Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Lemon icebox pie for Pi Day

Jerry Stratton, March 11, 2020

Are you ready for Pi Day? If you trust your eggs, there is nothing like pies made from beaten egg yolks and egg whites.

Servings: 6
Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • ½ cup fine cookie crumbs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • ¼ cup lemon juice

Steps

  1. Sprinkle half of the crumbs in a well-greased 9-inch pie pan.
  2. Beat egg whites until frothy.
  3. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff and glossy.
  4. Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored.
  5. Fold egg yolks into egg whites.
  6. Whip cream until stiff.
  7. Fold lemon zest and juice into whipped cream.
  8. Fold whipped cream into egg.
  9. Pour into crumb crust.
  10. Sprinkle remaining crumbs over the top.
  11. Freeze.

I was in Chattanooga last year and happened upon a little place called Zarzour’s. Their dessert special for the day was lemon icebox pie. I haven’t had icebox pie for decades; it was even better than I remembered it, so of course I searched out a good recipe once I returned home.

I found a great one in Betty Crocker’s New Dinner for Two Cook Book. This is a really nice general-purpose cookbook designed literally for the life of the reader.

If you are a bride, a business girl, career wife, or a mother whose children are away from home—this book is for you.

The final chapter highlights how long people were expected to maintain a library. They could expect to use this cookbook both at the beginning of their family and for cooking for two after “your family is grown and has gone away” and “you face the task of learning again to cook for two.”

The first recipe I made from it is a salisbury steak recipe much like mom used to make. It’s a great book for cooking for one, as well, and focuses not just on small meals but on dishes that can be saved for later, such as… frozen lemon pie.

Roast beef and turnip greens

Zarzour’s Café is worth a stop if you’re in Chattanooga and enjoy home cooking style food.

If you have a mixer, this is a very easy pie to make, although you may want to have two mixing bowls to avoid having to clean up after each step. If you choose to beat the egg yolk before the egg white, you’ll need to clean and dry the bowl before beating the whites, or they won’t beat as easily (if at all).1 I just did a search to find out if there was a reason for egg yolks messing with whipping egg whites, and discovered that it is a common old wives’ tale that some people believe and some don’t. It has definitely happened to me, though fortunately not with this pie filling, back when I had only one mixing bowl and scrimped on cleaning between steps. That said, I have never bothered to look carefully for “even a speck of egg yolk”, and I don’t recall ever having had a problem2—and this is from someone who has always had a problem kneading bread by hand and until recently has been unable to whip cream by hand. Throwing out egg whites for a mere speck of egg yolk seems crazy to me.

KitchenAid with ice bowl for whipping cream

A wide, shallow bowl filled with ice is all you need to keep cream cool while whipping it in a KitchenAid.

As it happens, I just last night, a few weeks after writing the above, had the yolk of the first of three eggs break while lifting the yolk out of the white. I decided this was a good time to experiment, as I had a large carton of eggs. I removed as much of the yolk as possible, which still left a decidedly strong yellow streak in the white, and then added the next two eggs successfully. It didn’t appear to take any more time to reach soft-peak stage, but took much longer to reach stiff-peak stage, using a Kitchen-Aid. It still worked fine, however.

I used to (and still often do) use a whipped cream maker to make whipped cream instead of whipping it (my egg nog is famous for being extraordinarily frothy for this reason). I could never get whipping cream to whip in my mixer, even after having put the metal bowl in the freezer for an hour. I have since found the secret, which is, instead of putting the bowl in the freezer put the freezer under the bowl. I put a wide soup bowl under the bowl after raising it for whipping.3 Then I fill the soup bowl with enough ice to touch the bottom of the mixing bowl. I have never failed to get good whipped cream with this method.

Two’s Company

Lobster tails, potatoes, and lemon pie. That’s a meal fit for the king of the castle.

The recipe calls for graham crackers for the crumb crust. I never have graham crackers on hand, but any good crumbly cookies should do fine. The pies in the picture have a crust made from Metamucil Chocolate Fiber Thins I had leftover from a road trip. I think chocolate made a much better crust for this than graham crackers would have. And it’s almost like making the pie healthy!

I have several items that I make using uncooked eggs, and one or two where I can’t believe the limited cooking does any good. You’ll probably want to trust your egg source when you make recipes like this. Or not. I tend to use whatever was cheapest at the grocery store (H-E-B or Randalls). I sometimes even use them past the date stamped on the box.

If you’re making the pie for guests, you may want to have a slice or two for breakfast before they arrive—just to make sure it’s okay, of course.

  1. And don’t forget to clean and dry the whipping attachment if you use that for the cream first and then the white.

  2. Other than the one time I just mentioned, which was more than speck, and I knew where those adulterants came from.

  3. This does require a stand mixer that raises the bowl instead of lowers the attachment, of course.

  1. <- Roast beef sandwich day
  2. Cookbook indexes ->