This week found me in a conflicted fight with myself trying to decide what to make. I’m sure you have an idea of what I’m talking about: maybe not in terms of cooking, but we all get conflicting ideas sometimes of what it is we want to achieve.
I’ve been seeing a lot of rhubarb around and really wanted to make a strawberry rhubarb pie because, well, I really like strawberry rhubarb pie and I haven’t made one since I lived back East. So I picked up some rhubarb and a couple pounds of strawberries at the farmers’ market. All seemed fine, but then as I was making my way out of the market, one stand had some blueberries and once I tasted them I had to have some and the conflict was on.
Did I want to stand by my original pie or did I want to change it to something with blueberries? Then I thought, maybe I would rather make a crisp than a pie, but what kind? Finally, I figured that I would make a pie adding blueberries to the strawberries and rhubarb, and since I was starting to wing it, I figured I’d go all out and make a crisp topping instead of the normal lattice crust top.
I made the normal batch of pie dough, which I now only needed two-thirds of because I wasn’t using the top, so if you want, you can cut the recipe and make two-thirds of a batch, or you can freeze it for later, make a few tartlets, or even put some stew in an oven-proof bowl cover it with the dough with a steam slit and make a pot pie.
Strawberry Blueberry Rhubarb Pie
For 1 10-inch pie
3C rhubarb (6 stalks, no parts of the leaves, about 1 lb.) cut into ½-inch slices
1 lb. strawberries, -inch slices or quartered
1 lb. blueberries
1 C sugar
½ C cornstarch
2 t cinnamon
½ t fresh, grated nutmeg (optional)
1/8 t salt
Zest of 1 lemon
2 T lemon juice
1/3 C flour
1/3 C oats
1/3 C brown sugar
½ t cinnamon
1/8 t salt
6T butter chilled, cut in small pieces
1 lb. flour (about 2¾ C)
3 sticks butter chilled, cut into small pieces
1 t salt
¾ C ice water
Start with the crust. Blend flour and salt using a fork, fingers or paddle. If using a machine, cut in the chilled butter pieces until mixture appears like a course crumb mix. Add the ice water a little at a time, switching to the hook, if you are using a mixer. Add just enough ice water so the dough will hold together when pinched. You may not need all the water. Do not overwork the dough. Roll into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Combine well in a small bowl the sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Pour all the fruit into a large bowl and add the salt, lemon juice and lemon zest. Save a little of the sugar cornstarch mix to coat the bottom of the pie crust and add the rest to the fruit, stirring until all the fruit is coated. Cover with plastic and let sit while you make the topping.
Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Cut in the chilled butter pieces until it is a course mixture. Chill in the fridge while you roll out the dough and pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Roll two-thirds of the dough on floured counter out to about a 13-inch circle. Roll from the center and lift often so it doesn’t stick to the counter. If it cracks, just pinch it back together.
Line the pie pan with the dough and sprinkle the leftover cornstarch mix around the dough. Fold the overhanging dough up and crimp it over with your fingers to create the top wall. Pour the fruit into the pie. Pour the topping over the top, leaving plenty of open spaces for the steam to escape.
Bake for about 30 minutes on 450. Then, turn the oven down to 350 for half an hour. The top should be golden and the fruit bubbling. If the top starts getting to brown, cover with foil. Let stand for at least three hours to let the juice thicken. Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. For more information and archived copies of Stir it Up, visit chefsmitty.com. Smitty welcomes your questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 412-3598.