I like kitchens.
I spend a lot of my free time in them.
Especially mine, which, although nothing extraordinary, I honestly believe could only be improved by the addition of a couch. But, considering the fact that a kitchen couch is not particularly practical, maybe just some art. You know, when I recover from buying textbooks. Yipes.
Anyway, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that it’s my happy place. Baking and cooking are relaxing activities, so I’m in good spirits when I’m in the kitchen.
Last weekend, I found myself standing happily in front of the oven at two in the morning, aimlessly shifting my weight from left to right while waiting for a meringue to brown and set. I busied myself by straightening the beat-up and mismatched dishtowels hanging on the oven door, hanging them, freshly folded, on either side of the oven window. It was only after ensuring that the towels were evenly matched that I, feeling quite satisfied, warranted myself a peek through the glass. Behind it, I watched caramelized patches appear and spread over the surface of the fluffy meringue cloud, replacing the satin white finish with a blanket of warm amber.
The kitchen timer exhausted itself with a rapid series of beeps and I removed the pie from the oven without flourish. Resting peacefully on a cooling rack, I attacked the remaining pale spots with my kitchen torch – for good measure – and asked C to put the pie in the fridge when he went to bed.
It was nearly three in the morning when I flipped the light switch and buried myself in blankets. I felt fulfilled, but I needed sleep.
The following day, I drove that pie out to my Grandparent’s place where it was served, and even consumed in some cases, in their kitchen.
Their kitchen where I stood, drinking tea, talking to relatives, rinsing dishes, stirring pots on the stove and eating more of Grandma’s peach cobbler than I really should have.
All the while marveling over the fact that I was so comfortable just being there.
Where I belong.
Lemon Meringue Pie
1 c (142 g) flour
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbls (118 g) butter, cut into 1/4″ cubes and chilled
4 Tbls water, cold
Combine the flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Add the butter, then cut in using two forks, a pastry blender, or your hands. Continue working in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add just enough water to bring the dough together and knead a few times to ensure that the flour is evenly moistened. Press into a 1″ thick disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to two days.
When ready to roll, dust your counter with flour. Remove the dough from the fridge and let rest on the counter for 5 minutes to allow to warm slightly and become more workable. Roll the dough into a circle large enough to fit a 9″ pie dish and transfer to the pan by rolling the dough around your pin and draping it over the top. Roll up the edge of the dough and use your fingers or a fork to create a decorative edge. Prick with a fork and place in the freezer.
Heat your oven to 425F. When it comes to temperature, line the prepared pie crust with parchment, aluminum foil or coffee filters and fill it with dry rice or beans. Bake 20 minutes, then remove the foil/parchment/filters along with the beans/rice and bake 5-10 minutes longer until nicely brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack while you prepare the filling.
Lemon Filling and Meringue via Allrecipes
4 egg yolks, room temp
1 c (200g) sugar
2 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c water
2 lemons, juiced and zested
2 Tbsp butter, room temp
Baked pie crust
4 egg whites, room temp
6 Tbsp white sugar
Preheat oven to 350F (175C).
Place the egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl. Beat them briefly, then set aside.
Combine the cup of sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir in the water, lemon juice and lemon zest, then turn the burner on to medium-high. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to a boil. Stir in the butter. Remove the pan from heat and pour about 1/2 c of the hot sugar mixture into the beaten egg yolks, whisking immediately after the addition. Pour the egg yolks into the sugar mixture and return the pan to the heat. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until very thick. Remove from heat and Pour filling into the prepared pie crust.
In a large and very clean glass or metal bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy. With the mixer running, gradually add the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar and continue beating until you have stiff peaks. Spread the meringue over the hot filling, sealing the edges at the crust.
Bake for about 10 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown. Place briefly under the broiler or use a kitchen torch if more browning is desired.