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Into the lime light

We are well into September now. The sun goes down at a different angle, throwing new shadows across my yard. The sky has a softer, more delicate look. There's a warm, dreamy, intangible feeling to the air reminding us another summer is fading. It is a feeling that comes only in September.

Some call it September's song.

This the time of year when we cling to what is left of summer. We have time still for a few barbecues, there are many vegetables available that are so good grilled, peach cobblers and plum desserts - and for a real treat, how about a Key Lime Pie?

I found a whole bag of Key limes at Sunny Farms recently and couldn't resist buying them. Persian limes, the most common variety sold in North American supermarkets, are deep green, with a smooth and slightly glossy texture (not hard or shriveled). Small brown patches don't affect the flavor. The Key lime of Florida, related to the thin-rind Mexican lime, is smaller, rounder and more yellow than green in color. It tends to be tarter than the Persian type and harder to find.

When buying limes, choose fruits that are heavy (for juiciness) and avoid exposing them to light, which causes them to turn yellow and lose their acid taste. Limes keep for about a week unrefrigerated or up to two weeks if sealed with a sprinkle of water in a plastic bag and stored in the warmest part of the fridge. Cut limes stored this way should be used within five days.

Key lime pie was invented in the Florida Keys more than 100 years ago. The original recipe was considered an icebox pie because the filling of sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks and lime juice wasn't cooked. Everything was simply stirred together and poured into a prebaked graham cracker crust. The pie was then placed in the refrigerator for several hours, where the lime's acid "cooked" the protein in the milk and yolks, creating a custardy, firm filling bursting with lively lime flavor. Due to concerns about eating raw eggs, today's Key lime pies fall into two distinct camps: uncooked pies that replace the eggs with whipped cream or gelatin and those whose egg-based filling is cooked on the stovetop.

Or this one from Ray Beighle in Lakewood, Colo. -



KEY LIME PIE

1/2 cup fresh Key lime juice (about 3 limes)

1 can sweetened condensed milk (14-ounces)

2 teaspoons grated lime peel

3 egg yolks, beaten



In bowl whip egg yolks; add lime peel and mix well. Gradually add milk, stirring. Add lime juice last and mix until well blended. Pour into graham cracker crust. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 10 minutes or until middle is set. Cool and top with whipped cream.



True Key lime pie is yellow, never green. The crust must be made of crushed graham crackers. And, if there's any topping at all, it has to be whipped cream. Those are the musts for a true Key lime pie.

For a little variety, try -



FROZEN LIME CHEESECAKE PIE

1/3 cup Karo light corn syrup

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons grated lime peel

1/4 cup lime juice

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, cubed

1 prepared 9-inch graham cracker crust

1 cup whipped cream



In blender, combine Karo, milk, sugar, lime peel and juice. Cover and blend on medium speed until smooth.

With blender running, gradually add cream cheese cubes; blend just until smooth. Pour into pie crust.

Freeze 6-8 hours. To serve, garnish with whipped cream and grated lime peel.



And for a real change try this



GRASSHOPPER PIE

CRUST:

16 Mint 'n' Crème Oreo cookies

(with filling), broken into rough pieces

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

and cooled



Grind cookies in food processor to fine crumbs. Transfer to bowl, drizzle with butter and toss well. Press crumbs evenly into bottom and sides of 9-inch pie plate and refrigerate crust until firm, about 20 minutes. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 8-10 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.



FILLING:

3 egg yolks

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups heavy cream

pinch salt

1/4 cup green crème de menthe

1/4 cup white crème de cacao



Beat egg yolks in bowl; combine gelatin, sugar, 1/2 cup cream and salt in saucepan and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Cook over medium heat until gelatin dissolves and mixture is very hot but not boiling, about 2 minutes. Whisking vigorously, slowly add gelatin mixture to egg yolks. Return mixture to saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add crème de menthe and crème de cacao. Pour into clean bowl and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until wobbly but not set, about 20 minutes.

Beat remaining 11/2 cups cream with electric mixer to stiff peaks. Whisk 1 cup whipped cream into gelatin mixture until completely incorporated. Using rubber spatula, fold gelatin mixture into remaining whipped cream until no streaks of white remain. Scrape mixture into cooled pie shell, smooth top, and refrigerate until firm, at least 6 hours or preferably overnight.



A wedge of lime is a common garnish these days and it can be the twang in cool summer drinks, a tempering agent in spicy dishes, a healthful substitute for salt or butter and a wonderful seasoning for tropical fruits like mango and papaya. And it also can act as a stand-in for its close cousin, the lemon, in many dishes.

But the favorite use of all for the lime is KEY LIME PIE. Most food historians trace the history of this pie back to the 1890s, but there are those - especially in the Keys - who claim the recipe is decades older. If you haven't tried it yet, what better time than now, as summer begins to fade and the fall fruits begin to ripen.

Check out the new Friends of the Fields Web site at www.friendsofthefields.org. Click on Local Gourmet to find two great recipes using fresh local ingredients by Magdalena Bassett. Local ingredients are healthier, fresher and make your meals taste better! Make sure you have the best local ingredients from our productive local farms by supporting Friends of the Fields in its efforts to preserve local farmland today.



Frozen Key Lime Pie

CRUST:

11/4 cups fine graham cracker crumbs (about 20 squares)

1/3 cup butter, melted

2 tablespoons sugar



Mix ingredients in a bowl until blended. Press over bottom and up sides of 9-inch pie plate. Freeze 5 minutes.



FILLING:

1 can (14-ounces) sweetened condensed milk

2 tablespoons grated lime peel

1/2 cup lime juice

2 pints lemon sorbet, slightly softened



Stir first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add sorbet; stir briskly until smooth. Spread in crust. Freeze 6 hours or until hard. About 20 minutes before serving, remove pie from freezer. Beat 1 cup heavy whipping cream with 1/4 cup powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Spread on pie; garnish with lime.







COPYRIGHT. MARIAN PLATT, SEQUIM, 2008



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