Sunday, January 31, 2010

With Super Bowl coming up, I thought I'd post my favorite wing recipe. This was the very first chicken wing recipe I ever made which happened to be for Super Bowl back in 2004. Six years later, my husband still asks me to make these wings and they're always a huge hit with guests.

Tyler Florence gets all the flavor notes right on with this recipe. It's sweet, it's a little sour, and spicy. They're messy and additctive, which are the two requirements for a good wing. And because these are baked in the oven, they're also a little healthier than the traditionally fried buffalo style wing. Try them out in a few days for the big game!

Terriyaki Hot Wings with Sesame and Cilantro by Tyler Florence
For the terriyaki sauce:
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup grapefruit juice
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 fresh red chiles, halved
5 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and mashed with knive
For the chicken wings:
2 dozen chicken wings (3 1/4 pounds), washed and patted dry
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine all the ingredients for the terriyaki sauce (soy sauce, grapefruit juice, hoisin, ketchup, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, chiles, garlic, and ginger) in a pot and bring to a small boil, stirring occasionally. Cook until thickened, about 20 minutes.
While the sauce cooks, prepare the chicken. Season the wings liberally with salt and pepper. Lay the wings out on a baking sheet in an even layer and place in oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until skin gets crispy. Using tongs, dip each wing in the terriyaki sauce and return to the sheet pan for another 10-15 minutes to glaze. Serve family style on a large platter drizzled with the remaining sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds and cilantro.
My Notes:
I don't know what kind of oven Tyler uses, but my wings did not get done in 20 minutes. I find I need to cook them a good 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven to get them crispy and cooked (we are dealing with poultry here afterall). So make sure you go off of how crispy the wings are getting rather than the time.
The sauce is perfection, but if you can't find grapefruit juice or don't have it, just substitute orange juice -- I've done that a few times and it works out beautifully.
Make sure to use toasted sesame seeds -- they have a "crunch" to them whereas the untoasted onces taste flat.
When I make these wings I end up using two baking sheets so I don't crowd them. This enables the wings to cook faster and better. When you crowd them, they'll tend to steam rather than get crispy which is what you want in a good wing.
If you're diametrically opposed to baking a wing and must fry it, then go ahead and heat some peanut or canola oil in a very large pot, fry your wings, then toss them in this sauce.

Corn Mush...Rediscovering A Classic

Creamy. Grain. Nutritious. Mushy. Polenta.
If you haven't had it, then you must try it. It's a very tasty, incredibly cheap and easy side dish (or meal onto itself) that you can literally whip up in less than 20 minutes. My friend Jeff recently asked me a question about how to make polenta, and I thought it was a great topic for a blog, so here we go!

Polenta is one of the most ancient of foods us modern folk can eat. A direct link to our Roman ancestors, it was (and still is) a popular food that given its availability and low cost, is still often consumed today. It was originally known as "peasant food" or "porridge." Ancient Roman polenta also included ground chestnut flour which added a pleasant flavor. This polenta is still made today and can be found, but it's something you would have to order from Europe or a speciality store online. It is a dish that has transcended many cultures, and those cultures have added their own twist on this most classic of dishes.

Polenta is made of ground corn meal (or maize). When liquid is added to the maize and cooked over very low heat, the mixture thickens. The amount of liquid and cook time can make the polenta as thin or thick as you like it. This allows the cook to manipulate this same basic ingredient to accompany appropriately the rest of the meal. For example, if a large roast is being served also, a creamier polenta will be prepared. Conversely, if a stew is to be served, the polenta can be made thicker and then formed into a "bread bowl" of sorts to cleverly hold the stew.

But still the most common way polenta is served is creamy. To make creamy polenta, you first have to buy the polenta! You can find it sold as "polenta" or as "course corn grain" or "cornmeal." The package will guide you on proportion directions, but frankly you just need to eyeball it. Polenta is very forgiving in that you can always add more liquid or more polenta to get it the consistency you want it.

To start a basic polenta, put in equal parts polenta meal to liquid in a large pot. Add a pinch of salt when you add the liquid as well. Then bring the mixture up to a boil. Once at a boil, decrease the heat down to medium low immediately, and stir often until the grains get creamy and you reach the consistency you're looking for.

