Saturday, October 27, 2018

Weekend Cooking: Lemon Meringue Pie

Last week I made Mary Berry's Lemon Meringue Pie, and I have been pondering the way that I have, in effect, been learning the different basics of baking. A couple of years ago I wouldn't have actually attempted making this. Pastry from scratch? Not likely. Meringue? Even more unlikely. But gradually, by taking a series of small steps, I have got to the point where it doesn't feel as thought it is impossible.

So, what were the steps along the way?

Firstly, in relation to pastry, I started out by making Donna Hay's Lemon Tart (actually making the pastry twice due to my own rookie error), and then recently I made chocolate chess tart which starts with a chocolate pastry.  I am most definitely not ready to start making filo pastry or even puff pastry, but I think that shortcrust pastry is something that doesn't intimate me anymore. I do intend trying to make a rough puff pastry at some point, and also to try choux pastry, but not sure when that will be.

I had some exposure to making the lemon filling when I made the lemon tart, but also a few weeks ago I made a lemon mousse cake that started with making lemon curd which was delicious be itself, but then it was folded through cream etc to make a lemon mousse that was so good! As in really, really good!

Meringue has been a little more challenging, but I think that is because it can be influenced by so many factors. You can get the mixture right, but it still might not cook correctly because of humidity or even your equipment not being scrupulously clean. 

I started trying to make meringue last year when we made Eton Mess but that wasn't 100% successful. Since then I have made meringues a couple of times, most recently when I made meringue kisses to put on my mother's 70th birthday cake. Next steps will be to make a pavlova from scratch!!

Now don't be fooled. Whilst I my confidence is definitely up, I don't have these techniques mastered! Today I managed to not get the lemon filling exactly right because I didn't pay attention when I was adding the sugar to the egg yolks. I forgot to reset the scales to 0 and so when I realised I didn't know  how much sugar I had already added. I suspect I was a bit under so the lemon is very lemony, but it still tasted delicious. I guess if you want to eat something lemon, you want to taste it as lemon!

This is actually a Mary Berry recipe. Mary Berry has been a TV cook in the UK for many years, but I first heard of her when I started watching Great British Bake Off a few years ago. That show, the spin-off that features professional pastry chefs (Bake Off The Professionals), and the Australian version all are part of my must see TV viewing.  To get some idea of how long Mary has been on TV, her she is making Lemon Meringue Pie back in 1973!

And now, here is the recipe for the current recipe. You can also watch a more recent video for a variation on this recipe here and there is a link to the recipe I made below

Lemon Meringue Pie (Mary Berry)

For the pastry
225g/8oz plain flour
175g/6oz butter
45g/1¾oz icing sugar
1 large free-range egg, beaten

For the lemon filling
6 lemons, zest and juice
65g/2¼oz cornflour
250g/9oz caster sugar
6 free-range egg yolks

For the meringue topping
4 free-range egg whites
225g/8oz caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour


Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

First make the pastry. Measure the flour and butter into a food processor and blend together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the icing sugar, egg and one tablespoon of water and whizz again until combined to a ball.

Tip the pastry onto a work surface and roll out to a 3mm thickness. Use the rolling pin to lift the pastry up and transfer it to line a 23cm/9in loose-bottomed flan tin. Be careful not to stretch the pastry as you tuck it into the corners. Cover in cling film and place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

Take the pastry-lined tin out of the fridge and trim the excess pastry. Press the top edge of the pastry so that it stands slightly higher than the top of the tin.

Line the pastry case with parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake for about 15 minutes then remove the beans and parchment and return to the oven for a further five minutes.

Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 170C/340F/Gas 3½.

For the filling, mix the lemon zest and juice with the cornflour and stir to form a smooth paste. Measure 450ml/16fl oz of water into a pan and bring to the boil. Add the lemon cornflour mixture to the hot water and stir over the heat until the mixture has thickened, then remove from the heat.

In a bowl mix together the sugar and egg yolks and carefully whisk into the lemon mixture in the pan. Stir over a medium heat until thickened. Set aside for a few minutes and then pour into the baked pastry case.

For the meringue, whisk the egg whites in a free-standing mixer until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Add the caster sugar a little at a time, still whisking until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Add the cornflour and whisk again.

Spoon on top of the filled pastry case and spread the meringue to completely cover the lemon filling. Then create a swirl on the top of the meringue.

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until the filling is completely set and the meringue is lightly golden and crisp. Allow to cool completely before cutting or serve very slightly warm.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Summer Seaside Kitchen and The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

Like many others I am a sucker for good foodie fiction, and for books set in Scotland,  so when you get both in the one book its a fair chance it is a winner. In this case, it is actually two separate but linked books!

