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Lemon Meringue Tarts and Mothering: Layers of Work That Looks Easy

It's all about Eve.


It's a complex debate. Whether you believe in evolutionism or creationism, it's still all about Eve.


Mitochondrial Eve, a maternal ancestor to all living humans who likely lived about 200,000 years ago to which each human can trace back their own mitochondrial DNA.


or


Eve, the first human woman, created by God on the sixth day of Creation and ancestorial mother to all of mankind who lived around 6,192 years ago according to the Bible.

Both theories have one thing in common, a maternal presence that touched each and every being.


Moms come in all different shapes and sizes.


Birth moms, adopted moms, stepmoms, surrogate moms, fur baby moms, dad moms, trans moms, aunt moms, grandma moms, teacher moms, coach moms, friend moms and every other mom I didn't mention (I'm sorry). We all love and care for that with which we are responsible. There is a special bond that only a mom can understand.


It's a complex job, being a mom, that is.


There are so many different steps to take, a recipe if you will, to be a great mom.


Recipe for a Good Mom

1-pound unconditional love

2 cups of patience

1 bunch of affection

1 heaping cup of laughter

3 tablespoons of trust

1 handful of timeless memories

endless forehead kisses

countless hugs

2 drops of examples to follow

1 dash of sternness


tears, sleepless nights, and worrying are probable


Remember, every mom is different, so her recipe can be different than that one above. However, there is one thing I've learned in all my 50 years on Mother Earth, they all try their best. Because we know, babies don't come with instruction manuals.


Whether it's Daenerys Targaryen, The Mother of Dragons, Moira Rose, Beth Pearson, Marge Simpson, Claire Dunphy, Louise Jefferson, Gloria Delgado, Estelle Costanza, Sophia Petrillo, Carol Brady, Claire Huxtable, Edith Bunker, Peg Bundy, Cameron Tucker or Mitchell Pritchett, Roseanne or Joan Crawford, one thing is for sure-- they love their children--it's showing the love that could be different.


There are moms who take care of children with illness. Moms constantly checking blood sugar levels during the night. Moms being advocates for children with challenges, whether mental or physical. Moms that work one, two, three jobs to put food on the table or moms who gave up their own careers to raise their children.


There are moms out there that lost their babies (fur babies too), whether before they were born, at birth, or as children, teens and adults. Check on those mamas. Don't judge their grieving style or time frame. A piece of their heart and soul left them when they had to learn to live life without their child. Please give them the grace they deserve. They still should be honored on every Mother's Day.


Some moms make "mothering" look easy. They take it all in stride, never faulter when push comes to shove, and always makes everything seem just fine and dandy.


Behind the scenes what they don't show you is the constant worrying, the endless lists, the thought processes, the planning, planning and more planning to make it seem like it's effortless. We tire ourselves out being the eternal optimist. We hide in the bathroom to find some "me" time only to see little hands, or paws under the door trying to get to us. We sigh, take a deep breath, smile, and open the door ready to great our little sweethearts.


You will see the parallel to Moms and

Lemon Meringue Tarts shortly.


Multiple processes must be taken, feats within themselves, before all components can come together as one cohesive end product.


Lemon Meringue is one of my mom’s favorite pie. This recipe below is to honor my mom, Bernadette Joniec Dzadony.





She's the reason I am the person I am today. From her cuddling to tough love, she instilled values in my sisters and me that we continue to use and learn from on a daily basis. Compassion, love, kind words as well as the truth, and unconditional love that I give others has a direct correlation to things my mother has shown and taught me. I'm lucky to still have my mom around, I know others aren't so lucky. I still learn from her today, and realize I am truly blessed to have her as my mom.


I don't have many pictures of my mom. Well, there's a lot of pictures of my sisters and me or my dad and me. But not my mom and me. Then I realized, for most of the pictures, she was behind the camera capturing the memories. The few I found she's standing in the background, allowing me to be the independent spirit I am or she's out of the shot--only her hands present to keep me safe if I should fail (I can only imagine why I wanted to be on that toilet eating a cooking and probably wouldn't take no for an answer).


Mothering is f$#@ng hard. Doing it right, even harder. (So are lemon meringue tarts). Just know that whenever you can, a kind word goes a long way. A kiss and a hug for your mom, even longer. Cause really, that's all she wants from you. And for you to be safe...so she can finally get a good night sleep.


Happy Mother's Day to all of you...now let's get cooking!!


Cooking Class with Carol

Lemon Meringue Tarts




Things to Consider

These lemon meringue tarts are beautifully elegant

but a taunting task to get right.

  • this recipe is a three-step process that requires a little planning and reading.

  • You will

    • make the dough, refrigerate.

    • Make the curd, refrigerate.

    • Roll out dough.

    • Cook tarts, then cool.

    • Assemble dough and curd.

    • Make meringue (just before piping, assemble tart,

    • cook assembled tart.

  • Don't let the above statement scare you.

  • Two of the three steps can be done the day before- the dough and lemon curd filling can be made and refrigerated.

  • Parts of the recipe can go wrong, and more than likely, they will. TBH, it took me three times making lemon meringue tarts before they were done right. So, be kind to yourself and don't give up.

