Monday, January 28, 2008

My Very First Daring Bakers Challenge: Lemon Meringue Pie

I've been stoking Daring Bakers for a while, but never felt brave enough to join them. Is not that I'm bad baker in general, but only when it comes to bake a pastry, cakes... It takes discipline, precision, patients that I simply do not have. With cooking you can always improvise, but with cakes... it still quantum physics for me...

Nevertheless, last December something strange happened to me and I joined DB. Well, not exactly. I got ill and I couldn't participate at December challenge. I felt like it was a message from "above" that baking is not for me. That pissed me off and I decided that nothing could stop me of participating in January challenge, not even me being ill again!

So last Saturday, although I had temperature and feeling slightly weak, I gathered all my strength and confronted the evil three: the Lemon, the Meringue and the Pie!

As DB rules request I followed the recipe without any complain, I didn't ask "Why this?", I didn't think of giving up, not even in the most painful moments when dough seemed stronger then me... I continued... not even the extreme mess (that somehow just happened in my kitchen) couldn't stop me... the flour was flaying around, lemon juice flow from counter top, sugar rolled over the floor... but after that tough battle... here it is... my very first Daring Bakers challenge finished!

Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you... Lemon Meringue Pie!

Lemon Meringue Pie

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:

¾ cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces

2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour

¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar

¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt

cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:

2 cups (475 mL) water

1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar

½ cup (120 mL) cornstarch

5 egg yolks, beaten

¼ cup (60 mL) butter

¾ cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest

1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:

5 egg whites, room temperature

½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar

¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt

½ tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract

¾ cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

For the Crust: Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

For the Filling: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.

Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

For the Meringue: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

WTSIM... Macaroni&Cheese Terrine

Whenever I'm without inspiration for lunch preparation I like to jump to one very simple but effective recipe: Macaroni with cheese. And if you find it too boring, just dress it up! I baked it in loaf tin and, viola, an exciting and fresh new meal was created!

Macaroni with cheese are quite simple to prepare but it does required some patience and attention because milk in which macaroni are cooked can easily burn. And the smell and taste of the burned milk are the most terrible ones. Trust me, you do not need that in your life!

Macaroni and Cheese Terrine

250 g of macaroni

2 eggs

500 ml milk

100 g fresh cow cheese

100 ml heavy cream

20 g mozzarella (chopped)

20 g Gorgonzola like cheese (chopped)

20 g Parmigiano (grind)

salt, nutmeg

In a large pot mix beaten eggs, milk, cheeses, cream, salt. Add macaroni (row, not cooked). Let it rest for 30 min.

Put the on the low heath and bring it to boil stirring constantly because it can burn really fast.

Transfer to the buttered loaf tin, put it into the oven and beak for 40 minutes on 170 C°.

Let it cool and serve with fresh rocket salad. the combination of creamy macaroni wnd cheese with bitter rocket salad is simple divine!

Enjoy it and check out this month WTSIM... round up!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lazy Fresh Adriatic Fish

How young and naive I was on that January 1st. I woke up full with energy and hight hopes of better me. I was sure I'll change, that in 2008 I'll be more discipline and diligent, I'll post more regularly. I decided that I do not need new year's resolution to make a positive change in my life, I need to decide what I want and just do it!

Well... you see the date, you can figure out yourself.

You do not need me to tell you...

...I'm in mess. It's always like that when I come back from Split to Zagreb, I always need at least two weeks to "get together".

That shouldn't surprise me or you if you know that only few weeks ago this was my breakfast in sunny Split...

and this was my breakfast in foggy Zagreb few day ago...

Don't get me wrong, both cakes were tasty, but the scenery was quite different... you know.. sun and sea on one side, and fog, rain and asphalt on the other...

Today, finely, it was sunny in Zagreb too so I feel like I have "wake up" after two weeks of fog and rain and I'm now ready to dedicate some of my time and energy to bloging!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Orange Pudding: for boosting energy and beating hangover!

Here it is, a delicious vitamin bomb to boost the bigging of the new year!

Enjoy it!

PS: it will help to beat hangover too!

Orange Pudding

¾ cup water

½ cup orange juice

Rind of 1 small orange

2 tablespoons lemon juice

½ cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 egg separated

A few grains of salt

Rind the orange. Make it finer then on this image. They were too big.

Mix orange rind with fluids: water, orange and lemon juices. Cook on the light heath to a boil.

Carefully mix sugar and cornstarch.

Pour the boiling liquid into the sugar and cornstarch mixture. Stir until smooth.

Return it to the heath, stir until comes to a boil.

Beat the egg whites.

Slowly pour the fruit miture into the beaten white, beating lightly. Mix well.

Wet the cupcakes pots.

Pour into molds and let cool

Custard Sauce

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons sugar

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon lemon zests

A few grains salt

Save out one tablespoon of the milk.

Heat the remainder of the milk together with lemon zests.

Mix together sugar, cornstarch.

Stir in the tablespoon of milk and the egg yolk.

Stir this mixture into the hot milk, and cook till thicken.

Pour over orange pudding.