I like using a whisk at first because it really incorporates the polenta into the liquid well. Then when the mixture starts to thicken, I switch up to a good wooden spoon. You'll find the mixture will thicken pretty quickly so plan to stay right next to it from that point on. You must be very careful when working with polenta. Once it reaches the thick stage, it starts to bubble violently. This is no joke and not to be taken lightly...the polenta will literally jump up in the air and into your face if you're not careful so do not hold your face over it to take a smell. EVER. And polenta is beyond scalding and will hurt. A lot.

Just make sure to keep stirring and put a lid on that pot if you have to leave it for a second.

At this point, your polenta is done! Add some butter and mix it in and you're ready to serve! As I mentioned, a wonderful way to serve polenta is as a base for stew, as pictured here:
You'd want a very heavy, meaty stew like a goulash or chili or nice and thick bolognese sauce. Something thinner wouldn't work as it would just dissolve into the polenta. This is a wonderful thing because the polenta will be surprisingly sturdy while also absorbing the stew's liquid. So every bite is full of flavor.

You can also grill polenta. If you make extra polenta, take out a portion for leftovers. Immediately at the soft stage when you're ready to serve, take out a portion of the polenta and pour it into a glass dish or onto a baking dish. Spread it out as thickly or thinly as you like it. Then place it in the fridge to cool and set! When you're ready to grill it, cut out squares and brush them on both sides with olive or canola oil and grill them up! This can be done a day or even two in advance.

You can also fry polenta. Set the polenta like above and cut out the squares. Heat some oil in a pan and fry both sides until golden brown. Make sure the polenta is cold when you do it so it doesn't break in the pan. To make your life even easier, they sell polenta already cooked and formed into a tube. All you have to do is cut out your desired thickness, then go ahead and fry or grill as you like it.

You can also use you day-old cooked polenta and make a country casserole, Romanian style. Romanians use polenta in their daily cuisine. It's one of those dishes that has stayed with their culture since the Romans occupied that area thousands of years ago. Romanians serve their polenta (called "mamaliga") with garlic sauce, chunks of feta cheese and as a side dish to fried pork and sausages. They use the leftovers of these ingredients to make a casserole, layering pieces of day-old mamaliga, onions, sausage or pork slices and topped with feta cheese which is then baked until hot and the cheese melts. It is served drizzled with raw garlic sauce or a dollop of cold sour cream. It is delicious.
You can also flavor your polenta using greens. One of my personal favorite polenta dishes is to stir in arugula leaves (whole, not chopped) and heaps of freshly grated Parmesano-Reggiano. It is creamy, a little salty, a little bitter and extremely tasty. You can also do a spinach and feta cheese combination and serve it as an accompaniment to lamb chops or yogurt-marinated grilled chicken for a Greek twist.
Instead of water, try making polenta with stock. Any stock will do (chicken, vegetable, beef) and it will add an even deeper flavor. A great dish my kids like is cornmeal made with chicken stock and cheddar cheese mixed in. You can add some bacon pieces sprinkled on top for a different take on brunch! Even top it with some sunny-side fried eggs for a southern-style breakfast like grits!
Your options are quite literally endless. It's a great low-calorie, low fat dish that's perfect if you're also watching your weight. And it's cheap if you're watching your budget.
Don't be intimidated. Pick up some polenta and try it today!

Curly Is In!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Let me introduce you to a fabulous lettuce that I'm in love with lately. It's called frisee.

Pronounced "friz-zay," it's a type of endive and chicory that is also known as "curly endive." Other kinds of chicory/endive include raddichio and Belgian endive and can be found in the same loose lettuce section of your grocery store.

Frisee is a wonderful leafy green. Firstly, it has a wonderful bittersweet flavor to it that is characteristic of the chicory leafy veggies like raddichio or endive. I love it because it can be cooked or eaten raw like in a salad. And its surprisingly sturdy. Although the leaves themselves look delicate and soft, they actually retain their form quite well with a vinaigrette. In fact, frisee is often served with a poached egg on top, so that can give you an indication that it's actually quite sturdier than it appears.

But its bittersweet flavor is what makes it most special. Here's my favorite recipe doing the classic egg-bacon combo with a tangy Dijon vinaigrette from Emeril Lagasse. It's wonderful, so try it today!

