Category Archives: Uncategorized

#11 Lemon Meringue Pie

WHY THIS PIE?

As I travel further into the pie challenge, I’m finding that there are some good-old standbys that I have yet to make.  Lemon Meringue is one of them; a classic pie that a true pie maker should have in her back pocket.   This pie also happens to be the favorite of my most favorite chef: Alton Brown.

This week’s pie is Lemon Meringue Pie (recipe courtesy of Alton Brown, FoodNetwork.com).  *Important* if you simply follow the instructions word-for-word on Alton’s recipe, you’ll end up with a runny mess.  You’ll do good to watch the video before proceeding with this pie.   I also found that Betty Crocker’s recipe has more clearly written instructions than AB, so I used this for backup.

Lemon Meringue Pie

HOW DID IT GO?

I had to make this one twice.  My first attempt was a train-wreck!  I thought I had it all down before I started, but low and behold the pie turned into a soupy mess when I cut into it.  I went back to the drawing board and learned a couple of things about the process

1.  When they say “boil”, they mean it.

2.  When you add the egg yolks to the filling, be sure to bring the whole mixture back to a boil.

3.  Make sure that the filling is very thick before you pour it into the crust.  It will not set any further while in the oven or in the refrigerator.

THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

The first time around was a bit of a mess.  I had to make this pie twice.  In the disaster of a pie below, notice the soupy interior and the separation of the meringue from the crust.   Not good.  This happens when you don’t cook the filling enough before pouring it into the pie shell.  After adding the egg yolks back to the filling, make sure to bring the mixture back to a boil and cook until it’s thick.   You’ll also notice that the meringue is pulling away from the crust.  When I put this together, I was too concerned with creating a pretty pie, and I didn’t spread the meringue all the way to the edge.  As a result, the meringue pulled away from the crust.  Again, not good.   I *thought* had done a good job of making this pie until I cut into it.   In the end, this proved to be a more difficult pie than I expected.

Sadly, the pie below didn’t make it.  It died a tragic death in the disposal.  Lesson learned?  Cook the filling well.  Pull the meringue way over the edge of the crust; don’t worry about making a pretty pie.

Lemon Meringue Gone Wrong

#10 Peanut Butter Pie

WHY THIS PIE?

I love peanut butter.   And I don’t have much more to say than that.

This week’s pie is Mrs. Salter’s Peanut Butter Pie (Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen, FoodNetwork.com)

Peanut Butter Pie

HOW DID IT GO?

Another super easy pie to make.  This would be a great pie to make for a short-notice dinner party, and would be sure to impress.  The filling probably took 5 minutes to whip together.  The only time consuming thing about the whole process is waiting for the crust to cool, then for the pie to set in the fridge.  Agonizing.

THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

You have to know what you’re getting into with a Paula Deen recipe.  Don’t expect anything light, even if she says it will be.  This pie is dense, rich and creamy… so dense that you might be better off mentally preparing yourself for a bite of cheesecake.  Also, I was expecting a lot stronger peanut butter flavor from this recipe; the combination of whipping cream and cream cheese tone down the peanut butter flavor quite a bit.  It definitely needs chocolate to add dimension to the flavors and to break the monotony of dense peanut butter and cream cheese.  Next time I make this, I’ll use a chocolate cookie crust instead of graham cracker.  But I’m not convinced that this is the best recipe out there for peanut butter loving pie eaters.  I’ll seek out few more peanut butter pie recipes before I come back around to this one again.

#9 Sweet Potato Pie

WHY THIS PIE?

Thanks to you, the mystery readers of this blog, the selection of this week’s pie was quite easy.  You voted on Sweet Potato Pie, so here it is!  (Now, if only there was scratch and eat internet…)

This week’s recipe is Sweet Potato Pie (courtesy of Alton Brown, FoodNetwork.com)

 

Sweet Potato Pie

 

HOW DID IT GO?

Well, I burned the first batch of sweet potatoes in the steamer (yeah, make sure there’s enough water.  This goes back to Principle #1: Pay Attention).  The second batch of potatoes steamed just fine, though my kitchen needed some airing out.  Other than the potatoes, the rest of the filling was pretty straightforward to put together.  The recipe calls for “salt to taste”, which wasn’t particularly helpful for me.  I’m not used to inexact measurements in baking and this threw me off.

THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

The finished result looks like a lot like a pumpkin pie, but don’t be fooled.  It really tastes nothing like pumpkin.  You might get your hopes up if you don’t approach this one with an open mind.  Also, I wonder if I picked the wrong kind of yogurt.  I used Nancy’s Organic Whole Milk Plain Yogurt, and the pie ended up with a sour tinge.  I have a feeling that this is not a traditional Sweet Potato Pie, though this is the first Sweet Potato Pie I’ve made.  The pie was very creamy in texture, which made me wonder if the pie was not fully cooked through, though I did measure the internal temperature as Alton Brown recommends in the recipe.  Overall, the sour flavor from the yogurt really overpowered the rest of the ingredients.  To be honest, this was not my favorite pie.   Next time, I’ll try a different Sweet Potato Pie recipe.

