Every time I watch Masterchef, amateurs, professionals, celebrities, I wonder what I would cook for the challenges that are set. Tonight the five remaining contestants had to cook something in honour of, or in tribute to someone who means something to them…. so…
- Dev cooked stuffed pancakes for his mum
- Angellica cooked baked Alaska for her husband
- Kate cooked trifle, a toffee apple and honeycombe for her cousin
- Ulrika cooked a pea risotto for her stepfather
- Becky cooked ravioli with pesto
So what would I do… I think about this sort of challenge every year and the answer came to me this evening. I would cook something for my mum, t honour her. She was an amazing cook – whatever it was, sweet, savoury, lunch, dinner, desserts… It didn’t matter what it was she could cook it and cook it brilliantly. So from her repertoire, what would I choose… I think I would choose lemon meringue pie.
Good pastry cooks are supposed to have cold hands; my mum’s hands were always warm – just as he personality was warm, and she made the best, most delicious lightest pastry. Her pastry was always crisp – whether it was a sort of white pastry she used for mince-pies, a sort of yellowy pastry for sweet flans, ordinary pastry for everything else, it was always crumbly and soft and crisp and would hold its shape to contain whatever it was containing.
In her lemon meringue, the lemon was soft and flowing – it wasn’t gelatinous and solid, or thin and watery; it was a wonderful yellow and full of flavour, very sharp but sweet enough to make it perfect. It was almost like a lemon curd, but not quite. When it was warm it flowed gently, when it was cold it was firmer but not glutinous.
The meringue on top rose up like a crown with brown tips on the peaks, changing to gold in the troughs. It wasn’t piped into a perfect, artificial factory made looking pattern, it was like the sea, natural and exciting and with the appearance of movement (obviously it didn’t move, it was cooked and crisp!)The inside was cooked and soft bu with a little bit of chewiness, almost toffee-like in texture (but not in flavour) When it was cold it did lose a little of that crispness but that didn’t matter; it wasn’t crisp and sugary like those commercial lmp’s….
I have made lemon meringue pie several times for my family, and they do like it… but it is never ever as good as my mum’s! Maybe if I was on Masterchef it would be!