Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie

What do you think is the most anticipated fresh produce of spring? Could it be asparagus? Or how about spinach? Both rank among the favorites of people in the Midwest.

For me, it’s all about rhubarb, as I imagine it is for most of the people who plan on attending University Lutheran Church’s annual Rhubarb Festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 9.

By then, there’ll will plenty of rhubarb to go around. But for now, anyone who wants a tasty rhubarb dessert will have rely on what’s left in the freezer leftover from last summer.

And for those who do, here’s a recipe from the folks at Spice Islands  to try. The rest of you will have to wait at least a week or two.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie
2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
2 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced ½-inch thick
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon pure almond extract
1 prepared pie crust, unbaked
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
6tablespoons butter or margarine
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Gently combine strawberries, rhubarb, ½ cup sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, and almond extract. Spoon mixture into pie crust. Set aside.
Mix brown sugar, 1 cup flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in medium bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle over fruit pie; pat down topping gently with hands.
Place pie on baking sheet; bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

What’s your favorite homemade pie? I would be hard pressed to pick mine.

While it’s pretty hard to beat apple pie, I would have to say that rhubarb just might be my choice. And, of course, rhubarb pie and ice cream is a combination that’s hard to beat.

This being peak rhubarb season and with a crop of strawberries not too far down the road, here’s a recipe adapted from this month’s edition of Martha Stewart Living.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
CRUST:
2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1½ sticks (12 tablespoons) very cold unsalted butter, diced
½ cup very cold vegetable shortening, diced
¼ cup ice water
¼ cup vodka
FILLING:
1½ pounds rhubarb, cut into ¾-inch-long pieces (about 5 to 6 cups)
2 cups sliced strawberries
1½ cups sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest, plus 1 tablespoon orange juice
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
Sugar for sprinkling (optional)
To make the crust: In the bowl of a food processor, place the flour, sugar and salt; pulse to combine. Add the butter and shortening pieces. Process just until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of water and 2 tablespoons vodka, and pulse to combine. Continue adding vodka and water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together and is slightly tacky but sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
To make the filling: Mix together rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, orange zest and juice, and ¼ teaspoon salt.
To finish the pie: On a floured surface, roll out one dough disk so it’s 1/8-inch thick and will fit in a 9-inch pie plate. Place the dough in the pan, pour in the filling; dot top with butter. Refrigerate while making top crust.
Roll remaining disk to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut into at least 10 inch-wide strips using a fluted pastry cutter.
Lay 5 strips across pie. Fold back every other strip, and lay a horizontal strip across the center of the pie. Unfold folded strips, then fold back remaining strips. Lay another horizontal strip across pie. Repeat folding and unfolding strips to weave a lattice pattern. Repeat on remaining side.
Trim bottom and top crusts to a 1-inch overhang using kitchen shears and press together to seal edges. Fold edges under, and crimp as desired. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the pie from the refrigerator. Brush crust with egg wash, and sprinkle generously with sugar. Place a foil-lined baking sheet on the bottom rack to catch juices, and bake pie on middle rack for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and continue baking until filling is vigorously bubbling in center and bottom crust is golden, about 1 hour. (Tent loosely with foil after 1 hour if crust is browning too quickly.) Transfer pie to a wire rack, and let cool for at least 2 hours before serving.
Yield: Serves: 8 (generously).
Note: If making your own crust, chill the butter and shortening in the freezer to get it very cold. You can substitute store-bought ready-to-roll pie crust.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 639 calories, 48 percent of calories from fat, 34 grams fat (15 grams saturated), 77 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein, 12 mg sodium, 66 mg cholesterol, 3 grams fiber.

Summer Pies

Homemade pies using fresh fruit are hard to beat. I imagine a lot of rhubarb pies have been made and consumed the past several weeks. And soon, fresh strawberries and raspberries will be ripe for the picking, and more desserts will be the order of business.

Small-town cafes are a good place to cash in on this culinary bonanza during the summer. A fried, Lillian Elsinga, Grand Forks, found that out recently. Lillian and some friends went on a road trip to Edinburg, N.D., to visit a friend who had moved there.

During their time in the small Walsh County town, which was named after the city in Scotland (without the "h"), they visited Anderson’s Cafe. Lillian said the meatloaf special for lunch was very good, but the coup de grace was the blackberry-blueberry pie. She said the slice of pie, with a dollop of ice cream, will always keep the trip fresh in her memory.

For those who would like to try their hand at a blackberry-blueberry pie, here’s a recipe from allrecipes.com that’s received several favorable reviews.

Blackberry-Blueberry Pie
2/3 cup shortening
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold water
¾ cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1½ cups fresh blackberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
Cut shortening into 2 cups flour and salt until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle in water 1 tablespoon at a time until flour is moistened. Gather into a ball, and roll out onto a lightly floured board. Make two rounds. Place one crust in a 9-inch pie dish.
Mix sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and cinnamon. Stir in berries to coat. Turn filling into pastry lined pan. Sprinkle with lemon juice, dot with butter. Cover with top crust; cut slits in the top. Seal and flute.
Bake at 425 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes. Cover edges with foil to prevent burning, and remove foil for last 12 minutes of baking.