The Daily Dish

Dessert of the Week: Real-Kind Lemon Meringue Pie, at Hi-Rise Bread Company

By Cathy Huyghe
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Lemon meringue pies, the real kind, are seasonal. That season started in February and — as lovers of real lemon meringue pie know — our favorite season is coming quickly to an end.

That’s what the people say at Hi-Rise Bread Company in Cambridge.

We’ll stop making them within the month, they say.

But why, you say.

We make all of our tarts and pies according to the season, they say.

Well, okay, that’s a pretty good reason. It just sounds odd because we don’t normally think of lemons as seasonal the way we think of fiddlehead ferns or huckleberries as seasonal.

I suspect the seasonality of the real-kind lemon meringue pies at Hi-Rise — the kind Julia Child herself (who lived not so far from Hi-Rise) praised for their essence of lemony-ness — also has to do with the melting factor of meringue. That is, in hot weather, meringue melts. So the making of the pies, and the lovely eating of them too, needs to be done when the temperature is cool.

Fair enough. For now. And only because The Time is still here.

It’s the finding-a-substitute part in about a month, when lemon meringue pie season is over, that things get sticky.

So let’s look ahead a bit. What are your favorite early-summer desserts? Drop us a line and let us know!

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Healthy Habits Kitchen: A different kind of take-out

By Cathy Huyghe
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It isn’t just the cooking that makes healthy eating untenable. It’s also the shopping, organizing, and clean up that needs to happen in addition to the cooking.

Those are exactly the things that Susan Schochet and her staff at Healthy Habits Kitchen do (exceptionally well, I might add). Healthy Habits Kitchen in Wellesley offers meal assembly and preparation services for individuals and families, which removes the stumbling blocks from regular healthy eating.

“Meal assembly” works like this. You schedule a time to come to the Kitchen. You choose which meals you want to prepare. When you arrive — as I did last week, along with my two children — your station is set, your ingredients are portioned, and you’re ready to fly into the preparation of healthy, quick meals.

The process goes super-fast. The ingredients are at your fingertips and the recipe is right in front of you, printed out and standing in a plastic clipboard. And you aren’t expected to clean up. And –bonus — the average price per person for a meal at Healthy Habits Kitchen is less than $4.

Susan Schochet holds an assembled meal kit that her customers take home and store until they're ready to cook the meal.

There were unexpected bonuses from my trip to Healthy Habits Kitchen, both during the assembly and during preparation at home. First, the kids loved being at the Kitchen. It’s a neat, organized space, their roles were clear, and Schochet clearly has a lot of experience dealing with young people.

Leo takes a break from meal assembly to lick a spoon of honey.

A second bonus is the peace of mind when you know you won’t be home to cook for your family. Anyone at home is empowered to put a healthy meal on the table. All of the ingredients are there, plus clear instructions for cooking the meal, all stickered to the Ziploc bag holding the kit.

The third bonus was a certain sense of confidence. You start to think, “It really isn’t so hard to cook good, healthy food.” You can imagine getting the hang of it. And maybe, little by little, you start taking steps to replicate the process for yourself. That would be the healthy habit-forming part of a Healthy Habits Kitchen experience. And it’s a consequence Schochet, with her passion for sharing healthy cooking, wouldn’t mind one bit.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Half-and-halfers: Your ticket to knowing new wines

By Cathy Huyghe
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“But what is this like?”

Ever notice how often you ask yourself that when shopping for new wines?

Especially when it comes to taste, we fumble about for something related, something familiar on which to anchor our perceptions as we explore – either tentatively or at full speed ahead – uncharted territory.

Take Sonoma cab. I tried one recently from Chalk Hill, called Imagine — it was new for me — at Grafton Street in Cambridge. It was like cabs I know from Napa (an anchor to something familiar), except it wasn’t. It was also like reds I know from Sonoma (another anchor) except it wasn’t that, either. It was its own thing but it was close enough to things I know to make trying it an experience that was, at once, both comfortable and adventurous.

Take a southern Italian red called Nerello Mascalese. I tried one – a 2007 from a producer called Passopisciaro – at a Boston University event a few weeks back. I’d never heard of the grape nor the winery so, whether consciously or not, I immediately started groping for clues in this wine that would help me to put it into the perspective of other wines I know better. Its color, for instance, was a lovely, translucent ruby that reminded me (there’s that anchor again) of some pinot noirs. I was grasping, and this was just a toehold, but it was enough to move me forward.

Those toeholds serve however precariously in situations like these to balance the old and the new. Balancing old and new when it comes to learning may be familiar territory to philosophers or educational theorists, but when it comes to wine, it is the fairly new realm of something I’ve come to call the half-and-halfers: that is, wines that are half of something familiar (like one of the “universal” grape varieties such as chardonnay and merlot) and half of something indigenous (that is to say, something most of us have never even heard of before).

