Pie for Amy

August 28, 2009


Tomorrow is a big day for Amy Snider, my friend, colleague and occasional guest blogger on this board.

I love that she and her fiancé Tim have planned a wedding that reflects who they are and what they like do. The wedding is to be outdoors on Amy’s parent’s sheep farm and instead of formality and dancing, there will be Bermuda shorts, lawn bowling and croquet. On the menu is one of her Dad’s lambs and for dessert they’ll have lots and lots of pies. That’s right, despite intense peer pressure from people like me, they’re foregoing cake to have their favourite dessert instead. I like them all the better for it!

So, in honour of this celebration, I offer you a recipe for one of my favourite pies. I hope you’ll make it tomorrow and toast Amy and Tim’s happiness when you take your first bite:

Silky Lemon Meringue Pie

1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
1 pkg (250 g) softened brick-style cream cheese
2 tbsp (30 mL) icing sugar
2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (175 mL) lemon juice
pinch salt
6 egg yolks
1 cup (250 mL) sour cream

1/3 cup (75 mL) granulated sugar
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp (1 mL) cream of tartar

Pastry: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and mix on low. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined and crumbly. Shape into a ball and knead two or three times or until smooth. Roll thinly and fit 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Poke all over with a fork. Line with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake for 10 minutes or until golden.

Filling: Melt the butter in a saucepan set over medium heat. Remove from the stove and whisk the sugar, lemon juice and salt. Whisk in the egg yolks and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring, until thick and mounding on the spoon. Cover and bring to room temperature with waxed paper touching the surface of the filling. Gently stir in sour cream and scrape into prepared pastry.

Meringue: Preheat the oven to 375F (190C0. Place egg whites in a clean, dry bowl and beat until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating. Add sugar, a spoonful at a time, until eggs are full and glossy. Spoon over top of filling and spread to the edge of the crust. Place in oven. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes or until golden. Makes 8 servings.

Coconut cups

August 20, 2008

It seems that weddings are in the air for many of my young friends this year. Martin and I will have attended four weddings and as many wedding related parties in twelve months by the time Thanksgiving arrives.

I have to say that I’ve been impressed by the diversity of celebrations I’ve been asked to share. From traditional to quirky, the brides and grooms we know are letting their personalities shine through so that their weddings are anything but magazine layout knock offs. We’ve witnessed belly dancing and heard a bride pledge in her wedding vows to help her groom cope with the pain and anguish of being a lifelong Toronto Maple Leafs fan. Good times!

At a recent engagement party with a Hawaiian theme, I was particularly impressed by Heather and Mike, an enthusiastic young couple who trekked to T&T, bought whole coconuts and cleaned them to create pina colada glasses for the guests. (That’s Heather and Mike holding their own well-earned drinks above.)

Although the hostess had already taken every necessary step to make the party a success, I loved that this couple spent the afternoon before their party wielding machetes, joined in a mutual goal to encase alcoholic beverages in thematically sound barware. After all, if a couple can band together on a creative project that requires this magnitude of violence and still smile at one another, their chances of staying together have to be pretty damn good!

Have you been to a wedding or engagement party that entertained you in unexpected ways?  If so, tell us about it.

Fancy outdoor parties

June 10, 2008

Although I prefer to host casual parties myself, I have to agree, there’s something special about a starlit wedding reception or a dressy afternoon party on the lawn. For any brides-to-be or other posh party throwers, here are my tips for planning a successful outdoor party that will be fun, safe and memorable.

1. Since nature can be indifferent to our party pleasure, everyone planning an outdoor party should have an indoor contingency plan in case unwanted rain, gale or locusts occur.

2. As long as there is no precipitation falling, I can find a way to host an amazing outdoor party in almost any season. If you anticipate complications and make appropriate arrangements, you can have fun outdoors almost anytime.

3. Most people think summer is the easiest time of year to host an outdoor event; however, this time of year is as tricky as any other season. Depending on your elevation and geographic location, the nights can range from nippy (think Banff) or sweltering (think Toronto). In areas where the summer evenings are hot, fans and insect repelling torches and/or candles can help to keep the event cool and comfortable while in the mountains or near the ocean coasts of Canada, heaters can keep the evening chill at bay. I also like to have a big basket of pashminas folded and at the ready for the women with bare arms who feel cold once the sun goes down.

4. Comfort can also be enhanced by renting a wooden floor so that sunken-high-heel-syndrome doesn’t weigh down your guests’ spirits or quell their enthusiasm for dancing. After all, who can dance when her Manolos are getting ruined?

5. When choosing an outdoor location, remember that one square yard of land per person plus additional space for waiter’s stations, bars and a dance floor is necessary to have a comfortable reception.

6. The location also needs to have attractive but functional lighting and an adequate power supply. Likewise, sufficient restroom facilities are a must. Order port-o-potties if you must and outfit them with flowers, had towels and whatever other creature comforts their limited indoor space will allow.

7. Even if painting is required, it’s easy to prepare an indoor room for a party; however making the backyard a paradise can be a longer term project so start early. Fertilize the grass 6 weeks before the event and plant flowers, preferably coordinated to match the party colour scheme, which will bloom just before the event.