resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Cupcake)
[personal profile] resonant
[livejournal.com profile] julad asked for this, and I figured that if I was going to type it up, I might as well share it with everyone.

It's from "The Best Recipe," by the editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine.

And I need to make a plug for the book here. If you're an enthusiastic cook, but you learned how to cook in a sort of haphazard way, you'll find all sorts of marvelous stuff here. For instance: The best utensil for mixing crumbs and butter together to make a graham cracker crust is a fork. The best way to boil eggs is to put them in a saucepan, add enough water to cover them by an inch, heat them on high just until the second they start boiling, remove them from heat, cover them, and let them sit for twelve minutes; this avoids underdone eggs, the green-yolk problem, and the finicky effort to adjust boiling time based on altitude, hard water, etc.

One of the Amazon.com reviewers complained about the book because the typical ingredient list goes something like: Broccoli. Salt. "Where are the spices?" he asked. "Where are the sauce ideas?" But he was missing the point. The point is, there are ten thousand magazines and books out there to tell you that broccoli is good with lemon and parmesan, and good with olive oil and sauteed garlic, and good with hollandaise sauce if you've got that kind of patience, and so on -- but only this one will tell you that the tastiest way to cook broccoli is to boil it in heavily salted water for exactly three minutes.

Right. Sorry. I forget myself sometimes.

Key Lime Pie
from Cook's Illustrated

Serves 8

Lime filling:

4 teaspoons grated zest plus 1/2 cup strained juice from 3 to 4 limes
4 large egg yolks
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Graham cracker crust:

11 full-size graham crackers, processed to fine crumbs (1 1/4 cups)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Whipped cream topping

3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 lime, sliced paper-thin and dipped in sugar (optional)

Filling: Whisk zest and yolks in medium bowl until tinted light green, about 2 minutes. Beat in condensed milk, then juice; set aside at room temperature to thicken.

Crust: Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix crumbs and sugar in medium bowl. Add butter; stir with fork until well blended. Scrape mixture into 9-inch pie pan; press crumbs over bottom and up sides of pan to form even crust. Bake until lightly browned and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Pour lime filling into crust; bake until center is set, yet wiggly when jiggled, 15 to 17 minutes. Return pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until well-chilled, at least 3 hours. (Can be covered with lightly oiled or oil-sprayed plastic wrap laid directly on filling and refrigerated up to 1 day.)

Whipped cream: Up to 2 hours before serving, whip cream in medium bowl to very soft peaks. Adding confectioners' sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, continue whipping to just-stiff peaks. Decoratively pipe whipped cream over filling or spread evenly with rubber spatula.



Notes from Cook's: Their "trained testers" were unable to tell the difference between Key limes and Persian limes, which is good news, because Persian limes are easier to find and easier to juice.

Also, don't reduce the sugar in the whipped cream; they made it very sweet to offset the tartness of the filling.

Notes from Res: No, I don't know why you have to bake the crust, then cool it, then bake it again with the filling in it. But this is Cook's we're talking about, so you can bet they tested it and found that it made a difference.

The best tool for removing zest from a lime is a microplane grater. It's pretty cheap, and I use mine every single day. It's wonderful for Parmesan cheese and for garlic. I haven't minced a garlic clove since 1999.

My father-in-law says you can choose the best-tasting, juiciest limes by looking for the ones with the smoothest skin.

The filling is yellow with flecks of green zest. People who are expecting the uniform green of a store-bought key lime pie find it startling. It also, if you look at it wrong, has an unsettling resemblance to some sort of schmancy herbal mustard. But it tastes good.

Also, the lime slices dipped in sugar look gorgeous, but they turn bitter by the next day. So don't try to do them in advance, and if you have pie left over, take the garnishing limes off it and eat them before you put it in the refrigerator.

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Date: 12/5/05 07:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gurrier.livejournal.com
Mmmmmmmm. All the notes remind me of the very basic error I made the first time I made lemon meringue pie from scratch. I left the spoon in the pan while cooking the custard filling. Lemon/lime + metal = blegh.

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Date: 12/5/05 08:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
Wow, I didn't know that. I haven't made custard since I was living with my mom; I don't even own a double boiler.

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Date: 12/5/05 08:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elishavah.livejournal.com
Ooooh, thank you. Cook's Illustrated is one of the best things ever. They have a lot of their recipes up on their Web site, too.

Oh, and baking the crust, letting it cool, and then filling and baking it is because of the (relatively) super-wet filling. It's a good idea with all meringues or puddings.

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Date: 12/5/05 08:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
I used to have a subscription to the website, but I just couldn't justify paying so much for the magazine and then turning around and paying more for the website.

I miss it, though -- it was great to be able to go look at their ratings of, I don't know, cheddar cheese or waffle irons or knife sharpeners. Or get that recipe that you didn't save because you didn't think you'd ever make it, and then you get a craving for it ...

Yummy

Date: 12/5/05 08:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cetpar.livejournal.com
I love Cook's Illustrated. I don't have this book, but I used to get the magazine. And the microplane grater was probably my best kitchen tool purchase ever. I like to use it to grate chocolate and ginger, too.