#8: Key Lime Pie

WHY THIS PIE?

Deciding on which pie to make has become an increasingly challenging thing to do.  I decided to place the task in the hand of a friend who needed a pick-me-up, and Key Lime was his choice.  Like most of the pies on this blog, I’ve never made a Key Lime Pie, nor have I ever eaten one in recent memory.  Though, I have to say that expanding my horizons has never been more fun.

This week’s recipe is Key Lime Pie (courtesy of Gourmet Sleuth)

 

 

Key Lime Pie

 

 

HOW DID IT GO?

You really can’t go wrong with pies calling for a graham cracker crust, no matter how incompetent you feel in the kitchen.  There’s really nothing finicky about smooshed graham crackers and butter.  (mmm…)  Making the filling is a pretty fool-proof operation too.  Just whip up some egg yolks, combine with  sweetened condensed milk and lime juice.  This recipe also includes lime zest for an enhanced fresh lime flavor, though the zest is not a traditional ingredient in Key Lime Pies as far as I can tell.

THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

Because this pie was made on special request by a friend, I didn’t actually get to cut into it and try it for myself.  I did hear that it was a perfect balance of tart and sweet, though.   I suspect that this pie tasted a lot like the Avocado Pie of a few weeks back; the structure and ingredients of the two pies are very similar.  There’s only one way to know for sure… make another one!

#7: Mincemeat Pie

WHY THIS PIE?

This week’s pie was another that I’ve never made nor tasted before.  I’d heard recommendations of Mincemeat Pie from friends, though it always sounded pretty unappetizing to me.  But, in the name of The Pie Challenge I’ve got to expand my horizons.  I turned to my trusty ‘ole Alton Brown for the recipe.

This week’s recipe is Mincemeat Pie (Courtesy of Alton Brown, FoodNetwork.com)

HOW DID IT GO?

Contrary to my initial impression, this pie does not contain any meat.  The only animal-based products are butter and beef suet.  (Suet is the hard fat around the kidneys and loin.)

This pie was very simple to make.  All you have to do is pulse all the ingredients in a food processor, let them sit in the refrigerator for at least 3 days, then pour them into the crust.

 


Mincemeat Pie, Before the Oven

 

When I piled all the ingredients in my food processor and started to pulse, it nearly maxed out the capacity of my bowl.  (I have a 7 cup food processor)  I should have ground the apples separately, removed them from the processor bowl, ground the remaining ingredients, then combined them all together.

The crust was fairly simple to make as well.  The recipe calls for “grated butter” (on a cheese grater)… brilliant way to get the butter into small pieces while keeping it nice and cold.   I found the dough to be a little dry while kneading; I had to add quite a few more spritzes of water than the recipe called for.  (If you’re just learning to make pie crust, I find that it’s better to make your dough a little on the moist side.  It’s less liable to fall apart, and you can always add more flour if it’s sticky when you’re rolling it out.)

THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

The pie was a huge hit with my family!  They said that the pie tasted very fresh, that the flavor of every ingredient was clearly distinguishable, and that this is not “Your Mama’s Mincemeat Pie”.  Having no basis to compare this pie to, I have to take their word for it. 🙂

I will definitely make this pie again!

 

Mincemeat Pie, All Done!

 

#6: Avocado Pie

WHY THIS PIE?

This week’s pie came totally out of the blue… er… green.  In the search for my next experiment, I came across this extremely simple yet intriguing recipe.  Avocado Pie.  Wait… avocado pie?  Suspending all further judgement, I decided to give it a shot.

This week’s recipe: Avocado Pie (Courtesy of PinchMySalt.com)

 

Avocado Pie

 

how did it go?

This was a breeze to make.  With only 4 ingredients, it took me all of about 5 minutes (aside from the crust).   After assembling, I let it set in the refrigerator over night, which seemed to allow for a nice solid filling.

THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

This pie tastes almost nothing like an avocado.  It more resembles a lemon bar than anything else.  For a stronger avocado flavor go a little light on the lemon, and possibly toss in another avocado.   Overall, even the most non-adventurous of my tasting crew enjoyed this one.

See FoodNetwork.com for another spin on this tasty recipe.

#5: Pecan Pie

WHY THIS PIE?

My memories of Pecan Pie largely relate to wanting to go to the dentist.    Don’t get me wrong; I love my sweets.  But sickeningly sweet pie with bitter pecans isn’t my idea of tasty pie.  If Pecan Pie is going to exist in my world, it won’t come with corn syrup.   So, this week’s challenge begins: Pecan Pie sans corn syrup.

This week’s recipe is the cleverly named Pecan Pie V (Courtesy of Elaine Helms, AllRecipes.com)

Pecan Pie

HOW DID IT GO?

The filling of this pie reminded me a lot of a wet cookie dough.  It baked up nicely, but maintained a nice and semi-solid filling on the inside.  I found that the crust dried out after being uncovered for the duration of the baking; next time I’ll cover the edge with a rim of foil.

THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

I have to admit, I have never had a Pecan Pie that I liked.  I totally relied on the feedback of my trusty test-tasters at work.  (And they’ve already told me to cover the dang thing entirely in pecans…)