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Brewer Burns

Monday, June 20, 2005

Rhubarb Pie-- June 14, 2005

As I mentioned in my previous post I had a couple of pounds of rhubarb in my fridge from the farmer's market. And what do you do with two pounds of rhubarb? You make rhubarb pie of course. In my case you make the rhubarb lattice pie from the April issue of Bon Appetit. Have I mentioned my love affair with Bon Appetit? I love it, even though I can't always afford the ingredients for some of the dishes.

Just as a side note, if you don't know what rhubarb is, then you are really missing out. It is vegetable/fruit which grows from a plant, close to the ground like broccoli or cabbage, but you eat the stalks. They are really very similar to celery in appearance and texture but the stalks are usually variegated and go from green to red. They are sweet/tart and really tasty. However, some people might be turned off by the tartness. I love it. Also, I think I read somewhere that you're not supposed to eat rhubarb raw because it's poisonous but I have to say that's bullshit because I used to eat rhubarb raw a lot when I was young because it grew wild around my parent's house. So, either it's not really poisonous or I have an immunity to it because I can't ever even remember getting sick from it. Anyway though, consider yourself warned. Raw rhubarb may be poisonous, but maybe I'll try to find out for sure.

Okay, the pie. First you make the crust. The crust is two cups of flour, ice water, sugar, salt and 3/4 c. cold butter, cut into tablespoons. You cut all of this together either with a pastry cutter, two knives, or use your handy dandy cuisinart food processor like I did. Really, it's the most useful gadget in my kitchen. Once it's all mixed up together you form it into two unequal balls. One should be slightly larger than the other. Then you refrigerate it for at least an hour and up to a day. While the dough is hardening in the fridge you can prepare the rhubarb. It is a little time consuming.

You cut the rhubarb into one inch pieces. Then you put it into a skillet with 1/4 c. orange juice (I squeezed mine fresh from an orange), 2/3 c. sugar, orange zest (from the orange I had juiced) and 2 tsp. cardamom. You heat it all up together until it boils then you lower the heat to medium, cover and let it cook until the rhubarb is tender (less than 10 minutes.) Then you remove the rhubarb from the skillet and put it in a colander with a bowl underneath it and let it drain. When the rhubarb is well drained you put the drained liquid from the bowl back into the skillet and bring it all back up to boil. Allow it to boil until the liquid reduces to 2/3 c. and thickens. Remove from heat. Add 1/4 c. strawberry preserves. Now, I would like to say here that I actually allowed the syrup to set a little too much. It was really like a jelly stuck to the pan when I was done so that I had to scrape the bottom a bit when I mixed in the jam to get it to all come together. It wasn't burnt but it was a little too thick. Too thick for easy handling or pot washing anyway. So maybe you should keep a closer eye on it then I did? Just a thought since I was happy with the finished product. When it's all cool you add the rhubarb back in and stir it up.

Then you roll out the dough, the bigger ball for the bottom crust and the smaller ball for the top crust. The recipe actually provides for a lattice top, but I didn't do that because I thought the pie was going to need some added stability because I do not a have a nine inch glass pie pan. I have bad, bad pie pans, and one good one. I used the good one so as to avoid having to use the bad, bad, aluminum, rusting, flaking pie pans. Anyway, I just used a solid top crust with some holes in the top. So, you put the bottom crust in the pie pan, then the filling from the skillet, then put on the top crust, lattice or otherwise. Then you brush the top crust with a mixture of 1 tbl. whipping cream and 2 tsp. sugar. Then bake in a 375 degree oven for 55 minutes.

It was delicious. The whipping cream and sugar glaze on the top crust just makes it more sugary and delicious. The filling is sweet, but a little tart from the rhubarb. My only complaint about the pie is that mine was a little flat. However, I'm sure it was my fault for not using the right pie pan. I just need better baking tools. I'm working with hand me downs and so on when it comes to that and it leaves something to be desired. Anyway, next time I will use the right pie pan and then perhaps the pie will sink less. Or at least a different pie pan. That or maybe there just wasn't enough filling. I'm not sure. Anyway, do make rhubarb pie. It's delicious.

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