1 baguette, thinly sliced on the bias 1/2 inch thick
9 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb sliced Comte cheese (can substitute with goat cheese)
1 lb lardon, cut into pieces (can substitute with bacon or pancetta)
2 finely chopped shallots
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar (can substitute with red wine vinegar, but sherry is better)
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp butter
6 large eggs
6 heads frisee, washed and dried

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Take 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and lightly oil each slice of the baguette. Top with a slice of cheese and place on a baking baking sheet. Bake in oven about 10 minutes until cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add the lardon pieces. Cook until crispy and caramelized. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil.

To make the vinaigrette, combine the shallots, Dijon mustard, vinegar and remaining olive oil in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a saute pan (or using the same bacon fat), add the butter and cook the eggs, one at a time until the yolks are set, about 2 minutes per side.

Toss the frisee with the vinaigrette and evenly distribute among 6 plates. Top each with an egg and two cheese croutons and serve immediately.

My notes:
I actually like using the rest of the bacon fat for the vinaigrette because it gives it more flavor and using fresh vegetable oil to do the eggs in a new pan.

You can substitute a creamy goat cheese like Montrachet if you can't find the Comte. I like adding some freshly ground black pepper to the goat cheese if I'm using that.

To save on calories, you can poach the eggs instead of frying them. To do this, just bring a small pot to a low simmer and add a tablespoon of white distilled vinegar. Crack an egg in a shallow container and gently ease it into the water. Let the egg cook in the water a couple of minutes until it just becomes firm and holds together. Don't'll lose some of the whites into the water and that's ok. Remove with a slotted spoon and place directly on the plate. You cannot do more than one egg at a time or else you'll run the risk of them combining together!

This makes a wonderful lunch or a bigger portion would make a great main course for a dinner.

Week Night Yum Yum: Bean Salad

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Beans, beans, beans! Seriously, beans are a totally underutilized ingredient out there. They're cheap, super easy to use, can make a dinner in under five minutes (I'm not kidding), and are good for you! Low calorie, low fat, and packed with nutrients, beans are making a comeback in my house for dinner.

Recently I made a fabulously easy and tasty bean salad for a side dish for dinner. Given that many of our new year's resolutions are to lose some weight, I thought I'd share the recipe here with you all. Enjoy!

Bean Salad
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed through
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed through
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp julienned basil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. Can also be done up to 2 days in advance!

My notes:
Make an appetizer out of this salad by serving it with some grilled chiabatta bread.

Makes a great low-carb side dish for any meat dish.

Add some chopped romaine lettuce, olives and feta cheese for a larger salad. Just make sure to add some more of the oil and vinegar for the dressing. Would make a great lunch or with added grilled chicken, a great low-fat dinner!

Viva Soyrizo!!!

If you're vegetarian then you quite possibly already know about this incredible ingredient. It's called "soyrizo."

Soyrizo is a meatless alternative to the traditional chorizo. Chorizo is a fabulous flavorful pork sausage, usually unsmoked (European brands can come smoked) and flavored with a variety of dried chiles and spices. It has a wonderful dark brick red color and is often used in paella, soups and stews, or other meat dishes. It can be spicy or mild, but the unmistaken flavor is that smoky paprika or combination of dried chiles.

Another big part of the traditional chorizo is the meat. Pork fat (and lots and lots of it), as well as other pork parts (tongue for example) are also the hallmarkers for that intense rich flavor. It's also fatty.

In this day and age where we're trying to eat healthier and as a mom, expose my kids to different flavors but not necessarly a huge fat or caloric content, something like soyrizo can be a cook's best friend. It's made with the traditional spices and flavorings of a traditional chorizo, but instead of the pork uses soybeans. This yields a product that's 60% less in fat, has only 120 calories per serving, and doesn't sacrifice any of the flavor.

This past weekend we headed up to visit some friends, Rochelle & Adam, who got a cabin up in the mountains. We've been talking about soyrizo omlettes for the longest time, and finally I got the chance to sample the goodness.

