Food is love...
by Chef Deb Traylor
It’s rather difficult to write about food, family, and recipes each week and not put a little bit of myself in each sentence. Fact is, cooking is more than just my job or a career path I’ve chosen. It’s more than a way for me to be creative, challenged or useful, and it’s more than the opportunities, travel and adventure that have materialized since I became a professional cook.
To me… food is love.
how I made my mom happy after a long day at work.
how I celebrated my girls' achievements and birthdays.
how I remember those that I’ve loved and lost.
how I show I care.
how I comfort those around me.
how I bring happiness to others and to myself.
how I make friends.
how I connect with the world.
But in it’s simplest form, food is how I show love. I’ve always been humbled by the act of cooking for others. For me, it’s more than just following a recipe or a formula and it goes beyond perfectly cooked proteins and pretty garnishes. It’s how I give time, talent, effort, and love. Every plate, just as each sentence I’ve written in our Ginger and Baker blog, contains a little bit of who I am. It makes me happy to be able to express myself through food, and I am certain there are many of you who feel exactly the way I do!
Food IS love!
So on this Valentine’s Day we want to celebrate food and love by offering this lovely recipe for Blood Orange Meringue Pie. The filling is a delicious mix of blood orange and lemon juices, eggs and just enough sweetness to boost the citrus. On top, a thick, fluffy layer of Swiss Meringue (it holds up much better than simple whipped egg whites). Brown it in the oven or with a blow torch and dessert is served.
Blood Orange Meringue Pie
- 1 (9 or 10-inch) baked pie crust
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 5 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1 3/4 cups blood orange juice
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 tsp. blood orange zest
For crust prepare a 1/2 recipe of Ginger and Baker pie dough (see below), chill and roll to 12 inches to fit a 9-inch pie pan, or 13 inches to fit a 10-inch pie pan. Fill with rice, beans or pie weights and blind bake at 375 degrees until the crust is golden brown. (You can also use store bought refrigerated crust in a pinch.)
In a large saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, sea salt, blood orange juice and lemon juice, stirring until cornstarch as completely dissolved. Cook mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the juice mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl whisk egg yolks completely, then slowly add 1/2 cup of hot juice mixture to the eggs (this is called tempering), whisking until thoroughly combined, then add another 1/2 cup and mix again. Next, add the egg mixture to the saucepan containing the remaining juice mixture and whisk to completely combine.
Return pan to a simmer and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes (or longer) until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and holds its place when a finger is run through it (the term is called nappe). Remove from heat and stir in butter and orange zest. Cover the surface with a piece of plastic wrap and set aside.
- 4 egg whites
- 1/2 cup sugar
- pinch salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
Fill a large saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring to a low simmer over medium heat.
Add sugar, egg whites and salt to a medium heatproof bowl (I use the bowl of my stand mixer), and whisk until well combined.
Set the bowl over the saucepan (I hold the bowl with a folded towel to protect my hands from the heat) and whisk the sugar mixture until the sugar dissolves and the temperature of the liquid reaches 145-150 degrees. It should take 7-10 minutes.
Move the mixing bowl to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or you can use a hand mixer (but it will take longer). Whip at high speed until the meringue reaches soft peaks. Add vanilla and whip until meringue will hold a glossy, stiff peak.
To assemble pie: Preheat oven to 400 degrees (unless you use a blowtorch to brown the top).
Take the cooled pie crust and pour filling into shell and spread evenly. Next add meringue and be as creative with the top as you wish to be. The more peaks on the topping the more striking the finished product will be and it’s also a chance to add some nice toasted marshmallow notes
Place the pie on a sheet pan and put it into the preheated oven and leave it in until the tops begin to turn toasty brown to deep brown (even burnt) then remove from oven.
** If you have a blowtorch (I bought mine from Home Depot) it can be used to brown the meringue instead of putting the pie in the oven.
- If blood oranges are not available you can use tangerines, or Cara Cara oranges.
- This recipe works with grapefruit as well, just increase the sugar to 1 cup
- I prefer using a sturdy blowtorch from my local home improvement store, but if you have a small kitchen torch that works too!
- The pie crust can be blind baked a few days in advance and the filling can be made the day before you need it, but the meringue needs to be made and put on pie as soon as it’s whipped.
Basic Pie Dough
(you only use half of this recipe for the Blood Orange Meringue Pie crust, but we suggest making the whole recipe and saving half for another pie!)
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 2 tsp. fine sea salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, chilled
- 1/4 cup Tbsp. non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, chilled (or 6 Tbsp. additional butter if not using shortening)
- 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. ice cold water
- 1 tsp. lemon juice or vinegar
Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add chilled butter and shortening and toss to completely coat with flour. Using your hands or a fork, quickly smash the pieces of butter/shortening between your thumb and fingers to flatten each piece to the size of a dime. Gently stir the flour and butter to make sure you flattened most of the pieces.
Combine ice cold water and lemon juice (or vinegar), and drizzle half of the lemon water over cold flour mixture and stir until the dough just starts to come together or turns “shaggy”. We prefer to use our hands but a fork works nicely too. Begin adding a few more tablespoons of water at a time, stirring between each addition. Once most of the water has been used (but you have a tablespoon or two remaining) use your hands to gather the shaggy strands into a ball and knead the dough two or three times. If you have dry bits remaining in the bowl, add a little additional water. (Your dough may appear wet or dry depending the climate in your area, so you will need to go slowly and adjust accordingly.)
Gather the dough in a ball, dust your counter with a tiny amount of flour, and quickly pat dough into a small flat disk. Cut dough in half and then stack one piece on top of the other, flour side down. Use the heel of your hand and press the dough down and divide in half once more. Cover both pieces with plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least 4 hours or overnight. This dough can be made a day or two in advance. Makes enough for two 8 or 9-inch pie crusts.