Anchoring yourself to the familiar makes it easier to branch out and try something new. And in the world of wine these days, something new is always just around the corner.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer: Goodies for a cause

By Cathy Huyghe
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The thing about fundraisers is that you have to give something — cash, normally — in order to get. And what you get is often intangible: a good feeling or the sense that you’ve done something worthwhile.

This week, the “get” is a little more tangible and a lot more tasty.

Starting today and going through Mother’s Day on Sunday, some 150-plus restaurants, bakeries, and cafés all over greater Boston will donate 100% of the proceeds from designated desserts to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

It’s called Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer, and in the past 10 years it’s raised almost $400,000 for the cause.

I suspect its success has a lot to do with the kind of desserts — very tangible, very tasty — that are on offer. The list is heavy on chocolate (souffles, bouchons, tortes), fresh fruits (raspberries, strawberries), cupcakes, cheesecakes, and even whoopie pies (one version crafted with pink filling, another served straight up with milk).

Comfort food galore.

Check out the full list of restaurants and zoom in on one in your neighborhood.

Then stop in. And enjoy the feeling that you’ve done something worthwhile — for breast cancer research, and for your belly, too.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Blooming all over Boston: Flowers and rosé wines

By Cathy Huyghe
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Whether it’s along Marlborough Street or deep in the Boston Common, trees are in bloom. Whether the cherry trees catch your eye or you have a soft spot for magnolias, springtime is, for many of us, the best time to be outside in Boston.

The blush of first blooms also has come inside, in the form of this year’s crop of rosé wines. They’re pushing their way forward as wine shop owners position the rosés nearest their doors on prime, “buy me!” real estate.

I would, too.

Because rosé makes for absolutely perfect drinking right now, and you’ll want to sample a few of the latest, freshest offerings to hit the shelves.

Rosé is perfect because there’s something liminal about it. It isn’t quite one thing, but it isn’t quite the other either. Friends say that’s its charm: it is completely of its own category. Foes say that’s its downfall: it’s too indecisive (or undecided?) to be convincingly a kind of wine with its own merit.

Personally, I appreciate rosé’s “place in between” because – right about now – I can sympathize. Right about now, when I’m getting dressed I’m pulling from both my winter sweaters and my summer capris. Right about now, when I’m choosing a dish at a restaurant I’m pulling from vegetable-filled primavera and hardier ragú.

And right about now, when I’m deciding on a wine I’m pulling from more rugged grapes that are also handled with a light touch.

Rosés can be dark in color, with hardly a trace of the “salmon” descriptor you often find with rosés. They can be very bright, almost luminescent ruby. Those have just enough depth and just enough illumination.

They are substantive without being ponderous.

Which is exactly what we’re looking for right about now: a reason, and a way, to just lighten up.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Wine and personality: Dr. Su Hua Newton at BOKX 109

By Cathy Huyghe
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At first glance, Dr. Su Hua Newton seems an unlikely winery owner. She is a scientist by training. She wears a red blazer and black tights that just might be leather. She and her husband, Peter Newton, came to Napa way back in the day, when the valley’s landscape was more likely to be growing walnuts than grapes.

But then Newton begins to speak — as she did Friday night at the Newton Vineyard wine dinner at BOKX 109 Restaurant in Newton — and you realize the roles of winery owner, winemaker, and marketer suit her to a T.

That’s because she is intelligent and pragmatic (useful for one of the first-comers to the Napa wine scene). And because she is vivacious and charming (you’d have to be, to pull off some of the achievements Newton Vineyard has accomplished).

Plus, she is self-effacing and funny, and definitely not taking herself too seriously.

That last — an energy of self-deprecation and humor — helped open the door to the lively, even boisterous crowd that gathered in BOKX 109′s private dining room recently. Newton Vineyard’s reputation typically inspires a hushed reverence, thanks to wine critic Robert Parker’s 96-point rating of Newton’s wines, its inclusion in Parker’s ranking of the world’s 100 greatest wine estates, and premium price points per bottle. Newton Vineyard’s history, in other words, evokes an expectation of stuffiness.

Until Su Hua Newton is in the room.

That was the case on Friday. Maybe some of the guests came to the dinner anticipating a certain level of seriousness. What they got instead was communal seating around just a few tables in the room, exciting food (and I do not say that lightly), and the edge and the flair of BOKX 109, packaged with the unusual — even daring — flight of unfiltered wines from Su Hua Newton’s vineyards.

Maybe the next time these guests see Newton Vineyard on the wine store shelf, they’ll remember Dr. Newton’s sense of humor more than the unfiltered character of most of the wines. Maybe they’ll remember their conversation with fellow guests more distinctly than how well the Red Label Chardonnay paired with the oysters (outstanding though the food at BOKX 109 is).

Or maybe what they will remember is that Napa is full of personalities like Dr. Newton’s — personalities that flavor more than the wines.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

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