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The Circle B Kitchen has been blogging since September, 2009.  We have loads of recipes and thoughts on food to share in the coming weeks and months, so come back and check in often!  We love hearing from you and hope you'll leave a comment or shoot an email our way.  Whether you have questions about a recipe or the site in general, please let us know...    Contact me at      pberry@circle-B-kitchen.com

Hey Guys!!

I've got a couple new Circle B Kitchen features that I'm pretty excited to tell you about!  Firstly, I've started a new series on my Matters and Musings page dealing with quick and easy dinner prep.  We all have those nights when it seems that there just isn't time to get dinner together or we just don't feel like cooking and I've got some nifty ideas and recipes for you on that subject.  I’ll be posting something new as often as I can, so check it out!!  The other change is a little more subtle, but still pretty awesome.  At least I think so.  

Here's the thing... sometimes reading through a recipe to figure out what you're supposed to do and when you’re supposed to do it can be a huge pain, especially if you're in a hurry or time is limited.  And the truth is that in the restaurant world, recipes are not laid out the way they are for home cooks, so I've added a feature that sort of mimics how things are often done in restaurant kitchens, which is to add a section to each recipe after the ingredients list called "prep".  In that section, I will list each step to take to get everything prepped and ready before you ever start the actual cooking.  It's sort of based on the whole "mis en place" theory, which truly does make cooking faster and easier.  I hope you find both of these helpful in getting dinner on the table quickly, easily and with a lot less hassle.

Big hugs from the Circle B Kitchen...


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Our oldest daughter, Erin, has been riding, training and showing horses since she was a teenager.  She graduated from Colorado St. University with a degree in Equine Science and is now Financial and Administrative Manager for HETRA (Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Association), which provides therapy through horseback riding for children and adults with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, brain tumors, head injuries, blindness, autism, and strokes.  For more information or to donate to this amazing cause, please visit http://www.hetra.org/ .




Chicken (or Turkey) Pot Pie with Cheese-y Biscuit Topping


Long about Saturday or Sunday, those Thanksgiving leftovers are starting to get on my nerves.  Anything from Thanksgiving left at this point, if it hasn’t been transformed into soup or sandwiches or stuffing casserole or such, will mostly likely go to the chickens.  This is when the chickens can be seen tucking their napkins around their neck and doing their Thanksgiving happy dance.  They especially dislike the turkeys that wander too close to their pen, so it’s an extra special dinner for them when I include bits of turkey in there. 

I’ve mentioned before how much I hate wasting food, but somehow sharing it with the chickens doesn’t seem quite as tragic.  Still, throwing away turkey, unless it’s gone bad, is really hard for me, so I’m usually hell bent to find ways to use it up.  And this year I’m thinking our turkey leftovers (and probably some of the veggies too) will find their way into this scrumptiously delicious chicken pie.   Yeah, I know, it’s technically now going to be a turkey pie, but for all intents and purposes here in the Circle B Kitchen, it’s a chicken pie.  With turkey.

Whatever you call it, it’s amazingly good, owing to the cheese-y biscuit topping that is the perfect complement to the creamy interior, and while I’m not big into the whole “comfort food” genre, this, indeed is seriously warming, soothing and a bit indulgent . 

Just to explain that last sentence, I’m starting to get a bit annoyed by the over-use of the phrase “comfort food”.  It’s just waaaaay over-done, in my opinion, and if you think about it, why isn’t all food comfort food?  I’m just sayin’…. 

I’ve been making these parmesan sesame biscuits for like ever, but the last time I went to make a chicken pie, it dawned on me that a biscuit topping might be fun and then of course, my parmesan biscuits would be even funner.  And then to up the fun quotient even more, we’re going to sub out a little of that parmesan cheese for some cheddar, making our topping even cheesier and holy cow, this is now one heckuva chicken pie! 

Now, I’m not gonna lie to you, there might be a little effort and prep work involved in making a chicken pie from scratch.  And after all of the holiday cooking, maybe you’re kinda burnt out and not ready pick up those knives and graters just yet.  But oh, my dears, is it ever so worth it.  You see, while chicken pie may be just a bit of work to make, it’s the only thing required for a hearty, delicious meal. 