First heat the soyrizo in a pan like so:

Rochelle then sauteed some chopped onions and whisked up some eggs. She made a basic egg omlette and stuffed it with some of the onions and soyrizo and then added goat cheese (omg what a great addition!), and then folded the egg over itself to get the neat classic omlette. Then topped with some thinly sliced chives and some salsa if desired, and you have a wonderfuly tasty (and healthy!) breakfast treat! You truly can't miss the "meaty" flavor and it totally fools you. And being a healthier alternative, I'm loving it as an ingredient.
You can find soyrizo in your grocery store, next to the tofu!

Objection, Sustained! Everything You Wanted To Know (or Not) About Sustainable Farming

Sunday, January 17, 2010

You may or may not be hearing the buzz word "sustainability" in the food world lately. "Sustainability" or "sustainable farming" refers to a method of farming and raising livestock that promotes the environment while also seeking to maximize farmer profitability. Specifically, the key points of sustainable farming include:

  • incorporating non-renewable resources into the farming process so as not to pollute the environment

  • raising livestock in an integral system whereas animals are rotated on the farm in a natural habitat and chemicals are used very sparingly

  • animals are treated humanely and with respect

  • farmers are paid a fair wage and are not dependent on government subsidiaries

  • workers are treated fairly and given competitive wages, proper living accommodations and work in a safe environment

But what does all this mean?

Farming in the last 50 years has taken a different direction. As water and land have become more expensive, combined with the growing competition of international farming (think produce coming from Chile), US farmers have been forced to figure a way to cut costs. Unfortunately, this often means keeping animals for example in extremely close quarters. Long gone are the miles of green pasture on which the cows happily graze; now they are crammed in mud piles and fed from tubes at the troughs. Often the cows barely have room to walk a few feet, let along graze naturally on grass and other natural grain. Instead they are fed a pre-mixed feed vis-a-vis a trough and simply left there. For farmers, cramming more cows in a smaller area is cheaper than buying and maintaining acres of green grass for them to feed on. Unfortunately what happens then is this crammed living space leaves no room for the cows to do their natural business (i.e. poop) and they are literally shitting where they're eating. This obviously is not the most sanitary, so instead of cleaning it up (again, that would be more costly to pay people to do this), the cows are treated with a cocktail of antibiotics and hormones to kill off the festering diseases like E. coli and other non-human friendly sicknesses. The cows have a resistance to these diseases, so there is no harm to them (technically), but for us as consumers of milk and meat, those diseases can be passed on to us. So to avoid that, the farmers inoculate their cows. So now at the market you're getting milk and meat laced with these vaccines and hormones. Judge for yourselves if it's a good or bad thing. We get the very same vaccines ourselves, don't we?

Produce is treated similarly in terms of antibiotics and chemicals. To grow acres of produce requires water. Well, there are two kinds of water: cheap and expensive. Expensive water is filtered and things like animal runoff (i.e. poop) gets filtered out along with other little microscopic grossies. This water is expensive because these filters cost money, and you have to pay people to clean these filters occasionally. Cheap water is simply unfiltered water (i.e. poopy water). And guess which one farmers are most likely to use when their land costs an obscene amount of money already? guessed it! The tomato you're eating was literally washed in cow poop. When you think of it that way, paying that extra $3 for organic at the grocery store sounds a hell of a lot more appealing now, doesn't it?

But there is light at the end of this shit-laden tunnel.

And it's called sustainable farming. Sustainable farming promotes the maximizing of using land. First, it works with the land and not against it. It works with the ecosystem and natural order of things, instead of against it. A typical sustainable farm will have a collection of animals living all together. They are not separated (except when they have to be, as in one will eat the other). At any rate, one piece of land can feed multiple animals whereby one is eating one thing while the others eat something else. Voila - the whole land is getting used and the animals don't need to be quarantined off into messy dirty pens.

Workers are treated fairly as well. It is sad to say that in this country of all places we can treat humans with the same disregard we can treat an animal. Farmers and owners are quick to utilize the cheap labor coming in from desperate people looking for work...any eek out a living. And these people are willing to work in horrid conditions (12+ hours of hard physical labor work, substandard living conditions, etc. ) for often under minimum wage. Why can these farmers get away with this? Because often these workers are not legally in this country, and thus have no legal recourse to fight back with. Simply put: "they can go back where they came from if they don't like it." And sadly, farmers and food companies exploit this to its fullest. Sustainable farming practices dictate that workers are to be paid competitive wages and treated humanely. Period. And frankly, especially in this country, there should be zero tolerance for anything but that.

