Put On Your Best Chiffon Dress

…I assume you own several.

I meant to write sooner after The Big Game. I know, that was ages ago, and you are over it. I am too of course, but let me just recap. After spending the first 3 hours of the game listening to my friend Misha read poetry and talking with her about books, I had a brief moment of hawk fever. My temperature soared for the final 20 minutes of play and I was as all-in as a person who doesn’t care about football can be. Then the game was over, with nothing to show for it but the sensation of having been battered by too many violent movie trailers. My hawk fever had mutated to bird flu.*

I will say I was pleasantly surprised by the 30 seconds of the halftime show I witnessed. But then my youngest informed me that when Katy Perry is up in the air in a dress, people can see her unders. True, but that’s so much less of K.P. than we usually see.  Plus she was dressed like a nun compared to the cheerleaders, or my daughter’s Barbie, for that matter. In Barbie’s defense, she is a mer-Barbie, who lives in our shower, so her molded plastic bustier can be briefer than everydaywear. Of course, I wear one of those every day, but I’m warm-blooded.


The next day I wandered into the kitchen and asked myself what I could ceate that would make me feel alive again. Enough manly steaks, macho nachos and brauts. Something light and feminine sounded right. I needed food that would impart ethereal calm and make me feel close to women everywhere who wish someone would replace the super bowl with a knit-off and a National Day of lovingkindness. It had to be Orange Chiffon Pie!

This recipe is from one of my favorite books: Pie, Pie, Pie, by John Phillip Carroll.  I decided to make it with blood oranges because juicing them is such a pleasure, and I thought they would impart a pink color that I would find pleasingly girly. My friend Kirstin pronounced it “disturbingly fleshy,” but that didn’t stop her from eating a piece cut on a 90 degree angle. Though you could use a cookie crumb crust, which is always easy and delicious, I tried this recipe for almond meal crust and thought it was perfect.  My only complaint was that I could not get it to fill the entire pie dish, and I may work on amplifying the recipe next time.  I may add a teaspoon of sugar, as well.

I am not going to lie to you and say this recipe turned out perfectly, or that it looked just like the photograph in the book. I won’t tell you it was quick or easy. But despite having a beastly time getting the custard to blend with the whipped cream, (it refused) and the odd, curdled looking appearance that resulted, it was very, very good.  It was so good that I had two pieces the first day, two the second, then gave four away so I would stop eating it.  I overindulged, but felt I had earned it since I had to watch grown men get in an actual brawl – yes, our team shamed us –  in all their preposterous padding.

Blood Orange Chiffon Pie

1 tablespoon (about 1 1/4 envelopes) unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup fresh blood orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup orange liqueur (I didn’t use this)
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream and more for the top

Cool whatever crust you have settled on.

In a medium saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the juices.  Stir with a fork, and let stand for a few minutes to soften he gelatin. Add the sugar, egg yolks, zest and salt and whisk until blended. Whisk in the milk. Cook over moderate heat, whisking almost constantly.  After 5 minutes, or so, the mixture will become foamy. Cook for 5 minutes longer, or until it has thickened slightly and you see wisps of steam rising; do not allow it to boil.  Pour immediately into a large bowl.  Refrigerate, whisking about every 10 minutes, until the mixture feels cool and a spoonful of it lifted and dropped back onto the surface leave a small mound. This could take up to 2 hours.  Stir in liqueur, if using.

Whip cream until soft peaks form.  Scoop the cream over the orange mixture and , using a rubber spatula, fold the two together quickly yet gently, until there are no drifts of unblended cream.  Good luck with this part of the instructions and try not to use profanity.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust, mounding it in the center.

Admire creamy, mounded pie. Chill for several hours while you busy yourself smoothing the folds of your chiffon dress.


*As I mentioned, I couldn’t care less, but even I sighed at the thought of the cutest quarterback in the NFL going home without a trophy.  A man like that deserves a medal for just showing up.



3 thoughts on “Put On Your Best Chiffon Dress

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