It has taken me seven long hours to write this post about these delicious meyer lemons and fresh blackberries.
Okay, not really. But, it's taken at least a good, long five hours to upload all of the photos for this post, and that in and of itself was a tedious process. Because, folks, this is where I am:
Okay, well not *technically* in the middle of the forest, but pretty darn close. For the past few days, I've been visiting one of my favorite places on Earth, the Redwoods, and while the Redwoods themselves are undoubtedly gorgeous, the internet connection is as horrid as 1990's dial-up. I have so many other pictures that I wanted to post, too, but, unfortunately, my patience could only handle uploading these few, so they'll have to wait for future posts when I return to the Land of Cable Internets.
But, I really shouldn't be complaining too much, because the Redwoods are downright gorgeous.
There are these ridiculously tall trees that make you crane your neck and stare upwards in wonder. Walking among them, you really remember how small your place is in the world and that there are much, much larger things than us.
The Redwoods are also this incredible place because you can stand and face the Pacific Ocean on the most secluded beaches and then turn around to see hills upon hills of dense forest stretching out in front of you.
Then, on this trip, I discovered Fern Canyon, which I had never been to before:
Fern Canyon is this amazing stretch of canyon where all of the walls are covered in gorgeous ferns. Apparently, we weren't here at the right time of year, though, to witness the height of Fern Canyon's majesty, but it was quite amazing as it was. And for someone like me who really likes water, getting to Fern Canyon was super fun as well, since we had to pick our way up the canyon floor through the stream (thank goodness for water-proof hiking shoes!, though this didn't prevent water from flooding in around the ankles when the water got too deep) and climb under, over, and between the fallen wreckage of giant redwood trees.
Visiting the Redwoods again has been one of the best decisions that I've made in a while, and coming back North felt a lot like coming home, since my family used to take road trips to this area almost yearly when I was younger. I remember always begging my dad to stop at the crooked Mystery House south of Eureka, and we would always make it a point to visit Samoa Cookhouse for a traditional logger's breakfast during our trips. One of my earliest memories of the Redwoods was pulling over on the side of the road and picking wild blackberries with my grandpa, how prickly the bushes were but how sweet the fruit would be and how deep blue my fingers would be stained afterwards. Which brings me to the food.
Blackberry lemon meringue pie. These are by far not your ordinary lemon meringue pie. First of all, the pastry crust is actually a tart crust rather than a pie crust, and it's infused with freshly grated meyer lemon zest, making the crusts taste like part of the lemon filling itself. Then, inside, there's a dual combination of lemon curd and blackberry curd--finally, all topped off with a mountain of just-sweet-enough meringue. I know you're dying for a look inside, right?
Now, if you've never had blackberry curd, you're so missing out. It's like lemon curd, but almost better! (I really adore lemon curd, so it's a hard judgement call to make. :-P) The blackberry curd is sweet and packed full of deep and rich berry flavor, and I personally like to keep the seeds in as well since it mimics the berries in their original form. Together with the lemon curd, the two curds make a refreshing, tart, yet sweet filling for the pie that *might* have you never looking at a simple lemon meringue pie the same way again.
The only sad part of this whole post is that I couldn't bring some of these blackberry lemon pies with me to the Redwoods and enjoy one all to myself in the middle of the forest... but, next time, right? ;-)
Happy Spring, everyone!
Read on for the recipe...
Blackberry Lemon Meringue Pie
makes two 9" pies (halving the curd recipes for one 9" pie was a bit awkward to write because the curds use three egg yolks each, but it's actually pretty easy in practice. Prepare three egg yolks, then use only one and a half yolks per halved curd recipe--that's roughly a Tablespoon and a half of yolk.)
for pastry crust:
520 grams AP flour
100 grams sugar
14 Tbspn butter
2 egg yolks
4 Tbspn freshly grated meyer lemon zest
2 Tbspn freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice
4 Tbspn cold water
1. Combine the ingredients except the water in a food processor and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas.
2. Gradually add the water and pulse just until a dough begins to form.
3. Remove the pastry dough from the food processor, form it into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap or parchment paper and chill for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
5. Roll out the pastry crust. Prick the bottom of the crust several times with a fork. Then, line the pastry with parchment paper and weigh down with pie weights (or dry beans, which is what I use).
6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the pastry looks golden.
7. Remove from the oven and let cool.
for lemon curd:
1 cup sugar
6 Tbspn corn starch
1/4 tspn salt
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice
3 egg yolks
2 Tbspn butter
1 1/3 cups boiling water
1 Tbspn freshly grated meyer lemon zest
1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually blend in the cold water and lemon juice.
2. Add the egg yolks and butter, blending until smooth.
3. Gradually add in the boiling water, stirring constantly.
4. Place the saucepan on medium high heat and bring to a full boil, stirring gently with a spatula and scraping the bottom (to prevent burning). Once the mixture begins to thicken, reduce the heat and simmer for one minute.
5. Remove the curd from heat and mix in the lemon zest. Let cool.
for blackberry curd::
2 cups fresh or thawed, frozen blackberries*
1 cup sugar
6 Tbspn corn starch
1/4 tspn salt
1 Tbspn creme de cassis
1 Tbspn freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 egg yolks
2 Tbspn butter
1 1/3 cup boiling water
1. In a food processor or blender, puree the blackberries until smooth. If desired, pour through a sieve to take out seeds (I actually like the seeds for texture, so I don't strain them out.) You should have one cup of blackberry puree; if there is extra, set aside for other uses.
2. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually blend in the blackberry puree, creme de cassis, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
3. Add the egg yolks and butter, blending until smooth.
4. Gradually add in the boiling water, stirring constantly.
5. Place the saucepan on medium high heat and bring to a full boil, stirring gently with a spatula and scraping the bottom (to prevent burning). Once the mixture begins to thicken, reduce the heat and simmer for one minute.
6. Remove the curd from heat and let cool.
for meringue and assembly:
7-8 egg whites
1/2 tspn cream of tartar
5 Tbspn sugar
1 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Place egg whites in a clean mixer bowl with the whisk attachment. Begin to whip at low until the egg whites
start to foam.
3. Add the cream of tartar and increase speed to medium high. Gradually add the sugar.
4. Whip the egg whites until glossy stiff peaks, being careful not to overwhip.
5. Add the vanilla extract and whip the egg whites on high for about three seconds, "sealing" the meringue.
6. Spoon the blackberry and lemon curds alternatively into the prepared pie crusts. Top with meringue, making sure to seal the meringue to the pie crust at the outer edges.
7. Place pies in the lower shelf of the oven, and bake at 425 for three minutes, until the tips of the meringue become golden. Then, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to bake for 7-8 more minutes, until you reach the desired color on the meringue. Remove and let cool.