  • Baking is a science. Ingredients need to be measured accurately and steps in the instructions need to be taken into consideration. Altering procedures could potentially alter the outcome of the dessert.

  • In the picture to the right, the lemon curd was too thin and did not set properly. As soon as it was cut, it ran out of the tart. Also, the butter cookie crust was too tender, and it fell apart. But the flavor was fantastic. Back to the drawing board.

Lemon Curd

  • When the recipe says "stir constantly" it means stir constantly. The egg yolks will solidify and cook like scrambled eggs if you stop stirring.

  • The process takes around 10 minutes--so set a timer.

  • Set the flame to medium-low / low for cooking the curd.

  • Butter should be very cold, even put in the freezer for a few minutes prior to using.

  • If you want to start with baby steps to making lemon meringue tarts, trying store bought curd, meringue powder instead of egg whites, or already made crust is perfectly acceptable. But really, the more and more you try to make something that failed, the closer you'll be to perfecting it. (I made three batches of lemon curd before I got it right)

Dough

  • Pâté sucrée (French for sweet dough) is a sweet, crumbly French pastry that is used to make classic French dessert tarts. One of the tricks to making a perfect crust is chilling it twice—after you form the dough into a disc, and then again once the dough is in the tart pan. Allow at least 1 hour for second chill.

  • Pâte sucrée is more sturdy than unsweetened pie crust, Pate brisée. Pâte brisée, is a basic pie crust and has less butter and salt than pâté sucrée.

  • The less you handle this dough, the better it will be. Do not over process in machine and do not use your hands to bring together. The best is your fingertips or using a piece of plastic wrap to bring dough together before chilling.

  • All of the ingredients should be cold.

  • Ice in the "iced" water helps to keep all of the ingredients as cold as possible. You can discard the cubes before adding water to dough

  • Using the "dough" blade (the plastic one) from your food processor will cut down on the friction and heat when you make the dough.

Meringue

  • Like the dough, there are different types of meringues: French, Swiss, Italian.

  • For this recipe I am using Swiss Meringue- the middle of the road meringue for it is neither too soft nor too stiff. It will pipe beautifully onto the tarts.

  • Meringues are egg whites whipped with sugar. They are a frequent ingredient in cake icings, creams, fillings and toppings.

  • Meringues are used in mousses and souffles to give volume and fluffiness to their texture. One more great option is to bake meringues. Baked in a slow oven they become firm and crispy and can be used as pastry shells, cake layers or as a dessert on their own. We are using them to top our tarts and cut the tartness of the lemon curd and lighten the butteriness of the dough.

  • I used a piping bag to make the shapes of the meringues, but you can use a spoon and flick your wrist at the end to make the point at the top of the dollop.


Lemon Meringue Tart


INGREDIENTS


Pâté sucrée (Dough)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled butter cut into pieces
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup ice water

1. Please the flour and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade (plastic), and pulse for a few seconds to combine.
2. Add the butter pieces to the flour mixture and process until the mixture resembles coarse sand, about 10 seconds.
3. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks and ice water. Add egg-water in a slow steady stream through the feed tube, with the machine running, just until the dough holds together. Do not process for more than 30 seconds.
4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface. With plastic wrap or your fingertips, bring dough together. It should combine into a ball easily. Divide into two equal parts. Make into a disk and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour before using.


Lemon Curd
4 large egg yolks
2 large whole eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter cut in pieces, very cold
grated zest of 2 lemons

1. Whisk together the egg yolks and the eggs. Combine with the sugar and lemon juice and zest in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir to cool slightly. Add butter one piece at a to mixture stirring in melting butter before next piece is added. Once all of the butter is incorporated, pass the curd through a fine sieve to strain and remove any lumps. Curd should feel silky and smooth.
3. Cover the curd surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. let cool completely before using. Curd may be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Meringue
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Fill a medium saucepan 1/4 full of water. Set the saucepan over medium heat and bring the water to a simmer.

2. Combine egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer; place over saucepan. Whisk or stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 3 1/2 minutes. Test by rubbing mixture between your fingers to ensure that no sugar remains.


3. Attach the bowl to the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat starting on low speed and gradually increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.


Assembling Lemon Meringue Tarts

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F


2. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to a 1/8-inch-thick circle, about 11 inches in diameter. With a dry pastry brush, clen off excess flour, roll dough around rolling pin, and lift it over the 8-inch tart pan. Line tart pan with the dough; using your fingers, gently press the dough into the pan. Trim any excess dough flush with the edge of pan; chill 30 minutes.


3. Place the chilled tart pan on a baking sheet. Prick the crust all over with a fork. Line the crust with parchment paper. Once you fit the dough snuggly in the pan, pressing it gently against the sides, cut off excess.

Weight the paper down with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the edges begin to turn golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove paper and weights, continue baking until golden brown, 10 minutes more.



4. Remove from the oven and spread the lemon curd in the tart shell. Return to oven and bake until the curd is set, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature.


5. Prepare meringue according to above directions.


6. With a pastry bag fitted with your favorite tip, pipe the meringue onto the tarts. Bake in oven for 12 minutes or until golden brown to your liking.



Allow the lemon meringue tarts to cool completely- Enjoy!!


-C




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