This recipe sounds great. I haven't made a key lime pie before so I think I'll try this recipe. Thanks. Just one question: I guess Persian limes are the regular limes in the grocery store? I've never heard them called that before now.

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Date: 12/5/05 08:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
Sorry, yes, Persian limes are ordinary supermarket limes.

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Date: 12/5/05 08:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] norah.livejournal.com
Thanks for the rec on "the Best Recipe" - I've had it on my wish list for ages but always sort of waffled on actually BUYING it because reviews were mixed and sounded like it was maybe for more thoughtful cooks than I. Now I feel more confident - if I don't get it this holiday, I'll pick up a copy.

Since I'm about to go into cooking more healthful meals (I refuse to model crackers-n-cheese as acceptable "dinner" for the squid!) do you have any cookbook recommendations that are good for fast, nutritionally complete stuff?

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Date: 12/5/05 08:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] norah.livejournal.com
Also, you know what makes a better crust than graham crackers, even? Zwieback. Dust 'em in the blender, then add 1.5-2 T sugar and about 2.5 T butter. crumblier and harder to press in accurately, but they make for a lighter crust. I use them for cheesecake regularly.

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From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com - Date: 12/5/05 09:03 pm (UTC) - Expand

Zwieback crackers

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Date: 12/5/05 08:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
I have a Better Homes & Gardens 30-minute meals cookbook that I use quite a bit.

These days I get most of my recipes from Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine, which I highly recommend. I never much cared for the recipes in Martha Stewart magazine because they all seemed either to call for odd stuff that I don't like (This issue! All fennel, all the time!) or to involve really fussy techniques. MSEF is much more realistic.

(Though it's kind of funny -- Cook's Magazine will do a feature on meatballs, and three or four months later, MSEF will have meatballs, and then Cook's will do bolognese sauce and three or four months later there it is in MSEF ...)

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Date: 12/5/05 08:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] painless-j.livejournal.com
Oh. I don't bake but I'd be immensely grateful if you posted some recipe of a dinner dish you like, preferably rather simple and that is good for 3-4 days (for leftovers, 'cos I can't cook on working days, I finish work too late in the evening). Please? I'm hunting for recipes :)

I'm omnivorous; the only edible thing I'm allergic to is black caviar.

(no subject)

Date: 12/5/05 08:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
Do you like soup? Here's a beef-vegetable soup recipe I got from a friend of mine, who probably got it from her mother. It provides bonus beef for sandwiches.

It's best in a crockpot, but if you don't have one, a soup pot will do. It takes a long time but is worth it.

1. Broth and beef

a beef roast (about 3 pounds)
one or two beef marrow bones with meat
one large onion, coarsely chopped
1 15-ounce can of tomatoes
3 stalks of celery, chopped (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

Put all those in your soup pot or crock pot. Add enough water to mostly cover the beef. Cover the pot and simmer for at least three hours; the longer you simmer it, the better the broth will be.

When you're done with the simmering, take the beef out and let it cool. Then chop half of it for the soup and save the other half for sandwiches. (It's much easier to slice thinly if it's cold.)

Put the broth in the refrigerator overnight so you can remove the fat.

2. The soup itself

1 potato, cut in 1/2 inch squares
3 carrots, cut in 1/2 inch slices
1 cup barley
salt
1 cup frozen corn
reserved broth and beef

Cook the barley in lightly salted water according to package directions. It takes about 40 minutes.

Lift the sheet of fat off the top of the broth and throw it away. Put the broth back in the soup pan. Add potatoes and carrots. Cook about 40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add reserved meat, barley, and corn; cook about 15 minutes or until heated through. Salt, if necessary.

It's rather heavy and palpably wholesome.

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Date: 12/5/05 08:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rossetti.livejournal.com
I absolutely adore the Cook's Illustrated crew. They also do Americas Test Kitchen (http://www.americastestkitchen.com/), on PBS. That's when they give all the details as to why you're supposed to do things certain ways.

Honestly, I'm really hoping my family will get me a subscription to Cook's for the Holidays, because I really want the login to their website. I most often start organizing a dinner at work, so having that as an online resource would be so, so handy.

This looks amazing. Thanks, shall add to my little digital recipe file.

Also, I think I've used my microplane for everything BUT garlic, and now feel somewhat foolish. I rather like the preparatory ritual of chopping garlic. It's a great time to take a moment and think about exactly what needs to be done, and in what order - build a vision of how the food will come together, as it were. Grating will be and adventure.

(no subject)

Date: 12/5/05 08:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
I've always hated mincing garlic. It makes my fingers all sticky, and i never get the pieces small enough. So the microplane was wonderful for me.

If I'm not mistaken, though, you have to pay extra for a website subscription to Cook's. So maybe you should ask your family to buy you that instead.

(no subject)

Date: 12/5/05 08:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] indywind.livejournal.com
Can't you just call it Very Good Lime Pie, if it hasn't got Key limes in it? The "trained tasters" may not, but I, a native Floridian, can tell the difference.
People who expect "Key Lime Pie" to be green have been led astray by evil supermarkets. (Most cheese should not be orange either.)