It is a meal unto itself so you can focus all of your attention and energies on just this one thing.  Dinner can be just chicken pie, which in my humble opinion, is an awesome meal any time of the year, but a particularly magnificent way to end your Thanksgiving weekend… along with those last slices of pumpkin pie.  Here’s the recipe…

Chicken (or Turkey) Pot Pie with Cheese-y Biscuit Topping

Click here for a printable recipe

This is one of the tastiest chicken pies ever.  The filling is creamy and luscious and the topping is made from a cheese-y biscuit dough that makes this incredibly fun and delicious.  Instead of making this in a pie pan or skillet, you can easily make individual chicken pies in ramekins and use a biscuit cutter to cut the dough to fit each one.  You can also cut individual biscuits to place over the top of the skillet if you prefer.  Oh, and don't worry if your filling seems a little loose, the biscuit topping absorbs some of that liquid while the pie bakes.

2 ½ cups cubed, cooked chicken or turkey
2 carrots, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 cup chopped mushrooms (optional)
1 cup frozen peas 

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup flour
¼ cup sherry
2 cups chicken stock
¾ cup half and half
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 

1.   Cook and cube about ¾ lb boneless chicken or enough to equal about 2 ½ cups
2.   Wash, peel and dice the carrots
3.   Wash, dry and dice the celery
4.   Peel and dice the onion
5.   If using mushrooms, wipe them with a paper towel and chop
6.   Chop the parsley
7.   Measure out the chicken stock, half and half and sherry 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Place the olive oil and butter in a large-ish sauté pan or heavy skillet over medium high heat.  When the butter is melted, add in the dried thyme and veggies and sauté until softened, about 7-10 minutes. 

Sprinkle the flour into the pan and stir to coat the veggies and heat the flour.  Add the sherry and cook briefly, about 2 minutes.  Add in the chicken stock and stir until the flour is completely incorporated and the mixture begins to thicken.  Stir in the salt, pepper, and half and half.  Simmer for a couple of minutes before stirring in the chicken and fresh parsley. 

Pour the chicken and veggie mixture into a 10-inch pie pan, cast iron skillet or similar sized baking dish. 

Make the biscuit topping (recipe below) and place it over the filling.

Place the baking dish or skillet on a baking sheet and then place it in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until the biscuit topping is golden brown and puffy. 

Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. 

Biscuit Topping:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 tsp cayenne powder (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cup grated parmesan (or sharp cheddar) cheese (I like to do half parm and half cheddar)
1 tablespoon lightly toasted sesame seeds
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and the cayenne (if using).

Cut in the butter until it creates little pebbles in the flour (a food processor works great for this).

Add the parmesan, cheddar cheese (if using) and sesame seeds and then add in the buttermilk.

Stir until the mixture comes together to form a dough.  Knead 6 times on a floured board.

Generously flour the counter top and roll the dough out to about ¼ to 1/3 inch thick.  Place your pie plate, skillet or baking dish on top of the dough and trace the outside edge.  Using a sharp knife, cut the topping out along the traced edge and remove the excess dough.  (Alternately, you can use a biscuit cutter to cut out biscuit rounds to place on top of the filling.)  Gently pick up the dough and place it over the top of the pie filling.  Make some slits in the top for steam to escape. 

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment


Pear Salad with Blue Cheese and Candied Pecans (and a few apologies)


This is our very favorite salad.  I really don’t need to say too much more than that, do I?  We eat a lot of salads around here and we rotate their frequency, but it’s always sort of special when I put this one together.  It's affectionately called THE salad. 

Firstly, I must thank my daughter, Lisa, for sharing the recipe with me.  I think that was like a year ago or maybe longer, and it’s taken me this long to get it up on the blog and for that I apologize.  To everyone.  You could have been making this all year, but because of some serious procrastination on my part, you’ve been denied that pleasure.  Again, I apologize. 

But the reason I haven’t posted it before is that I honestly don’t enjoy photographing salads.  And the main reason is that it usually takes at least a good hour (usually much longer), depending on the subject, to compose the salad, set things up for the photo shoot, take the photos, and then take some more photos cuz those ones sucked and then try one more time.  Sigh.  And by then, the lettuce is pretty soggy and there’s no way this salad is going to be able to hang out until dinner and still be good and I really really do NOT like wasting food so it’s kind’ve a dilemma for me, especially since the best light for photos here is in the early afternoon.  So the way I dealt with that in this particular instance, was to put very little dressing on the salad.  In fact, I put so little dressing on the salad that it's barely discernible and it's probably at this point not a very accurate representation of how the salad looks after you pour that luscious dressing on it.  But there you have it... we were able to enjoy this salad and there was no waste, but your photo lacks dressing and for that I'm really really sorry.