The first book is called The Summer Seaside Kitchen here, but it is published in some places the book is called The Cafe by the Sea.

The book opens when we meet Flora who is working in a law firm in London. She is madly in love with her boss, Joel, who barely knows she exists. That is until one of the firms biggest clients needs assistance with his business concerns that just happen to be located on her home island. Flora soon finds herself unwillingly returning home in anticipation of being asked to assist the big name client.

The main reason Flora is unwilling to return home is that it just isn't the same for her since her beloved mother died. Flora isn't the only one struggling. Her brothers and her father are existing, but certainly not thriving. The house is untidy, the men are eating poorly and they are all clearly unhappy.

While she waits for her work with the millionaire client to begin, she starts to do some tidying and reorganising in the house, and it is this that leads her to find her mother's notebook that is filled with the recipes that she used to feed her family over the years. Reading through the recipes reminds Flora of the times when she was helping her mother. learning how to cook by her side and soon Flora finds herself cooking some of these recipes, and in the process finds that it helps bring her some peace in relation to the loss of her mother.

It is not only healing for Flora though, cooking some of their favourite family recipes helps her brothers also. Each of them is dealing with their own issues. One of her brothers is divorced and dealing with shared custody of his young daughter, another has a secret passion for cheesemaking and they are all faced with a future of hard work trying to make their family business work.

Through a series of events, related to the client, Flora ends up staying on the island for much longer than intended and, using her mother's recipes as a starting point, opens a cafe near the beach. Soon the locals and visitors are singing her praises, and Flora finds herself wondering if maybe, just maybe, she should be coming home for good, and leaving her hum drum life in London behind her.

If there was one aspect where I didn't love this book it was in the romance. Flora has been obsessively in love with her boss for years and he had barely noticed her, let along reciprocated any level of interest. When she comes home to the island she meets Charlie, and finds herself having to examine her feelings for both men to see where they truly lie. I must say, I don't necessarily agree with the direction that the author took the novel in, but hey, it's her story, and it certainly set the scene for the follow up book.

I've just realised that it was probably not such a smart idea to write about both of these books in the same post as it is going to be difficult to discuss the second book without spoiling the first book, but we'll give it a go, or maybe I will just skim around the edges of what the book is about.

Firstly, while I enjoyed The Summer Seaside Kitchen, it did feel a bit like the other book that I have previously read by this author (see review here) but The Endless Beach felt different. It felt deeper in the way that it treated some really serious topics. I don't know what this book would be classified as. Remember when there was a whole genre of chick-lit. That doesn't seem to be a thing anymore. Maybe now it is women's fiction or some such label. A lot of those books deal with serious subplots, but this one just feels deeper, less superficial, than usual to me.

Flora and her family are still the focus of the second book, but things have changed a lot. She is now at home permanently, running the cafe but wondering how she is going to make it into a profitable going concern. Her brother's love of cheesemaking is no longer a secret and he is in love and looking forward to living happily ever after. Even her dad seems to be happier, not that he says much given that he is a man of few words.

The part of the story I loved though, relates to the new doctor who has moved to the island. Saif has moved the island of Mure after arriving in Britain as a refugee. As a qualified doctor he basically had to go where he was sent and he is now trying to get used to living in a tiny village community in the islands in the north of Scotland. Everything is different from his homeland. The food, the people, and most definitely the weather. And no matter how accommodating people try to be (for example, Flora insists on making truly awful falafel), some people are distrusting of someone who is different.

For all that Saif was trying to get used to his new life, it is in some ways a half life as he is waiting for news from his homeland. His wife and children have been missing in his war torn homeland and he has no idea where they are or even if they are alive.

There are plenty of immigrant stories around where that is the whole story, but what I loved about this one was that it was just included in the story like it is just a normal, every day occurrence. Yes, it is challenging for lots of people from the patients who have to get used to Saif, to Flora's best friend Lorna who is attracted to this quiet, lonely man, to the school community as a whole, but it is also just a big part of the story.

I was very excited to see that there is a new book out that continues this series, especially seeing as I can't get hold of the short story that was only released in the UK. The new book once again has a couple of different titles. On the author's website it is called An Island Christmas, but on Goodreads it appears to be called Christmas on the Island. Definitely planning on reading it soon.

Both of the books have a selections of recipes in it which is always fun, all with a Scottish feel. For example, in The Endless Beach there are recipes for Shortbread, Cheese Scones and Haggis Pakora.

I did wonder if any of my fellow Weekend Cooks had ever found or been given a family cookbook that they were then able to cook out of. I haven't, an to be honest, there's only really one recipe of my mother's that I would like to get hold of at some point but maybe someone else has!

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Back to TOP