Sorry, didn't mean to go off ranting. It does sound very yummy.

(no subject)

Date: 12/5/05 08:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
I ought to try a blind taste test of my own. Any excuse to make multiple lime pies and eat them! Bwah ha ha!

I wonder, actually, if the Key limes we get in little mesh bags at the supermarket in Illinois really bear much resemblance to the ones you get in Florida. Cook's is in Boston, and I doubt they went to Florida to get fresh limes.

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Date: 12/5/05 09:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chopchica.livejournal.com
I'm such a whore for Cook's Illustrated (and Veggie Life and Vegetarian times). Their cream biscuits and free form fruit tart are two of the best things I ever made. Plus, where else can I find reviews of mustard and blenders and mayo and paring knives and vanilla ice cream!

The reason you cook the crust twice is because if you just pile the filling into a raw crust, it never cooks, and becomes a soggy mess. You need to start with a cooked and cooled crust so it has a seal, and your pie will come out perfect every single time.

Can you tell I love to cook :). I was just thinking about posting my recipe for the easiest, tastiest, cheapest polenta dish I know. I make and eat it all the time because it is OMG SO GOOD and only needs four ingredients!

(no subject)

Date: 12/6/05 02:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
Oh, do it! I've never made polenta; I had the impression that it was very time-consuming and fiddly.

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Date: 12/9/05 03:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] norah.livejournal.com
Yes, please do it (res, polenta is easy-as-pie, I don't know why I don't make it more often) - I'd love that!

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Date: 12/5/05 09:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ukcalico.livejournal.com
I made a key lime pie last weekend! but from Delia's recipe (http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/key-lime-pie,1389,RC.html), so maybe I'll try this one next time. Yum.

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Date: 12/6/05 02:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
Sounds like your house is the place to be!

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Date: 12/5/05 10:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/_inbetween_/
My mother has over a thousand, if not two thousand cookery books. Those translated and those I even got in English are difficult because I am used to basic ingredients, and not to condensed milk or ... what can I substitute for graham crackers?! If I've got all kinds of flour, I still can't follow recipies I want to because they rely on flour mixtures or crumbs from unobtainable objects and I will stop before I start ranting *glares at Singapore Ladies Orchestra Cook Book*

You already got the answer to your crust question. Twice backed = crunchy, be it cookies, crackers or crispbread.

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Date: 12/6/05 02:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
crumbs from unobtainable objects

[laughing] That would make things difficult, yes.

You don't have graham crackers there? They're a cookie (biscuit?), square and flat, not too sweet, not too rich, made with whole wheat. You could probably substitute any cookie/biscuit that was low in fat, but you might have to adjust the amounts of butter and sugar.

But condensed milk -- I can't think of anything you could substitute for that. It's sort of the heart of the pie.

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Date: 12/6/05 12:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] misspamela.livejournal.com
Mmmm, that sounds wonderful! I love Cook's Illustrated. My new favorite cookbook right now is The Spirited Vegetarian, which are all (obviously) vegetarian recipes that are cooked with wine or spirits. The recipes are all just the right combination of elegant and simple, and I haven't had one turn out badly yet.

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Date: 12/6/05 02:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
I'll have to check the library for that. At the moment, the only vegetarian cookbooks I have are The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and Moosewood, which are very nice but kind of cheesetarian. If you don't want to eat a lot of cheese, you're kind of out of luck.

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Date: 12/6/05 12:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] darthfox.livejournal.com
... i knew both of those things you mentioned (use a fork, and how to make boiled eggs). how can that be? i can barely feed myself.

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Date: 12/6/05 02:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
hee! Possibly you're in the process of getting a systematic cooking education, where you learn the simple things first and then move on to complicated ones like main dishes and meal planning and stuff? Rather than the kind of cooking education I got, where when I went off to college I could make bread but I couldn't cook rice?

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Date: 12/6/05 12:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mecurtin.livejournal.com
1/2 cup strained juice from 3 to 4 limes

The recipe is *wrong*. The way to get Key Lime Pie to taste really key lime-y is to *not* strain the juice, but to include the lime pulp (pick out any seeds) in the juice. harrumph.

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Date: 12/6/05 02:47 am (UTC)

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Date: 12/6/05 05:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mark356.livejournal.com
See, that's what irritates me about that book; they always think that they know exactly the best way. For example, on the egg question, I'd just as soon put them straight into boiling water, simmer them for 7 minutes, and then dunk them in a sinkful of cold water. But I can never stay angry at them for so long, because their recipes certainly are fabulous!

Oh joy!

Date: 12/7/05 03:34 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thank you so much for posting this--I had lost my recipe and this is basically it, although rather than top it with whipped cream I make a very sweet merinque with the egg whites. And, as above, I do not strain the juice, just pick out the seeds and wince as it stings my hangnails.

As for cookbooks, I rather like The Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon, even though her name sounds like a bad Harry Potter OFC.

Happy feasting (and cooking).

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