August 31, 2009
In retrospect, I should have just used my grandmother’s trusted family recipe for lemon meringue pie. It works, it’s delicious, and there’s no roll of the dice involved. Instead, I used Martha’s recipe from September Martha Stewart Everyday Food. For a dinner with my in-laws. Oh dear.
It started innocently enough. I bought refrigerated pie crust. I know, it’s not Martha, but I was under a time crunch as well as some health issues, so I needed to simplify.
This lemon meringue pie recipe is part of an entire section of recipes predicated on a lemon curd recipe. I get the concept of this (three desserts based on one basic recipe), but it was really quite annoying to flip back and forth between two pages to make this (“follow the recipe on page XX up to step one, then add X, Y and Z and then continue with the recipe”).
This is basically egg yolks, lemon juice, zest, sugar and cornstarch. I think this recipe is written wrong however. You are referred to the lemon curd recipe which says to cook until it coats the back of a spoon. It needs to cook longer and become much thicker in my opinion to become pie filling.
I poured the lemon into the pie crust and refrigerated. Then we packed it in a cooler the next day to take to the lake house. On the way there, it shifted and part of the lemon filling slopped out all over the cooler. This was the first sign I should have abandoned this and just served store bought cookies.
I made the meringue topping and popped it in the oven. It came out looking beautiful, with no hint of the disaster that lay beneath. I went to serve this pie and all the lemon ran out. It did not set up at all. It was a plate of crust, covered in soup with a floating meringue top. It all tasted ok, but it looked awful. Everyone was very nice about it of course and we ate it with spoons, but it was truly an unmitigated disaster. Sigh. I only make dinner for my in-laws once or twice a year and I try to make lovely food they will enjoy. What a disappointment this was.
August 30, 2009
I’ve got a bone to pick, but it’s not with Martha. It’s with the grocery store.
Earlier in the week, I went grocery shopping and bought ingredients for a few Martha dishes. I specifically bought avocado so I could made Roasted Chicken Tacos (Martha Stewart Everyday Food, September). There was a nice selection of avocados and some were marked “ripe”. Now, from what I could tell, none seemed ripe to me, but the ones marked “ripe” were closer than some of the other cement footballs in the bin. I brought my avocado home and let it sit out in the fruit bowl with the bananas (known to help ripen fruit) for two days. Finally, I was desperate for something to make for dinner. I had to rule out a salmon dish with a corn/tomato/avocado relish since I didn’t have any corn. I ruled out a fontina and mushroom turkey meatloaf because I had no mushrooms. My choices were dwindling and so I went with the chicken tacos. The sticker on the avocado says “ripe,” I rationalized. It must be at least close to ripe. Wrong.
I had some leftover fried chicken so I used that in place of the roasted chicken. This recipe has very few ingredients – cilantro ( had to use dried which is no real substitute but I was desperate for a dish I could make), onion, salt and pepper, lime juice and salt and pepper, and tortillas. And of course the cursed avocado. I tried to cut the avocado in half. It was so hard it would not separate in the center. I ended up peeling the skin off and cutting avocado off around the edges. It was just nasty. It was woody and pulpy and awful. The entire dinner I muttered under my breath about the ridiculousness of labeling this as ripe! I find they do this with other things too – peaches, nectarines, plums, etc. There is usually a bin of regular ones, then one marked “ripe now,” but they never are actually ripe. Nor are they close to ripe.I understand ripe fruit has a short shelf life. I understand they have to pick things unripe to allow for transportation time. I do know the reasons. But it doesn’t change my frustration.
The whole thing made me cranky and grumbly. How far in advance must one buy avocados?
Anyway, we went ahead and ate these, but they were not great. Even if the avocado had been ripe I would have given this a thumb’s down. It just needed something – salsa, cheese, tomato, sour cream, lettuce. Anything at all really would have helped. It was very blah and did not feel like anything close to a real meal.
August 29, 2009
In the September issue of Martha Stewart Living, Martha’s Pick (her personal recommendation) is AmorePacific Treatment Cleansing Foam. Martha enjoys its texture, according to the magazine. It’s meant to be a general cleanser which removes makeup and impurities (which I assume means dirt!). It’s supposed to reduce the appearance and severity of blemishes. Martha provides a link directly to the company, however they don’t have an online store, so I ended up ordering this from Sephora. It cost $54.38 including shipping, for 4.1 ounces.
This is a nice product. It does have a nice texture and it smells pleasant. It lathered nicely and my face felt clean, and not dry after using it. I used it for a week and didn’t notice any reduction in blemishes, although if that means acne, I don’t really have any to begin with.
