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Two pies that are perfect for Spring: Key Lime and rhubarb

Who wants to eat Easter Pie when you have chocolate rabbits, jelly beans, malted eggs, colored eggs and peeps?

But there are different traditions for different regions and seasons. In Florida, key lime pie is my favorite Spring time pie. It’s our version of the angel lemon pie.
Many years ago, when refrigeration was a luxury in Florida, people would make this pie. They always had lard and flour for the crust. This crust is always flaky and crisp. The pie filling ingredients are very simple: canned condensed milk, eggs and key lime juice. The meringue is baked long and low. The filling is like ceviche, the lime cooks the egg yolks and the sweet condensed milk makes it so creamy and thick. It is a perfect pie combination for unrefrigerated ingredients.

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I bake the 9-inch pie shell separately. I put parchment paper in and fill it up with dried beans so it holds the sides of the pie shell up and the beans conduct the heat over the bottom of the crust evenly.

After baking the shell, I then mix the filling. I use two 14 oz. cans of sweet condensed milk and I separate 10 eggs. The yolks go in with the milk and the whites go in a mixing bowl. The old time chefs used copper bowls, the chemical reaction of the egg whites and the copper made the meringue peek high and stiff very fast.
I use half as much sugar as egg whites, 1 ¼ cups egg whites to 5/8 cup sugar and a pinch of cream of tartar. I whisk the mixture to a stiff peak. Then, I squeeze one dozen key limes for one cup of juice. Put into yolks and condensed milk and mix. The key lime juice cooks the yolks ceviche style. Pour it in the precooked 9-inch pie shell to set up. Then I use a pastry bag with a star tip and pipe 3 inches of meringue all over the top and bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes. Let pie cool and serve.

Up in the northern part of the country, the first vegetable to come up to eat after winter is rhubarb. A lot of people think it’s a fruit but it’s a perennial vegetable. It is very tart, so when you pull the stalks off the plant it has a sour fruity taste. It is used primarily for dessert, so that is why it is often perceived as a fruit.

I use an unbaked pie shell for this pie. I like to use Wesson oil and milk with the flour. The oil makes the crust crummy and the milk helps it brown nicely. The filling is very easy. Cut the big green leaves off the stalk and the whiter bottom ends and wash the stalks. Then cut the rhubarb stalks into ¼ inch pieces and measure 3 heaping cups.
Because the vegetable is very tart, use 1 ½ cups sugar and 3 tablespoons flour. Mix this together so the flour, sugar and rhubarb are combined. Then mix 3 large eggs and 1/3 cup half and half to make a custard filling. Pour the filling over the rhubarb and mix it up and put it into unbaked pie shell. Bake until firm or about 45 minutes to an hour at 375 degrees. I like to eat this pie while it is still warm ….I can’t wait any longer it is so good!

 

Rhubarb Pie
3 cups Rhubarb56e332c403ff6.image_uv62r0
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tbs flour
3 eggs beaten
1/2 cup cream
Mix well, bake until firm at 375 degrees.
Stir and roll pie crust
1 cup sifted flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup Wesson oil
2 tbs col whole mile
Mix flour and salt, pour Wesson oil and milk into one measuring cup (Don’t stir), add all at once to flour. Stir to mix. Press into smooth ball and flatten slightly. Place between two sheets of wax paper. roll out.

 

Harry’s Key Lime Pie
1 basked 10 inch deep pie shell56e333033a1e1.image_wxcsj7
Filling;
10 eggs (separate, use yolks)
2 cans (14 oz) condensed milk
1 cup key lime juice
Mix together, add key lime juice last.
Meringue:
Use egg whites
3/4 tsp cream of tarter
Equal amount of sugar as egg whites

Whip egg whites with cream of tarter until stiff then add sugar slowly to a still peak.

Pour filling into pie shell; let it sit while making meringue, pipe meringue on top.

Bake at 325 degrees until golden brown, about 35 minutes

Hint: For a good key lime pie, the egg yolks get cooked from the Key Lime juice (Like ceviche). so let it sit a bit.

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