Thursday, July 17, 2008

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!


On my last blog post before Aly’s return, I have selected a classic summer treat: strawberry rhubarb pie. Yes, I know I promised authentic Tex-Mex cuisine, but I was swept away by long, ruby red stalks of rhubarb and juicy strawberries in their natural, non-genetically modified state. As much as I am a pre-planner—and I am—I decided to let the ingredients drive my cooking. Seeing farm-to-market fresh produce reminded me (in an excruciatingly mouth-watering way) why cooking can be so vibrant, creative, and plain fun. After buying two pounds of rhubarb, two pints of strawberries, a bag of hand-picked oranges, and a handful of lemons, I headed home to give it all a new life form. Rhubarb is an ancient and quite versatile plant; the stalks, with their bitter taste, complement sweet fruits; the roots function as a laxative; and the leaves, well, should be avoided because they are poisonous. The earliest evidence of rhubarb comes from 2700 BC in China where rhubarb was used for medicinal purposes. Europeans took note of rhubarb after Marco Palo’s travels through China. In 1777, a British horticulturalist near Oxford was the first in Europe to mass cultivate the plant and his rhubarb farm is apparently still in existence today.

My rhubarb came from a small farm in East Palo Alto, California. As a former resident of the Palo Alto area, there was a nice symmetry in seeing my Oxford and California lives intertwine. I brought in a bit of my childhood by making my mothers’ famous orange pie crust (hint: orange juice is used instead of ice water). Once the crust is made, the rest is as simple to make as, well…pie. The fresh fruits are combined with sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice and allowed to marinate for a bit before being zapped into a gooey, yummy paste in the oven. The result is a culinary yin-yang: tart bits of fruit encased in strawberry goodness. Enjoy the quintessential summer flavor, and thanks for indulging me in cooking fun these last three weeks!

Pie Crust
· 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
· 1 cup of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
· 1 teaspoon salt
· ½ teaspoon of sugar
· 1 teaspoon of orange zest
· 5 tablespoons of very cold orange juice

Directions
1. Mix the flour, salt, sugar and zest in a large bowl. Add the unsalted butter cut in cubes and using two knives ‘cut’ the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is the size of peas.
2. Add the orange juice and stir using a fork. Add more juice or flour, as needed, until the mixture yields two round balls of dough.
3. Wrap the dough balls in parchment paper and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
4. Remove the dough balls from the refrigerator and roll out onto parchment paper covered in flour.
5. Place one rolled out piece into a 9-inch pie pan and crimp the edges. Save the second rolled out piece for the top crust.

Filling


· 2 cups chopped rhubarb
· 2 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
· 1 cup of sugar
· 2 tablespoons minute tapioca
· 1 tablespoon flour
· 1 teaspoon lemon zest
· ¾ teaspoon lemon juice
· 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
· 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
· 2 tablespoons butter, cubed small
· 1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, add the chopped rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, tapioca, flour, zest, juice, cinnamon, and extract. Carefully mix the ingredients together and let sit for at least 20 minutes.
3. Pour the mixture into the pie pan and add the cubed butter.
4. Place the top crust on the pie, using a fork to poke holes into it and to crimp the sides together.
5. Brush on the egg white and sprinkle with a bit of sugar and cinnamon.
6. Place the pie on a baking tray and put into the oven at 425 F for 15 minutes.
7. Decrease the heat to 375 F and bake for another 45-50 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
8. Let sit for at least thirty minutes before cutting. The longer you wait, the more set the pie will become.

1 comment:

Ruth Anne & Jake said...

Sarah-
I can't believe that I've known you three years and never had the famous orange pie crust. Oh but now that I start thinking about it - how perfect with strawberry rhubarb pie. The possibilities are endless. I'm thinking a chocolate cream pie that would remind me of Sarah and Aly's famous chocolate mousse!
We miss both of you in England!!