Recipe: Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

When I was a little girl, my Grandma Nan and Opa (grandpa) lived in a small home in southern Pennsylvania, with a swimming pool and vegetable garden out back and an old weeping willow out front. My cousins and I would spend days there in the summertime, playing “mermaids” in the pool and helping my Opa pick raspberries and dig up potatoes. During these warm months, my grandma would always make homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie—buttery crust dusted with sugar, filled with sweet-and-tangy fruit filling. At the moment, I have no idea where her recipe has disappeared to, but the other day, as I was huddled in my apartment, dealing with a late winter sleet storm here in Memphis, I thought about that pie, and warm weather, and sunshine and I’ve been craving that pie ever since. I found this recipe on Food Network’s website and the title “Grandma’s Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie” pulled me in. This recipe combines sour rhubarb, sweet ripe strawberries, tangy lemon juice, spicy cinnamon, and lots of sugar to create a rich fruit filling.

 

Makes: 1, 10 inch pie

Prep. time: 20-30 minutes

Baking time: 1 hour

Difficulty: Easy

 

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for dusting and rolling the dough (approx. 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup cake flour*
  • 3 tsp. powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup (butter-flavored) shortening, like Crisco
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ice cold water

*You can make cake flour with regular flour if you don’t have cake flour on hand. For every 1 cup of all-purpose flour, removed 2 tbsp. flour and replace with 2 tbsp. cornstarch. Sift well to blend.

For the filling

  • 2&1/2 cups fresh red rhubarb, chopped
  • 2&1/2 cups ripe strawberries, de-stemmed, washed, and cut into halves or quarters
  • 1&1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. minute tapioca
  • 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 egg white beaten with 1 tsp. water, for egg wash
  • Large granule sugar, for dusting the crust
The fruit filling mixture; the filling in the pie crust, topped with butter; the pie in the oven; the pie right out of the oven

The fruit filling mixture; the filling in the pie crust, topped with butter; the pie in the oven; the pie right out of the oven

Directions

For the crust

Cut the butter and shortening into the flours, sugar, and salt with a pastry blender. Whisk the egg, vinegar, and cold water in a bowl or measuring cup and pour over the dry ingredients, then gently blend by hand to combine—do not overwork the dough or it will become tough. Shape the dough into two equal-sized balls, wrap separately in saran wrap or wax paper, and chill in the fridge for a few minutes. Remove one dough ball from the fridge, roll it out to fit the pie pan, then place it into the pie dish and return to the fridge to chill.

For the filling

Preheat the oven to 425* F. Add the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, tapioca, flour, lemon zest and juice, cinnamon, and vanilla to a large bowl. Mix well and and pour out into chilled pie crust in the pie pan, then dot the top of the filling evenly with the butter cubes. Brush the edges of pie crust with egg wash. Roll out the other piece of dough and place over filling, then crimp to seal the edges. Brush the whole top of the pie with egg wash and sprinkle with large granule sugar. Wrap the edges of the pie crust with foil to prevent burning and bake at 425* F for 15 minutes. Decrease temperature to 375* F and bake for an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until the filling starts bubbling and the pie crust is golden brown. Remove from oven when done and cool before serving. Great with vanilla ice cream!

My boyfriend and I were too eager to wait for the pie to cool properly, so we made a bit of a mess. :)

My boyfriend and I were too eager to wait for the pie to cool properly, so we made a bit of a mess. 🙂

Cook’s Commentary

This variation of strawberry-rhubarb pie has a unique blend of flavors that makes it a big winner in my books. Strawberries add their sweetness, while rhubarb adds a tangy-sour flavor, but then you get this pop of brightness from the lemon juice and zest and warmth from the cinnamon and vanilla. Flaky buttery crust is perfect with this sweet, gooey filling. Be sure to be patient and let it cool completely before cutting into it, otherwise you’ll get the fruity mess that you see in the picture above (totally tasty and worth it though!). It’s not my Grandma Nan’s recipe, but it’s pretty damn good and I’ll definitely be making it again once summer arrives.

Recipe: Pasta Bolognese

Servings: 2-4

Prep. time: 10-15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 strips prosciutto, cut into small pieces
  • 6-8 oz. lean ground beef*
  • Approx. 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • White wine (cooking/dry)
  • Marsala wine (cooking/dry)
  • Chicken stock
  • Cinnamon
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • 8 oz. pasta**

*I prefer 90-93% lean.

**I used medium shells. Papadelle and other long, wide noodles are great with this sauce, but small pastas, like shells or orchiette, are great too.

Directions

Heat a large, nonstick pan over medium-high heat, then add the bacon and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon to a plate covered in paper towels to drain. Add a little butter and olive oil to the bacon fat in the pan and add the onion and carrot, cooking until tender and fragrant, then add the prosciutto and continue to cook. Add the beef and cook, breaking the meat up as it cooks. Add a splash of marsala and splash of white wine and the garlic and continue to cook, letting the wine reduce and the beef continue to brown and cook. Crumble in the bacon strips and add the tomato paste, stirring to combine, then cook for approx. 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, a little more of each wine, and reduce the heat to medium, stirring occasionally. Add in a pinch of cinnamon (a quick whiff of the sauce should let you know it’s there, but don’t add too much; 1-3 tsp. is probably enough) and paprika (1-3 tsp.), as well as some salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, covered. While the sauce is cooking over low heat, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook for 6-8 minutes, or until al dente, then drain, and add the finished pasta in with the sauce, tossing to coat. The finished sauce should be a brownish-orange color, scented with cinnamon and paprika, and it should be somewhat thickened.

The sauce, as it's cooking

The sauce, as it’s cooking

Pasta Bolognese

Cook’s Commentary

There are many different ways to make a bolognese sauce—some recipes call for plum tomatoes while others call for just tomato paste, some use ground beef and veal while others use ground beef and pork, some suggest pairing it with long pasta noodles while others encourage the use of smaller pastas—I looked at many of these differing recipes and went my own way. Beef is the bulk of the meat in this dish, while the bacon and prosciutto add a little texture and saltiness to the sauce. Cinnamon and paprika add a heat and sweetness that balances the tanginess of the tomato paste and the salty-savory flavors of the meats. Chicken stock and wine create a sort of brothy sauce that soaks deliciously into the pasta noodles. It’s a hearty meal perfect for cold weather, and the sauce is delectable sopped up on a piece of bread at the end of the meal, and absolutely perfect paired with a red zinfandel or other sweet red wine.