Musings about Food & the Politics of Food.

TartQueen's Kitchen

Thom Yum Gai 0

Posted on March 27, 2015 by Sahar

It’s hard to believe even 15 – 20 years ago most Americans had never even heard of Thai food outside of cities that had a large Asian population.  Now, Pad Thai, Pad See Ew, Massaman Curry, Green Papaya Salad, and Green Chicken Curry seem to be everywhere.

As much as I like those dishes, and many others, one stands out for me: Thom Yum Gai – Chicken Coconut Soup.  The words “thom yum” basically mean “hot and sour soup”. “Gai” is the chicken version of this soup. Other styles of thom yum include – “Pla”: a fish soup eaten with rice; “Kha Mu”: a slower cooked soup made with pork knuckles.  There are several other variations of this soup.

This is not only a refreshing soup to eat any time of year, but it’s one on my go-to’s when Husband Steve and I aren’t feeling well.  Something about the alchemy of Asian soups in general that just make us feel better.

I like to make my Thom Yum Gai heavily seasoned.  So, my soup has a pronounced, but not overbearing flavor, of ginger, lime, and chiles.  I wanted to keep the flavor in line with what I’ve eaten at some of my favorite Thai restaurants. Of course, if you want to go lighter, adjust the seasonings as you like.

Besides the taste, the next best thing about this soup is the quickness and ease in which it comes together.  From start to finish, less than an hour.

I will say that my inspiration for this recipe comes from James Peterson. His award-nominated book, Splendid Soups, is arguably the best book on soups ever published. While this is my recipe, he was definitely an influence on the direction I took.


A few notes:

1.  Kaffir lime leaves are an authentic ingredient in this recipe.  However, even with the plethora of Asian markets now in Austin, I still have a very difficult time finding them. So, I now use lime peel.  However, if you can find Kaffir leaves, by all means, use them.  4 – 6 leaves, cut into julienne (thin) strips will work well.

2.  If you can’t find lemongrass, you can use the peel of 1 lemon.  Alternately, if can find it, there is a lemongrass paste that is available in some supermarkets; however, once you open the tube, it must be used within a finite amount of time.  If you decide to use the paste, check the measurements on the container to see how much you need.  DO NOT use dried lemongrass; all of the oils that give it its flavor will have dissolved leaving you with basically grass clippings.

3.  You can peel the ginger or not.  I generally don’t. If you do prefer to leave the skin on, be sure to wash the ginger thoroughly.

4.  Shiitake mushrooms are really best for this dish.  However, if you don’t like or can’t find them, you can use straw mushrooms (you can usually find them canned. Be sure to drain them first).  In a pinch, criminis will do.

5.  Chicken is the most common way to make this soup.  However, you can also make it with shrimp, mixed fish and/or shellfish, pork, or tofu.  Just use the same amount as you would the chicken.  Be sure to use the corresponding broth as well.  I’ve seen some restaurants serve thom yum with beef, but I don’t know how authentic that is or if it’s just to satisfy American palates.

6.  By the way, fish sauce is essential to making this dish. There’s really no omitting it.

7.  If you are making this dish with tofu and want to make it vegan, here is a recipe for vegan fish sauce.

8.  If you can’t find Thai (also known as bird) chiles, you can substitute 3 – 4 serrano chiles. If you don’t want that much heat, be sure to remove the seeds and membranes. You can also cut back on the number of chiles.

9.  To help stretch the soup and/or help mitigate the heat, you can serve some Jasmin rice alongside the soup.  Alternately, have some cooked rice noodles in the bottom of the serving bowl and pour the soup on top.  Just have the noodles or rice on the side, not in the actual soup pot.

10.  Even though leaving all of the seasonings in the soup is more authentic, if you want to, after the soup has cooked, you can strain the broth, pick the chicken and mushrooms out of the seasonings. and place them back into the broth before serving. This is especially helpful if all you really want to do is drink the broth from a mug.

(I know you’re asking the question – “Why not strain the broth before you add the mushrooms and chicken?” Because, the longer the seasonings cook in the broth, the more flavor you will have. Besides, it’s not really that much extra work.)

11.  If you do decide to go full authentic, serve the soup with a pair of chopsticks and a small bowl on the side so your guests can place their pieces of lemongrass, ginger, etc., aside as they eat.



