Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lemon Meringue Pie FAIL

Yesterday I watched "The Ninth Gate", aka: the worst Johnny Depp movie ever.  But determined to watch it to the bitter end I filled the time by multitasking, surfing food blogs and paging through my collection of cookbooks. was recommended to me by a friend several years ago and I love it.  They have great recipes, helpful kitchen hints and a stylish website.  They also allow their readers to submit recipes, so there are dishes on the site that you won't see on most others.  It's a blend of high-brow cuisine and home cooking.

The site's commenters do a great job of suggesting recipe improvements and providing clarification of vague instructions, but when I came upon a recipe for "Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie" it so whetted my appetite that I immediately went to the kitchen and started in.  Who has time for comments?

I should have known something was amiss when the first line of the recipe said, "Pre bake the pie crust", and there was no recipe for pie crust.  No problem.  I went back to the cookbook shelf and found a recipe, since the one I normally use is now located in Palm Springs.  After mixing the pie dough and putting it in the refrigerator to chill, I re-read the recipe and got far enough down the page this time that I made it to the comments section.  Scathing!  Commenters pointed out that the recipe's instructions called for egg yolks in the meringue, instead of egg whites, and that twice as much sugar was needed to get the egg whites to a stiff peak.  The recipe also provided no instruction for additional baking to give the meringue those prerequisite golden peaks.

Instead of finding a new recipe, I took into consideration the commenters' wisdom and forged ahead, just like my determination to make it to the credits of the Johnny Depp movie.  (As I type this, I'm beginning to see a life-pattern here.)  The pie crust was a dream and the lemon custard tasted fantastic.  Even the meringue turned out, with the addition of the extra sugar.  I threw it in the oven to brown the peaks and out came a beautiful pie!

To make sure there was room for dessert, I intentionally ate only half my steak dinner even though the rib eye and twice-baked potato were amazing (no comment on the Brussels sprouts).  After some time on the couch and a post-dinner cocktail, it was time for desert!  The pie looked so great that I was feeling really good about myself and a little bit cocky.  I even texted a picture of it to my mother to confirm what a kitchen wizard she'd raised.

I cut a big wedge for JD and as I removed it from the plate I was greeted by a YELLOW FLOOD.  The custard didn't set and it was like a bright yellow gravy.  The rush of yellow ooze also pulled the meringue away from the side of the pie remaining in the pan, like a white mudslide.

It still tasted great but it certainly wasn't what I had intended and probably should have been served in a bowl over ice cream.  (A trick I learned from my mother for situations like this.)  On the bright side, I have a new favorite pie crust recipe that came from Julia Child's, "The French Chef Cookbook".

Lessons learned:  Great actors sometimes make crappy movies and posting a recipe on the internet does not make you Julia Child.

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