29 May 2009

Strawberry Pie

I loooove strawberry pie. Love it. And this is the time of year when you can make your own luscious sweet strawberry pie, thanks to all the low prices on those plump berries at the grocers and markets. Sooo good, and just so satisfying on a hot, humid-ish day. Which is exactly the kind of weather now creeping into our Kansas springs...

My parents gave me a copy of Mr. Food's version of strawberry pie, and I mixed things up a bit until I had a recipe I liked best. I changed a few of the measurements for sugar/cornstarch, I like a sweeter and denser filling. I also sliced the strawberries, it just seemed to make for not-as-messy eating and also a better proportion of berries/binder :)

I can't stress enough - be sure to chill this pie for at least a good 4 hours, although 6+ would be ideal. You want a nice, ice-cold slice to top with some whipped cream and enjoy in the heat. Mmmmm.

Strawberry Pie
(adapted from Mr. Food)

1 (9-in.) deep-dish pie shell, baked and cooled
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
4 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 c. cold water
1 (3 oz.) pkg. strawberry gelatin
1 quart strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and water in a medium saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil while stirring. Boil off until mixture is clear and thick. Add gelatin and stir to dissolve. Set aside to cool about 15-20 minutes.

After cooling for a bit, add sliced strawberries to gelatin mixture. Pour into pie shell and chill in refrigerator, at least 4 hours. Serve pie with whipped cream. Yum!

26 May 2009

Mini Lime Pavlovas

Yeah, you wanna talk about where I've been? Here's the best part, the total kicker - um, I haven't had a baby. Nope, not yet. Just got a terrible case of the "Busy Bee!"s and haven't had time to type anything up and post to the beloved blog. Yeah, I know - I pretty much suck at this blogging thing these days. But! I've been able to spend a lot of quality-time with friends and family galore before this Robot of ours shows up, so I won't let the blog make me feel too terribly guilty.

Anyhoo! On to the recipe, shall we? Now, I love a good Pavlova. The only problem is that it is so darn humid in Kansas, I rarely get the opportunity to make them in the summer months (and let's admit it, it's not really the type of thing you bust out in the wintertime). I was hosting my book club and wanted to make a dessert, and figured since hey, it was pretty nice, I'd make Pavlovas. I baked them off the night before and planned on serving them with strawberries and kiwi.

So of course, it rained that evening. And the next day. And the next...

So while they were mighty delicious, the Pavlovas were also a bit sad looking. They *poof* fell apart with the slightest touch, so what you're seeing in pictures is a nice, sadly crumbled Pavlova. No matter, though - what they lacked in presentation, they more than made up for in taste. I love Pavlovas because they have that soft, melt-on-your-tongue outer meringue with a lovely, smooshy, marshmallow-like interior. Add some light whipped cream and fruit, and it's absolute heaven.

Also I should note: as far as desserts go, this one is about as healthy as it gets if you go easy on the whipping cream! A note to Kris and Alfie: you can sub the fine sugar with Splenda, just cut down about 1/4 of the amount. It'll turn out the same but will be sugar free!

Mini Lime Pavlovas
(adapted from sadly I can't remember where, but I swiped a mini Pav recipe and worked from there...)

4 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 c. fine granulated (baker's) sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
Zest of 1/2 of a lime
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Whipped cream
Sliced fruit

Preheat oven to 180 F. Place 2 sheets of parchment paper on 2 sheet pans. Draw several small circles on the paper, using a small ramekin or similar item as a guide, then turn them over so the circles are on the reverse side (this way you won't get pencil marks on your meringue).
Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about a minute. With the mixer on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 2 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar, zest, and vanilla, and carefully fold them lightly with a rubber spatula. Pile the meringue on your circle outlines, making a small indentation in the middle (for your cream and fruit later). We're not going for gorgeous and smooth here - rough edges are prettier with this dessert anyway, so just pile them on with that spatula.

Bake for 90 minutes. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and leave the mini Pavlovas in the oven for about an hour. They should be crisp on the outside and soft inside.

To serve: place one mini Pavlova on each plate. Top with whipped cream and fruit.