The Ingredients

The Ingredients


3 c. chicken broth

peel of 1 lime, cut into 1″ pieces


2 ea. 4-inch stalks lemongrass, either sliced or minced (depending on your preference and patience)


1/2 c. ginger, cleaned and cut into 1/8″ slices (estimating is fine)


4 Thai chiles, thinly sliced


1/3 c. Thai fish sauce

1/2 c. lime juice

4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, and sliced 1/4″ thick


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and sliced thin (approx. 1 lb. to 1-1/4 lbs.)


1 can (15-1/2 oz.) coconut milk

1/4 c. cilantro, chopped





1.  In a large saucepan, add the chicken broth, lime peel, lemongrass, ginger, chiles, fish sauce, and lime juice.  Bring to a boil over high heat.

The broth, lime juice, lime peel, ginger, lemongrass, and chiles in the saucepan.

The broth, lime juice, lime peel, ginger, lemongrass, fish sauce, and chiles in the saucepan.

2.  Add the shiitakes, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 5 minutes.

Adding the shiitakes. I like to use this mushroom because it adds a wonderful flavor and stands up to the cooking.

Adding the shiitakes. I like to use this mushroom because it adds a wonderful flavor and stands up to the cooking.


3.  Add the chicken, coconut milk, and cilantro.  Continue cooking until the chicken is just done; about 3 – 5 minutes.

Adding the chicken, coconut milk, and cilantro. Cook just until the chicken is done.

Adding the chicken, coconut milk, and cilantro. Cook just until the chicken is done. You want to be sure not to overcook it.

4.  When the chicken is done, remove the saucepan from the heat and taste for seasoning.

I like to serve this with either fried won ton skins or crispy noodles (Remember those? The ones in the bag?)

I like to serve this with either fried won ton skins or crispy noodles (Remember those? La Choy?)



Chicken Tortilla Soup 0

Posted on December 19, 2014 by Sahar

As I sit here on this rainy & chilly day, my mind and appetite turn to soup.

This recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup is a hearty soup that is quick (especially if you use leftover or store-bought rotisserie chicken) and can be easily be made either ahead or after a day at work. Or, almost better yet, what to feed your family the day before a big holiday (hint, hint); this recipe can easily be doubled.

This soup is certainly a recipe that shouts TexMex at you. It  is certainly more Tex than Mex – mainly because Mexican cuisine doesn’t use blended chili powders. If any chile powders are used at all, they are of a single chile (i.e. ancho, guajillo).

This soup can also easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth and omitting the chicken. If you want the added protein, you can add beans, extra-firm tofu, seitan, tempeh, or even simply extra hominy in place of the chicken.


The ingredients (chicken broth not shown)

The ingredients (chicken broth not shown)

The hominy. I like to use both yellow and white. It's simply a personal preference. There's absolutely no difference in the flavor.

The hominy. I like to use both yellow and white. It’s simply a personal preference. There’s absolutely no difference in the flavor. For a brief explanation of what exactly hominy is, go here.

From top:

From top: grapeseed oil, cumin, Mexican oregano, black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, San Antonio chili powder


2 tbsp. vegetable oil (you can also use grapeseed or canola oil)

1 small onion, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 small (4 oz.) can diced green chiles (hot or mild)


1 small  (7 oz.) can salsa verde

1 tbsp. chili powder (I like San Antonio blend)

1 tsp. Mexican oregano

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. cayenne

1 tsp. salt, more to taste

1 tsp. black pepper, more to taste

2 cans hominy, drained

1 15 oz. can chopped tomatoes (I like Muir Glen Fire Roasted)

4 c. chicken broth

4 c. cooked, shredded chicken

Lime juice, to taste

1/2 c. chopped cilantro


Vegetable oil for frying


The condiments

The condiments


Shredded Cabbage

Chopped Green Onion

Crispy Tortilla Strips

Lime Wedges

Sour Cream



1.  In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is soft, about 3-5 minutes.

Sauteing the onions and garlic.

Sauteing the onions and garlic.

Add the chiles or salsa verde and saute for another 2-3 minutes.

Adding the salsa verde. I used salsa in this recipe because it's what I had at home.

