Dish The Pie with Monique & Nina Croft!
It's been a while, but I have another fabulous Dish The Pie guest for you. Please help me welcome my good friend Nina Croft!
Nina writes for Entangled Brazen, and today she's dishing the pie on His Fantasy Bride, book 3 in her Things To Do Before You Die series. And sharing her favourite pie recipe with us.
Nina, welcome! So happy to have you hang with me . The first question I always ask my guests is...
Nina: Actually, I’m not a huge dessert fan. I’m more of a savoury person, which is probably just as well as I already spend half my life on a diet. But I do tend to make desserts if we’re having people around for dinner and my favourite at the moment is lemon meringue pie. I love the contrast of the sweet and the sour and the different textures, crisp pastry (well, it’s supposed to be crisp though mine sometimes turns a little soggy) gooey lemon, soft melty meringue. Hmmm – might have to go make one….
Monique: Gasp! Not a huge dessert fan? How do you function? Lemon meringue pie...Yumbo, I'd love a slice. How about giving us your recipe?
Recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie
|Lemon Meringue Pie|
For the pastry
• 175g plain flour
• 100g cold butter, cut in small pieces
• 1 tbsp icing sugar
• 1 egg yolk
For the filling• 2 level tbsp cornflour
• 100g golden caster sugar
• finely grated zest 2 large lemon
• 125ml fresh lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
• juice 1 small orange
• 85g butter, cut into pieces
• 3 egg yolks and a 1 whole egg
For the meringue
• 4 egg white, room temperature
• 200g golden caster sugar
• 2 level tsp cornflour
1. For the pastry, put the flour, butter, icing sugar, egg yolk (save the white for the meringue) and 1 tbsp cold water into a food processor. Using the pulse button so the mix is not overworked, process until the mix starts to bind. Tip the pastry onto a lightly floured surface, gather together until smooth, then roll out and line a 23 x 2.5cm loose-bottom fluted flan tin. Trim and neaten the edges. Press pastry into flutes. The pastry is quite rich, so don’t worry if it cracks, just press it back together. Prick the base with a fork, line with foil, shiny side down, and chill for 1⁄2-1 hour (or overnight).
2. Put a baking sheet in the oven and heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Bake the pastry case ‘blind’ (filled with dry beans) for 15 mins, then remove the foil and bake a further 5-8 mins until the pastry is pale golden and cooked. Set aside. (Can be done a day ahead if you want to get ahead.) Lower the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
3. While the pastry bakes, prepare the filling: mix the cornflour, sugar and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Strain and stir in the lemon juice gradually. Make orange juice up to 200ml/7fl oz with water and strain into the pan. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth. Once the mixture bubbles, remove from the heat and beat in the butter until melted. Beat the egg yolks (save white for meringue) and whole egg together, stir into the pan and return to a medium heat. Keep stirring vigorously for a few minutes, until the mixture thickens and plops from the spoon. (It will bubble, but doesn’t curdle.) Take off the heat and set aside while you make the meringue.
4. Put the egg whites in a large bowl. Whisk to soft peaks, then add half the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking between each addition without overbeating. Whisk in the cornflour, then add the rest of the sugar as before until smooth and thick. Quickly reheat the filling and pour it into the pastry case. Immediately put spoonfuls of meringue around the edge of the filling (if you start in the middle the meringue may sink), then spread so it just touches the pastry (this will anchor it and help stop it sliding). Pile the rest into the centre, spreading so it touches the surface of the hot filling (and starts to cook), then give it all a swirl. Return to the oven for 18-20 mins until the meringue is crisp and slightly coloured. Let the pie sit in the tin for 30 mins, then remove and leave for at least another 1⁄2-1 hr before slicing. Eat the same day.
Monique: Have you ever eaten pie for breakfast? If so, what was it?
Nina: Often. Usually the night after we’ve had people for dinner. And the last one was guess what…. lemon meringue pie.
Monique: What’s your favourite food?
Nina: Cheese! All sorts of cheese, though I’m particularly fond on stilton and really mature cheddar and melty camembert and dolcelatte and… I also like food with cheese on it – I absolutely love pizza, especially four cheese pizza.
Monique: Okay, I'm jealous. I love cheesy foods, but I can't have them because I'm allergic to cheese. What do you love most about life?
