Archive for April, 2013

The box? Oh, you know the boxed cake mix when you have no food or time to cook anything. That’s how my last two weeks have been, super crazy!

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Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with the boxed cake mix. It’s great when you have to whip up a cake or cupcakes super fast and last minute. Andrew and I usually always have a box of “funfetti” cake mix in the apartment since it’s our favorite. So yesterday being home sick from my awful allergies (darn you pollen and oak pollen!), I just had to bake something, and that’s when boxed cake mix comes to the rescue! So Foodie Friday today is…. it’s OK to have boxed cake mix. It’s delicious and always there when you have that craving for cake and when life get’s too busy. Oh and lesson here is to make sure you read directions carefully. We accidentally put the whole mix into one 9 inch pan when it was supposed to be two. We had a huge cake that took almost an extra 25 minutes to bake. Whoops…

Things have been slow here and I wanted to share what’s been going on. My allergies this year have been pretty bad due to my allergy to pollen. So being on benadryl for the last few weeks made me tired and loopy, a state I should not be sitting in front of the computer in. Besides my dumb allergies, I had a last minute trip to Orlando to visit my sister! My Aunt was going down to visit and asked if I wanted to come, so I jumped on that opportunity right away! A weekend spending time in Disney with my sister and Aunt?? OH HECK YES.

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We had such a relaxing weekend. I’ll blog sometime next week with details from the trip, but it is what I needed after a hectic and busy schedule from the last month. Luckily, things will be calming down soon. I’m training for my first 5K ever that will be in a few weeks. Crazy as I am, it’s the Warrior Dash. I am super excited for this challenge and glad I get to do it with friends and family, and I want that metal and Viking Hat after I complete the course. 😉 I’m going to make more of an effort to blog more, especially I have two sessions I must share!

Have a great weekend everyone! It’s supposed to be nice here in DC this weekend so go out and enjoy the spring weather (and don’t forget that allergy medicine if you need it! 😉 ).

I am happy to introduce to you my friend and colleague from work Christina, or her nickname Neen! She is a WONDERFUL cook and baker. She is the one who is always bringing in delicious treats to coffee time at work. I asked her to be a guest Foodie Friday blogger today and she has a delicious Lemon Chiffon Pie for us today! If you want more recipes from Neen, check out her food blog! Take it away, Neen! 🙂

Happy Friday!

For those of you unfamiliar with me, I’m Neen, one of Erica’s colleagues and general admirer of her photography work. As I’m sure Erica would agree, our lunch time conversations with the rest of our coworkers somehow almost always end up on the topic of food. It is a safe assumption to say that collectively, all we really want to do is fawn over one another’s lunches, drink copious amounts of coffee, and talk until there are only precious seconds left to clock back in before the wrath of Time Force docks a quarter hour of pay.

So when Erica asked me to guest blog for this week’s Foodie Friday, I leapt at the opportunity. Especially since I was going to Pittsburgh last weekend. That’s home for me, and the birthplace of all of my culinary love. Being in the kitchen with my family has always been my definition of joy. Dad gets more cooking magazines than even I, and when I caught a fine looking lemon chiffon pie staring at me from his copy of this month’s Cook’s Illustrated, I knew that it was destined for Erica’s blog. I’d never made lemon chiffon pie before…or any chiffon pie for that matter, but as Julia Child once said, “In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

 

Lemon Chiffon Pie

adapted with minor alterations from Cook’s Illustrated – March 2013 issue

 

        Crust:

  • 9 whole graham crackers

  • 2 tbsp. sugar

  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar

  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and browned lightly

Filling:

  • 1 tsp. unflavored gelatin, divided

  • 4 tbsp. water

  • 5 large eggs (2 whole, 3 separated)

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar

  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch

  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

  • 1 tbsp. grated lemon zest plus 3/4 cup juice (Takes about 4 lemons)

  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, softened

 

 

Begin by making the crust. Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F and place a rack in the middle. Crush the graham crackers with a rolling pin until pea-sized crumbs form. You want to end up with 1 1/4 cups of crumbs. Add sugar, brown sugar and salt and stir to combine. Add melted butter and stir until you have a mixture about the texture of wet sand.

 

Transfer this mixture to a 9 in. pie pan and press the crumbs evenly into the bottom and about 3/4 in. up the sides of the plate.

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Bake until lightly browned, about 16 minutes. Move the crust to a wire rack and allow it to cool completely.

 

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For the lemon curd filling, get your ingredients ready before you start. Using two separate bowls, divide the water among them evenly (2 tbsp. per bowl). Sprinkle ½ teaspoon gelatin over the water in each bowl, and allow these to sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.

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Whisk the 2 whole eggs and 3 yolks together in medium saucepan until thoroughly combined. Whisk in 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt until well combined. Whisk in lemon zest, lemon juice, and heavy cream. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. The mixture should reach 170 degrees.

