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.

Chocolate Chiffon Pie in a Coconut-Chocolate Shell (Gluten Free!)

So I know I said yesterday that I would try and post a recipe for pain au chocolat today. And, dear readers, I tried. But I simply could not make time in my day to make a batch of pain au chocolat and take pictures of the process so that it would be clear.

If you are dying to make your very own pain au chocolat, this recipe looks to be a very good one, but to be clear, it is quite different from mine. Mine is a very simple puff paste (from the 11th ed. of Fannie Farmer) cut into about a 4″ by 6″ rectangle, sprinkled with good-quality chocolate, then rolled up, starting at one of the 4″ sides. This one is slightly fancier, but the basic technique is quite similar.

Instead, I’d like to share the recipe for chocolate chiffon pie in a coconut-chocolate shell. It’s the dessert I made last week for Mr. & Mrs. S, to finish off their steak dinner.

CookThink defines a “chiffon pie” as a “light, airy pie made with gelatin and beaten egg whites.” And that’s just what this is.

For the crust:

Melt in a double boiler (or two pots that can nest, see below!)

2 squares chocolate

2 TB butter

my improvised "double boiler." sorry, kinda blurry.

Mix together:

2/3 cup powdered sugar

3 TB hot water

Add this to the chocolate mixture, and stir in:

1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

With your hands, press into an 8″ pie shell. Chill in freezer 1 hour.

While the shell chills:

Separate:

4 eggs

Put in a heavy saucepan:

1 and 1/2 cups milk

1 envelope PLAIN gelatine

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

Add the egg yolks to the milk mixture and beat with beater to blend thoroughly. Cook and stir over low heat until slightly thickened; add:

2 ounces melted chocolate

Beat to incorporate fully and remove from heat. Add:

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chill until thickened slightly further.

Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until they stand in soft peaks–as if for a meringue. GENTLY fold beaten whites into the custard mixture–you want there to be plenty of air bubbles, and yes, it will look a little strange–bubbly-like.

Drizzle very gently with melted chocolate and use a knife to make designs:

Spoon gently into pie shell, and chill at least 2 hours, or until firm.

There are seemingly endless variations on the basic chiffon technique, which is the milk custard folded with whipped egg whites and held together with gelatine. It’s kind of an old-fashioned pie–and I can see how some might be nervous because it does include undercooked eggs. Ooh, but it’s yummy. Some of the variations include:

Coffee Chiffon Pie, Eggnog Chiffon Pie, Lemon Chiffon Pie, Orange Chiffon Pie, and Strawberry Chiffon Pie–perfect for fitting into any season or menu.

Yum!

Have a good Sunday, dear readers! I’ll try and get a pain au chocolat recipe to you sooner rather than later…

Sunday Recipe: “Secret” Chocolate Cake

(Chocolate Beet Cake, which sounds awful but TASTES delicious; see here. Don’t tell anyone what’s in it until they’ve tasted it. Oh, also, beets are ridiculously easy to grow. So grow some!)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Generously butter a 9″x12″ baking dish.

Then, puree in food processor until very smooth:

2 cups cooked, peeled beets*

1/2 cup applesauce

In a large bowl, beat for 2 minutes with electric mixer (or a wooden spoon and lots o’ elbow grease):

1 and 1/4 c. sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup sour cream

3 eggs

pour in beet-apple mixture along with:

1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa

1 TB pure vanilla extract

In another bowl, sift together:

2 and 1/2 cups flour

1 and 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

Stir dry ingredients into wet, stir ONLY until blended (the more you stir a non-yeasted batter, the tougher the resulting cake/muffin/whatever will be.) Pour immediately into prepared dish and bake about 50 minutes, or until top springs back and a knife inserted in the center comes clean.

Serve in bowls with freshly whipped, lightly sweetened cream laced with just a bit of vanilla.

Enjoy!

 

Sunday Recipe: Insalata Caprese

This salad is another perfect meal for a hot night. Again, it’s delicious served with a baguette. We used more of our delicious Riesentraubes (an heirloom cherry-type tomato) in this wonderful salad, which reminds us of the time we spent in Rome two summers ago. Though you’ll often see Caprese as a layered salad–with big slices of tomato and cheese alternated with big basil leaves–we find this version easier to eat.

Toss together in a large bowl:

1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2-3 pounds cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced into ribbons

Coarse sea salt to taste

Freshly-ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons drained capers (optional)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
That’s it! Serve immediately with fresh, crusty bread. And eat it with joy!

{just looking at this makes me hungry.}

Sunday Recipe: Summer Pasta Salad

This is one of those dishes that I begin craving sometime in late winter. But it is most assuredly a midsummer’s meal: it’s cool, perfect for eating on hot nights; it’s transportable, great for taking to a picnic or a barbeque, and it’s flavorful, but only when you use the freshest seasonal ingredients. To tell the truth, I’ve never even been a big fan of pasta salads–mostly because I like, but do not love, mayonnaise–but this one is different. Try it yourself and see what you think.

First, cook 1 lb (16 oz) small shape pasta (I use macaroni or orzo) in salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water; set aside.

you may want to steam some extra ears of corn for the little people...

Second, steam 4 ears fresh sweet corn, and drain, rinse in cool water, and set aside. Then cut it carefully off the cob. Place in a large bowl. Add to the bowl:

1-2 cups halved cherry tomatoes (I used heirloom riesentraubes), 1-2 cucumbers, cut into 1/2″ dice, 8 oz. diced fresh mozzarella, 1/2 cup slivered fresh basil, and a handful fresh chopped parsley. 

Mix the vegetables well, add the pasta, and toss.

Make a dressing of:
2 TB fresh lemon juice
1 TB red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 TB. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed

Add dressing to bowl, toss to coat, and serve, or close tightly and chill in refrigerator. Stays delicious for about 2-3 days. We enjoy eating it with a nice, crispy baguette, if we’re lucky enough to find one, with some freshly-squeezed lemonade to drink.

Eat it with Joy, all!