I used to work with a lovely Cypriot called Christina who gave me her mother-in-law’s recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie about 10 years ago. I found it the week before Easter as I was forlornly thinking what to bake for a dessert for an upcoming family meal. I also wanted to use this gorgeous red clafoutis/pie dish that Celia sent me for an Easter gift made by Emile Henri. I couldn’t take a decent photo of it for some reason so I have attempted to draw it with the Paper 53 app on the iPad. I’ve ordered a stylus as my finger isn’t the easiest thing to draw with – or that’s my excuse!
I confess, though you may find this hard to believe, that I absolutely loathe planning meals to the point of hysteria and phobia. Some people like nothing more than
pouring poring over their cook books and rifling through their recipes and I just get swamped with choice and possibility and want to hide under the duvet. I am not really a foodie you see, I like eating it and I quite like making bread in particular, but that’s not usually tied in to meal planning – but the rest of the hoo-hah surrounding food – it’s just not me. I try to play along but you won’t find me on Come Dine with Me ever.
I have been puzzling about this one as it is fairly dysfunctional of me and it comes down to three key things:
I don’t like choosing for other people what they are going to eat.
I want other people to be happy with the food on their plates.
I want all the food to arrive on the table in perfect condition at the right time.
I’m working on it – so if you have fool proof three or more course menus which tick the not too heavy on the fats (everyone watching their weight) not too over the top on meats, nice veggies, no fish(family member hates fish) , no nuts (one allergy family member) , no sweet milk, no berries (another allergy person) foolproof menus for my family get togethers, with most of it made beforehand so I can relax a bit then please send them over here. It’s about time I got the hang of this. I do have loads of books, but the more I read, the less able I am to make choices. I will never make a proper foodie!
However, let’s stay positive, once I decided on making this I was quite content with the dessert side of things. Most people seem to like, soft over the top fluffy meringue and sharp-sweet lemon filling, that you can pile on your plate and yet not feel ridiculously stuffed when you have eaten it. In fact we had a two pudding Easter Lunch, with this pie and a lovely fruit salad (dressed with left over hot cross bun glaze, curacao and lemon juice with home made vanilla yoghurt). I was quite surprised at my family’s enthusiasm for puddings.
What else did we have? We had the first English asparagus from Somerset as a starter, with a melted butter and lemon sauce. My sister’s tip : Just melt the butter in the microwave and then whisk lemon juice into it while it is warm. Ace idea!
Then we had a rolled loin of pork off the bone which was roasted with garden herbs and sliced faster than you could say knife; served with roast new potatoes and cherry tomatoes. My sister made a wonderful green salsa with green peppercorns and anchovies and green herbs, plus a roast red pepper sauce to go with it, she is a far better cook than me – and a pile of steamed purple broccoli that didn’t want to cook but no one said anything about it.
I would do the roast new potatoes again as you hardly need any oil to cook them in. You wash and scrub them, parboil them for 5 minutes. let them sit in the colander so they are fairly dry by the time you pop them in the oven in a spoonful of oil with cherry tomatoes tucked around them and any herbs or seasoning you fancy. They take about 45 – 50 minutes in a 200 C oven and look very pretty when they come out. No peeling involved! The cherry tomatoes retain their shape too and cheer up the potatoes no end.
Christina’s Mother’s Lemon Meringue Pie
- 250 g ( 8 oz) plain flour
- 30g (1 oz) icing sugar
- 125g (4 oz) chilled cubed butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tbsps cold water
For the Filling
- Grated zest and juice of 4 large lemons (mine were huge!)
- 90 g (3 oz) cornflour
- 600 ml (1 pint) water
- 4 egg yolks
- 175g (6 oz) caster sugar
For the Meringue
- 5 egg whites
- 250 g (8 oz) caster sugar
You also need
- 25 cm (10 inch) loose bottomed fluted flan tin
- baking beans or dried pulses, I used chickpeas
- Sift flour and icing sugar iinto a large bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
- Mix in the egg yolk and enough cold water to make a soft pliable dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 30 minutes
- Roll out the dough on a floured surface and fit it gently into the dish. I use a round ball of dough to ease the pastry into the corners. I cut it with about a 1 cm overlap and folded the top bit down to make a nice solid edge to the pie.
- Bake the pastry blind. To do this prick the pastry shell all over with a fork. Press a piece of foil or greaseproof paper into the pastry shell, smoothing it over the bottom and up the side of the shell, very tricky with this dish, I used several bits of paper to do this.
- Fill the shell with baking beans, and bake in a preheated oven at 200 C (400 F, Gas 6) for 10 minutes.
- Remove beans and foiil and bake for a further five minutes or until the base has dried out. Remove the shell from the oven and reduce the temperature to 150 C (300 F Gas 2)
- Mix the lemon zest and juice with the cornflour in a small bowl. Bring the water to the boil, then stir into the lemon cornflour mixture. Return to the pan and bring back to a boil, stirring until the mixture thickens and if you taste it you can’t taste the floury taste anymore.
- Leave to cool slightly, then whisk in the egg yolks and sugar. Return to a low heat and cook, stirring until just simmering. Pour the filling into the shell.
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Whisk in the sugar 1 tsp at a time. Pile on top of the filling and spread over. Stand your dish on a tray, just in case it leaks, mine did a bit. Bake for 45 minutes or until crisp and brown. Serve warm or cold.
I suspect that this recipe probably comes out of a book somewhere along the line but I don’t know which one as all I have are Christina’s hand written notes, so if it looks horribly familiar please let me know. Lemon meringue is a classic pie though and I doubt it belongs to anyone in particular. If you want to tell me about your Easter meals, I am all ears, particularly on how you solve the minimising anxiety and making everyone happy thing.