Tales from the Kitchen (Holiday Recipes, part 4)

Happy New Year, everyone!

I'm feeling especially hopeful this morning--despite the cloudy skies. Maybe that's because the oh-oh's are over. Maybe it's because we're at least back to our usual balmy temperatures here in NorCal. Or it could be the fact that I've just gotten finished watching the Rose Parade and eating my traditional New Year's Day breakfast--a piece of lemon pie.

The parade-and-pie tradition got its start way back in the early 1990s, when we were living in Orange County, surrounded by Meyer Lemon trees, and Clinton was in office. Now, I just have to stop and say a word about Meyer Lemons. They are divine, IMHO. They're juicy and sweet and the fragrance...well, let's just say the whole pie thing would never have happened without them. Okay, 'nuff said.

So, as I mentioned, it was almost twenty years ago, it was New Year's Day (or, to be accurate, a few days before) I had lemons that needed using and I'd already gone through my lemon curd, lemon marmalade, lemon cookies and lemon cake phases when I chanced across an article mentioning Chess Pie (see? There's the Clinton connection). Since I was a vegetarian at the time and already planning a whole black-eyed-peas-and-collard-greens traditional deep-South New Year's Eve buffet feast (less the ham hocks, obviously)the addition of a lemon chess pie was a no-brainer. The pie was easy to make, lovely to look at and delicious as well.

Better still, it was tart, not too sweet and, when paired with a nice hot cup of coffee the following morning, exactly what I needed to get my eyes open so I could focus on those lovely floats.

Btw, it's 72 degrees and sunny in Pasadena this morning. I'm thinking I might have to move back South. Then again, I think that every January 1st. That's part of my personal tradition too, I think.

But,getting back to our recipe. I've modified things, over the years because...well, that's what I do. This version is simple and good and my only caveat is this: don't try this with ordinary lemons. But maybe that's just me.

New Year's Morning Meyer's Lemon Pie


the zest and juice of 3 Meyer's lemons
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 Cups melted butter
1 9" deep-dish pie shell


I use unsalted Irish butter. Irish butter is like Meyer's lemons, IMO. Sure, you can get away with using something else--I guess--but, dear god, why would you ever want to? I'm a little crazy on the subject, if you must know. Also, if you're using ordinary lemons, there's not going to be as much juice. Period. End of conversation. Basically, you want about a cup of liquid, give or take, so if you're not using Meyer's lemons...you'll have to improvise.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grate and juice the lemons into a large bowl. Add sugar, butter and eggs. Mix. Pour into pie shell. Bake for approx. 45 min until filling is set and pie is puffy and golden. Allow to cool. Filling will settle as pie cools.

This pie has a lovely, tart flavor, which I particularly enjoy. It can be served with dollops of whipped cream, if you think you must. I've never felt the need for it although I must admit my daughter's variation--blending fresh raspberries and a little confectioners sugar into whipped cream--does have some merit. It's an interesting flavor combination and looks very pretty and festive..especially when served with Champagne Sunrises (Champagne mixed with orange-tangerine juice and finished off with cranberry Italian soda).

And now, a short glimpse of the Rose Parade. Enjoy!


Kelly Jamieson said...

Oh dear lord that sounds good, though I somehow think the whole experience would be better were I actually eating the lemon pie IN California with a lemon tree outside my door.

PG Forte said...

Oh, yeah. New Year's day in Southern California can't be beat, IMO. Blue skies, crisp temperatures, the heavenly fragrance of lemon blossoms...or at least the lemons themselves. And if you're within driving distance of Pasadena, you can see the floats upclose and personal (where they're even more sensational than they appear on TV) for several days after the parade. Oh and the smell of all those gazillion flowers--unreal!

Hmm. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I really think I should move back there.