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Sunday, December 11, 2011

There's Just Nothing Like Friends....Hot Pot and Key Lime Pie

I don't care what you say (I know I can't hear you just go with it), there's nothing better than having a homemade meal with a bunch of old friends. Nothing. Tonight was exactly what I needed before heading off to 'Nam, and boy was this an AMAZING dinner. One of my good friends, who is Thai, made us a huge hot pot to all partake in. It was my first hot pot experience, and I cannot believe I've gone 25 years without enjoying this food of the Asian gods.

A huge pot of delicious broth teeming with fresh cabbage, spinach, tofu, noodles, parsnips and beef bones. Then you fill these adorable little baskets with shavings of raw meat, shrimp, fish balls or dumplings, let them cook in the broth, and gobble them up with all the veggies and broth. I ate past the point of being full. I ate past the point of pain. I ate till I physically had to stand up and walk away so I would simple stop eating. But then...there was pie.

Now I know I am pretty proud of most of my recipes on this blog, but I have to admit: I make a darn good key lime pie. And it was kinda the best ending to this meal. I think I'm going to float the suggestion that we do a monthly "Hot Pot and Pie" deal. Perhaps weekly. Perhaps we do it again on Tuesday. Whatever.

So about this pie. It's all about the balance of tart and sweet. And forget those who say you absolutely need key limes to make this pie. That's bull. But fresh lime zest and juice is essential. Don't you dare put one of those little plastic lime containers of juice anywhere near this pie. I'll slap you.

Key Lime Pie (adapted from Joe’s Stone Crab)
Note: while adding the lime juice, start tasting the mixture. You might need less lime juice than 2/3 cup, or if you’re a big tart fan you might need more. Make sure the pie filling is to your taste.

N’other Note: don’t worry about using Key limes for this pie. Regular ones work just fine. You might just need a bit less juice.

1/3 of a 1-pound box graham crackers
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of sugar
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons lime zest
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
Dash of salt
1 cup heavy or whipping cream chilled
Splash of vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Break up the graham crackers and place in a food processor and process to crumbs. If you don't have a food processor, place the crackers in a large plastic bag, seal and then crush the crackers with a rolling pin. Add the melted butter and sugar and pulse or stir until combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and side of a pie pan, forming a neat border around the edge. Bake the crust until set and golden, 8 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack; leave the oven on.
In an electric mixer beat the egg yolks, lime zest and salt at high speed until very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, 3 or 4 minutes longer. Lower the mixer speed and slowly add the lime juice, mixing just until combined, no longer. Pour the mixture into the crust. Bake for 10 minutes or until the filling has just set. Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
For the topping, whip the cream, sugar and vanilla until nearly stiff. Cut the pie into wedges and serve very cold, topping each wedge with a large dollop of whipped cream.

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