Sunday, September 30, 2007

"mare ing gay" is what goes through my head as I type that

Ok....confession time..sorta...the title comes from an email J sent to me when I couldn't remember how to spell meringue. Somehow it helped.

My real confession is I'm having a heck of a time writing the blogs in a timely manner. You've probably all figured that out as you get them almost a week late. Please, if you've been sitting on the edge of your seat with anticipation -- I always think of Rocky Horror Picture show -- and "An-Tissa-Pay-Shun". Here's a photo to bring back the memory.....

(of course I chose the one with the buff guy in trunks who usually grunts and doesn't say much -- please don't read anything into that. M is extremely conversant when he wants to be.)

But anyway, if you've been waiting for the blog and you've gotten mad at no postings on Tuesday or Wednesday, blame me. Not J, she's completely innocent in this matter -- there may be others where she's not innocent, but I'm not gonna tell. She'll kill me if do.

So, you ask, what have you two baked this time?
Well, let me tell you:

1 Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie.
2 Lemon Meringue Pies and
1 Pumpkin Walnut Ring

So, we were very, very busy....

As you may have figured out J and I are a bit obsessive. And, a little compulsive. Need I mention the "screening of nuts" incident? I think not, too.

This time, it's J who's got the compare and contrast bug. Jessica, One of J's clients from her dog sitting business, (she does it along with her husband obviously as you can't really hide dogs in a house and not have the other homeowner not notice, can you?) The link is posted at right for those of you in the area who want to avail yourself of her and K's services, feel free.

Where was I going with this?....oh right....

Jessica was headed to Oregon..nice, right?....

Anyway, Jessica asked J if there was anything she wanted her to bring back from the west coast and J said, yes, C & H Golden Brown Sugar, because for some reason Fine Cooking magazine mentions that when you make a meringue with C & H Brown Sugar it tastes different than the Domino's Brown Sugar those of us from the Eastern half of the US are used to.

We figured since Jessica had brought the Brown Sugar, she should be a part of the baking of the meringues. She made it (yea!) and hung out with us and it was a great time. Hopefully, she'll come back on many other occasions. Look, C & H has a very catchy jingle as both Jessica and K (the husband) sang it during our baking time.

So, there is the compare and contrast. We made two Lemon Meringue Pies each with different meringues and crusts. We really went for the gold here. The hands down best pie crust -- there were three (remember the Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie?) -- was the Pate Brisee from the Silver Palate Cookbook (we strongly recommend this recipe and the entire cookbook, especially the 25th anniversary edition with color pictures.)

Which meringue did people like? We had 6 tasters once we included the husbands of the three bakers- see below for how that unfolded. Mostly people liked the one that they didn't grow up with. Which shocked both of us entirely. I tried to make up some lame rationale for why it was so, but after reflecting on it, I have no idea why people would like the one that "mom made". So that's 2 for Domino (Kev and Jessica, the west coaster's in the bunch) and 4 of us for C&H (the mostly east coaster's in the bunch). Go figure.

Here is the link to the Fine Cooking Lemon Meringue Recipe that we used which is originally from the baker at Mustard's Grill in Napa Valley. Search the Fine Cooking website for Lemon Meringue Pie. (Or, you can copy this hyperlink into your search engine: For some reason, I can't get the link to work. Sorry :(

The Pecan Pie is the recipe for the cover of the latest Fine Cooking. Honestly, I don't like Pecan Pie, but this looked really good. And, it was. The chocolate and espresso rounded out the usually cloying sweetness of a pecan pie, making this more of a grown up desert than the children's version I was used to.

I made my own pie dough this time. Really, it's my 6th time, and according to J it wasn't too bad. I was extremely flaky, even before baking and when it was blind baked, you could make it evaporate by walking by it. Actually, I didn't think it was too bad. Again, search Fine Cooking for the Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie. (Here is the link to this recipe to cut and paste:

The Cake Bible baking we did was the Pumpkin Walnut Ring (pg 71). This was quite rocking. It was, if I'm not mistaken, the first cake we did without using any butter! RLB uses safflower oil and walnut oil. We baked ours in a bundt pan and it turned out to be perfect. This was moist, with a great crumb. It had a heady, earthy -- think holidays at your grandparents house, or think of Autumn. The cinnamon, clove and nutmeg always say Thanksgiving or Holiday to me. And it was topped off with a chocolate glaze which sounds like it might have overwhelmed the pumpkin and spice, but it actually complimented the cake quite well. The glaze was simple enough too, chocolate melted with walnut oil. Try it.

And, really who doesn't love a reason to use pumpkin?

Michael and I had dinner with J & K that night -- the meringue pies had to chill for 4 hours before you could meringue them....So, all four of us tasted all 4 of them all together.

After dinner, I was in no condition to traipse all over northern Westchester (Janet chose a kick butt red wine -- I liked it so much I left my hat at J & K's place.) So she delivered them to the usual culprits for tasting. J & K made it to Jessica's house and shared the pies with her and her husband. So, while Jessica had to leave before the pies were completely ready in the afternoon, she did get to try them after all. Schlepping the sugar 3000 miles paid off!

For those of you who are interested....Fruit Cakes haven't been forgotten, we've just decided that we'll make fruit cake cupcakes and they don't have to cure at all. Now, thanks to Barbara in NJ who suggested the King Arthur Flour Company, all we have to do now is put in the order for the candied fruit.

Bake through....


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