I liked this, but I wouldn’t spend this much on a facial cleanser. I use an Oil of Olay cleanser that seems practically the same to me as this and costs under $10. I didn’t notice enough of a difference to pony up $40. If I was as rich as Martha, then yes, I guess I would.
August 27, 2009
I must admit, I’m really getting into the icebox cakes Martha has been having in her magazines. They’re easy to make and don’t require any baking. They’re perfect for summer.
This time I made Chocolate Peanut Butter Icebox Cake from September Martha Stewart Everyday Food. This was another quick and simple dessert. You whip some heavy cream ( 1 1/2 c) with powdered sugar (1/3 c). Then you mix more cream (1/2 c) with smooth peanut butter (1/3 c) and fold the 2 cream mixtures together. You need a whole box of chocolate wafers. Create layers – lay down 6 cookies in a circle with one in the center and cover with 2/3 c of the cream. Make another layer and so on. Reserve a few cookies to break in half and stand on the top of the cake and refrigerate. Wow! So easy but so good. This tasted like a decadent peanut butter pie. Mine may not have turned out as pretty as the one in the magazine, but it got high points from my taste-testers (as you can see, they got into it before I could take a photo of the cake as a whole). Everyone loved this – and I didn’t have to heat the kitchen up by using the oven.
August 25, 2009
Megan of Megan’s Cookin’ chose this week’s Martha Mondays project. We’re going to make pom-poms. These look very cute. Megan is going to do hers in fall colors and is channeling Halloween. Make yours any color you’d like and we’ll compare results next week Tuesday, after everyone has a chance to make them on Monday.
I’m starting the round-robin for assignments and will be going down the Martha Mondays blogroll. If you’d like to be added to the blogroll so you can be an official member and have a turn choosing a project, let me know.
August 25, 2009
The idea of roasting a chicken with plums is not something I would have ever thought of on my own. In fact, it seemed slightly odd to me. But I wanted to give it a try, and I’m happy others have joined me in making it for Martha Mondays. So here are my results for Roast Chicken with Plums, from September Martha Stewart Living.
This recipe was quite easy. Basically you stick some rosemary in a chicken and roast it. You take it out part way through and put some cut up plums mixed with honey in the pan, and cook some other plums separately in another pan with rosemary and butter.
It doesn’t get much simpler than that. I didn’t truss my chicken, because once again I was caught without twine (sorry Martha). I also divided the recipe in half since I wasn’t feeding 12 and didn’t need 2 chickens.
This went very smoothly. I got the chicken cooking then added the plums. It all cooked in exactly the time Martha predicted (love when that happens and I also am loving roasting chickens at 450 degrees as she directs – much higher than the temp I used to cook them at). The plums got quite mushy and were like chunky applesauce with skin. Initially, I put them on the platter with the chicken, but ended up putting them in a bowl so the chicken could be carved.
I loved it! This was wonderful. The plums are an unexpected flavor to go with the chicken, but it really worked. They are sweet, but not too sweet. The chicken was perfectly cooked and was moist and delicious. I ate plum and chicken together in each bite and it was in perfect harmony. This is a recipe I’ll be making again.
How was yours? Please share!
August 24, 2009
Another Martha dish I never would have come up with on my own! In September Martha Stewart Living, Martha has a recipe for Roasted Portobello Caprese Salad. It looked good and I liked all the ingredients, so I was in!
My pretty plate
The first step is to brush your portobello mushrooms with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and roast it with some garlic at 400. No problem. I like portobellos, but don’t often buy them, so this was a treat.
After that has roasted for 20 minutes, you add some sliced tomatoes to the pan and roast those as well. I picked my first tomatoes of the season for this recipe! I was so thrilled to be able to use my own!
Once the veggies are done, you rub the mushrooms with the garlic, then put a mushroom on the bottom of the plate and layer fresh mozzarella, basil and
My first tomatoes!
the roasted tomatoes on top in layers. You serve it with escarole on the side (I couldn’t find plain escarole so I used a bag of arugula salad mix).
This was a very simple supper to put together. I whipped up some homemade biscuits to serve it with and it was a complete meal. The portobellos were juicy and filling. The roast tomatoes were sweet and flavorful. The basil was a nice added flavor, as was the garlic. The mozzarella softened on top of the warm veggies and the whole thing was quite delicious. It looked very fancy I thought, but was so easy to make. This is a wonderful late summer dish, and a great way to put those tomatoes to good use!