Nina: I think, the ability to be able to appreciate what I have and not take things for granted. I have a fabulous husband and I live in a beautiful place, surrounded by animals, and I get to write every day. It’s the life I always dreamed of, but it still strikes me frequently, just how lucky I am. And I’ll sit back (often under a fig tree with a glass of wine in my hand) and just stare at the beauty around me.
Monique: Awww. Living a life of thanksgiving makes all the difference. Your life sounds bliss! When was the last time you cried?
Nina: Yesterday. I saw on Facebook that a friend’s dog, Jessie, had died. She was a friend when we first moved out here to Spain (she now lives in Florida) and we both got dogs around the same time, and we used to walk them together. Mine, Lola, died last year, and it was heart-breaking, like the end of an era. Learning Jessie had died as well just brought it all back.
Monique: Sorry though I'm sure Jessie and Lola are reunited, and Lola is having a wonderful time showing Jessie around their new home. Are you married? How did you meet your husband? How did he propose? How long have you been together?
Nina: Yes, I’m married, to a wonderful guy called Rob. We met when I was nineteen and just going into my second year at university. I was on a field trip in the wilds of Essex, studying voles and things, and Rob worked at the field station. I was so drunk that whole week (a total character aberration – I usually hardly drink at all – honest) and we sort of got together at the party the final night. We’ve been together for over thirty years and married for twenty-five this year. And do you want to know something really bad…I can’t remember how he proposed. That’s awful! But marriage was never a big deal to me, just being together is what’s important.
Monique: Awww... Okay, now please tell us about your new release.
His Fantasy Bride
Things To Do Before You Die #3
All Rights Reserved
I can’t marry you. You don’t love me.
Two sentences, that’s all Gabrielle Harper left Vito D’Ascensio when she vanished the night before their wedding. If he wants his bride back, he’s going to have to hunt her down and prove his love. But when he searches for Gabrielle, he finds Gabby instead; it seems his perfect bride is nothing but a fantasy.
After six months, Gabby presumes it’s over, an episode in her life she’s totally ashamed of. But now Vito is back. He’s the one man she can never have, but as desire explodes between them, she has a tough time remembering why they shouldn’t be together. Oh, right, her family hates him, and he’s done terrible things. Or has he? But it doesn’t matter. When he finds out the truth about who she really is…he’ll never want to see her again.
Vito caught her gaze and held it. “Then no more sex until this is resolved.”
Her brows drew together. “It’s not resolved?”
“Not by a long way.” He reached across and took her hand. The move caught her by surprise, and she didn’t pull back. The stroke of his long fingers over her palm sent shivers up her arm. “I believe my Gabrielle is under there somewhere.”
Oh, no, she’s not.
“I believe you’ve built me up into some sort of paragon that you can’t live up to, but that’s not who I am.”
Want to bet?
“I think you should give me a chance to prove to you that I’m just an ordinary man.”
Hah! Of course you are. Not.
“Just give me some time. It’s all I’m asking. Let me show you the real me. Sicily was time out for both of us. Let’s see how we get along in real life. Just a few weeks.”
When she remained silent, he raised her hand to his mouth and kissed her palm, and she tingled everywhere.
Oh God, how the hell am I supposed to say no when he asks so nicely? Not fair.
She was weak willed as well as pathetic. Somehow she couldn’t bring herself to deny him. She’d actually hurt him when she’d run. When he hadn’t come after her she’d presumed his feeling were shallow, but maybe he’d felt too much.
“Gabby, say something.”
She was so tempted to give him his few weeks. But it would be wrong. If she was a decent person, she would make a clean break now. Just get it over with and tell him the truth. He’d hate her. But he’d hate her even more if she strung him along, pretended there was a chance for them, until the truth came out—as was inevitable. There were no words bad enough for what she’d done.
On the other hand, there was a chance—probably quite a big chance, huge in fact, considering her personality—that he’d spend time with her and come to the conclusion, all on his own, that they were totally unsuited for each other.
And he’d walk away. She wouldn’t need to tell him anything.
God, she was a coward.
But it would be better for him as well as her. She was doing him a favor.
Self-delusion at its best.
She took a huge, deep breath. “Okay.”
After all, how long would it take him to realize that Gabrielle just didn’t exist? Then he could move on. Yeah, she was doing this for him, to atone a little for her sins. Totally for him.
And now who’s the liar?
But he was right about one thing—sex did cloud the issue.
“But no sex.”
Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia, which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of nine-to-five work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain.
Nina writes all types of romance, often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.