Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lavender Lemon Meringue Pie



A couple weeks ago I was invited to a Super Bowl party and I wanted to bring something sweet and southern, so I decided to try making a lemon meringue pie, but with meringue that had been flavored with lavender. If you remember, a while back I made some lavender lemon rice pudding that turned out quite well, so I decided to use that same flavor combination. It came out wonderfully, tasting great and looking even better! I love it when the meringue browns at the tips, it looks so fluffy and beautiful. But enough about how much I like meringue, on to the ingredients!

 
Ingredients:

1 Ready-Made Frozen Pie Crust
1 Cup Sugar, plus 6 additional tablespoons
1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Milk
1/3 Cup Lemon Juice
3 Tablespoons Corn Starch
2 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon Grated Lemon Zest
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 Teaspoon Dried Lavender
1/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
4 Eggs Whites
4 Egg Yolks, beaten


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To make the filling, mix together the flour, salt, cornstarch and one cup of the sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Then whisk in the water and the milk and begin to cook the mixture over medium high heat, stirring often, until it comes to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and take one cup of the mixture out of the pan. 


Gradually whisk the cup of the mixture into the beaten egg yolks until they are thoroughly combined. Pour the yolk mixture back into the saucepan and continue to simmer the filling, stirring constantly, for another four minutes. Then remove the filling from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla extract. Cover and set aside.


To make the meringue, take 3 tablespoons of sugar and the 1/4 teaspoon of lavender 
 and place them in a coffee grinder. Pulse several times until the lavender has been cut into small pieces and is mixed in the with sugar. Set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until they become foamy. Beat in the 3 tablespoons of regular sugar and the 3 tablespoons of lavender sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Continue to beat the egg whites until they become shiny and stiff and hold peaks. Do not under beat them, as this may take several minutes to achieve. Beat in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and set the meringue aside.


Cover the edges of the pie crust with tin foil and pour the filling into the crust. Then spread the meringue on top of the filling using a spatula and taking care not to intermix the layer of lemon filling with the layer of meringue. Place the pie in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the tin foil crust coverings, and allow the pie to cool for 30 minutes. Place the pie in the refrigerator for at least two hours prior to serving. Serve chilled.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips




I first heard of this crazy amazing dessert when my little brother, Pante, went off to school at the University of North Dakota. There wasn't much to do in Grand Forks, but they did have an amazing little candy store that made their own chocolate covered potato chips. Everyone in the town was pretty obsessed with them, and for good reason. He brought us home a bag when he came home for Christmas, and they were fantastic. Think of chocolate covered pretzels except better. They had different kinds of chocolate on them, some of them were even spicy! It was such a fun and delicious treat that I decided to make them for Valentine's Day instead of traditional chocolates or cupcakes. I used three different kinds of chocolate, but no spiciness. If you wanted to make it spicy, you could probably add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the semi-sweet chocolate for a nice kick :) Happy Valentine's!!!


Ingredients:

(1) 8.5 Ounce Bag Kettle-Style Potato Chips
(1) 12 Ounce Bag White Chocolate Chips
(1) 12 Ounce Bag Milk Chocolate Chips
(1) 12 Ounce Bag Dark or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Red Food Coloring, 4 drops




Divide the potato chips into three equal piles, then place a wire rack on a flat surface on top of some newspaper to catch the chocolate drippings. Using a double boiler, melt down the white chocolate, stirring frequently. Using your hands, hold the edge of a chip and dip it into the white chocolate, making sure it is fully covered. Shake off any excess white chocolate, and place it on the wire rack. Repeat until the entire pile of chips are all coated.


Place the remaining white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, and clean out the inside pot of the double boiler, making sure to dry it thoroughly. Now place the milk chocolate in the double boiler, repeat the process, and do it again with the semi-sweet chocolate until all the chip piles are coated.

Once they have all been coated, transfer them to a plate and put the plate in the freezer to help speed up the hardening process. They are dry when the coating appears matte rather than shiny, and you can touch them without the coating coming off on your fingers.


Remove them from the freezer and set them aside. If the white chocolate has hardened microwave it for a few seconds and stir well, (be very careful as chocolate can burn easily under high heat and it will not melt anymore once it has burned). Add the food coloring to the white chocolate and stir until it is a soft, even pink. Using a small pastry brush, decorate the chips however you would like. I made hearts and drizzled zig-zag patterns over them.

The same can be done with the milk and dark chocolate, make sure to use separate pastry brushes so that the different colors of chocolate don't get mixed up. Enjoy!


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Beef and Pinto Bean Pho


Our apartment has been very cold the past few mornings, (probably because we don't get any direct sunlight), and walking along on the cold, hard tile first thing in the morning has left me feeling...well, soupy. I just wanted something nice and warm and comforting to eat, so I looked around my pantry to see what soup supplies I could scrounge up and saw that I had beef bouillon cubes and pinto beans. I didn't want to make a thick soup, as most bean soups usually are, so I decided to attempt to make a mexican-style pho soup, minus the noodles, but complete with beef, leeks, jalepeno pepper, pinto beans and fresh cilantro. Awesomely, it came out even better than the pho I usually get down the street at an actual pho place, and had just the right amount of kick. Pho is very broth-y, so it tends to get bland pretty easily, but the pepper and siracha really helped give it a nice, spicy flavor. I know the weather has been particularly terrible around the entire world lately, so I hope you all feel inspired to make yourselves a nice hot bowl of soup to warm up from the inside out. Enjoy!


Ingredients:

6 Cups Water
1 Cup Canned Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed
4 Tablespoons Fresh Cilantro Leaves
1 Leek, cut into thin slices
1 Jalapeno Pepper, cut into thin slices
1 Beef Bouillon Cube
1/2 Pound Beef, cut into 1/2 inch thick strips
1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
1/8 Teaspoon Salt
1/8 to 1/4 Teaspoon Siracha, depending on how spicy you want it


Bring the water to a boil. Add the beef bouillon cube and stir until it has dissolved. Add the sliced leek, lower heat, and allow the mixture to simmer for 20 minutes. Then add the jalepeno, beef, salt, pepper and the pinto beans and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the siracha, taste it, and add more siracha if you want it spicier. Ladle the soup into individual serving bowls and garnish each bowl with the desired amount of fresh cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.