August 12, 2011
Rhubarb Lemon Meringue Smash Pie
I love making jam and preserves,
but its such a pain to stand at the stove stirring, stirring, stirring for ages- and then if you forget for a minute and burn the pot it takes aaaages to soak and scrub clean, and cleaning the stove top of splatters too, it can be such a pain!
Consequently I only tend to make jams and preserves when I have such a glut of produce that the freezer can't contain it all.
But all that is about to change!
Last week my wonderful Mum sent me a new toy, a Thermochef which is an almost magical kitchen tool that can do practically everything- perfect for me with an arm out of commission for the next few months! One of the many great applications is that it will make jam all by itself, no supervision required. Awesome. And small amounts of jam as well, even a cup or so, so if I fancy something new to try on my gfree toast every morning I can. Wow. Oh the possibilities....
Anyway, as much as I'm carried away with my jam making, I realise that most of my Dear Readers prefer recipes for a whole dish- so I combined the two to keep everyone happy!
So here's a Rhubarb Lemon Meringue Smash Pie.
Sounds interesting, hmm? Well, I'm not a huge pastry lover, but do like shortbread and it gives a lovely textural crunch to the sublime silky smoothness of the lemon butter and meringue. The Rhubarb is to add that earthy base note to ground the dish and add the tartness to keep your palate from going into a sugar coma after a bowl of this.
I tried a few plating ideas, and liked the long plate style the best. The idea is to look as if you've picked up a slice of Rhubarb and Lemon meringue pie and sort of dashed it across the plate. I imagined the pastry hitting first, then the rest of the filling kind of falling out splashing out by weight, maybe I should have practised by throwing one across the kitchen first?
There is actually a lot of components to this dish, but never fear, I will give a secret hint.... you can buy most of it at the supermarket and then pretend you made it all yourself.
Nice buttery lemon curd is available in jars, there's a gorgeous rhubarb berry jam at Coles, and you can get a packet of quality gfree shortbread to break into crumbs too. See, how easy is that?
Now you can relax with the pressure off, and you can indulge me as I play around with my new toy :)
Two parts rhubarb by weight
one part sugar by weight
couple of tablespoons of water
couple of tablespoons of lemon juice
Tablespoon/ to taste/ balsamic vinegar- I used a raspberry balsamic
you just cook it all down until it's thick and bubbly and sets when a bit is smeared on a cold saucer.
The balsamic vinegar is lovely in this- trust me, and using a raspberry one was even better.
80g lemon juice
80g egg yolks- (4)
Cook this in a double boiler whisking constantly until lovely and thickened and will coat the back of a spoon.
Cut the rhubarb to the size you want, sprinkle thickly with sugar, sprinkle liberally with water, then bake in a moderate oven for 10-15 minutes. The rhubarb should be soft enough to stick a skewer through easily but still maintain it's structure.
3 egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
pinch cream of tartar
Bring water and sugar slowly to a boil with cream of tartar, and boil for about 4 minutes. The mixture and it's bubbles should be clear and shiny but not reduced down too much at all.
I never check my temperatures, I just go by the look- sorry.
Put the eggwhites into mixer bowl on low speed, then pour in syrup slowly.
Crank it up to full and beat until white, billowy and glossy clouds are created, and it's fairly cool.
For a better explanation,see my post on icecream cone cupcakes.
Now the fun part, pulling it all together.
The easiest way to do this at home is to serve it all cold, that way you can set the plates up well in advance and just sprinkle the crumbs on at the last minute. At a restaurant, I would serve the rhubarb and lemon curd warm, and blowtorch the meringue at the last minute so it's just warm too, but it will still taste awesome cold as well.
Step 1, the Jam.
It's easier if you warm the jam a little, or if it's really thick you could thin it just a touch with boiling water. You want to be able to eat the jam with the rest of the dish so it adds a nice tart note. You don't want it to be so set hard that you'd have to suck the edge of the plate as the only way to get a taste of it.
Using a nice thick paintbrush- not one from the shed that you painted the walls with I hope, paint a nice thick stripe across the plate or bowl.
Step 2, the Meringue
For the rimmed bowl, I used a palate knife to smear a thick layer of meringue around the rim. You could pipe it, or wipe it, or blob it instead if you like. For the plates I blobbed it on leaving room for the meringue as well. Use a kitchen blowtorch to brown the meringue nicely and set the top.
Step 3, the Lemon Curd
Blob or pipe the curd into rounds alongside the meringue on the plates. For the bowls I put a generous amount in the middle.
Step 4, the Rhubarb
Blot the rhubarb off on some kitchen paper so it doesn't bleed onto the plate, then stack them artistically on one side, or on top of the lemon curd.
Step 5, the Crumb
Grab a packet of pure butter gfree, lactose free shortbread. Roughly crumble them up in your fingers to make some yummy crumbs to represent the pastry of the pie. You don't want dust, just nice chunky crumbs to add texture to the dish. Either place a line of them across the edge of the plate or pile them on top of the lot in the bowl. Either way, do this at the last minute or they'll go yucky and soggy and lose all their effect.
Phew! It's actually a lot quicker to plate this up than to read about it! I know the plating in the photos is very clunky and not elegant, but my right arm is out of commission for now and I bet you'll make yours a lot prettier. I guess my left arm has a steep learning curve ahead of it. I hope you like my idea for the smash pie, I won't mind if you buy the ingredients instead, or just enjoy the rhubarb jam or lemon curd on toast for brekkie. I just know I sure had fun playing around with my new toy and checking out what it can do.
So, Dearest Readers, would you make the components for the Smash Pie, or buy them ready made?