Archive for June, 2008

To-do list
25 June 2008

This morning while I was supposed to be working (and I WAS working, just multi-tasking!), I browsed my way through all sorts blogs. I started out in the “Tag Surfer”, which is a snazzy little function of WordPress that pulls up blogs that have similar search tags as what I write. I ended up clicking through links and other links and so on and so forth…

I found quite a few goodies. Here are a few I want to try:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie from Bakerella (found that one via Chocolate Chipped–that whole blog is full of tasty stuff!)

CUP PIES! – Okay, she calls them Tiny Pies, but this is a project I have wanted to do for a long time. They are cup pies, an idea I saw on Pushing Daisies (pretty much the best TV show ever). (Cup pie = cupcake size/shape + pie ingredients/texture/filling/etc)

Blueberry-lavender Cheesecake with Sage Shortbread Crust – YUM! This creation looks amazing! And it has such a variety of flavours and textures! It looks like fun to make AND fun to eat!

Brownie-Bottom White Chocolate Raspberry Chiffon – Gracious, that is a mouthful to say! It’s one off Cookie Madness and it has been looking delicious for a while! Also snazzy, it’s a chiffon without gelatin (or any substitute). Worth a try, no?

Just found today…
White Chocolate Berry Pie
Blondies (just a new version to try)

Found another today:

Hand pies

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Lemon Chiffon Pie
23 June 2008

So the weather around here was cooler than normal today, and with a breeze, the mid-90s were not so bad. However, I still didn’t much feel like a hot pie, nor did I really want to turn the oven on any more than I absolutely had to.

My favourite (read: only) little helper was over today (this is the one who helped me with the cherry pie), so we looked through Ken Haedrich’s Pie to get some ideas. We decided on Lemon Chiffon. It’s different from anything I’ve made. Recently I’ve been making so many fruit pies because of all the fresh fruit that’s coming in season. I’ve made cream pies before, but never a chiffon pie. I was a little unsure of it too, since it requires folding egg whites in to a mixture and I dread folding.

Well the other problem we discovered was with gelatin. We are all vegetarian (Munchkin included) and while once in a while we’ll eat something with gelatin (Jello if it’s mixed with something, and also we do have Skittles on occasion), we’d prefer to not make the pie with gelatin (as the recipe asked). We went on a gelatin-substitute quest. Safeway didn’t have anything, but at the local health food store, we decided on agar agar. (Not just “agar”, I reminded Munchkin, but “agar agar”.)

Google and I teamed up and discovered the proper ways to convert gelatin measurements in a recipe to agar agar measurements. As it turns out though, preparation is not the same.

The recipe that follows is the ingredients, but not the order I prepared them it. This pie was pretty much a complete failure and a disaster for most of its life, but I was determined to salvage it. These are the steps I took, minus the failed steps, and in the proper order I feel they should’ve gone. We haven’t yet eaten the pie, but it seemed pretty well salvaged by the end…

Crust:
1 – 9 in graham cracker crust (I made this from scratch, but I will post the recipe later)

Filling:
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp agar agar

1/2 cup lemonade (we used Crystal Lite, I think)
1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh if possible, but the kind that comes in the lemon shaped bottle is good)
1/4 tsp lemon extract (pure, not imitation)
(yes, this is VERY lemon-y chiffon!)
3/4 cup + 1/3 cup sugar (separated–awkward measurements due to mistake making)
4 large* eggs, separated (Munchkin, regarding egg separation: “Does this mean put the brown eggs in one pile and the white eggs in another pile?”)
pinch of salt

1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Pour water in a small saucepan and add agar agar. Let this sit at room temperature during the next step to let it get soft.

In a medium-sized saucepan (non-stick if you have it!), whisk up lemonade, lemon juice, lemon extract, 3/4 cup sugar, egg yolks, and salt. Make sure it is thoroughly mixed before turning to medium heat. Cook over medium heat (do not boil!), stirring constantly, until mixture thickens to about the texture of thick cream.

If you can multi-task, bring agar agar to a boil now. Otherwise, take lemon mixture off heat before turning your attention to the agar agar. Boil and stir agar agar until dissolved. Agar agar dissolved in water around 185F. I had problems here, so I used a candy thermometer to make sure it go up to nearly 200F. Strain (to pull out any undissolved bits–if there is a lot of undissolved agar left, put it in the pan again with more water and boil) into lemon mixture. Stir well. Put this whole bit into a bowl and refrigerate about 1 hour. IT SHOULD THICKEN UP!

