Sunday, December 6, 2009

Recipe #2 Review - Lemon Meringue Tart

Lemon Meringue Tart
Recipe was made exactly according to Dede Wilson's unforgettable desserts.

My first Tribulation came in deciding which pie pan to use. It calls for a 10-inch loose-bottomed fluted tart pan. Well how difficult can that be to find? Apparently much more than I presumed at 9 PM on a Sunday evening, since the flan pan I thought I had is in hiding. I really did not want to use a flan pan or quiche pan that was missing in renovation haven, as really wanted to follow the recipe directions for the sugar tart crust to ensure best results. So I went off to Walmart to get a proper loose-bottom fluted tart pan - sexy!! I could not find at Walmart, or Sobey's (local 24 hour grocery store).. so had to delay making of pie until I had all ingredients and correct equipment. Not a problem, or so I thought, I would pickup at same time I was getting the citrus zestor at David's Gourmet on Monday.

I did find the Microplane Zestor that I had longingly touched on last visit to David's Gourmet and now I own! I love it.


BUT .. no loose-bottomed tart pan. No problem, I will pickup at Zehrs, as they have kitchen appliance section and also cooking and baking supplies - ahh and appears my glass lemon juicer is also in hiding or was confiscated by children? ... again No Problem.. will just get another at Zehrs.
Well .. I could not find the loose-bottomed tart pan at Zehrs, or even a non-loose-bottomed tart pan for that matter. Nothing even close to a tart pan was to be found. Also I could not find a simple juicer device. However I did find this very cool, electric juicer that was only $9.99, so decided it was worth trying.

It is actually very amazing and I believe one of the best kitchen gadget purchases I have ever made. It is no-name made in China special. It stores in drawer neatly and even has a groove for cord to be hidden for neater storage. I have used it also for fresh orange juice from imported Florida oranges and voila - wonderful.

BUT .. still no loose-bottomed tart pan. Time to google and find local store carrying them, rather than spending anymore time searching store to store. Suddenly it appears there is a shortage of kitchen specialty stores in Kitchener- Waterloo, but I did find that Gizmos is still at Conestoga Mall in Waterloo, and website does not indicate any loose-bottomed tart pans, but I had high hopes that they will. The next day  I go to the mall on my lunch break and well there is some sort of celebration due to new addition opening, that I have to avoid and make my way to Gizmos with the least fuss as possible.
AND .. YES they have the loose-bottomed tart pan in a variety of sizes, including the cutest small individual pans, that I managed to resist - well for now. If you have never been to Gizmos it is a paradise to be explored, and you will definitely find something that you just must have. Gizmos has 2 Waterloo locations.

Ok - so all ingredients purchased and equipment! I have promised to deliver lemon meringue tart on Friday to office for tasting purposes by the best tasting team - my work colleagues. 

The making of the pie or tart,  was an enjoyable experience except for the meringue which I believe was due to the plastic bowl I used with my Braun mixer. BUT .. this lemon meringue tart is the BEST lemon meringue that you will ever experience. The tartness is perfect. The filling is basically a very large-batch version of  lemon cream or lemon curd. Dede insists that a candy thermometer be used as the temperature achieved is essential to success. Hmm .. well I did have problem with this, as my newly purchased candy thermometer was not registering correctly. This is when I start to get flustered and sweat. I really do not like to have failures once I get all ingredients mixed and now on final stretch of the promised pie. Upon inspection we discovered (my husband K and I) that packing material was still in the end of the thermometer. However, Dede does mention that the correct temperature of 180F will be when "the cream  thickens and form a soft shape when dropped from a spoon" - which was consistent with where I was at. My arm was starting to go numb due to length of time I was whisking - so I was very relieved that I had reached the desired temperature. The meringue was simple enough to make, however I either did not achieve the required temperature of 160F due to still being thermometer challenged, or due to the plastic bowl used to whip the meringue, as it was slightly too soft - BUT tasted magnificent!


Sugar Crust ... was easy and cooked perfectly and was removed from THE loose-bottomed tart pan easily and placed on silver serving tray. Lemon filling inserted and awaiting meringue topping.

Meringue in bowl.

Meringue  - after being toasted under broiler as I was too wimpy to try the propane torch without K to supervise.  The one issue with broiling is that it heats the entire tart, rather than just stabilizing and toasting the meringue - so next time I will torch it!!


RESULTS: Taste 5 Stars!!
Ease of  Making: Medium
Skills Required: Other than proper equipment and careful attention to lemon cream preparation a Beginner should be able to manage.
I will definitely be making this again and trying to perfect the meringue.

p.s.  Kenwood has a new mixer that has a heating feature that I believe would be perfect for creating the lemon cream  - see the links for more information.

... darleen

Blogging Again - December

I have been too busy cooking, baking and working to BLOG!! Ok .. I really need to get this figured out, as plan was to cook or bake and then BLOG about the experience.

That will be my New Year's resolution - I promise.
I also was ill with flu most of October and into November. Mostly it has passed, but still some dregs seem to linger.

