published Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Lemons and blueberries flavor desserts

Welcome to Fare Exchange, more-than-necessary readers. This week's letters were lemony, sweet and summery.

A new resident with some fine culinary ideas would like your input as she sets up her own North Shore kitchen. And please pass along your recipes -- even simply thoughts -- about cold buttermilk soups, buttermilk pie and savory pies of any type: Cornish pasties, calzones, empanadas, main-dish pies from any culture.

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Eggs, not chickens, came first in this week's letters. R.J. Jonson advised us: "Tell your readers to forget about liquid eggs. I've been buying Davidson's Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs for several years, and they are available at Publix. These are in-the-shell eggs that can be served any style with confidence, and they are delicious. So go ahead and use them in ice cream or serve them sunny side up. To our family, this product is a no-brainer; see www.safeeggs.com."

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Jo Ann Follis of Hixson baked a highly praised pie and offered it to us.

Blueberry Pie

1 can sweetened condensed milk

5 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh or frozen or bottled

8 ounces Cool Whip

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

11/2 cups blueberries plus some for topping if desired

2 small Keebler graham cracker crusts

Mix condensed milk and lemon juice, and fold in Cool Whip, vanilla and blueberries. Pour into graham cracker crusts, and, if desired, top with a few more blueberries. Chill at least an hour before serving.

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Anne Murphy found this to be a great hit when she served it for a family reunion. She explained, "This is a good bit of trouble, but if you are in the mood to do something special for your guests, I would suggest this cake."

Frozen Lemon Meringue Cake

For meringue layers:

4 large egg whites, at room temperature for 30 minutes

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

For lemon curd filling:

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 medium lemons)

11/2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest (from 2 medium lemons)

2/3 cup sugar

4 large egg yolks

2 whole large eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces

1 pint (2 cups) vanilla ice cream (preferably premium)

Note: You will need this special equipment: 2 (15- by 12-inch) sheets of parchment paper; an 8-inch (20 cm) springform pan.

To make meringue layers: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and heat oven to 200 F.

Using the bottom of the springform pan as a guide, draw 2 (8-inch) circles on one sheet of parchment and a third (8-inch) circle on the second sheet of parchment. Turn paper over (circles will be visible).

Beat whites with cream of tartar and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, then increase speed to high and continue beating until whites hold stiff, glossy peaks, about 4 minutes in a stand mixer or 8 to 10 minutes with a handheld mixer. Divide meringue mixture among 3 circles, spread evenly within lines, and gently smooth tops. Bake until firm and very pale golden, about 2 hours, then let stand in turned-off oven (door closed) until firm, about 1 hour. While meringues bake, put ice cream in refrigerator to soften.

Slide parchment sheets with meringue layers onto racks to cool completely. Carefully lift meringue and peel off parchment.

To make curd: While meringues bake, whisk together lemon juice, zest, sugar, yolks, whole eggs and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in butter, and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until mixture is thickened and just reaches a boil, about 6 minutes. Transfer lemon curd to a bowl and chill, its surface covered with plastic wrap, until cold, at least 1 hour.

To assemble cake: Line springform pan with 2 crisscrossed sheets of plastic wrap. Arrange 1 meringue layer (trimming if necessary) flat side down in springform pan and spread 1 cup ice cream over it, then evenly spread half of lemon curd over ice cream. Cover curd with another meringue layer, then spread remaining cup ice cream over meringue. Spread remaining curd on top, then cover curd with remaining meringue layer, flat side down. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

About 1 hour before serving, put cake in refrigerator to soften slightly. Remove side of pan and transfer cake to platter, then cut into wedges with a long serrated knife.

Note: Cake may be frozen up to 2 days. Once cake is firm, cover with plastic wrap; remove plastic wrap before softening cake in refrigerator.

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To stay with our lemony theme, here is a recipe requested of my friends Claire and Bryant Haynes; they share it gladly, though they don't take credit for creating it.

Lemon Layer Cake

3 cups sifted flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened

13/4 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

11/4 cups milk

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease 2 (8- or 9-inch) round cake pans. Line with wax paper, and grease paper, or dust with flour.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, beat together butter or margarine, sugar and eggs with an electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Beat in lemon rind and juice. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating between each addition just until well mixed. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes or until centers spring back when lightly pressed with fingertip. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; loosen around edges with a knife and turn out onto wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with lemon butter cream frosting (recipe follows).

Lemon Butter Cream Frosting

2 sticks butter, softened

2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

1 (2-pound) bag confectioners sugar

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

3 to 4 drops yellow food coloring, if desired

Beat butter in a medium bowl with electric mixer until soft. Stir in lemon rind; beat confectioners sugar alternately with lemon juice until smooth and spreadable. Add food coloring if using, and blend until well combined.

Spread part of the frosting between layers, then frost side and top.

Two-thirds of this recipe is probably enough to frost this cake, unless you like a lot of frosting.

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If you've bought a cupcake from a cupcake emporium in Chattanooga, you probably have discovered that it is, quite literally, high on frosting. A certain cookie blogger, whom you may read at http://cookieinthekitchen.wordpress.com, has refined that well-frosted art with a cupkie, a cross between a cookie and a cupcake, with a generous but not overwhelming piping of frosting.

Since this particular blogger is a mere dozen years old, you will find photos and ideas more than her well-tested and often-sold recipes on the blog. I have personally looked into her refrigerator and discovered that she keeps lots of little covered containers with different colored frostings, and they keep very well.

This particular cookie in the kitchen was on a vacation at the beach with her grandfather, and both had a hankering for deviled eggs: his, full of pickle, and hers, mayo only. As they worked together he sighed, "If only we had a pastry tube to pipe this filling on." Without hesitation she pulled from her beach bag that very thing.

Now, how many of you take a pastry tube set to the beach? Well, if you can delight your grandfather -- or grandchild -- by doing so, why not?

To Reach Us

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

* Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750.

* E-mail: janehenegar@gmail.com.

* Fax: 423-668-5092.

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