Monday, July 11, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Let's take a trip back in time to early summer strawberry season. Nothing I love more than picking my own berries. This year I was spoiled and 2 sets of friends brought home some hand-picked strawberries for me. We had also received some rhubarb in our farm share and I looked into making the only thing I knew how with these two amazing ingredients: PIE! They are both in season at the same time and a match made in heaven!

I have a book simply named "Pie" by Ken Haedrich. He had a great recipe for this pie, and little adaptation was needed! I use the steps to be as time efficient as possible. I refuse to let parenting come in the way of delicious fresh baked treats!

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie

Crust: Mom's of babies have to cheat so I used Harris Teeter brand crusts--just soften, unroll, and go. Or you can make homemade crust and freeze until ready for use to save time too.

Prepare in advance, or while fruit portion is baking:

Cornmeal Crumb Topping:
3/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

Combine dry ingredients in food processor to mix.

Then add butter and pulse until it resembles fine crumbs. You can then use fingers to make them into larger, buttery crumbs. Refrigerate until ready for use.

3 cups rhubarb sliced 1/2 inch thick
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
grated zest of that lemon
4 cups strawberries sliced as appropriate to size
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare your rhubarb, lemon.

Combine rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice, and zest in large bowl. Toss well then set aside 10 min.

This is when I cut my strawberries and prepared my pie shell (my timing is usually limited to my 8 month old's nap...must be efficient!)

After 10 min add the strawberries and tapioca to the bowl and toss well.

Scrape the filling into pie shell. Place pie in center of oven and heat for 30 min.

Remove from oven, decrease temperature to 375 degrees, and add crumb topping. I recommend covering the crust with something like this to prevent burning. You may also want to put a pan under the pie for bubbling. I used a little ceramic bird shared vent to help with this too.

Bake until juices bubble thickly around edge, about 30 to 40 min. Cool before serving.



Saturday, July 2, 2011

4th of July Cupcakes

The 4th of July makes me crave blueberries, strawberries, and cherries each year. We were invited to a celebratory potluck, which gave me a great excuse to get creative in the kitchen. My husband was going out to the local farmer's market and I instructed him to bring me home some fresh fruit! He came back with these:


I had just come across an amazing cupcake blog and loved these cherry topped cupcakes. I decided that rather than as a topping, I wanted to make a fresh creamy cherry filling. But how? The only recipes I could find involved turning the cherries into more of a jam, but for some reason that idea was grossing me out. I had just made a decadent chocolate Bavarian creme filling for some mint cupcakes and wanted to do my own cherry take on it. Here goes...

Cherry-Cream Cupcake Filling

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
handful of cherries, pitted

1. Place water and sugar in a saucepan on med heat and stir until dissolved.
2. Once dissolved remove from heat and pour into another bowl. Place that bowl in a larger bowl full of ice and allow to cool to room temperature.
3. Using food processor, puree the cherries then strain. Keep the pulp!
4. Using a mixer and the whip attachment, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form (do not over beat until they get stiff! I did this the first time and had to start over, le sigh)
5. Place mixer on med speed and add the water mixture. Beat on high until firm peaks form.
6. Fold in the cherry puree.
7. Refrigerate until ready for use!

Cherry Puree

Then I made the cupcakes, Devil's Food Duncan Hines out of the box to be easy. You can't find a better chocolate cake even from scratch...but I am on the hunt to eventually outdo it!

When you are a mother, especially to a 9 mo old, you have to use your time wisely. When my cupcakes bake, that is when I make my icing. It's become a local favorite, but as it turns out it is also the recipe that Magnolia's Bakery in NYC uses. No wonder it is so good!

Buttercream Icing

2 sticks butter room temp
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla (I use bourbon vanilla bean paste)
1 bag of powdered sugar (6-8 cups)

Whip the butter then add milk, vanilla, and half the powdered sugar. Scrape the bowl. Slowly add the remaining sugar until you reach desired consistency. Periodically mix on high to get it nice and icing like! I use all the sugar b/c I like my icing to hold up its shape as I prefer the star tip for decorating.

Next you have to let the cupcakes cool. A great time to fill your icing bags and prep for decoration. Did I mention I made my fondant icing stars the night before? I keep a block of white fondant in my fridge and mix bits of it to the color I desire. (Using gel color, even though it makes the fondant a little soft the color can't be beat!)

Once the cupcakes are nice and cool you can fill them with the cream! Just puncture the middle and squeeze the desired amount. I use a pastry filling tip like this. I only filled half of them, because I was unsure how the cream would hold up but it did quite well! (Refrigerate the cupcakes until ready for consumption)

After filling you can ice! I added patriotic stars and white sparkling sugar as decorations. Happy 4th!!!