Sustainable farming also discourages the use of chemicals and hormones for both produce and livestock. Given the nature of the "free range" farming set up, it makes use of these vaccines and hormones unnecessary. It is not to say the farming and livestock are completely devoid of any and all chemicals or vaccines; sometimes it is to be unavoidable. But the liberal use of these things are strongly discouraged and again, not even necessary!

The flip side to the decrease of using these chemicals, however, is a shorter shelf life. A huge upshot for farmers in using chemicals and pesticides on their crops is for them to be able to last longer and travel further. Sustainable farming is organic, so a fresh tomato can only travel so far for so long. In short, it spoils faster. The tomato from Chile that was flown over a month ago and that has been sitting on your local market's shelf for 2 weeks only to be bought to stay in your fridge for another 2 (which by the way, you shouldn't be refrigerating tomatoes...takes the taste right out of them!) is not going to be something you can do when you buy sustainable. You'll buy it farm direct, so you better be planning to make that salad tonight or tomorrow! A lot of grocery stores don't love this idea because guess what? That means they'll have to keep replenishing their stock as the fruit and veggies go bad on their shelves. So grocery stores will opt for the chemically treated produce instead. And this, of course, creates the vicious cycle whereby farmers need to make themselves attractive to markets. Hence, farmers start to use chemicals and pesticides.

You see...the food business actually has nothing to do with us as the consumer in terms of growing food for us. They could care less if we eat fresh or rotten tomatoes, or if we buy them red only to slice into them and find them green and unripe. They just care how much we spend on them.

But why are treated produce cheaper than organic in the stores? Again, the water issue. Organic produce uses filtered water while non-organic prefers to use cheaper water and then just dust a healthy coating of chemicals on top to kill off any germs and grossies. And since grocery stores into buying produce a couple of times a month and leaving it there on the shelves for a while versus getting it fresh every other day or so as you're supposed to do naturally, get the picture now. You see dear readers, we the consumers are dictating what we want on those shelves. We're cheap and have no palates; we prefer to pay less to get less and the markets are only happy to pay less to keep inferior products for us that cost less to produce.

Again...are the chemicals and hormones and pesticides bad for us? We're a culture where we vaccinate our kids anyway, right?

Regardless where you fall on the chemicals debate, one thing is undeniably undisputed: fresh and organic produce tastes a hell of a lot better. This is because they are untreated with pesticides and other chemicals and wax (yes, I said wax), and so they are fresher and taste better. And for that alone, I love sustainable farming.

Sustainable farming also makes sure the land is preserved. You might be surprise to know (I was) that when you farm land, you're changing the topography. Produce needs minerals and vitamins from the soil in order to grow. When produce sucks up these things from the ground, they are not getting put back. And thus the soil is changed forever. It's up to the farmer to replenish the soil with these nutrients so that the land can continue to be fertile and produce more food. Again, this costs money. And the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the farmer to do this. Laws were passed back in the early 1990s but given how relaxed the laws were worded, many farmers unfortunately elect not to partake in sustainable form of farming.

Personally I love the idea of sustainable farming. It's responsible, it's fair, and is simply better for us as consumers of food and as humans. With growing global populations and a changing environment, it's important we all become more cognizant of what we're consuming, where it's coming from, and how. It's important we be responsible in preserving a future for our children to also be able to enjoy.

For more information on sustainable farming and how you can support it in your local neighborhood, visit Sustainable Table.

Lemon Blossoms

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ya, the picture just about says it all, doesn't it? Want to dive right in, don't you? Paula Deen hits one out of the park with this super easy recipe for a delightful lemon fix. They're called "lemon blossoms." Think rich, dense lemon cake in a bite-sized treat that's glazed with a power-punch of lemon juice sweetness. These are great any time of year and very easy to make. I love them for picnics, parties, even kid's bakesales.

Lemon Blossoms:
18 1/2 ounce package yellow cake mix (aka 1 box of yellow cake mix)
3 1/2 ounce package instant lemon pudding mix
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
For the glaze:
4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 lemon zested
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp water
Special Equipment: mini-muffin tins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray miniature muffin tins with vegetable oil cooking spray. Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs and oil and blend well with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour a small amount of batter, filling each muffin tin half way. Bake for 12 minutes. Turn out onto a tea towel.

