only colors available then)
  • Fresh parsley and dill
  • A dressing of Hellmann’s mayonnaise mixed with Grey Poupon Dijon mustard and some red wine vinegar
  • We could care less about the steak, chicken, burger or whatever: We just wanted a big plate of potato salad, a big plate of fruit salad (berries, melon balls and stone fruits, presented in a carved out watermelon), glasses of her fruit punch and all those desserts.

    (Alas, these remain our preferences. Keep the steak: Got sugar?)

    Over the years we’ve tried to improve on Mom’s recipe:

  • By adding something new [not all at once]: anchovies (for the right crowd), bacon or ham, capers, chiles, crumbled feta or blue cheese, fancy basil from the farmers market (cinnamon, lemon, licorice, opal, Thai), other herbs (minced chives, fresh thyme), peas (English peas, snow peas, sugar snap peas), sliced olives.
  • By adding newer versions of standard ingredients: homemade or artisan mayonnaise, purple potatoes, orange and purple bell peppers, scallions instead of red onions, vinaigrette with flavored olive oil.
  •  
    And we look for inspiring recipes from other cooks, such as today’s two recipes.

    The first is a rustic Italian potato salad side dish; the second is an elegant first course.

    RECIPE #1: HEALTHIER POTATO SALAD

    This recipe from Ciao Florentina uses a healthier olive oil dressing, veggies, and some additional ingredients that add not just flavor, but charm.

    Fiorentina says this is an Italian-style potato salad recipe, “made with colorful red and purple heirloom potatoes, fresh herbs and spring green peas, then tossed in a lovely light and zesty vinaigrette.”

    “To make a meal of things,” says Fiorentina, “feel free to add some toasted pine nuts or fresh radishes sliced paper thin, like I did. I also sprinkled the entire salad with a handful of green pea shoots in season; [at other times] I’ll go for pretty microgreens.”

    Florentina is an artist as well as a cook: Everything she makes is beautiful to look at. Her recipes are simple, wholesome, and most important, delicious!

       

    Pretty Potato Salad
    [1] Healthy and beautiful potato salad from Ciao Fiorentina.

    Pea Shoots

    [2] Chopped pea shoots (photo Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog).

    Mixed New Potatoes

    [3] Mixed-color new potatoes (also called creamer potatoes; photo courtesy Poplar Bluff Organics).

     
    Download her free e-cookbooks and subscribe to her “recipe and inspiration” list here.
     
    Ingredients For 4 Side Servings

  • 2 pound colored new potatoes
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1-1/2 cup fresh green peas steamed*
  • 1/4 cup green pea shoots*, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup mixed fresh herbs parsley, dill, chives, thyme
  • 1 scallion thinly sliced
  • 5-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
  • 1 cup yellow grape tomatoes halved, optional
  • Optional: 1 radish
  •  
    ________________

    *If fresh peas aren’t in season, substitute frozen peas; substitute microgreens for the pea shoots.

    Preparation

    1. RINSE and cut the potatoes into rustic (thick) slices or wedges. Cover them with cold water and bring to a boil. Season with a good pinch of sea salt and simmer until tender but still al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside to dry in their own steam for a few minutes. While the potatoes are cooking…

    2. STEAM the green peas for 3 to 4 minutes until al dente. Meanwhile…

    3. WHISK together the olive oil, lemon juice and most of the herbs in a large bowl. Season to taste with sea salt. Add the potatoes and peas to the bowl with the dressing, and gently toss to coat. Allow the potatoes to sit in the dressing for about 10 minutes to absorb all the flavors.

    4. TASTE and adjust the seasonings to taste with more sea salt. Sprinkle with the remaining herbs, pea shoots and scallions. Optional to sprinkle with some grape tomatoes and radish slices.

     

    Purple Potato & Cucumber Salad
    [4] Potato salad as an elegant first course, from Idaho Potato Commission.

    Blue Peruvian Potatoes

    [5] Blue Peruvian potatoes. Depending on the strain and the soil where grown, they will be purple instead. Note, however, that blue potatoes often cook up the same purple color as purple potatoes (photo courtesy Burpee).

     

    RECIPE #2: LEBANESE BLUE POTATO TABOULI

    This recipe, developed by Chef Giuseppe Tentori of GT Prime and GT Fish & Oyster in Chicago, came to us via the Idaho Potato Commission, is called tabouli.

    Here’s some history for those of us who think of tabouli (tabbouleh) as a salad of cracked wheat, tomatoes, parsley, mint, onions, lemon juice, and olive oil:

    The tabouli cracked wheat salad originated in the Levant, a historical area in the Middle East that included parts of the modern countries of Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey. The term was first used in the 15th century.

    The Levantine Arabic word tabbule is derived from the Arabic word tabil, meaning “seasoning”; or more literally, “dip.” While the word came to define tabbouleh, the cracked wheat salad, Chef Tentori used it to define the small dice of ingredients that comprise his dish.

    At a fine restaurant, it sounds better than “potato salad.” (And technically, potatoes are indigenous to Peru, discovered by Spanish explorers. There were no blue potatoes—or likely other potatoes—in the Levant.)

