Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Strawberry Pie

At the Eugene Farmer's Market last weekend, we bought a 1/2 flat of fresh strawberries. Yumm!But what to do with all those berries? Hubby's idea was strawberry pie.

I love making pie. But I don't know that I've ever made a strawberry pie before - just strawberry rhubarb. So I consulted the trusty "The New Basics Cookbook" for a recipe. The filling results were excellent, but the crust didn't work as well as my normal crust. (Recipe another time!)

Here is their recipe for "Fresh Summer Strawberry Pie", with some notes from me:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
about 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 pints strawberries, rinsed, drained, hulled and halved
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup instant tapioca
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp (packed) light brown sugar

- Make the crust. Toss the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the butter until the mix looks like course crumbs. With a fork, stir in just enough lemon juice for the the dough to form a mass.
[NOTE: This is ridiculous. All crust recipes call for close to a 1/4 cup of cold water to get the dough to hold together. This needed that much. What are they thinking with 1 tbsp of lemon juice!? My recommendation: mix lemon juice and water and use about 4 tbsp total]
- Gather the dough in a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375.
- Make the filling. Combine the strawberries, sugar, tapioca, butter, and cinnamon in a saucepan and stir over low heat until it thickens a bit - about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and vanilla. Set aside.
- Take out the dough and roll it out on a floured surface until it's big enough to fit in your pie pan (9 inches). Press it into the pan, trim as needed leaving enough to make a nice crimped or rolled edge.
- Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork, line with aluminum foil (shiny side down), and fill the pate with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the crust and turn the heat down to 350. [NOTE: I don't think it needs to cook quite this long]
- Remove the foil and weights and fill the crust with the filling. Put the pie on a cookie sheet (in case it bubbles over). Sprinkle with the brown sugar.
- Cook until nice and bubbly, about 45 minutes.
- Cool for an hour on a wire rack and then refrigerate overnight. Set out 30 minutes before serving.

NOTE: I served with fresh whipped cream.

Overall, this was delicious, with a great consistency and not too sweet. The edges of the crust got too brown for my liking, so next time I'll cover the edge with strips of aluminum foil like I usually do with pie.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cheese-Onion Baguettes

Dinner tonight was one of those things I both love and hate to eat. Love it because it is absolutely delicious. Hate it because it is very, very bad for me.

Found originally in a big fat cookbook I think my mom gave me - "1000 Vegetarian Recipes from Around the World" - in the barbecue section, this meal is super hearty and full of two of my favorite food groups: cheese and bread.

Here's what the recipe in the book says:
4 part-baked baguettes
2 tbsp tomato relish
4 tbsp butter
8 scallions, finely chopped
9 tbsp cream cheese
1 cup colby cheese, grated
1 tsp snipped fresh chives
mixed salad leaves

- Split the part-baked baguettes in half lengthwise, without cutting right through. Spread a little tomato relish on each one.
- Melt butter in skillet and add chopped scallions. Saute over medium, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, until soft and golden. Remove from heat to cool slightly.
- Beat the cream cheese in a bowl to soften it. Mix in the scallions and butter mixture. Add grated cheese and chives and mix well. Season with pepper.
- Divide the cheese mixture between the baguettes - spread it on the cut surfaces and sandwich together again. Wrap each baguette in foil.
- Heat baguettes over grill for about 10-15 minutes, turning them occasionally. Peel back the foil to check to see they are cooked and the cheese is melted.
- Serve with salad leaves.

We did try this recipe on the grill the first time we made it. However, it got kind of burnt and really gooey so ever since, we make it in the oven instead (350 degrees or so for about 15 minutes).

A few other changes:
- We use cheddar cheese instead of colby
- We don't always get part-baked bread. A regular baguette often works fine.
- What's "tomato relish"? Maybe this is something you can buy, but we just kind of make it up. I usually chop up some fresh tomatoes, add some tomato paste, vinegar, salt, and pepper and mix it up. Works for me.
- Put the cheese mixture on the bread first, not the tomato relish. Spreading cheese on top of tomatoes is hard.

Tonight was the first time we actually put greens on the sandwich - which was quite good and gave it an illusion of healthiness.

Warning: it's messy! Be prepared to need napkins and maybe a fork!