When I was a little girl, our neighbors had tons of rhubarb plants. Frankly, it didn’t look like much and if I were wandering aimlessly through a field half -starved it would be the last thing I would look at as a potential food source .I would describe rhubarb as a cruciferous vegetable with at least a dozen floppy and deeply veined and protruding, dinner plate sized leaves, attached by long stalks with squared off edges. The stalks are greenish at the top close to the leaf and turn a reddish pink towards the base. Not much to look at really. They don’t flower and they don’t smell pretty. Like King crab, it’s one of those things in life I look at and think ” Who’s idea was it to give a stab at eating it in the first place?” I have always’ thought it would be fascinating to have a historical record of the names of the first people who tried every food; what went through their minds before they foraged for it and then when they took their first bite? How many people dropped dead when they realized you couldn’t eat deadly nightshade or poison sumac, or poison Ivy? Surely they didn’t wander by with a friend and toss a coin to see who should “go first”.
Before I go any further, I would just like to give thanks for those who lost their lives so that us “foodies” could have a vast array of culinary treasures in which to experiment with. Where would Lenotre have been be without them? Nothing like a little melodrama huh? Which brings me back to rhubarb. My friend Amy and I would yank off a stalk and chew on it until our stomachs hurt.
There was something unique about the flavor; slightly astringent, very tart and somewhat celery-like in texture. My mother would cut it into chunks, place it in a saucepan, add some water and sugar and boil it until it turned a beautiful shade of pink and the fibers melted into a sweet, tangy sauce that was both creamy and satisfying, and quite addictive. My Mother served it with pork chops, or roasted chicken or served warm over vanilla ice cream. Those were the only ways she used it.
As I grew older, and attended Culinary school for Pastry Arts, I realized there were more ways to use this interesting “stalk”. Strawberry Rhubarb pie is by far my favorite way to eat Rhubarb. The strawberries sweetness and the counterbalance of the tart rhubarb make it meld perfectly with the butter pie crust. Brushed with egg white and sprinkled with regular or chunky sugar gives it a really old-fashioned appeal. Although a lattice crust is typical, I prefer a double crust. These miniature pies are a version of their full-size counterpart, but WAY cuter! Try using the miniature box template to create your own special box to give these mini pies as gifts Serve this with vanilla ice cream while the pie is still warm, or freshly beaten whipped cream. Pipe the rosettes from an 8 inch pastry bag fitted with a tiny star tip.
Strawberry Rhubarb Freezer Jam
2 C. fresh strawberries
3 C. Chopped rhubarb
1/4 C. water
2- 1/4- 2 -3/4 C. Granulated sugar
1 small package Jello® strawberry gelatin
Combine strawberries and rhubarb in a non-reactive pot ( stainless or enamel) with the sugar and water. Bring to a boil while mashing the strawberries. Boil 5 minutes. Add the strawberry gelatin and boil 2 minutes more. Pour into small glass canning jars ( 1/2 pint size). and refrigerate for up to one month, or freeze for up to five months ( thaw before eating). This makes 4 cups of jam.
Marion’s Vintage Bakeshop Short Butter pie Crust
2 C. sifted all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk
2-3 Tbs. ICE water
Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse to mix and aerate the dry ingredients ( or blend in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon).
Place the butter into the processor bowl and add the yolk ( or into a medium sized bowl) all at once and pulse until fine crumbs form ( or work the butter and yolk into the dry ingredients using a pie blender or two knives).
Take the crumbs out of the processor bowl and place in a medium bowl. Add the ice water in three stages, using two forks ( not the heat of your hands).
Bring the dough together into two balls, flatten into about a 6 inch circles. Wrap and chill one hour. Roll the dough out until it’s about 1/4 inch thick and using a small fluted round cookie cutter, cut out rounds to fit into molds of your choice, leaving a small overhang in each mold.
Fill each pie cavity with enough filling ( above) to go 2/3 of the way up the side of the pie dough. Brush the edges of the dough with a little water, and cover the top with another round of dough, slightly larger than the last. ( try not to get any water between the pie dough and the mold or it may be difficult to get out) Crimp to seal the edges with a crimper, or gently use your fingertips to make a fluted edge. Brush the tops of the miniature pies with lightly beaten egg white and then sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Make a small slit in the top of each pie to let steam escape. ( I make a small x). Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 18-23 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the tops look lightly browned. Let cool.
Use these adorable pie tags (or something similar) from Monarch Lineages at etsy
And then package these “Cutie Pies” in my Miniature pie box template
These boxes look really cute if you can find a medium cardstock in a gingham or red and white check pattern!
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