Hi guys! It’s Claire here from The Kitchy Kitchen! Since berry season is upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to whip up a dessert with some of my favorite seasonal produce—huckleberry and lemon—in my latest food-inspired-by-film installment…
‘‘In three weeks I was a good waitress, in six weeks I felt like I’d worked in a restaurant all my life. And in three months I was one of the best waitresses in the place. I took tips and was glad to get them. And at home I baked pies for the restaurant,” says our hero of today’s film, the recently divorced Mildred Pierce. Who knew baking some pies could lead to fortunes won and lost, romantic scandal and murder?
If you haven’t seen the 1947 classic Mildred Pierce starring Joan Crawford, you’re missing out on some classic cinema melodrama. It follows the life of a very average woman who encounters tragedy, only to overcome it with pluck and ingenuity. Unfortunately, she’s saddled by the worst daughter a mother could ask for: cruel, arrogant, Veda.
When Veda finds out her mother has, quel horreur, been working as a waitress to pay her single mother bills, she cuttingly asks, “Aren’t the pies bad enough, did you have to degrade us?” (See? Veda is the worst.) Mildred rises above it to build an empire, take on a truly lame boy toy, and deal with Veda in a spectacular fashion. All because of some homemade pies.
In James M. Cain’s novel, the film’s source material, Mildred’s specialties include lemon, peach, cherry, pumpkin, apple and huckleberry pie. One admiring customer notes that the meringue on Mildred’s lemon pie “looks two inches thick,” and “by noon, the lemon pie was a few smears of filling in an empty plate.” Here’s my take on two of Mildred’s classics: Huckleberry Lemon Meringue Pie… With at least two inches of meringue on top, of course. Enjoy!
Huckleberry Lemon Meringue Pie
For the lemon curd:
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 4 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into bits
- 1/4 cup huckleberry swirl (recipe below)
1. Whisk together juice, zest, sugars, and eggs in a 2-quart heavy saucepan.
2. Stir in butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubble appears on surface, about 15 minutes.
3. Pour into the prepared pie crust, use the back of a spoon to spread in the huckleberry swirl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge until set.
For the huckleberry swirl:
- 4 half pints huckleberries (or blueberries)
- juice of 3 limes
- 2 cups sugar
1. Sterilize 2-pint jars.
2. Combine everything in a bowl to coat, and then heat over a medium flame until the blueberries liquefy so that if you stir a spoon through it, you can see the bottom of the pan for a beat. Basically, it should look kind of syrupy.
3. Pour into the jars, tighten the lids, and flip upside-down until room temp. Keep refrigerated.
For the meringue topping:
- 3 egg whites
- pinch of salt
- pinch cream of tartar
- 1/4 cup superfine or baker’s sugar
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
3. Reduce speed and very gradually add the sugar.
4. Spread onto the pie. Use the back of a spoon to create peaks on the other one.
5. Bake at 400F for 10 minutes, until golden brown.
6. Set aside the meringues on the counter until cool. Slice and serve!
I just have one last word for this recipe—yum.
Will you be trying this Huckleberry Lemon Meringue Pie recipe?
I hope you do! Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to leave your suggestions for what classic film should inspire next month’s recipe.