Towards the end of this hour, put egg whites in a large bowl. Blend until they peak (soft peaks). Beat in cream of tartar. Beat in 1/3 cup sugar until you get glossy, stiff-ish peaks. Beat in vanilla. This should not be quite as dry as a meringue, but should still be pretty stiff.

Gently and lovingly fold the egg whites into the lemon mixture. Tilt the lemon mixture bowl sideways a bit (about 45 degrees or so). Plop a portion of the egg white mixture in the upper corner. Using a broad spoon or a rubber spatula, cut down through the middle then, fold up and in on one side. Repeat this process until the egg white mixture is thoroughly mixed, but has lost a minimal amount of fluffiness.

Pour mixture into the crust. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and refrigerate for several (3+) hours or overnight. Serve up with some whipped cream!

*My note about large eggs: Have you ever seen a recipe that called for small eggs? Every recipe I’ve ever seen involving eggs calls for large eggs. You’d think by now they’d assume to just write “eggs” and you’d know not to get something the size of a hummingbird egg. But I suppose it’s a “just in case” sort of thing.

Also… I havenae any pictures of this process. I had several reasons, not the least of which was because it was a dreadful mess of a process. I will add a picture of the finished pie when I open it up in the morning though.

Berries in chocolate lined crust
13 June 2008

Two days ago was my mum’s birthday. I meant to make the pie that day, but got distracted by having a new laptop (this post is brought to you by Aayla, laptop extraordinaire! Okay, maybe not extraordinary, but certainly exciting.)

I had to buy new berries today, the ones from two days ago were already completely bad (and incredibly fuzzy and hairy! YUCK!).

Yuck!

I bought fresh blackberries and raspberries, and found these exciting golden raspberries. They taste like raspberries, maybe a little less tart, but they’re golden yellow. They were more expensive, but I bought a package just for fun.

Golden raspberries!

This is sort of a hit/miss pie as far as your tasters go. My mum chose this pie for her birthday because it is her favourite pie I have ever made (I believe it was the first or second pie I ever made too). A few months ago I asked my brother and his girlfriend about their favourite pies, and in addition to telling me their favourites, they told me they thought this one was disgusting.

Personally I think it’s pretty tasty. Maybe not my favourite, but definitely good.

I did some experimenting with thickeners and also with the crust on this one…

Filling:
4 cups blackberries + raspberries (you can split 2 cups each, or use a little more of whichever you like more)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup tapioca (this is new for me–a bit of an experiment since I’m not too crazy about how cornstarch has been treating me lately)

Crust lining:
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate (this was a bar and a half of the baking bar I bought)
3 tbsp half & half

Crust:
Double crust – plain flaky crust – split into two discs, one a little larger
(I added a very tiny bit of almond extract to this crust–less than 1/4 tsp, just to be experimental)

Roll out the larger disc, invert into the pie pan. Gently lift the edges and tuck the pastry into the pie pan. Put pie plate with crust in freezer to help firm it up while you do your next step.

Chocolate:

Chocolate and cream...

Break chocolate up into squares and put in a small saucepan. Add half & half. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is smoothly melted.

Take out pie crust and pour chocolate into crust. Smooth into a thin layer in bottom and along sides. Return to freezer.

Chocolate-lined crust

Filling:
Rinse blackberries and raspberries and put into a large bowl. Mash up berries (I use a potato masher). There can be some chunks, but get a good bit of smashing in.

Smashing is  the best part

Add sugar and tapioca and mix up well.

Set aside and roll out the second disc of crust. Cut into 1/2 inch strips.

Retreive crust from freezer. Pour in berry mixture. Cross dough strips across the top to make a lattice crust.

Before baking

Bake at 400*F (I did this one actually at 405–I meant to do 425, but got impatient waiting for the oven to heat) for 45-50 minutes. The filling should be nice and thick! Be warned, this pie overflows, so make sure to put a baking sheet or foil underneath.

Voila!

Let cool to room temperature and enjoy!

This pie turned out pretty well! It was served well before it was cooled enough (as is custom in my incredibly impatient family), and so was rather sloppy, but it seemed to taste fine. Though it was hard to tell with the hot pie semi-runny, I think the tapioca worked well as a thickener (better than the cornstarch on my last few pies!) and I would definitely use it again.