World: meet Celina Dean.
Celina is what I would call a modern, self-taught culinary goddess. She bakes her own high-end-bakery-worthy bread, she invents fabulous specialty cocktails, she throws together a gorgeous lemon curd to serve with homemade scones, she whips up pappardelle from scratch… She even makes her own crackers. She’s for serious. There is no food challenge too great for Celina (case in point when she entered a pie contest “just ’cause it looks like it might be fun!” and proceeded to invent one of the most succulent pies known to man: the bacon and perogi pie), and I know that whenever we’re invited to her house for dinner, we’re in for a treat. She’s also one of the sweetest little cupcakes around, is super pretty, and runs marathons. I know– what a bitch.
So we’ve been hounding Celina for the last couple of years to enter the Next Food Network Star competition… But they have all of these lame and fussy rules about being a US citizen (did I mention she’s Canadian? Double awesome), and honestly, I think she’s just too good for them anyway. So I’m going to use my very limited and/or mostly fake superpowers to make her a star in her own right. Thankfully, she’s graciously agreed to supply me with a guest blog/recipe to share with you all, and I guarantee you: your culinary prowesses (actual word? Probably not) are going to be expanded. As will your waistlines. But if you take issue with that, what in hell are you reading this blog for??
Let’s start with a key lime pie, shall we? Ladies, gentlemen, and cocker spaniels, I give you… Celina Dean:
Father-In-Law Key Lime Pie
by Celina Dean
I love my parents-in-law and it sure never hurts to try and keep on impressing the people that you love… so when they invited me to join them in Palm Springs for the weekend while my fella’s away for the month (damn him), I knew I couldn’t arrive empty handed because, well, I’m not a complete ass. My first trip to Palm Springs was with them and they introduced me to Key Lime Pie (How did I avoid it in the past? Not to worry, I’ve been making up for lost time ever since.) It’s also a favorite of my father-in-law Dr. K C Dean, so I went for sentiment and here’s just the damn easiest recipe for pleasin’.
First of all: it starts with a graham cracker crust so you don’t even have to freak out. For reals. It’s easy peasy and just so delicious.
Second of all- sweetened condensed milk is your friend here. I know, I know, but we aren’t going for healthy when we eat pie, are we? So ignore the nutrition label and enjoy how this seemingly unassuming 14 oz can can transform some lime juice into dreamy yumminess.
Third of all- Guys, though it really is worthwhile to find actual Key limes (Whole Foods carries bags of them for $2.99) if it’s the deciding factor whether you make this pie or not just go and buy some Key lime juice and use that instead. Who’s gonna know?
Kay guys, let’s do this thing! Ungh!
1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs*
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (in the microwave for 30+ seconds is easiest)
*For funzies you can swap out the graham crackers for ginger snaps, or even use half of each. If you want to be a real jerk bake your own gingersnaps and crush’em up- though in my experience the only people that really know the difference is me and my very own self. Tra la!
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks*
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh or bottled Key lime juice** (approx. 15 Key limes)
*You know how to separate your egg yolks from the whites, right? 1) You can use a separator that sometimes comes with your measuring cups 2) crack the egg shell in half and use a backsie and forthsie method- playing catch with your yolk while the whites run through into a container 3) or easiest and messiest, dump the cracked egg into your hand letting the whites run through leaving a yolk in your palm. SAVE THOSE WHITES! Scramble them for breakfast in the morning to feel like a virtuous and healthy hero.
** Now for the lime squeezing: this will be the most time-consuming part of the recipe- cut the limes in half and either use elbow grease or a reamer to juice them OR a garlic press if you have one. I don’t. But a garlic press is going to be the fastest and easiest way. And another thing? Before squeezing, zest a three of these little guys to flavor your whipped cream.
¾ cup whipping cream
Guys, that’s it. Just 7 ingredients and some time to charm a friend or enemy or friendemy!
WHAT TO DO:
Preheat the oven to 350°. Stir together graham cracker crumbs (and/or ginger snaps), sugar and melted butter in a bowl until well combined, then press as evenly as you can into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate (I used a tart pan with removable sides because I think it looks pretty). Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes, then remove and let cool on a rack- keep that oven on.
Whisk together condensed milk and egg yolks until well combined, then add juice and make sure that’s combined well too (the mixture should thicken a bit).
Pour filling into crust and bake in the middle of the oven for 15 min. Cool pie completely on rack (the filling will continue to set), then cover and chill overnight. (DON’T do what I did and cover the top with saran wrap and then remove a third of the topping when you remove the wrap. Instead, find something domed to cover it with- a pot lid, a bowl larger than the pie… whatever.)
Before serving, beat cream and zest in a bowl with an electric mixer until it holds stiff peaks. Serve on top of your Pie-sterpiece. (Wanna travel with your pie and cream? Whip cream a little thicker than you might normally serve it, scoop into a freezer bag and when you arrive and serve it up, cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and squeeze it onto individual pieces in a pretty dollop.) Or skip all this business, buy some Reddi-Wip and call it a day (what you do with that can of leftover cream is entirely up to you and your super hot spouse, partner, random hook-up, whomever).
That’s it. Make this for someone you’d like to impress a bit. It tastes delicious and is pretty hard to mess up. I promise. I love you.
Watch out for the next Celina installment, coming to an Opu near you soon… In the meantime, I’ll just selflessly keep at being the taster to her creations. You know, for research.