Lemon Berry Pie

The Pie:
Pre-made store bought 9 inch pie shell
1 and 1/2 cups water
3/4 cups sugar
2 tsp grated lemon zest
3 tbs corn starch
2 egg yolks, beaten
2 tbs unsalted butter
6 tbs lemon juice

3 large egg whites, at room temperature (very important, ROOM TEMP.!)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
6 Tbsp. sugar

 Keep reading.

Go ahead and preheat your oven, 350.

Bake the pre-made store bought pie crust according to direction on box, ( keep an eye on it, all of our ovens cook differently). Cover edges with foil if you feel they are starting to brown too much. Once done, let cool.

Burner on low-med., combine the 1 cup of water, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

Bring that mixture to a boil. When it reaches the boiling point, turn burner down, pretty low.

Mix the cornstarch with the remaining water and drizzle into the hot mixture. (I like using a fork whenever I'm mixing cornstarch with any liquid, seems to really get in there and work out the lumps and clumps that tend to form. NO lumps allowed!)

At this point you will want to bring all to a boil. A nice balanced boil, in other words...don't crank up your burner to hurry the process ! Bad things will happen. Be patient and stir  often, the thicker it gets, the quicker it will scorch. So, just hang out and keep a stirring until about the consistency of jam..or canned pie filling...thick. Let cool a bit.

Stir a small about of the cooled lemon mixture into the egg yolks. This is what you call "tempering your eggs". If you were to add the hot lemon mixture into your beaten yolk, know what would happen? Yup, your right! Scrambled eggs would happen. We do not want this! By adding a small amount of the warm mixture at a time, the eggs actually will cool the warmer ingredients instead of the warmer ingredients heating the eggs. This gets the egg mixture prepared for what's next...

Cook for 2 minutes more. (Set your timer, a good habit to start no matter what length of time.)

Now, remove your pan from the heat and stir in the butter.

Add the lemon juice and mix well.

Time to pour you filling into the pie shell. I actually let my pie and filling chill for about 4 hours in the fridge before tackling the meringue. So, I'm suggesting you do the same.

4 hours later:

To start your meringue, you will beat the egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Make SURE your bowl and utensils are squeaky clean and dry before whipping up your meringue. This is a very important step as meringue can be very very hard headed when it comes to the level of "stiffness" it wants to produce. Even the oil from your fingers can irritate the meringue enough to NOT want to cooperate, or "foam up". So, hands off  kiddies! No finger dipping-taste-testing allowed! As a matter of fact, do not touch any surface that your egg whites will come in contact with. Ok? Ok!

Gradually add the sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, beating until very stiff and glossy. All the sugar must be dissolved.

Spread the meringue over your pie, all the way to the edge of the crust.

Stick it all back in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Watch it close.

Set aside to cool down.

Time to make the yummy Glazed Strawberry Topping. Grab your ingredients:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons strawberry gelatin (the dry boxed jello)
Red food coloring (optional)
1 pints (2 cups) fresh strawberries, sliced in halves or quarters

Combine sugar, cornstarch, water and bring to a boil. Add your sliced strawberries. Boil on medium heat for 1 minute. Remove from heat and mix in gelatin, vanilla and a few drops of red food coloring (optional). Stir until jello is dissolved, you may need to place back on a warm burner, stirring CONSTANTLY.

 Let glaze cool to room temperature and spoon over your pie when ready to serve, or, ladle over each individual slice as you serve it. 

Leaving you with a few reminders :
To separate an egg: Crack the egg and hold the shell halves over a bowl. Transfer the yolk back and forth between the halves, letting the white drop into the bowl. Do not cut the yolks (whites containing any yolk will not beat properly). Transfer the yolk to another bowl. 

The tiniest bit of fat or egg yolk will wreck a meringue, as fat interferes with the formation of good foam. When separating eggs, if a speck of egg yolk falls into the egg whites, lift it out with an empty eggshell half. Do not try to fish it out with your fingers; the oil on your skin will prevent the egg whites from expanding.

Avoid letting your fingers touch the areas that will come in contact with the egg whites.
That way, you'll avoid leaving oils from your hands on the utensils you just washed. 

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