By now you're most likely looking at your watch and wondering what the heck I’m going on about, and I apologize again for wandering so far off subject, but I think it’s maybe important to talk about what happens to the food that bloggers photograph.  I will tell you that every bit of the food you see on this blog gets eaten and enjoyed and there is no waste, but then the salads are just hard.  And that’s why it’s taken me so long to post this and gosh, I’m just really sorry. 

Because, people, this is quite the special salad and if you haven’t gotten your Thanksgiving menu all figured out yet and a salad might figure into your plans, this one would be simply awesome.  It’s seasonal… pears and, well, pears are in season, and I think blue cheese is in season too.  Certainly pomegranate seeds are in season (the original recipe calls for thinly sliced red onion and that's yummy too) and pecans!  Yes, pecans are in season.  So yes!  It’s seasonal and festive and pretty, but most of all it’s just simply and incredibly delicious.   

Oh!  The dressing!  I haven’t mentioned the dressing!  Oh my ever loving goodness, it’s practically the whole reason why this salad is so good!  It’s creamy and sort of sweet, but the apple cider vinegar balances the maple syrup and brown sugar perfectly and with the blue cheese and the pears it all just works.  That's sort of understating it.  Oh, and those candied pecans?  Lordy, just don't get me started.  Addictingly delicious doesn't even begin to describe...

So if you’ve already got your Thanksgiving menu set, then this salad would be perfectly lovely for any holiday meal and most certainly it should have a place on your Christmas buffet.  I'm pretty sure blue cheese will still be in season then.  Here’s the recipe…

Pear Salad with Blue Cheese and Candied Pecans

Click here for a printable recipe

This is one extraordinarily delicious salad that is just made for a holiday table, but it’s wonderful any time of the year.  You can make quite a few substitutions to suit your own tastes, namely using apples instead of pears or instead of the sliced red onion called for in the original recipe, I like to add in some pomegranate seeds. Or you can use both!  We’ve made this using all spinach or with mixed greens and both work great, but the spinach holds up really well with the creamy dressing.  I've included a recipe to make your own candied pecans, but you can, of course, use store bought if you find them. 


1 (10 ounce) bag mixed field greens or spinach
1/2 cup sliced red onion (optional, I like to substitute pomegranate seeds)
1 Bosc pear, cored and sliced (or you can use an apple)
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
1/2 cup chopped candied pecans (see below for recipe)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Make the salad dressing
Candy the pecans, if not using store-bought (chop, if needed)
Slice the red onion, if using
Core and slice the pear (or apple)

Place the salad greens in a large bowl. Add the red onion (if using), sliced pears and blue cheese, and toss to mix evenly.  Pour on just enough of the salad dressing to thoroughly coat the greens.  Toss to mix and then sprinkle the top of the salad with the pomegranate seeds (if using), a little more of the blue cheese, if you like, and the candied pecans.

1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup walnut oil (or canola or olive oil)

Place the maple syrup, vinegar, mayonnaise, brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a blender, and blend thoroughly. With the motor running, slowly pour in the walnut (or vegetable) oil. Blend until mixture becomes creamy, about 1 minute. 

Candied Pecans
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 tablespoons light corn syrup (I use Lyle’s Golden Syrup)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon (generous) freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces 

Preheat oven to 325°F. 
Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.  Combine corn syrup and next 3 ingredients in large bowl. Stir to blend. Add pecans; stir gently to coat. Transfer to baking sheet.

Bake pecans 10-15 minutes or until pecans are golden and the coating bubbles.  While the pecans bake, place a piece of aluminum foil on your kitchen counter or table.  