Adding the salsa verde. I used salsa in this recipe because it’s what I had at home. if you are using salsa, be sure to let it cook down by at least half.

2.  Add the chili powder, oregano, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper.  Saute for 1-2 minutes or until the fragrance comes up.

Adding the spices. be sure to stir pretty much constantly; you want the spices to have a scent (this means the oils are cooking). You want to take care not to burn them.

Adding the spices. Be sure to stir pretty much constantly; you want the spices to have a scent (this means the oils are cooking). You want to take care not to burn them.

Add the hominy and tomatoes and saute another 2-3 minutes.

Adding the tomatoes and hominy.

Adding the tomatoes and hominy.

3.  Add the chicken broth.

Adding the chicken broth. Once the soup is cooking, be sure to stir frequently to keep the hominy from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Adding the chicken broth. Once the soup is cooking, be sure to stir frequently to keep the hominy from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Cover the saucepan and bring the broth to a boil. Uncover, lower the heat to medium, and simmer for 30 minutes.  Taste for seasoning.

After 30 minutes. The soup should be somewhat thickened from the hominy.

After 30 minutes. The soup should be somewhat thickened from the hominy.

4.  While the soup is cooking, make the tortilla strips.  Take 6-8 tortillas and cut them into roughly 1/4-inch wide strips.

Tortilla strips. Be sure to use a very sharp knife so you can get even strips without tearing up the tortillas.

Tortilla strips. Be sure to use a very sharp knife so you can get even strips without tearing up the tortillas.

Be sure to separate them.  Heat a medium (9-inch) skillet with about 1/2-inch of vegetable oil over medium-high heat.  Test the oil by dropping a strip in the oil; it should immediately sizzle. Fry the strips in small batches until they are crispy.

Frying the strips. Be sure to keep them as separated as possible and fry in small batches. Frying the strips should take no more than 60 - 90 seconds per batch.

Frying the strips. Be sure to keep them as separated as possible and fry in small batches. Frying the strips should take no more than 60 – 90 seconds per batch.

Drain the strips on paper towels. (Alternately, you can simply serve the whole tortillas or tortilla chips on the side.)

The finished strips.

The finished strips.

5.  After the initial cooking time, add the chicken, lime juice, and cilantro.  Cook for a further 5 minutes.  Taste for seasoning.

Adding the chicken, cilantro, and lime juice. At this point you're simply heating the chicken through. Be sure to taste for seasoning.

Adding the chicken, cilantro, and lime juice. At this point you’re simply heating the chicken through. Be sure to taste for seasoning.

6.  Serve the soup with the tortilla strips, cabbage, green onion, extra lime wedges, and sour cream.

The finished soup. Pretty, huh?

The naked finished soup. it’s great just like this.

The fully dressed soup. Perfect for a chilly, rainy night.

The fully dressed soup. Perfect for a chilly, rainy night.


Chicken Chile Verde 0

Posted on April 30, 2013 by Sahar

I’m about to say something that will send some chili aficionados into a wall-eyed fit: green chili is a good thing.

Now, being from Texas, I know that’s not necessarily a popular sentiment.  Unless you’re close to the New Mexico border.  In fact, at the best-known chili cookoff in Terlingua, Texas, there’s not even a green chili category.

However, I do like it.  I find it’s generally easier to make than traditional chili (if you’d like the recipe, see my post [Chili… Or, Them’s Fightin’ Words] from Feb. 14, 2012), it’s just as versatile, and mostly, it’s delicious.

So, off I go.  On to the recipe:


A couple of notes:

1.  Using canned Hatch chiles will save time and mess.  But, if you have Hatch chiles from last year in the freezer, use them.

2.  I’ve also used, in place of the thighs, a whole chicken from the deli.  This will save time also and make this a reasonably quick after-work meal.

3.  You can use pork instead or make the chili vegetarian.  In place of chicken or pork, you can use beans.  Yes… Beans.  Also, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

4.  Admittedly, my chili is not green, per se.  I call it green because I don’t use any tomatoes or red meat.  However, if you want a fully green chili, you can use green chili powder (usually ground jalapeno, hatch, or poblano chiles.)  However, you will want to experiment and check the spice level and adjust the recipe accordingly.