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 2 pounds Idaho All Blue Potatoes, peeled, small dice
  • 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 ounce extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 English (seedless) cucumbers, chopped fine†
  • Optional: 6 baby cucumbers‡ with blossoms (see photo)
  • 6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • Asian mesclun mix, as needed
  • ________________

    †We found that we wanted some seasoning in the cucumbers. We mixed them with fresh dill. You could also toss them with dill seed, garlic powder or the zest of the lemons.

    ‡This is a specialty item available from produce suppliers to chefs. If you can’t find them, use your spiralizer to create a mound of cucumber on top. Alternatively, thinly slice and marinate cucumbers in vinaigrette for an hour or more; then drain to use as a garnish.
     
    Preparation

    1. BRING salted water to a boil in a medium pan. Add the red-wine vinegar and then the diced potatoes. Cook until just al dente. Shock the potatoes in an ice bath. Drain well and pat dry.

    2. COMBINE the potatoes, parsley, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper in large bowl. Toss gently to combine.

    3. PLACE a 4-inch ring mold in the center of each plate. Pack the potato mixture firmly into each ring mold; reserve the extra vinaigrette in bowl. Spread the chopped cucumber on top. Carefully remove the ring molds. Top the tabouli with a mini cucumber or two.

    4. GARNISH the plate with the feta cheese and Asian greens. Drizzle the greens with the remaining vinaigrette.
     
     
    POTATO LOVERS: Idaho Potato Commission has more potato recipes than the most avid potato lover could make in a year.

      

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    GLUTEN FREE: Three Bakers Snackers Crackers

    A gluten-free recommendation from Georgi Page-Smith, who reports on GF products for THE NIBBLE.

    One of the perks of my gluten-free lifestyle is the license I give myself to eat limitless quantities of cheese.

    Years ago I indulged my cheese cravings with perhaps the best cheese crackers ever to exist (including Cheez-Its): Gluten Free Cheddar Snackers, by The Grainless Baker.

    These crackers were unabashedly rich and cheesy, with just the right melt-in-your-mouth crumb. I purchased them in bulk from a local store until they were discontinued by the store; then I stalked them online.

    One day in 2011 the crackers disappeared completely. I searched, I Googled…and I found the Grainless Baker website. It said that the company had recently joined forces with The Gluten Free Food Group and would be replacing their old products with a new gluten-free product line under a new brand name, Three Bakers.

    I joined their Facebook community and waited to hear about the rollout. I think I even wrote a sad note “beg-couraging” them to not change their Cheddar Snackers formula. And then I cold-stored the information in a mental box with other sad things and doubled-down on my brie consumption.

    Recently, however, these crackers drifted into my mind again and I went to check their Facebook page for an update. The page was defunct and a cheerful selection of Snackers were now available from the Three Bakers website!

    I swung into action and within days, four bags of Snackers—Cheddar, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chocolate Chip and Honey Graham flavors—arrived at my doorstep. That was Friday. As of this Sunday’s writing there is about one-quarter of one of the bags left. They were that good.

    Four Flavors, Cheesy Or Sweet

    The Cheddar Snackers, though not as intense and decadent an experience as the originals, are incredibly good. The flavor is authentic tangy-and-toasty cheese, and they are quite light, delivering more flavor than you would expect in such a small package. The only downside on these was the texture, which was slightly more brittle than the other Snackers.

    Use them as dippers, as croutons on salad or chili (photo #1), in a crust for apple pie or pot pie, as a garnish on mac and cheese, or as a snack with apple wedges.

    The Chocolate Chip Snackers, with only 4 grams of sugar and 90 calories per 1 ounce serving, were simply scrumptious, with a gently dissolving crumb that quickly delivers the flavor to every part of your mouth. Best of all they are not too sweet, with no cloying aftertaste!

     

    Three Bakers Cheddar Snackers
    [1] Cheddar snackers add some crunch to chili (photo courtesy Three Bakers).

    Three Bakers Snackers Chocolate Chip
    [2] Time for dessert: chocolate chip snackers with ice cream (photo courtesy Gluten Free Palate.

    Three Bakers Snackers Crackers

    [3] Just plain snacking (photo courtesy Gluten Free Palate).

     
    The chocolate is of a high enough quality to carry the cookie, without additional sweeteners. The Chocolate Chocolate Chip Snackers increase the chocolate ratio, for aficionados.

    The Honey Graham Snackers deliver a very tasty, roasty flavor— again, with a gorgeous texture. These would also be fantastic on an ice cream sundae (photo #2), or crushed up to use in a crust. I was also impressed with the low sugar level, at 1 gram per 1 ounce serving, it made it that much easier to eat the whole bag.

    All Three Bakers’ Snackers are Ccrtified gluten-free by the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) and are made with non-GMO ingredients. The whole grains provide a source of fiber and the low sugar and salt mean that you can feel good about serving them to kids.

    Three Bakers also produces gluten-free breads, buns, pizzas and more. The products are available across the country; here’s a store locator.

    For more information head to ThreeBakers.com.

    —Georgi Page-Smith

      

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