Thursday, September 30, 2010

Once upon a year...

I started a food blog.  The year has been incredibly filling and fulfilling.  I wasn't certain where it was going to take me, but the journey has been more thrilling and eye-opening than I could have ever imagined.  I've been to wonderful restaurants, where the dishes have made me study each bite in the hopes of recreating the same tastes at home.  I've made some delicious recipes, from folks all over the world and brought those flavors into my home.

But my favorite part about this year hasn't been the food; it's been about the people I've met.  The people I've dined with.  Friends, family, acquaintances; the couple sitting next to us at the bar.  To me it's been about the experience.  Food brings everyone together, from all parts of the world.  It is a common ground and a necessity we all share.  I encourage everyone to embrace this necessity and pursue the most enjoyment as possible through dining, through the experience, instead of simply just eating. 

I've learned that several people share this same passion.  Take Roger Ebert.  He can't eat anymore.  He can't drink anymore.  But worst of all, he can't speak anymore.  My first thought was the horror of not being able to taste a succulent shrimp or sink your mouth into a crisp apple, but I was wrong.  Roger brought me back to the root of it all in his comment "So that's what sad about not eating.  The loss of dining, not the loss of food. It may be personal, but for, unless I'm alone, it doesn't involve dinner if it doesn't involve talking. The food and drink I can do without easily. The jokes, gossip, laughs, arguments and shared memories I miss. Sentences beginning with the words, "Remember that time?"...So yes, it's sad. Maybe that's why I enjoy this blog. You don't realize it, but we're at dinner right now."  Roger Ebert. 

I too enjoy my blog and the people I interact with.  That's my favorite part. The individuals and communities that have embraced me, be it online or through our dining experiences.  I thank you all for your support, for without you, I wouldn't have learned how deep my passion runs.  Oh, and for those of you that wonder where the name "lick-a-plate" came from, you can read about it here on my first blog post.  For those that know already, you can see the name is still alive and well, courtesy of my son, Ryan.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Frozen Lemon Pie

People could argue that lemons are the most useful and versatile fruit when it comes to cooking.  I would have to agree with them.  Lemon juice in a marinade helps break down tough fibers in meat, yielding tender results.  Squirted on fruit, it slows down the oxidation process so they don't turn brown as quickly.  Drizzled over seafood, lemon juice turns fish into a succulent treasure from the sea.  
My parent's neighbors have a huge lemon tree in their yard that is literally dropping fruit on a daily basis.  Not wanting this bounty to go to waste, I was graciously given a large bag to explore all of the talents of the lemon.  

So what have I made?  Interestingly, not lemonade.  I guess that would have been an obvious choice, (our lemon harvest is not over yet so it may be in our future), but I was intrigued with other recipes.  Limoncello, for example.  I actually don't like limoncello, so I'm not sure why I thought my tastes would change just because I was using freshly picked lemons and making it at home with love.  I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process, just not the end product.  If you do like Limoncello, definitely give it a go (here's a recipe) since the transformation over the course of 3 weeks is enjoyable.  

For this post, I'll focus on a Frozen Lemon Pie.  I love lemon meringue pie, but wanted something a bit different from the norm.  This recipe includes cream cheese and condensed milk, lending this pie to be tart and creamy.
In my opinion, traditional pie crusts can tend to be soggy, wet ,and all around not that tasty.  Create a base with a cracker crust, and you've just transformed your pie with each and every bite - a smooth, creamy interior with the light crunch of an exterior crust.  To save time, I did buy a pre-made graham cracker crust, but took it to another dimension by basting the crust with egg and baking it to a golden brown before adding the filling.

I basically followed this recipe for Lemon Icebox Pie, but decided to freeze the pie in the end.  After whipping the cream cheese and condensed milk with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest, it's as simple as popping it in the freezer for a few hours.  The recipe calls for refrigerating the pie, so we tried it that way first, but it felt too heavy and creamy.  The flavor was spot on, but it wasn't as refreshing as we had hoped.  The freezer is where it's at for this pie.