To make the glaze, sift the sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, zest, oil, and 3 tablespoons water. Mix with a spoon until smooth.
With fingers, dip the cupcakes into the glaze while they're still warm, covering as much of the cake as possible, or spoon the glaze over the warm cupcakes, turning them to completely coat. Place on wire racks with waxed paper underneath to catch any drips. Let the glaze set thoroughly, about 1 hour, before storing in containers with tight-fitting lids.
My Notes:
I add a tablespoon of freshly grated lemon zest to the batter as well to pump up the flavor and smell of lemon even more. The flavor of lemon is in the rind (or zest). Personally I think it makes a huge difference.
You can also freeze these unglazed to have on hand for a quick treat or emergency dessert for a party.
And a note of caution: these are amazing and easy to make, and your friends will be asking you to make them all the time. Enjoy it!

Key Lime Goodness

Monday, January 11, 2010

Little. Tart. Green. Goodness. All applicable when describing the Key Lime. Also known as "Bartender's Lime" or "West Indian Lime," most of us know it as Key Lime, in reference to Key West in southern most Florida where their use in pie made the town famous.

Key limes are considerably smaller than the more common limes you find at the grocer store, being between 1 and 2 inches. They are tiny but packed with an unmistakable tart flavor that make them very popular in drinks and desserts where lime juice is the main ingredient.

Key limes are originally from southeast Asia, but made its way west vis-a-vis the Middle East, then Sicily and eventually into the Americas by way of Spanish conquistadors. The lime itself has a very thin rind, making them quite easy to juice, but be careful as they can also pack a surprising amount of seeds! They are actually ripest when they turn yellow-green.

Personally, I prefer to use regular limes (aka Persian limes) for vinaigrette, chimichurris, or other sauces and last minute squeezes. I do love key limes in cocktails and of course, key lime pie. They're also super cute to decorate a table with or use in a vase arrangement. You can usually find them in mid-winter.

Can you make key lime pie with regular limes? Of course you can, but don't call it key lime pie! Here's my recipe for a super fast and embarrassingly easy key lime pie that will be sure to brighten up any cold winter day or satisfy a sweet tooth on a sweltering summer night. If you can't find key limes, then just go ahead and substitute regular limes but add another tablespoon or so of juice to make up the tartness. The sweeter-than-usual whipped cream topping is a great punch of sweet to balance out the super tangy lime filling. Enjoy it!

Easy As Key Lime Pie
1 graham cracker store-bought pie crust (or make your own)
3 egg yolks
2 Tbs freshly grated key lime zest
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice (seeds discarded)
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Set aside your graham cracker pie crust (if it requires pre-baking before you fill it, then go ahead and do that now).

To make the filling, simply place the egg yolks and zest in a large mixing bowl. Whisk on high speed with a hand-held mixer (or use a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment) about five minutes, until the eggs are light and fluffy and creamy and thick. With the mixer on low speed, add the condense milk in a steady stream then return the speed back up to high and beat a few minutes more until the mixture is nice and thick. You're whipping air into the filling which helps to make it velvety and thick, so really do take your time here and switch hands if you get tired! Once thick, lower the mixer on medium speed and slowly add the lime juice in a steady stream. Beat about another minute or so until the juice is just combined.

Pour the filling into your pre-baked pie shell and bake in oven for 13 minutes. You want the filling to be set and firm with a teeny amount of jiggle when you move it. If the middle is very jiggly then bake it a few minutes more until the jiggle is no more. Don't brown the top!

Remove the pie from the oven and let cool at room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or over night so it gets nice and cold and the filling sets in perfectly.

Before serving, make the whipped topping.

Place the whipped cream, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (you can also use the hand-held mixer again). Whip on highest speed until firm peeks are achieved (meaning, the cream has stiffened to the point where you can hold it on the end of the beater and it doesn't fall off).

To frost the pie, either layer the whipped cream in one layer on top of the filling or using a piping bag, pipe a decorative pattern around the edges or around the entire top of the pie. Use as much or as little of the cream as you like. Garnish with freshly sliced lime and serve.