Sweet-Tarts in their Resurrection Bodies

I’m not even going to pretend to write a new recipe for today’s Wednesday Recipe. Because it’s June 5, 2013, and if you missed the recipe I posted on June 6, 2012, you need to not miss it now.

When we decided to try and grow some strawberries in the yard, I kind of assumed that the most we’d get would be a few berries for noshing on while weeding or whatever. I was not thinking we’d be in ‘please help me find more good strawberry recipes and while you’re at it get me some tequila for strawberry margaritas’ territory.

But that’s where we are. And I’m not complaining. It’s a beautiful place to be.

One of my best tips for preparing food that tastes fabulous is follow the seasons. Great things happen when you combine the flavors that happen to come into season at the same time. Sliced strawberries go quite well atop a spinach salad. And strawberry + rhubarb are a natural pair.

My mom insisted that rhubarb was disgusting…then she had a taste. Now she’s a believer. If you think you don’t like rhubarb, let me make you this pie first. If you really don’t like it after that point, I don’t know how to help you. But I’ll pray for you, because rhubarb? Rhubarb is THAT GOOD. Strawberry-rhubarb pie is like Sweet-Tart candy in its resurrection body, especially robed in white–either lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (the kind with actual vanilla in it, please.)

The recipe for the filling is quite simple; you can find it at the bottom of this article (by me) here. But I used a new all-butter crust recipe from my beloved Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, and it brought this pie to a whole new level. I can’t stress enough the difference this makes. Alas, it is neither gluten-free nor particularly ‘healthy,’ but it has none of the BHT, BHA, partially hydrogenated lard, metabisulfates and dyes of the refrigerated ones.

But the taste says everything.

So without further ado:

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie That Will Make You Swoon with Pleasure

For the crust:

(adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

1/3 cup ice water, plus extra as needed

3 tablespoons sour cream

2 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces and frozen for 15 minutes

1. Process flour, sugar, and salt together in food processor until combined. Scatter butter over top and pulse about 10 times, or until butter is the size of small peas.

2. Mix ice water and sour cream. Pour half of this mixture over flour mixture and pulse until incorporated (3 pulses.) Repeat with the remainder.

3. Squeeze mixture. Does it come together? If not, add a bit more ice water and pulse a few times before proceeding. If so, dump onto parchment and divide in half, squeezing lightly into 2 balls. You do not want the warmth of your hands to melt the butter! Wrap and refrigerate 1 hour. Before rolling out, allow to rest on countertop 10 minutes.

Here is how I roll a pie crust with minimal swearing:

Trace around your 9″ pie plate with a pencil on some baking parchment, leaving about a 1/2″ seam allowance of sorts.

Put the dough-ball in the middle and roll gently from the center, a little at a time, rotating, rotating, rotating. Don’t be afraid to dust the paper and the rolling pin with flour!

You should see lots of large pieces of butter in the rolled-out crust.

Now, with the oven preheated to 400F and both crusts rolled out, mix the pie’s innards:

3 cups rhubarb, cut into small pieces
3 cups stemmed and sliced strawberries
1 cup granulated sugar (I like organic cane juice)
2 TB cornstarch
the juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon of salt

and pour into raw-crust-lined pie plate:

Cover with second crust, pinch to seal; trim excess crust. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes; lower heat to 350 and bake an additional 30-40 minutes. Cool in a pan on rack. The juices will thicken as the pie cools.

I shouldn’t have done that food-bloggy thing where everything is all close-cropped and blurry-edged. You need to see what a total disaster my kitchen becomes when I make something like this, and to know that this pie–this pie? It is worth it.

Another Strawbaby Pie

When we decided to try and grow some strawberries in the yard, I kind of assumed that the most we’d get would be a few berries for noshing on while weeding or whatever. I was not thinking we’d be in ‘please help me find more good strawberry recipes and while you’re at it get me some tequila for strawberry margaritas’ territory.

But that’s where we are. And I’m not complaining. It’s a beautiful place to be.

One of my best tips for preparing food that tastes fabulous is follow the seasons. Great things happen when you combine the flavors that happen to come into season at the same time. Sliced strawberries go quite well atop a spinach salad. And strawberry + rhubarb are a natural pair.

amen & amen.

My mom insisted that rhubarb was disgusting…then she had a taste. Now she’s a believer. If you think you don’t like rhubarb, let me make you this pie first. If you really don’t like it after that point, I don’t know how to help you. But I’ll pray for you, because rhubarb? Rhubarb is THAT GOOD. Strawberry-rhubarb pie is like Sweet-Tart candy in its resurrection body, especially robed in white–either lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (the kind with actual vanilla in it, please.)