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Stir in 1 water-gelatin mixture until dissolved. Remove pan from heat and let stand for 2 minutes.

Remove 1¼ cups lemon curd from pan and pour through fine-mesh strainer set in bowl.

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Transfer strained curd to prepared pie shell (do not wash out strainer or bowl) and spread evenly. Move the filled pie shell to the freezer while you prepare the chiffon topping.

Add the remaining water-gelatin mixture and cream cheese to remaining curd in pan and whisk thoroughly to combine.

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You can briefly return the pan to a warm surface if the cream cheese doesn’t melt completely at first. This mixture should be very smooth. Pour it through the fine-mesh strainer into your now-empty bowl. Allow it to cool slightly while you work on the egg whites.

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Using stand mixer, whip 3 egg whites with a pinch of salt on medium speed until foamy, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to high and slowly sprinkle in the remaining ¼ cup sugar. Continue whipping until stiff, glossy peaks are achieved, about 4 minutes.

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Add the curd–cream cheese mixture and whip on medium speed until no streaks remain, about 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is thoroughly mixed. Remove pie shell from freezer and carefully pour chiffon over curd, allowing it to mound slightly in center. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days before serving. I found that moving it to the freezer for 10-15 minutes prior to serving made it much easier to cut clean slices.

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Super-lemony, creamy, and not too sweet, just the way it should be. The double-team of gelatin and cornstarch keep the layers from getting runny or mixed together. But I think the selling point of this pie is that you can make it so far in advance. Incidentally, this was not finished in two days and held for about five in our fridge without much of a change in quality.

The “Trees” rectangle plate is part of Riverside Designs’ Plates with Purpose collection, and part of the proceeds benefit National CASA (court-appointed special advocates) volunteers. These volunteers speak up for over half a million abused and neglected children, providing them with stability and permanency. Plates with Purpose’s inspiring designs help to support and sustain a diverse group of regional and national not-for-profits.

Enjoy your Foodie Friday and have a beautiful weekend everyone! Many thanks to Erica for graciously allowing me to guest-post this week.

Ciao for now,

Neen

For more cooking fun and entertainment, visit me online at www.neensnotes.com.

Hey everyone, it’s Andrew signing on in place of Erica to write this week’s Foodie Friday post.  A little bit about myself, I am a true Marylander, meaning that seafood runs through my veins.  I do not think there is much in the way of seafood that I do not like.  You may remember from an earlier Foodie Friday post that we made some homemade bread.  We decided for this week to resurrect that recipe, with a few tweaks, to go with the crab dip.

Of course, you need crab meat.  For this recipe, I used lump crab meat.  I’m sure many people would be yelling at me for using lump crab meat because I broke up the lumps with my fingers.  Some say you should use lump crab meat for things that need to really showcase the crab because that’s all there is (like crabcakes) and you should use claw meat for dips because there are a lot of things that mask the crab.  Ultimately, you’ll need about a pound of crab meat.

In addition to the crab meat, you’ll need 8 ounces of cream cheese (make sure it sits out at room temperature to soften), 1 cup of mayonnaise (We always use Kraft’s Olive Oil mayo. Healthier and delicious), 2 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning (or some equivalent seafood seasoning), 1/2 teaspoon of ground mustard, hot sauce (like Frank’s), liquid smoke, and 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, Old Bay seasoning, and ground mustard into a large bowl.  Using a spatula, mix until well blended.

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2) Add hot sauce to the mixture based on your preferences.  For this particular instance, we used just enough hot sauce to get the essence of flavor into the mixture.  We did not intend to make a spicy crab dip, so we used enough so that you felt a little heat but it did not slap you in the face.  Add about 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke to add some depth of flavor.

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3) Pick through the crab meat to make sure that there are no shells.  The last thing anyone wants is to get an unexpected crunch in the crab dip.  Also make sure that there are many different sizes of crab meat pieces.  This way, you can get crab in every bite.

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4) Add the crab meat to the dip mixture.  Gently fold the crab meat into the mixture with the spatula.

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5) Spread the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate.  Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top so that all of the crab dip is covered.  Sprinkle some more Old Bay over the entire mixture.

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6) Bake the crab dip for 30 minutes.  When the crab dip comes out, you could sprinkle more hot sauce on top for an extra kick.  I sprinkled a little bit of garlic powder on top as well.

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The last step is to eat it!  As I said before, we made the bread again.  For this time, we used 1 teaspoon of Old Bay and 3/4 teaspoon of salt.  Unfortunately, it did not get as much Old Bay flavor as we thought it would.  Definitely add more Old Bay if you try to make bread to go with the crab dip.  Also, if you let the crab dip cool, you can spread it onto some good bread and make a crab dip grilled cheese, which IS as amazing as it sounds.

Bon appétit! 🙂