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.

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Recipe: Lemony Chicken and Rainbow Chard

Ingredients

  • 1-2 bunches of rainbow (or Swiss) chard, stalks chopped and leaves chiffonade* cut
  • Fresh basil leaves, chiffonade cut
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Fresh lemon zest
  • Butter (salted)
  • Olive oil
  • Chicken stock
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • White wine**
  • Salt & Peppers
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Garlic powder
  • 2-4 chicken breasts, cut into slices or cubes
  • Heavy cream
  • Cornstach-and-water mixture***

*Chiffonade means “cut into ribbons.” Cut the leaves from the stalks, roll them into long tubes and slices the tubes into pieces from one end to the other, creating ribbons.

**Cooking wine is fine. No need to break out a nice bottle (unless you plan to drink some with dinner).

***This is used to thicken sauces

 

Directions

Heat butter and a little olive oil in a medium to large skillet over medium heat. Add the chard leaves and stems, basil, lemon juice, lemon zest, shallot, salt, pepper, and a pinch of crushed red paper flakes and let the mixture start to wilt and cook. Add a splash of white wine, a splash of chicken stock, a little more butter and lemon juice, and the garlic and continue to cook. Push the mixture off to the side and add the pieces of chicken; season lightly with salt, pepper, and garlic powder; and cook until cooked through and tender. In the meantime, add heavy cream (about 1/2 pint) and butter (about 2 tbsp.) to a small pot and heat over medium heat until simmering. Add a generous pinch of lemon zest, a splash of lemon juice, garlic powder, and a splash of chicken stock, and continue to cook. Season with salt and pepper and add a little cornstarch-and-water to help thicken the sauce, then reduce the heat to low. The completed chicken will be tender and the chard will have wilted and cooked down. Serve the dish topped with a drizzle of the cream sauce or serve the sauce on the side with a ladle/spoon. If you want a slightly more filling dish, roast some chunks of red potatoes in the oven with a little olive oil and seasoning, then toss with the chicken and chard mixture; toss the mixture with hot pasta; or consider spreading the mixture and a little sauce on toasted ciabatta bread and make a sandwich.

[Check back for a picture. My camera wasn’t cooperating for this one.]

Cook’s Comments

This dish is buttery, tart, bright, and savory all in one. Cooking the chard in butter, white wine, and lemon juice helps create a delicious sauce that coats everything and pools into a lovely little puddle at the bottom of your plate. The velvety, buttery lemon cream sauce is the perfect accomplishment and helps mellow out the tart citrus flavor. Lemon pairs really well with the chard—it’s a bit like eating wilted spinach, but with an earthy flavor that’s perked up by the pop of lemon.