5.  Taste the chili before adding the lime juice.  I like more citrus than most people, so I enjoy the added tartness.  However, you may not.

The ingredients

The ingredients

Clockwise from top: Mexican Oregano, Black Pepper, Salt, ground Cumin, Chili Powder

Clockwise from top: Mexican Oregano, Black Pepper, Salt, ground Cumin, Chili Powder

3 lbs. chicken thighs

4 c. water or chicken broth

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

4 cl. garlic, minced

1 med. onion, diced

2 serranos, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds removed if you prefer

1 c. roasted, seeded,  peeled , and chipped Anaheim, Poblano, or Hatch Chilies (roughly 4 – 6 chiles)


2 small cans chopped Hatch chilies

1 1/2 lbs. tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed, leave whole

2 tsp. dried Mexican Oregano

1 tbsp. ground cumin

1 tbsp. chili powder

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 c. chopped cilantro

juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp. masa

Queso fresco or Jack cheese and Tortillas for serving


1.  Put the chicken thighs and stock or water in a large saucepan or Dutch oven.  Cover and bring the stock to a boil over medium heat.  Once the liquid has started boiling , uncover, turn the heat down to medium-low and continue cooking until the thighs are cooked.

2.  Place a large strainer or colander over a large bowl and drain the thighs.  Reserve the stock and set the thighs aside to cool.

**If you’re using a pre-cooked chicken, you can skip steps 1 & 2.** 

3.  While the thighs are cooling, turn the heat on the stove back up to medium-high.  Add the oil.  Once the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic,  Saute until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Sauteing the onions and garlic.

Sauteing the onions and garlic.

4.  Add the serranos.  Saute another 2 – 3 minutes.

How I prep the serranos. I leave the stem on and cut the serrano almost in half.

How I prep the serranos. I leave the stem on and cut the serrano almost in half.

Sauteeing the peppers with the onions and garlic.

Sauteing the peppers with the onions and garlic.

Add the chiles and saute another 2 – 3 minutes.

Adding the chiles.

Adding the chiles.


Add the tomatillos and mix them in well.

The perfect tomatillo.

The perfect tomatillo.

Choose tomatillos that are firm and the outer husk peels away easily.  You don’t want tomatillos that are too small for the husk.  They’re generally old and dehydrated.  The tomatillo will be sticky when you peel off the husk, so be sure to wear gloves.

Adding the tomatilos to the saucepan.

Adding the tomatilos to the saucepan.

5.  Add the spices and cook until they begin to have a scent.  About another 2 – 3 minutes.

Adding the spices.

Adding the spices.

6.  Add the reserved stock back into the pan.

Adding the broth.

Adding the broth.

Cover and bring to a boil.  Uncover the saucepan, lower the heat to medium, and continue to cook until the tomatillos have softened, about 20 – 30 minutes.

Bringing the broth to a boil.

Boiling the tomatillos.

7.  Meanwhile, skin, bone, and shred the chicken.  Set aside.

The shredded chicken.

The shredded chicken. Not pretty. But delicious.

8.  Make a slurry.  Take the masa and add 2 – 3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid or water.  Mix together until smooth.  Set aside.

9.  Once the tomatillos are soft, remove the saucepan from the heat.  Take a potato masher and carefully mash the tomatillos.


Mashing the tomatillos.

Mashing the tomatillos.

Place the saucepan back on the heat and cook for another 20 minutes.  Be sure to stir frequently.  Taste for seasoning.

10.  Add the slurry and mix in well.  Add the chicken, cilantro, and lime juice.

Adding the chicken, cilantro, and lime juice.

Adding the chicken, cilantro, and lime juice.

Cook for another 5 – 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened.  Taste for seasoning.  Stir frequently.

11.  Serve with tortillas and a little queso fresco or shredded jack cheese.




Now, If you have some leftover chili, and I’m sure you will, here’s a great way to use it.

Take a couple of toastada shells and break them into large pieces on a plate. (Or, you can use tortilla chips.) Take a skillet and set it over medium heat.  Add a little vegetable oil and heat.  Add roughly 1 cup of the chili.  Heat the chili and stir frequently.  Spread the chili out as evenly as possible over the bottom of the skillet and crack 2 eggs on top of the chili.  Cover the skillet and turn the heat to medium-low.