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the pecans to the foil. Working quickly, separate the nuts with fork. Cool. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment


Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla Pie


It doesn’t take much imagination to conjure up the potential deliciousness of a cheesy quesadilla in pie form.  Add in some chicken and chiles and all manner of quesadilla scrumptiousness and you know you’re in for something good.  No kidding.  It’s quickly become one of our favorite new things and is every bit as good as you’re imagining.  But man, did I ever have to work for this one! 

I’m not complaining, mind you.  Just surprised.  I mean, it happens to be a recipe from the very accomplished cooks over at America’s Test Kitchen, but I think perhaps this one got through on a day when they weren’t really in the mood.  But then, maybe my expectations of a quesadilla pie were just a little too high from the get go.  Whatever.  It took 3 or 4 tries before this one came together for me, creating what I deemed to be true quesadilla pie excellence. 

Now, we liked the first (original) version OK, although we both agreed that it was a little dry and some distinct quesadilla flavors seemed to be missing.  But we both were also seriously enamored with the whole idea of a quesadilla in pie form so I wasn’t letting this go without a fight. 

I will save you the mind numbingly boring details of the second and third attempts, but on the 4th try… oh, the 4th one.  This, people, this is what I wanted to bite into on that first pie and now we’re hooked, and if I may be so bold, I think you will be too. 

The changes that I made to the recipe weren't actually all that significant, but they did end up producing a more moist and flavorful pie.  And one of the things that made a big difference was the cheese. Most of us, given the choice, would probably choose a sharp, aged cheddar cheese over a milder version in our cooking simply because it has so much more cheddar flavor.  But here's the thing... as cheese ages and develops those incredible flavors, it also loses moisture and its ability to melt super lusciously.  So we sort of need to think about these things when we're choosing the kind of cheese we want to use in our recipes.  Swapping out the sharp cheddar for a medium cheddar for the inside of the pie still brought enough flavor to the party while imparting more of a creamy melt.  When it comes to the top of the pie, swapping out cheddar for jack cheese was a super brilliant move, creating a golden, bubbly top that was missing in the original. 

As for the actual assembly, this is pretty simple to throw together, making it a totally do-able weeknight dinner.  We’re just going to start with a large, 10-12-inch flour tortilla that we will nestle into a 9-inch pie plate. 

Then we’re going to combine some shredded chicken, grated cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro and chiles (a combination of pickled jalapenos and canned, mild green chiles).  Note to self…next time add some chopped scallions or red onion.  [As a side note here, a couple of other changes I made to the original recipe included reducing the amount of chicken.  The original recipe called for 3 cups which practically filled the whole pie plate.  That meant that you were either going to have to cut back on the egg and milk mixture (making it too dry), or pack the chicken down so tightly that the egg and milk mixture sat on top, never getting down to moisten the whole pie.  Reducing the chicken to 2 cups totally solved the probem.  Also, instead of adding in all pickled jalapenos, which you could totally do, I combined some jalapenos with some canned diced green chiles which gave the chiles a little more presence in the dish.  We liked that.]

Then we’re going to place that chicken mixture into the flour tortilla, whip up some eggs and milk and flour and stuff and then pour that over the top of the chicken. 

Then we’re going to top that off with some more grated cheese (jack this time)…

And then we’re going to bake it and it’s going to come out all golden and bubbly and cheesy and ever so amazingly gorgeous. 

Then we’re going to wait unpatiently while it cools down a bit (and sadly watch it lose that golden puffiness).  And then at long last we will slice into it

and savor each delicious bite and remind ourself that this is why we persisted through all of those trials, which is, of course, a very small price to pay for a perfectly excellent quesadilla pie.  Here’s the recipe… 

P.S. Check out my new feature on the Matters and Musing page which I describe way up there on the column to the right.  I'm also adding a new section to my recipes called "prep" which I explain there too. Now, here's the recipe...

Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla Pie

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen 

If you're looking for a moist, creamy, cheesy quesadilla pie, be sure to use a medium-sharp cheddar cheese for the filling and jack cheese for the top of the pie.  So good.  And feel free to switch up the chile component by using all pickled jalapenos (about 1/3 cup) or swapping out the chiles for 1/3 cup of salsa verde.  I’ve tried all 3 options, and they all work, but we like the version below the best. 

