9th Jul 2009, by Mary, filed in Recipe
1 Comment

I’d written a few blog postings before, and people I knew kept telling me I should blog,
but the perfectionist/procrastinator part of me kept thinking, “yes, but I have to have
a really cool blog name first.” Then, recently, I was listening to a months-old installment
of the KCRW Good Food podcast, and the host Evan Kleiman made a comment that made
the lightbulbs go off in my head. She said that having a collection of cookbooks was
like having “a million grandmas,” and I just thought that was a perfect sentiment, on so
many levels. She meant it mostly in the sense that working from a (good) cookbook is
like having someone watching over your shoulder and guiding you as you cook, making
sure you get it right. But it also occurred to me that it was a terrific way of encapsulating
the social aspects of cooking–the passing down of recipes linking the generations, but
also, particularly in this age of blogs, of the worldwide links between cooks. Okay, so
maybe it’s more like having an Uncle Rick who makes a mean mole, or an Aunt Dorie or
Cousin Molly who can bake anything under the sun, but the idea’s pretty much the same.
That, and to extend the metaphor even further, I feel like it includes all those feelings of
social responsibility we’ve all been reading and talking about so much lately, regarding
food and how we harvest it and share it with our fellow humans, whether they’re blood-
relations or not.

The idea of having a million grandmas appealed to me on a more personal level too–
by the time I was born, the only grandma I had left was my Dad’s adoptive mom, and
since she was almost 70 by then, I really didn’t get to spend much time in the kitchen
learning from her. Other than remembering that she made a killer carrot cake (with
carrot baby food, no less), and that she, like most people who lived through the Great
Depression, was frugal to the point of obsessiveness, I really didn’t absorb that much of
her kitchen know-how, and somehow, in the process of disposing of all her household
stuff when she got too old and infirm to take care of herself, her recipes vanished.

Then, eventually, along came hubby David, who still has a grandma, and one who liked
cooking and entertaining in her heyday, to boot. Recently, she moved into assisted
living, and this time I didn’t let all those recipes get away–in addition to a small pile of
miscellaneous cookbooks, I now have her recipe card boxes and two binders full of
recipes cut from newspapers and magazines. Included in all that bounty is the following
recipe, which is probably David’s all-time favorite dessert, and one of the most unusual
ones I’ve come across. Enjoy!

Lemon Angel Pie

Like I said above, this is a pretty unusual dessert–almost like an upside-down lemon
meringue pie, with the meringue as the crust. The recipe as handed down just calls for
regular lemon juice and rind for the lemon curd filling, but it’s even better made with
Meyer lemons, when they’re in season. Also, you’ll note that there’s no sugar called for
in the whipped cream topping–that’s no mistake. Trust me, you really don’t want to add
any more sugar to this recipe than there already is in the meringue and the curd. It’s
yummy, but almost tooth-achingly sweet (which is probably why my husband loves it
so much).

4 eggs, separated into whites and yolks
1 extra egg, unseparated
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups sugar
Grated lemon rind (from one lemon)
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/2 pint whipping cream

Crust:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Beat 4 egg whites and cream of tartar to the soft-peak
stage (make sure your bowl and whisk or beaters are grease-free, or you won’t get good
results). Continue beating, slowly adding 1 cup of the sugar, until the mixture is glossy
(it’ll have a sort of thick batter-like, pourable consistency). Spread in a 10-inch glass pie
plate or an 8-by-8-inch glass baking dish. Bake at 275 for 15 minutes, then increase the
oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for an additional 45 minutes. Remove from
oven and cool. The meringue will have puffed up–smoosh it down so that it’s more crust-
like.

Lemon filling:

Beat 4 egg yolks and the additional whole egg together. Add the lemon rind and juice
and remaining half cup of sugar. Cook in a double boiler over hot but not boiling water
until thickened to a spreadable consistency. Cool.

Assembly:

Whip cream. Spread half of it over the meringue crust. Top that with the lemon filling,
and finish with the rest of the whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours (that’s
the tough part).

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1 Comment

  1. 13/12/2010

    Family dinners were often graced by this goodie! I’ve had it and revelled in it. Give it a go! And thanks, Mary, for sharing.