I generally like to spoon some of the warm chili over the top of the eggs to help with cooking. Carefully use a rubber spatula to get under the chili and eggs so the chili doesn’t stick to the pan and burn.

Let the eggs poach in the chili until they’re done to your liking.  I generally like my eggs soft, so I’ll let them cook about 5 minutes.

When the eggs are done, carefully scoop out the chili and eggs and place them over the broken toastada shells.







Key Lime Pie (with a bonus at the end!) 0

Posted on May 31, 2012 by Sahar

Key Lime Pie is the ultimate symbol of food from Florida. Specifically, the Florida Keys.  No one really knows when the first Key Lime Pies were made or who made them since there’s no documentation.  However, according to historians, the most likely candidate is a ship salvager turned millionaire named William Curry.  He had a cook known only as Aunt Sally.  She supposedly created the pie in the late 19th Century.

Other historians believe that fisherman off the Keys, off to sea for long periods of time, created the pie as a way to help preserve their supplies, especially eggs.

Sweetened condensed milk was used because, until the Overseas Highway was built in 1930, there was a lack of fresh milk, ice,  and refrigeration on the Keys.  To this day, it is the key to making the pie so creamy.

The other main ingredient is, of course, key limes.  The key lime tree is native to Malaysia and most likely arrived in the Keys in the 16th Century with the Spanish explorers.  They are about the size of a golf ball with a yellow-green skin.  Their juice is sweeter than the more common Persian limes.

As a fun little political aside, in 1965, Florida State Representative Bernie Papy, Jr. introduced legislation calling for a $100 fine to be levied against anyone advertising Key Lime Pie that isn’t made with key limes. The bill didn’t pass.

(Some historical information from


Now, to the recipe.

The Ingredients


Of course, the purist, like Rep. Papy, would say that the only true Key Lime Pie is made with fresh key lime juice. And they would be right.  However, many of us don’t have access to fresh key limes, or, if we do, the time to juice & zest about 20 – 30 to make this pie.

I use a combination of fresh lime juice and bottled key lime juice.  The most common brand of key lime juice is Nellie & Joe’s.  However, if you can find fresh key limes, and have the time to prepare them, by all means, use them.

Another question is what kind of crust to use: pastry or graham cracker? My own personal preference is pastry.  More specifically, cookie.  Which is what I do in this recipe.  And, because the crust recipe here is essentially a cookie recipe, it isn’t going to behave like a regular pie crust.

Meringue, whipped cream, or plain?  Again, it’s up to the baker.  I like meringue.  It’s also most likely the original topping since heavy cream wouldn’t have been available in the Keys before the 1930’s.  In this recipe I use an Italian Meringue.  It’s made with a hot sugar syrup as opposed to granulated sugar.  It makes an excellent, stable meringue that is almost reminiscent of a fluffy cake frosting.

One more thing.  True Key Lime Pie doesn’t have green food coloring.  The color of the pie should be a light yellow-green color.  If you see a pie that has a fluorescent green hue, walk away.  It’s most likely a pre-made mix.

Also, I prefer a more tart pie than many people.  Many of the key lime pies I’ve tasted really put the emphasis on sweet rather than lime.  I feel I’ve remedied that here.  It’s more of a sweet-tart flavor.


Shortbread Cookie Crust

2c. (9 oz.) all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. citrus zest (optional)

1/2 c. light brown sugar

1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened


Key Lime Filling

2 cans sweetened condensed milk (don’t use non-fat. Yuk.)

3 egg yolks

1 1/4 c. lime juice (I use a combination of fresh Persian lime & bottled key lime in this recipe. However, you can use all fresh of one or the other)

2 tbsp. lime zest


Italian Meringue

1 1/4 c. sugar

1/2 c. water

2 tbsp. light corn syrup (keeps the syrup from “sugaring up” or solidifying)

6 egg whites, room temperature

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar (if you don’t have this, it’s all right.  However, it does act as a stabilizer for the whites)


1.  Make the crust: Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl.  If you’re using the zest, toss that into the dry ingredients as well.

Weighing the flour.