One 10-inch flour tortilla
Vegetable oil spray
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breast
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (preferably medium sharp)
1 cup grated jack cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 can chopped mild green chiles
2-3 tablespoons jarred pickled jalapeños, drained and chopped
Salt and pepper
2 large eggs
1 cup milk (whole or lowfat)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder 

1.  Shred enough cooked chicken breast to equal 2 cups and set aside

2.  Grate the cheddar cheese and set aside

3.  Grate the jack cheese and set aside

4.  Chop the cilantro (it doesn’t need to be too fine) and set aside

5.  Drain the canned chiles if they seem to have much liquid

6.  Drain and chop the pickled jalapenos

7.  Whisk together the eggs, milk, flour, baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt until smooth and set aside

8.  Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray 

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. 

Press the tortilla into prepared pie plate and spray lightly with oil spray. 

Toss shredded chicken in a bowl with the cheddar cheese, cilantro, canned chiles, jalapeños, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper 

Spread the chicken mixture onto the flour tortilla in the pie plate. 

Slowly pour the egg mixture over the chicken and then sprinkle with the jack cheese. 

Bake until surface is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. 

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment


A Rustic, Seeded Loaf


OK all you bread bakers out there…here’s one you’ve gotta try.  Wait, even if you don’t consider yourself a bread baker, you should still try this.  I mean, for such a simple recipe, this turns out to be a pretty sophisticated loaf of bread with great texture, complex flavors and a crisp exterior that’s enough to make any baker happy.  The Husband has declared it his all-time favorite bread.  

It really is good stuff, but I have to qualify The Husband’s enthusiasm if just to let you know that he really loves rye bread and with a little rye flour and the addition of caraway seeds, this bread has a very distinctive rye bread quality.  If you’re not a fan of rye bread, just substitute the caraway seeds with another seed of your choice, or leave em out altogether.  

Beyond the great flavors created in this bread, I think the most outstanding characteristic has got to be the crust.  I’ve made a few loaves of bread in my day, but the crust on this loaf is pretty special… sort of a dark mahogany and crusty so that you can sort of knock on it and it snaps back at you. 

But then when you cut into the bread, the interior is soft and fluffy and ever so scrumptious.  Bakery-worthy, for sure. 

A big shout-out to the excellent bakers at King Arthur Flour for this awesome recipe.  And also to the home bakers who comment on their website with helpful modifications, adjustments and insights.  This recipe was greatly influenced by some of those comments, especially the baking of it in a heavy cast iron pot.  This is optional, of course, but I think it really does create just the right environment for a perfectly crusty crust. 

 I’ve made this bread a few times and thought that I would experiment this last time by forming the dough into a longer loaf as opposed to a round loaf. 

(The round loaf version)

I was wishing I had the appropriately rectangular baking vessel, but managed to sort of make the round one work. 

And in the end I think we got a little more crust with the longer loaf than a perfectly round loaf.  But both are excellently delicious.  And what better way to give yourself a big ol' giant bear hug than with a fresh loaf of homemade crusty bread.  I say grab the butter and get it on!  Here’s the recipe…

A Rustic, Seeded Loaf

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour
This recipe turns out an amazingly delicious loaf of bread with a dark, crisp crust and soft, flavorful interior.  I have used italics to note the changes I made to the recipe.  If you would rather not bake this in a crock, you can simply place the loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet for the second rise and then place that in the oven for baking.  Easy peasy.  Feel free to leave out the seeds or add your own blend or K.A.'s Harvest Grains Blend.  I've given you the recipe for the seeds that I added.
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) cool water
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) pumpernickel flour (I used rye flour)

2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 cups (9 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (I used bread flour)
1/2 cup (2 3/4 ounces) Harvest Grains Blend or mixed seeds of your choice (see below for my seed mixture)
My Seed Mixture
2 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
2 teaspoons of caraway seeds
1 teaspoon dill seeds
3 teaspoons flax seeds
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
Combine the seeds in a small bowl and set aside.
To make the sponge: Mix the sponge ingredients together, and let rest at room temperature, covered, for 3 to 4 hours, or overnight.

To make the dough: Stir down the sponge, and add the salt and flour. Mix and knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic. Knead in the Harvest Grains Blend or your choice of seeds. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat its surface with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface, and form it into a ball. Place on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, or into an ovenproof crock (I placed it in a parchment-lined bowl). Cover and let rise for about 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 450°F.  (I placed my empty cast iron pot with the lid on in the oven for at least 20 minutes to get really hot. 

