Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I have so many things to be grateful for. This year I am most grateful for Sandy. I hope someday I can tell her how much we wanted her to join our family. I'm grateful for Bill. He's a wonderful husband, and he makes it possible for me to stay home with Sandy. I'm grateful for both of our families.

We went to Doug & Jaydene's for Thanksgiving dinner. I made two pies: a lemon meringue and a coconut cream. I was pleased with how the lemon meringue turned out. I wasn't as happy with the coconut cream. I liked the crust, but the filling reminded me of suntan lotion. Next time I make a coconut cream pie I'll try an instant coconut pudding for the filling. Pictures and recipes of both pies are below.

Here is Sandy sitting with her Aunt Heather and Uncle Jared. There were several shots that would have been adorable if they hadn't been blurry. This was the least blurry.

Here is a picture of Sandy playing with her cousin Christian.

Kelsie watched Sandy while Bill & I went to see the new James Bond. We enjoyed it. It was nice to go to a movie. We haven't been to the theatre since before Sandy was born (we saw Get Smart on her due date, June 20).

Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie

Pie Crust
1-1/4 (6-1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
3 TBSP vegetable shortening chilled
4 TBSP cold unsalted butter cut into 1/4 inch pieces
4-5 TBSP ice water
1/2 cup finely crushed graham crackers

Lemon Filling
1 cup (7 oz sugar)
1/4 cup (1 oz cornstarch)
1/8 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups cold water
6 large egg yolks
1 TBSP grated zest and 1/2 cup juice from 2 or 3 lemons
2 TBSP unsalted butter

1 TBSP cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup (3-1/2 oz) sugar
4 large egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Pie Crust
1. Process the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add the shortening and process until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture; cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about ten 1-second pulses. Turn the mixture into a medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 4 TBSP of the ice water over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix. Press down on the dough with the broad side of the spatula until the dough sticks together, adding up to 1 TBSP more ice water if the dough will not come together. Flatten the dough into a 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before rolling.

3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable). Sprinkle the work surface with 2 TBSP graham cracker crumbs and roll out to a 12-inch circle, sprinkling additional graham cracker crumbs underneath and on top of the dough as it is rolled. Fit the dough into a 9-inch pie plate, trim, and flute edges. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie plate until firm, about 40 minutes, then freeze until very cold, about 20 minutes.

4. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the dough-lined pie plate from the freezer, press a doubled 12-inch piece of heavy-duty foil inside the pie shell, and fold the edges of the foil to shield the fluted edge; distribute 2 cups pie weights (or beans or pennies) over the foil. Bake, leaving the foil and weights in place until the dough looks dry and is light in color, 25 to 30 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights and continue baking until deep golden brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before making pie filling.

Lemon Filling
Mix the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and water in a large nonreactive saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally at the beginning of the process and more frequently as the mixture begins to thicken. When the mixture starts to simmer and turns translucent, whisk in the egg yolks, two at a time. Whisk in the zest, then the lemon juice, and finally the butter. Bring the mixture to a good simmer, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat; place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling to keep it hot and prevent a skin from forming.

Mix the cornstarch with the water in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally at the beginning and more frequently as the mixture thickens. When the mixture starts to simmer and turns translucent, remove from the heat.

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the cream of tartar and sugar together. Beat the egg whites and vanilla until frothy. Beat in the sugar mixture, 1 TBSP at a time, until the sugar is incorporated and mixture forms soft peaks. Add the cornstarch mixture, 1 TBSP at a time, until the sugar is incorporated and the mixture forms soft peaks. Add the cornstarch mixture, 1 TBSP at a time; continue to beat the meringue to stiff peaks. Remove the plastic from the lemon filling and return to very low heat during the last minute or so of beating the meringue (to ensure the filling is hot).

Pour the hot filling into the pie shell. Using a rubber spatula, immediately distribute the meringue evenly around the edge and then the center of the pie crust to keep it from sinking into the filling. Make sure the meringue attaches to the pie crust to prevent shrinking. Use the back of a spoon to create peaks all over the meringue. Bake the pie until the meringue is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Serve the same day.

Coconut Cream Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie

6 ounces animal crackers
2 TBSP shredded coconut
1 TBSP granulated sugar
4 TBSP unsalted butter, melted and cooled

I didn't care for the filling in the recipe, next time I think I'll try it with instant coconut pudding.

Whipped Cream and Garnish
1-1/2 cups heavy cream (cold)
2 TBSP granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBSP shredded coconut toasted in a small dry skillet until golden brown

For the crust, adjust oven rack to a lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, pulse animal crackers, coconut, and sugar to fine crumbs, 18 to 20 1-second pulses. Then process until powdery, about 5 seconds. Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, add butter, and stir until crumbs are evenly moistened. Empty crumbs into a 9-inch pie plate and press into bottom and up sides. Bake until fragrant and medium brown, about 15 minutes, rotating pie shell halfway through baking time. Set on a wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Prepare the filling. Once soft set, spoon into pie crust, press plastic wrap directly against the surface of the filling, and refrigerate until firm.

For the whipped cream, just before serving beat cream, sugar, and vanilla with electric mixer until soft peaks form, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Top pie with whipped cream then sprinkle with coconut. (If you want to add the cream before you are ready serve, heat 2 tsp unflavored gelatin and 2 tsp water in a small measuring cup over the stove, stirring constantly. When it thickens and turns translucent, remove from heat and very slowly add to the cream while whipping.)

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