Summer starts…pies and tarts

I just had to buy rhubarb on the way home, even though I have a patch.

Memorial Day has typically become the beginning of summer for many of us by attending family gatherings, fireworks, parades, fireworks, national media events and concerts.  We hang our large flag from the cottage porch.  We remember family and friends that have served or are serving in the military as we have our first cookout of the season.  For this Memorial Day, a strawberry-rhubarb pie and fuzzy lemonade are on the menu.  If I have time, maybe a lemon tart with strawberry rhubarb glaze.

My rhubarb patch growing over a period of three weeks.

My first introduction to rhubarb was in the early 70’s when my husband and I moved from the Washington DC area to Washington County, Maine.  We had a rhubarb patch and didn’t know it.  We thought it was just a funny weed that grew in Maine.  We finally asked the old trapper from across the road about it and he explained it to us in a wonderful Downeast accent.  His wife gave me my first rhubarb recipe.  They became good neighbors and eventually told us that even though we were from away, they knew we weren’t hippies because we hung curtains in the windows, not plants.

I was instructed not to use the big leaves because they were poisonous and to just cut the stalk down close to the ground.  I was told to use what I needed before it went to seed.  I was happy to hear there was no maintenance to this plant and I was to just leave it alone and it would come back the next year.  To my delight, after struggling through a tough Maine winter, this hardy plant returned and grew larger the next spring.  I made jams, cobblers, sauces, pies and cakes like crazy.

When we moved to the southern part of the State several years later, I was happy to see that this new residence also had a rhubarb patch.  I was excited about the possibility of making more strawberry rhubarb pies, jams and cakes.  I am happy to report that my son proudly proclaimed the pie in this post as the best pie I had ever made.  I don’t know if that was really a compliment since I’ve made many pies for him over the years.  Now I wonder if he really liked any of the pies I ever made.

I have to admit, this pie was pretty good-in looks, taste and aroma.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to make it the same way again.  I always tweak my recipes and make notes.  I have shared my notes about the crust.  I can’t wait to make another one….or several mini ones to share with friends.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Cooling

Note:  This recipe is from the StockFood Recipe Service and I thought I would test it.   The strawberry rhubarb filling was just right.  I blended the crust together by hand with an old pastry blender tool.   The crust is very buttery, which is great for flavor, but handling can be tricky.  My lattice strips were not full strips and my lattice work was poor because I had to piece the dough together.  But once baked, it all was good.  It was very tasty served with vanilla ice cream.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Lattice Pastry Crust
(For 8 servings)

Prep time: 1 h 10 min
Cooking Time: 1 h 5 min
Cooling Time: 2 h
Difficulty: medium
Can be frozen

For Pie Dough:
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
7 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
1/3 cup water, chilled with ice; increasing up to 3/8 cup; if needed

Strawberry Rhubarb Filling:
4 cups red rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups strawberries, washed; trimmed and sliced
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten for glaze

1. Mix flour, salt, and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat butter with a little flour. Cut butter into flour with five 1-second pulses. Add shortening and continue to cut it in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal with butter bits no larger than small peas (about five 1-second pulses). Turn mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle all but 1 tablespoon of the ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon of remaining ice water if dough does not come together. Divide dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten each into 4-inch-wide disk. Dust lightly with flour, wrap separately in plastic, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

3. Remove dough from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature to soften slightly, about 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, corn starch, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Let stand for 15 minutes. Dot top with butter.

5. Before starting the lattice top, roll out half of your pie dough and line your pie dish with it. The dough should extend beyond the rim of the pie dish by about half an inch. Fill your pie shell with the fruit filling. Put it in the refrigerator to chill while you work on the lattice. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the other half of your pie dough to the same extent as the first half (about 3 inches beyond the diameter of your pie dish). It’s easier to work with the dough if it is chilled, so if the dough has softened too much, put the rolled-out piece on a flat cookie sheet and chill it in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes.

6. Cut the dough into even strips, 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch wide, depending on how thick you want your lattice strips. You can use a blunt knife, or a pizza wheel or a pastry wheel if you have one.

7. Preheat oven to 400º F.

8. Lay out 4 to 7 parallel strips of the pie dough, depending on how thick your strips are, on top of the filling, with about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch space between them. Fold back every other strip. Place one long strip of dough perpendicular to the parallel strips. Unfold the folded strips over the perpendicular strip. Continue this process until the weave is complete over the top of the pie. Trim the edges of the strips flush with the dough of the underlying pie dish, which should be about half an inch over the sides. Fold back the rim of the shell over the edge of the lattice strips, and crimp to secure.

9. Brush lattice with beaten egg.

10. Place pie on baking sheet; bake until top crust is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350º F and continue to bake until juices bubble and crust is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes longer.

11. Transfer pie to wire rack; let cool to almost room temperature so juices have time to thicken, about 1 to 2 hours.

Fuzzy Lemonade

This is a quick easy drink I made up to have as a non-alcoholic addition to our cookout.  The only advance prep is freezing raspberries, blueberries or even strawberries in a small ice tray-using fizzy water, flavored or non-flavored, your choice.

Purchase your favorite lemonade, yellow or pink and chill.  Chill your pitcher, pour in lemonade, add some fizzy flavored water, add your frozen fruit and a sprig of mint for color.

I hope you enjoy your Memorial Day weekend.



2 thoughts on “Summer starts…pies and tarts

  1. Love it, Susan. Rhubarb and especially rhubard/strawberry pie has been my absolute favorite since childhood. My mother used to simply boil up a rhubarb pudding with cornstarch and sugar and serve it with cream and as kids, we loved it. Thanks for sharing; I’m going to try your recipe — Diane C.

    • Thank you Diane – I just boiled up some rhubarb last night with some raspberries for a quick drizzle over a lemon curd I made – for a bit of sweet and tangy dessert. Hope the recipe works for you!

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