Gently but firmly slash the dough across the top, then spritz it with water. (At this point I removed the cast iron pan from the oven and removed the lid.  Grab the edges of the parchment paper and transfer the dough to the hot pan.  Place the lid on the pot and bake the bread, covered, for 15 minutes.  Remove the lid and let the bread continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes or until it's deep golden brown).If using a baking sheet, bake the loaf for 30 to 35 minutes.  Remove it from the oven and place it on a rack to cool. Cool completely before slicing. Yield: 1 loaf.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment 


Foolproof Lemon Meringue Pie


I’ve been going back and forth for the better part of a year as to whether I should actually do a post on lemon meringue pie.  And for the better part of a year I’ve mostly decided against it.  Until recently, when after making one for my Dad’s 91st birthday, I decided it was time to just do it.  I wish the title of the post could be “The perfect lemon meringue pie in only 30 minutes!”  Alas, no, as of this writing, I’ve yet to see or hear of a perfect, from scratch, recipe for lemon meringue pie that’s any shorter than the one our grandmothers used.  But despite this, I think we can all agree that there are few things as exquisitely delicious as a beautifully home-made lemon meringue pie. 

It’s no wonder that most of us have sort of a love-hate relationship with lemon meringue pie…love to eat it; hate to make it.  It seems there should be a support group for that. And I’m here to tell you that the cavalry has arrived!  And our support group looks suspiciously like the good folks over at Cook’s Illustrated.  Fortunately, they’ve provided all of the help and support we need to make a superlatively delicious lemon meringue pie without fear and intimidation.  Well, I suppose the fear and intimidation are up to you, but the pie is spot on and I’m happy to say, very do-able.  The downside?  Time.  You must set aside a bit of time.  The rest is a breeze. 

I’ve been making lemon meringue pies for lots and lots of years, owing mostly to the fact that my Dad’s favorite pie, well his favorite dessert is lemon meringue and I’ve always done my best to make sure he got at least one a year, and possibly more often than that if I was feeling generously masochistic. 

I finally just said enough already, and a couple of years ago I got serious about making a lemon meringue that didn’t scare me half to death and that I could depend on to come out perfectly every time.  And that’s when I gave this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated a try and found the pie of my dreams.  And Dad’s too, I might add. 

So when his birthday rolled around last week and he turned 91 (way to go, Dad!), I felt completely confident and comfortable pulling out this recipe and getting it done.  Which is exactly what I did, and once again, it came out beautifully.  So I think it’s high time we faced our fears and started making ourselves some lemon meringue pies! 

I’m pretty sure that what sets this pie apart from other lemon meringue pies has to be the meringue.  It’s beautifully thick and fluffy and because of the addition of a cornstarch slurry, it doesn’t fall or shrink or shrivel.  It really does come out perfect every time. 

So in an attempt to make our lemon meringue pie assembly a bit more user-friendly, let’s just break it down into 3 parts…the crust, the filling and the meringue.  And I’ll just start by apologizing for not having any process photos.  I really wasn’t thinking that I would do a lemon meringue post but changed my mind after it was done, so I have no photos of it coming together.  My bad. 

Anyway, we’ll start with the crust, (here's my recipe) which I HIGHLY recommend you make a day or two ahead of time.  If you’re buying your crust, you’ll still want to do this because the pie shell must be partially baked first.  As in “blind-baking”, which sounds ominously difficult, but I promise you get to keep your eyes open for this part. 

This not-so-aptly-named process just assures that your crust won’t get soggy and is cooked all the way through and involves lining your pie shell with foil, filling it with dried beans or pie weights and partially cooking it.  Then it must cool before you add the filling, so I just stash it in the fridge until it’s time to make the pie. 

Then there’s the filling, which I think is the easiest part of the deal, takes only minutes to make and is a perfect balance of sweet and lemony goodness. 

Lastly, the dreaded meringue.  This, my friends, is where we usually check out and say no, thank you.  I’ll just put whipped cream on top.  But not today.  No, people, today we will be brave!  We will make meringue!!  And it will be beautiful and it won’t shrink and your culinary street cred will soar and mostly you’ll just marvel at the beauty that you have created.  Oh, and it will taste really good too. 