Zesting the limes. The Microplane is a perfect tool for this. It takes off the outer peel while leaving behind the bitter white pith. If you don't own a Microplane, go get one.


The dry ingredients and zest mixed together.


2.  In a mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.

The butter & sugar in the bowl.


Beating together the sugar & butter.


You want a fluffy, aerated mixture. This will help with the texture of the crust.


3.  Turn the speed down to low and gradually add the flour mixture.

Adding the flour to the butter & sugar


Keep mixing until the flour is completely incorporated.


4.  Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a slightly flattened disk.  Wrap the dough tightly in the plastic wrap, place in the refrigerator, and chill for at least 3 hours.

The dough ready for the refrigerator


Note: At this point, you can simply use this dough for cookies.  Delicious.


5.  After you’ve let the dough chill, take it out of the refrigerator and let it sit for about 15 – 20 minutes to let it soften slightly.  When you roll out the dough, you want it to be firm but not rock-hard.

Dough ready for rolling.


6.  Unwrap the dough and lay it on a floured surface and lightly sprinkle the top with more flour.  Alternately, you can sandwich the dough between 2 pieces of wax paper or plastic wrap.

7.  Roll the dough out, starting from the center and working out to the edges.  Turn the dough a 1/4 turn each time you pass the pin over it.  This will help make a more even thickness as well as, especially if you’re using a floured surface, keeping the dough from sticking.  Use more flour if you need to, but try to use as little as possible.  Too much flour will make the crust tough and dry.

Note:  Again, remember, this is a cookie dough.  It is not going to behave the same way as a regular pie dough.  Because of the high butter content, this dough will get very soft, very fast as you work it.  If the dough cracks while you’re rolling, just press it back together.  If you give up on trying to roll it out (and believe me, I have a couple of times), you can simply take pieces of dough and press them into the pie plate.  Trust me, though, the results are worth a little frustration.

Getting ready to roll the dough.


8.  When you’re done rolling, take a 9-inch pie plate and measure the dough.  There should be approximately 3 – 4 inches of extra dough around the outer edges of the pie plate.

Measuring the pie dough.


9.  Now for the fun part.  Carefully flip the dough onto the pie plate and shape the dough into the plate.  Trim any dough overhanging the edges to a 1″ overhang. (if you don’t have any overhang, it’s all right.) Use whatever scraps you have to patch up any holes, tears, or spots and the edge that are a little short of dough.

Save the scraps for cookies.

Getting ready to flip the dough


A not entirely successful flip


If your dough looks like this after you've flipped it into the pie plate, don't despair. All will be well.


After a little repair work. See? I told you it all comes together.


10.  Tuck under the overhang around the edges. (If you have any.  The most important thing is that the crust is as even a thickness as possible.).  Finish the edges as you like.  Use a fork to prick a few holes in the crust and place it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Pie crust ready for the freezer. Freezing the crust will help to keep it from melting & burning in the oven when you par-bake it later.


11.  Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350F.  Grease a piece of foil or parchment paper on one side with spray.  Set aside.

12.  Take the pie crust out of the freezer, place it on a baking sheet, and press the foil or paper down into it.  Fill the foil or paper with pie weights (i.e. dried beans, lentils, or rice) and place the pie crust in the oven.

Raw crust filled with pie weights ready for the oven.


13.  Par-bake the crust for 30 minutes.  Take the crust out of the oven, carefully remove the foil or paper and the weights.  Wrap the edges in foil, if needed, and bake an additional 8 – 10 minutes.

Note:  There will be a bit of melting of the crust, especially the outer edge.  It’s inevitable given the fact this is cookie dough.  When the crust comes out of the oven, it will be very soft and fragile.  Hence, the cookie sheet.

Finished par-baked crust


14.  Take the crust from the oven and let it cool completely.  At this stage, of you like, once the crust is cool, you can carefully wrap it in plastic and place it in the refrigerator.

15.  While the crust is cooling, you an make the filling.  In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks to break them up.  Add the condensed milk, lime juice, and zest.  Whisk until you have an even, well combined mixture.  The filling will thicken upon standing.  Set aside or cover and refrigerate.

Egg yolks & lime zest.


After adding the lime juice


After adding the sweetened condensed milk. Yummy stuff.