The recipe for the filling is quite simple; you can find it at the bottom of this article (by me) here. But I used a new all-butter crust recipe from my beloved Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, and it brought this pie to a whole new level. I can’t stress enough the difference this makes. Alas, it is neither gluten-free nor particularly ‘healthy,’ but it has none of the BHT, BHA, partially hydrogenated lard, metabisulfates and dyes of the refrigerated ones.

But the taste says everything.

So without further ado:

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie That Will Make You Swoon with Pleasure

For the crust:

(adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

1/3 cup ice water, plus extra as needed

3 tablespoons sour cream

2 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces and frozen for 15 minutes

worship the butter with me.

1. Process flour, sugar, and salt together in food processor until combined. Scatter butter over top and pulse about 10 times, or until butter is the size of small peas.

2. Mix ice water and sour cream. Pour half of this mixture over flour mixture and pulse until incorporated (3 pulses.) Repeat with the remainder.

3. Squeeze mixture. Does it come together? If not, add a bit more ice water and pulse a few times before proceeding. If so, dump onto parchment and divide in half, squeezing lightly into 2 balls. You do not want the warmth of your hands to melt the butter! Wrap and refrigerate 1 hour. Before rolling out, allow to rest on countertop 10 minutes.

Here is how I roll a pie crust with minimal swearing:

Trace around your 9″ pie plate with a pencil on some baking parchment, leaving about a 1/2″ seam allowance of sorts.

Put the dough-ball in the middle and roll gently from the center, a little at a time, rotating, rotating, rotating. Don’t be afraid to dust the paper and the rolling pin with flour!

You should see lots of large pieces of butter in the rolled-out crust.

Now, with the oven preheated to 400F and both crusts rolled out, mix the pie’s innards:

3 cups rhubarb, cut into small pieces
3 cups stemmed and sliced strawberries
1 cup granulated sugar (I like organic cane juice)
2 TB cornstarch
the juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon of salt

and pour into raw-crust-lined pie plate:

Cover with second crust, pinch to seal; trim excess crust. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes; lower heat to 350 and bake an additional 30-40 minutes. Cool in a pan on rack. The juices will thicken as the pie cools.

I shouldn’t have done that food-bloggy thing where everything is all close-cropped and blurry-edged. You need to see what a total disaster my kitchen becomes when I make something like this, and to know that this pie–this pie? It is worth it.

My New Favorite Cookbook

Okay, so well before “buy nothing day” I bought myself a present: The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook: 2,000 Recipes from 20 Years of America’s Most Trusted Food Magazine. I love Cook’s Illustrated (though I’ve never subscribed) and the previous cookbooks from America’s Test Kitchen, which also produces the magazine, although I don’t own any of them.

There are a few reasons why the recipes, magazines, and books from America’s Test Kitchen appeal to me–first, I love how obsessively they test each recipe. Have you had recipes from cookbooks fail? I certainly have. And let me tell you–it’s not always your fault. What I love about the recipes from ATK is that they’ve been tested and re-tested to achieve a very particular result (hence the very different recipes–ingredients and techniques–to produce soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies versus thin and crispy chocolate chip cookies.)

Related to this, each recipe comes with an explanation for why it’s formulated as it is. I love knowing why a recipe works as it does–why it’s important (or unimportant) to cream the butter and sugar first when making muffins, why to use a certain variety of flour, why to cook things over a certain temperature. It seems to me that knowing some of the theory behind the choices of ingredients and techniques makes a better cook, and ATK resources provide just that.

Much of that theory includes science, which is the third reason I love this new cookbook. I was never too keen on science in school (except for biology, because I liked dissecting things and learning about genetics and the digestive system) but this cookbook delivers just enough practical cooking science so as to make me take delight in the earthy job of cooking.

As Robert Farrar Capon wrote:

“Creation is vast in every direction. It is as hugely small as it is large. The number of water-filled interstices in my three tablespoonfuls of flour runs the interstellar distances a fair second; the appeal to size [implying that people, small in relation to the universe’s magnitude, are insignificant] is a self-canceling argument. Plying my whisk, I know that what goes on here is neither less mysterious nor less marvelous that what happens there…saucepan in hand, I refuse to be snowed.”

{Fr. R.F. Capon, The Supper of the Lamb}

So all that to say, I heartily recommend this cookbook. Take up, read, and follow closely–with lots of love and attention!–and the results are very likely to bring you (and others!) joy.