All of this is because those clever folks at Cook’s Illustrated have provided us a little trick and it’s a simple little mixture of cornstarch and water that you will whip into your egg whites, which will stabilize them and keep them looking beautiful for about 3 months.  OK, no lemon meringue pie would ever sit uneaten that long, but my point is that this meringue will not fall, shrink or collapse.  Whatever calamity has befallen your meringue in the past, it will not happen here.  This works. 

So we know we can make this pie.  And it will be perfect and it will be beautiful, but here’s the bonus… it tastes amazing.  If you love lemon meringue as I do, this is non-negotiable.  It doesn’t matter how good it looks, it’s gotta taste awesome and this one does. 

Alrighty then, people.  Gird your loins, get out your mixers and make some pie.  With meringue!  Here’s the recipe… 

Foolproof Lemon Meringue Pie 

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe courtesy, Cook's Illustrated

This is undoubtedly the best, most reliable lemon meringue pie I've made.  It turns out perfectly every time, and after you get over the lengthy instructions, you'll see that there's nothing at all tricky about any of it. Each step is quite simple and straightforward.  I totally recommend that you prepare your pie crust one or two days before you make the pie. 


One 9-inch pie shell, store-bought or homemade (here's my recipe)


1½ cups water
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
¼ cup cornstarch (I add just a little more to ensure that the filling holds up)
⅛ tsp salt
6 large egg yolks
1 Tbls grated lemon zest plus ½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
2 Tbls unsalted butter 


 cup water
1 Tbls cornstarch
4 large egg whites
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup (3½ oz) granulated sugar 


For the Pie Crust:
The crust must be partially baked before assembling the pie, which is called “blind baking”.  You will need a piece of aluminum foil and about 1 lb of dried beans or pie weights.  You can do this 1 or 2 days before you plan on making the pie. Here's how it's done...

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and adjust the oven rack to the lower third of the oven.

1.  Roll your pie crust out and place it in a 9-inch pie pan, leaving about ½-inch overhang.  Fold the overhang under along the edge of the pie pan and the crimp or flute as desired. 

2.  Place the pie in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes to chill, which will help the crust to keep its shape in the oven. 

2.  Line the chilled pie crust with a piece of aluminum foil, folding the edges as needed to fit just under the outside edge of the crust.  Fill the pie with dried beans or pie weights and place it in the oven.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Reduce the oven temp to 350 degrees. 

3.  Remove the pie from the oven and carefully remove the foil and very hot beans to a pan or bowl to cool.  Use a fork to gently prick the bottom of the crust, which will ensure that the crust will not rise or form bubbles in the oven.  Return the pie to the oven and continue baking for another 10 minutes or so.  The crust should be lightly golden brown.

4.  Place the pie pan on a rack to cool completely and then refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the pie.  I place my pie shell in an extra large Ziploc bag to protect it in the refrigerator. 

When you are ready to assemble the pie… 

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 325°F. 

For the Filling: 

Bring water, sugar, cornstarch, and salt to a simmer in large saucepan, whisking occasionally at first and then as it thickens, stir it constantly. When mixture starts to turn translucent, whisk in egg yolks, two at a time. Whisk in lemon zest and juice and butter. Return mixture to brief simmer, then remove from heat. Lay sheet of plastic wrap directly on surface of filling to keep warm and prevent skin from forming. (I just put a lid on my pan) 

For the Meringue: 

Bring water and cornstarch to simmer in small saucepan and cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened and translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. 

Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar on med-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to med-high and beat in sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated and mixture forms soft, billowy mounds. Add cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue to beat to glossy, stiff peaks, 2 to 3 minutes. 

Meanwhile, remove plastic from filling and return to very low heat during last minute or so of beating meringue (to ensure filling is hot). 

Pour still-warmed filling into the pre-baked pie crust. Using a rubber spatula, immediately distribute meringue evenly around the edge and then the center of pie, attaching meringue to pie crust to prevent shrinking. Using back of spoon, create attractive swirls and peaks in meringue. Bake until meringue is light golden brown, about 20 minutes. 

Place the pie on a wire rack to cool for at least 3 hours, but longer is better to ensure that the filling has ample time to set up.  

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