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Archive for April, 2012

Rhubarb pie with ginger crumble

Rhubarb – a sure sign that spring has sprung.  My mother-in-law, Virginia, first introduced me to Rhubarb Pie when I was a teenager. These days, I become a grocery store stalker as soon as April hits, waiting for the first sign of this long, pink vegetable. It’s an especially daunting task in NYC, where demand is high and supply always seems to be low.

It took me only three trips to find my first batch of spring rhubarb this year. Unfortunately, both A&P and Whole Foods disappointed, but Garden of Eden (a small market on 23rd street) had a fresh, untouched pile of beautiful, young rhubarb. I felt like the first person to cross the finish line as the cashier fumbled to find a code for this strange vegetable and then quizzed me about what it was and why I was buying it. Lucky for her, I was more than happy to share.

People tend to pair rhubarb with strawberries or other berries (Blubarb anyone? Yum!). Those of you who like a sweeter pie will especially love the flavor that natural berry juice can bring to this tart plant. Give this prize-winning Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie a try.

Personally, I love the flavor of a pure Rhubarb Pie. It’s easy to overpower the rhubarb with other berries or excessive sugar in hybrid pies. You’ll find that this recipe calls for just enough sugar to sweeten the rhubarb without eliminating its naturally tart flavor.

I love this streusel topping. It’s a nice cross between a pie and crumble – the best of both worlds. If you prefer a double crust pie, forgo the crumble recipe and use the full dough recipe below.

Pair this pie with unsweetened, freshly whipped cream or your favorite ice cream.  I love it with Ginger Ice Cream.

Happy spring everyone!


Twice-Baked Fluffy Pie Crust

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yields one double layer pie crust

Ingredients
1 cup very cold water
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

Instructions
Fill a cup with water and a few ice cubes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt until combined. Sprinkle the small pieces of chilled butter over the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender (or two forks), work the butter into the flour mixture until all of the butter pieces are the size of small peas and the mixture is combined and crumbly. It’s ok if the mixture is slightly uneven.

Drizzle 1/2 cup cold water over the flour mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gather the dough together. Add more water, one tablespoon at a time, if needed, to bring the dough together. Gather the mixture together with your hands into one neat mound.

Divide the dough into two even mounds and form each mound into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours (or up to one week).

If you use the crumb topping, you will only need one disk of dough. Feel free to use the other disk for another pie, tart, or to make hand pies like these. The dough can stay in the refrigerator for a week or in the freezer for a month. Just make sure it’s tightly wrapped.

When you’re ready to make this pie, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place one dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12 inch circle, about 3/8-inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch pie place. Line dough with foil and weigh it down with pie weights, dry rice or dry beans. Bake until crust is light golden brown, approximately 20 minutes.

When you remove the crust from the oven, increase the oven’s temperature to 450 degrees (unless you are making a double crust pie, in which case you should turn the oven down to 375 degrees). While crust is baking, prepare the pie filling.


Ginger Rhubarb Pie
Yields enough filling for one, 9-inch pie

Ingredients
1 3/4 pounds (about 10 stalks) of rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into ½ inch pieces, like these
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered ginger (optional)
Pinch of salt

Instructions
Place chopped rhubarb in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Sprinkle the dry ingredients evenly over the rhubarb and gently stir to evenly coat the rhubarb. Set bowl aside while you make the crumble.


Ginger Crumble
Topping

Yields enough topping for one, 9-inch pie 

Ingredients
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
8 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut in pieces

Instructions
Combine the flour with the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and ginger.  Add the cold butter and mix with your fingertips, gently crushly the bits of butter until they are broken into smaller pebbles and the mixture resembles a streusel. Set aside.

To Assemble the Pie
Gently stir the rhubarb filling to refresh it. Pour the filling into the pie shell and even it out with your fingers, slightly mounding it in the center. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the rhubarb, slight pressing it in to secure it.

Place the pie on foil lined baking sheet and place on a rack in the lower third of the oven. I would recommend covering the crust of the pie with foil, like this, to prevent it from burning while cooking. Feel free to add the foil now, or keep an eye on the color of the crust and add the foil once its reach a desired golden brown color.

Bake the pie at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 50- 60 minutes or until the pie is golden brown all over and the filling is bubbling over.

Cool the pie completely at room temperature and store, uncovered (to keep the topping crisp!) at room temperature. Enjoy within 48 hours, or refrigerate for a longer shelf life.

*NOTE – If you opt for a double layer pie, pre-bake the shell as instructed above, then turn the oven down to 375 degrees. The pie can be baked at 375 degrees for the duration, approximately 60-75 minutes.

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Bread display at Choc o Pain

During a mid-morning trip to get bacon, egg and cheese smashed bagels (omg, best breakfast ever!), I discovered a new bakery in Hoboken.  Not just any bakery, a French one.

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Loads of pastries at Choc o Pain

It was a beautiful discovery, with mountains of freshly baked bread, crusty warm croissants of every kind (escargot, anyone?), decadent breakfast quiches, seasonal fruit tarts and so much more.

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Yum

The bakery has a nice warm and welcome environment and the owner is actually French! There are a variety of seating options, from small tables, to a large communal table surrounded by artwork and books.

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Chocolat croissant aux amandes

It was so hard to choose only one thing. After much deliberation (those tarts and quiches looked so tempting), I decided on a Chocolat croissant aux amandes (chocolate almond croissant) and small coffee with milk. Simple and a perfect start to the day. Click here for a full photo slideshow.

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Choc o Pain

Dear Choc o Pain – See you next weekend!

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