Back to baking and what and how I have been doing.
The Chocolate Pie - I made 4 times with great success. I will update tomorrow, regarding the differences of each session, and how using different chocolate variations changed the outcome or not.
Other Culinary Quests that I attempted were

  1. Lemon  Meringue Tart from Dede Wilson's unforgettable desserts
  2. Lemon Pudding
  3. Chocolate Snowball Cake - renamed Exploding Chocolate Snowball Cake
  4. Carrot Cake .. hmm made that twice
  5. Best Banana Muffins in the Galaxy
  6. Chocolate Cake with Mocha Buttercream Icing
  7. Darleen's Very Cheesy Lasagna
  8. Garlic Toast with Cheese
  9. Stuffed Peppers
  10. Potato Soup
And was the mixture of spaghetti with home made spaghetti sauce, chicken slow cooked with onion and grilled mushroom soup sandwiches.

As with all experiences I am not sure you would want to see the video, as it seems that working in a kitchen under renovation has added complications. Some cause blood to be spurted!!

Other calamities have been due to equipment trials and tribulations - such as the food processor I purchased from kijiji for $8.00. It lasted exactly 30 seconds and shredded one carrot! Then it froze and motor was unable to be resuscitated. That was after the Braun chopper also had a seized motor when being forced to chop chocolate. So I am back to chopping, pureing and shredding mostly by hand.

I am trialing - testing - a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer, lent to me by my daughter. She is a professional cook, so before I determine which is the best mixer I would like to test if possible. So far I am mostly impressed, but there  are some oddities that are possibly my own peculiarities or maybe it is not the correct mixer for me! It feels backwards is the biggest complaint, and also the bowl is awkward and too small? I still prefer my 35 year old Braun Mixer (with blender, shredder and meat grinder attachments) - except for fact that switch is touchy, and only has plastic bowls. Advantage to it however is that it is not backwards - bowl is on left hand side, not right hand side. Possibly after 35 years of using it on left side is reason I find the Kitchenaid backwards. I am considering looking more closely at the Professional version with bowl lifter.

Anyway ... I will get right to my recipe reviews and modifications I made, and outcome as well as my tribulations throughout. Next will be of course Christmas baking!!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Recipe Review #1 - espresso black-bottomed pie

espresso black-bottomed pie
in a chocolate chip cookie crust

Culinary Quests Review

In unforgettable desserts by Dede Wilson, the recipe that grabbed my attention was the cover photo: clementine-chocolate-almond torte with chocolate lace, candied zest, and caramelized fruit It was what I desired to make 1st in my Culinary Quest  adventure through the pages of this delightful cookbook.

However, upon reviewing the recipe, I felt I did not have the time to provide the deserved attention. After all it was not only Thanksgiving weekend, BUT in Kitchener, Ontario - the start of Oktoberfest!! I am an avid participant of Oktoberfest and due to fact that attending just for a few hours, always seems to get me home at 2 am, I decided I should choose a recipe that could be done in less time.

In choosing espresso black-bottomed pie in a chocolate chip cookie crust, I decided that I had most of the ingredients except for the specialty chocolate called for - bittersweet chocolate, such as Valrhona Caraibe, and instant espresso powder. How difficult could that be to find? Piece of cake - or pie, right? Well reality was harsh, as a simple quick trip to the few specialty stores in Kitchener found me lost and wondering why it was so difficult to find.

My first choice of stores to search was David's Gourmet  - which I had never ventured into before, but always wanted to explore. It is an amazing experience and also slightly overwhelming. I promptly found my way to the 'chocolate' section and did find  Valrhona chocolate hiding in a lower shelf and only 2 packages - eureka! But wait, it was not the correct Valrhona - Guanaja 70%, andJivara milk chocolate 40% - I took it anyway, as Caraibe was no where in sight! I did find Michel Cluizel (David's is one of the few vendor's in Canada) - Concepcion 66% Dark chocolate, and upon checking unforgettable desserts that I was carrying with me, verified it could also be used for this recipe.  I purchased all 3 packages - for about a total of $30.00 and total weight of 9.5 oz. I could not find the instant espresso powder, and was not sure where I would look next.

Upon reviewing my directory of baking supply stores for Kitchener Waterloo, my next stop was Ayres Baking Supplies in Waterloo. Again I had never ventured into this store, and found it to be a pre-packaged bulk baking supply store. There were several very interesting items, but no chocolate other than Lindt and Bakers chocolate. I did purchase a bag of all purpose flour and inadvertently grabbed the bleached rather than unbleached - the brand is unknown due to being a bulk store. 

I did ask the girl at the till where she thought I might find the instant espresso powder, and she suggested just using some strong brewed coffee - or maybe Vincenzo's she thought might carry it.

