Monday, June 10, 2013

Pay de Limón (Key Lime Pie)

     I titled this post "pay de limón" because I had can never remember what key lime pie is called, but I knew it was a dessert I wanted to make. So prior to making it, I had to Google "flan de limón inglés" and "pay de limón inglés." But those were giving me that icky thing I know lemon meringue pie as...until I remembered that the English word for lemon was not lemon, but lime. (Hey, the Spanglish makes sense to me!) 

     These last two weeks have been busy, and I've been wanting to bake. I've wanted to bake a delicious treat, a tasty treat, but also a summertime treat.  Since I just got a new recipe book, and there's a recipe for a white chocolate lime pie in there, I decided on key lime pie!

My key lime pie features fresh lime juice and a crust using crushed almonds as half of the flour. Can you say "yummy"?

      For the crust, I was not about to use graham crackers because I wanted something finer. Solution?  Grab about 3/4 cup whole, shelled, toasted albums and pulverize them to a fine powder in the blender. Blend this with about 1 1/2 cups of flour and 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) to a consistency you can mold easily when in small tart pans. Or, in my case, muffin cups! (As a quick note, if you haven't made pie crust before, measurements for the flour and butter, or shortening if you prefer it, differ depending on the weather, pressure of surroundings, etc.)
Here you can see 3 muffin cups with prepared crust, and one with about the amount of dough needed to make a nice crust.
A more aesthetic shot of the same view, just for kicks. Doesn't that almondine crust look scrumptious?

     I layed out the leftover crust in a small, 7-inch tart pan and then proceeded to make the filling as the crust pre-baked, 15 minutes for that lovely texture. Let the crust cool a bit after coming out of the oven, of course, before pouring in the filling! I based my filling loosely off Emeril Lagasse's recipe, though I found it too sour for my liking and added about 2/3 cup sugar to the batter. 

Pre-oven sentencing. Tasty pasty, isn't it?
     I did cheat a little and added 3 drops of green food colouring to the batter, for aesthetic's sake. But don't worry, it was organic food colour! And by "organic" I mean the molecule contains carbon.

    Here you can see the tarts after baking in the oven 17 minutes, until the fillings were settled entirely (I jiggled the pan before taking it out.) Took one of them out and placed it on a plate to take a photo.

Is it just me, or is something wrong? 

     The crust texture was all wrong- crumbly and soft, like mazapan, and fell apart when I removed the tart from the muffin pan. I tasted the crust, which did not at all have the toasty almond flavour I expected- in fact it tasted almost...raw.  It took me a second to figure out that I'd likely forgotten to actually set the oven to bake when I set the initial temperature for the crust, since it's a two-dial oven! Oh no! What to do?

That there is my easy-peasy solution. Yay!

     Luckily, my hard cerebrum came to the rescue!  I decided to take all the tarts out very, very carefully so they wouldn't suffer the same fate as the on in the photo. It broke further when I transferred it to the foil paper on the cookie sheet, and you can tell it's the one to the left of the gap. I baked them 15 more minutes before taking them out again, and it worked! I was able to transfer them to a container easily with minimal "dusting" of the crust, and placed them in the refrigerator to cool before being eaten.

     Now, the part you likely scrolled through for- the recipe! Minus the mishaps you may have noticed if you skimmed this post, of course.

Maaaarvelous. Simply maaah-velous.

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Key Lime Pie:
Makes approximately 18 mini tarts or 1 deep dish 9-inch pie. 

3/4 cup whole roasted almonds
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted

Preheat oven to 350˚ F.  In blender or food processor, pulverize almonds to a fine powder and pour into small mixing bowl. There will be some lumps, but if blended well they should be clumped patches of powder, and will fall apart easily when touched.

Add flour and melted butter, and quickly knead to a paste-like consistency that is moldable but not sticky. It should be just a bit crumbly, but enough to hold together. Press into the bottoms and up the sides of muffin pans or 9-inch pie.

Bake 15 minutes and allow to cool completely before pouring in filling.

1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 
28 ounces (3.5 cups, or 2 14-oz cans) sweetened condensed milk 
2 large eggs 
2/3 cup granulated sugar 
1 tsp. freshly ground lime zest 

Lower oven temperature to 325˚ F. Whisk lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, and both eggs together in large bowl. The milk will refuse to mix with the juice at first, so a wire whisk is recommended.  Slowly whisk in sugar, followed by beating in lime zest. 

Pour into prepared pans and bake for 17-20 minutes, until filling is settled and does not move.  Let cool before refrigerating 30 minutes prior to serving.

Questions? Feedback? Critiques? Advice? Just drop a comment here and lemme know!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Steampunk Microphone Process

     So, here's process of a single-file walkthrough I uploaded to my deviantART a bit ago, for this drawing.

     It was summer, about two weeks or so before my first year of college would start, and I was pretty much just watching random videos on YouTube. Ran into this one:

      Steampunk? I decided to watch just for the fashions, typical me (I had also spent a bit watching the runway sections of Project Runway), when up goes that microphone, and again, and AGAIN.  First glance at it, I was BEAUTIFUL. Steampunk, but classic microphone, but at the same time something...Greek? Seafaring? No clue, but I managed to pause the video at several instances and screenshot as much of the mic as possible, then got to sketching.  After 10 minutes or so, I had this baby:
     I confess that at this point, I put it away and then forgot about it until months later- shortly before my spring break. Well, once spring break started I got to fine-tuning the overall design of the sketch and messing with it, had a better look at the video, and finally went and inked it. I used my usual mixture of ink and coffee- 1/4 coffee to 3/4 ink for the darker spots,and wa-la! A couple hours later, I had my inked sketch:
     You can see where my inking went wrong with the smudging, but I wasn't about to start over or give up. So I ploughed on to base colouring with coffee and paint+coffee.

     As you can see, there's a couple things that went somewhat awry, but it was decent enough overall for me to go on with my coloured pencils, Sharpie oil paint pen, and more watercolours and coffee. 

     I went for a burnished, antique look- I originally wanted a Hellenistic-style  compass, which is why there's a theta in place of an o.  Yes, I could have used an omega, but it didn't really say "ancient Greek navigation" to me. The lack of accuracy does bother me, of course, but the drawing is done and I'm still happy with it!