16.  Once the crust has cooled completely, wrap the edges in foil (to prevent any further browning)

Wrapped edges.


Carefully pour in the filling.

Ready for the oven.


Place the filled pie on the baking sheet (if you haven’t done so already) and put the pie back into a preheated 350F oven for 35 – 45 minutes. If your oven has a hot spot, and most ovens do, rotate the baking sheet about halfway through the initial baking time.

The center should be a bit wobbly when you take it from the oven.  It will firm up as the pie cools.


Note:  This is a very important thing to remember.  When you are making ANY type of cream pie, you must pay attention to the baking time & doneness of the filling.  I didn’t the first time around when I was making the pie for this post.

I had workmen in my house that day and became distracted.  So, here is what happened:

What you don't want to see. An overcooked cream pie.


The overcooked proteins have basically squeezed out all the liquid causing the filling to separate.


So, what you’ll end up with, if you aren’t paying attention, is essentially sweet-tart scrambled eggs.  And I’m fairly certain none of you will be going for that.  The pie will still taste good, but the texture will be, well, funky.

Eat the pie yourself or dress it up and give it to someone you don’t like very much.

Here is what you want to see:

A smooth, creamy pie


Let the pie cool completely.  (I usually cover it once it’s cooled and place it in the refrigerator overnight.)


17.  Make the meringue: Separate the eggs using the 3-bowl method (see my blog post “Mom’s Favorite” on how to do this).  Place the egg whites & cream of tartar in a mixer bowl and set aside.

Egg whites & cream of tartar ready to go.

Make the sugar syrup:  In a medium saucepan, mix together the sugar, corn syrup, and water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil.

Sugar syrup getting ready to boil


18.  Once the syrup reached 240F on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage):

Syrup at 240F


begin whisking the egg whites on high speed until they are frothy:

Frothy egg whites.


19.  Once the sugar syrup reaches between 245F & 250F (firm ball stage), remove the saucepan from the heat.

Syrup at 250F. You don't want it to get any hotter than this or the whites will too stiff to work with later.


Turn the mixer down to medium speed.  CAREFULLY AND SLOWLY pour the hot syrup into the whites, avoiding the whip.

Carefully pouring the sugar syrup into the whites.


(A hot syrup burn is really, really painful.  There’s a reason pastry chefs call this stuff napalm.  Do not give this to the kids to do, be sober, and pay attention.)

Once you have poured in all the sugar syrup, turn the mixer speed up to medium-high and continue whisking the whites until they are firm and shiny.  The bowl should be just warm to the touch when they’re done.

Whisking the egg whites after all the syrup has been added


The finished egg whites. These could be used as a cake frosting at this point.


20.  Turn your oven on to broil (you may want to take a rack out) or have a torch ready to go. I usually set my oven on “Broil” setting and turn the temperature to 450F.

21.  Pile the meringue on top of the pie.  Spread it all the way to the edge of the crust and smooth or spike it out as you like (there will be A LOT of meringue).

An almost comical amount of meringue.


Ready for the oven.


Place the pie in the lower part of the oven and let the meringue brown.  Watch it carefully, though.  It can burn quickly.  About 60 – 90 seconds is all it will take.

If you have a torch, brown the meringue with that if you like.  You can direct the heat more directly and make the browning more even.

PIe! Yummy!


A cross section. It was really, really good.


Store any uneaten pie, covered, in the refrigerator.  It’ll keep for about 3 – 4 days.




P.S.  Remember what I said about saving the scraps for cookies?

1.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Have your oven preheated to 350F.

2.  Roll out the leftover dough into a 1/8 – 1/4″ thickness, depending on how crunchy or soft you like your shortbread cookies.

3.  Cut the cookies out into your desired shape.

Cutting out cookies


4.  Place the cut cookies onto the baking sheet about 1″ apart.  If you like, sprinkle them with a little turbinado (raw) sugar before baking:

Ready for the oven


5.  Bake the cookies for 8 – 10 minutes.  Depending on the thickness and how brown you like them.  Turn the baking sheet about halfway through the initial cooking time.

6.  When the cookies are done, let them cool slightly on the baking sheet then transfer to a rack.  The cookie yield depends on how much leftover dough you have and how thick you make the cookies.

All done!




















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