Off I went to Vincenzo's, in Kitchener - oh remember I mentioned that this weekend was the start of Oktoberfest in Kitchener? This brings into Kitchener, Waterloo and area an additional million people for the festivities, and each has 5 cars I am sure!! And they were all driving in the direction that I needed to go, to find my baking supplies. The additional cars on the road, made my 'quick jaunt to get baking supplies' turn into a 3 hour traffic fight.

BUT!! At Vincenzo's I did find the coveted Valrhona Caraibe, and plenty of it on the wondeful shelves, right beside the impossible to find instant espresso powder - even the suggested brand: Medaglia D'oro. Excellent!! Vincenzo's is a delightful store that wonderful food aromas entice you to linger, even though the current store is packed to overflowing and barely room for the many customers. They are moving into a new location, and many of the local residents are eagerly awaiting the opening.

This is the finished product. It looks good, and tasted even better. Since we took this to our Thanksgiving dinner in Chatham ( 2 hour road trip), I did the whipped topping once we arrived, rather than transport  with the whipped topping.

The crust before baking - it was easy to make, and finger press into the pie plate.


 I cannot obtain King Arthur  flour, as it is not carried in Canada - or at least I have not found a vendor as of yet. I used my regular flour which is Compliments All Purpose Flour (bleached). I ran out of time searching for the chocolate, and decided to use my regular flour and test the recipe. The result was that the crust batter was too crumbly and would not form into a ball - so I added chilled water by drops until I could manage it into a ball.


  I did make a second pie for another Thanksgiving event the same weekend, after the first was a success, and I adjusted the amount of flour to 3/4 cupe from 1 cup resulting in gathering into a ball, and was easier to spread into the pie plate.

The filling cooked up very easily, and again I used probably a different pot that actually called for - as I have a favorite cooking pot that is larger than usual, but I prefer. It smelled amazing!! The second pie I used a different pot - medium heavy-bottomed saucepan (actually more expensive than my favorite standby) and I found it cooked faster and I had to quickly remove it from the heat as it almost curdled. I use a gas cook-top, and at the same time I was making the filling, my husband decided he needed to make a fried egg on the burner adjacent - so the situation may have been due to a bit of confusion or just my lack of experience with the specific pot.


It cut easily and was picture perfect. The taste was also perfect. Very smooth and the chocolate flavor heavenly.

The second pie made I did use the Michel Cluizel - Concepcion 66% Dark chocolate, and it was slightly not as bittersweet chocolate flavor, but also exceptional.

TIPS: From my Trials and Tribulations

  1. Flour - different flour does produce different results.

  2. When cooking fillings with milk watch the heat!

  3. Using plastic mixing bowls for beating whipping cream just does not work
    - use   glass or metal.

Moderately easy to make 

Explosive Heavenly Taste experience




CookBook Review - unforgettable desserts

 unforgettable desserts   by Dede Wilson

This book is amazing!!
A cookbook, I believe should be wonderful to touch, read and have enticing photos to want me to get into the kitchen and start trying the recipes. This book did exactly that.

Starting with the preface - "Desserts are something that we want, not something that we need, so when we do indulge, we want the experience to memorable".  Yes! In today's world we are constantly being told that we should eat healthy and count calories, BUT many of us still do enjoy desserts and even more reason to make them unforgettable.

The book begins with the building blocks to be used throughout the remainder of the book and in the recipes - basics and ingredients, equipment, and techniques.  This layout is excellent and the style of writing used, makes it enjoyable to read and again gets the excitement going - however we are informed to read these chapters at least once. So I dutifully did read and read again.

I particularly liked the layout with a summary at top of each recipe providing some background and important information, as well as the TIP additions on many of the recipes.
The recipe chapters are well cataloged and follow in a logical sequence. Many of the recipes may offer challenges to the average non-professional cook, but with the tips and comments, I found myself encouraged to try.

At the back of the book there is a resource section that provides contact information for several ingredients  and equipment. My only issue with this, is that being in Ontario, Canada it is often challenging and one of the Tribulations  to source the same ingredients. Most will ship to Canada however, and other than planning is required rather than my type of spontaneous cooking!

The Index also is excellent and well categorized - an area that I find is missing in many cookbooks, making it difficult to find that recipe that you just cannot recall what chapter it was in or to find an idea for a special occasion to match the ingredients you have in  the house at the moment.

The book is delightful to read, and now .. I will review some selected recipes - the Trials.
Let's bake!!!

... darleen

Kitchen TNT - Trials and Tribulations

Welcome to my new blog - Kitchen TNT!!
Trials and Tribulations in my Kitchen ... reviews of cookbooks in particular, my own creations and modifications and general cooking and baking HOT finds and talk.

This came to fruition after being referred to a new cookbook by Dede Wilson - unforgettable desserts. I became enchanted by this cookbook and read most of it in 2 days!!

The book is amazing!! The organization of the book from basics to recipes is excellent and all directions are very easy to understand. I became very excited and wanted to try each recipe immediately. Since it was 2 days before Thanksgiving dinner at the in-laws, I chose a chocolate pie recipe as first test or Trial of unforgettable desserts.

Come into my Kitchen...