Friday, June 24, 2011

How Not to Make a Rhubarb Pie

1. Abdicate making pie crust. I have this idea that pie crust is hard to make. (Could it be the Internet foodnoscenti proclaiming "freeze and grate your butter," "use ice water," "don't look at the dough too hard, or it will turn out tough"?) Despite knowing that a seven year old can make pie crust (the Brownie cooking Try-It requires making an apple pie, and my mom scoffed at the handbook's instruction to use a premade pie crust), I still avoid it.

2. Substitute cream cheese for butter. So, I have this recipe for a easy cookie/tartlet crust that I use when I have to fake a (small) pie crust. It calls for 8 ounces of butter and 3 ounces of cream cheese. I had 3 ounces of butter and 8 ounces of cream cheese. I think you can see where this is going.

3. Substitute cake flour for all-purpose (or pastry) for no earthly reason. I can't explain this one. I looked at the baking shelf, saw a few different kinds of flour, and made a dumb choice. To compound the error, I added lots of extra flour, because the dough came out really sticky (see #2). According to this site, the problem is that cake flour doesn't have enough protein to form a workable dough.

4. Switch horses midstream. My original plan was to make individual-size pies in ramekins (for which my faked unrollable cookie/tartlet crust might have worked), but when I saw how much filling I was going to have, I decided to make a full-size pie. The dough was sticky and completely unrollable, which I attribute to a combination of #1, #2, and #3.

5. Omit adding any thickeners. Apparently rhubarb pie often includes flour, cornstarch, or tapioca to thicken the filling. I did not know this when I made my filling. I probably poured a quarter cup of liquid off my pie before putting it in the oven (it sat around macerating for a while before I baked it) and another quarter cup before serving. It was still ... not of a pielike consistency. (Chowhound addresses the issue, and suggests that fresh spring farmer's market rhubarb is more watery than summer rhubarb.)
6. Make a closed-top pie. This wasn't the original plan, but I had a lot of pie dough (see: adding lots of extra flour in #3), so I made a top crust. Michael Ruhlman says you make rhubarb pie either with no top crust or with a lattice so that extra liquid can bubble off. Huh.
7. Don't use a recipe. Many nice rhubarb pie recipes exist in the world. Here's one from Smitten Kitchen. Looking at a picture of a rhubarb pie that your brother's girlfriend posted on Facebook turns out not to be a completely adequate substitute. See #1-6.
8. Turn off the oven midway through pie baking. Not that you would, but our (new, fancy, digital) oven is a little complicated to use. I was sort of distracted when I got up to check the pie and reset the timer halfway through cooking. What can I say?

One thing I did do right? Throw in a big handful of frozen peaches we picked at Smolak Farms last summer. Yum.

I'm too embarrassed to show you what the pie looked like ("crumble" would be charitable), but it was still scarfed up. Vanilla ice cream helped. (I ate the last piece for breakfast the next day, another thing my mom taught me.)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sunflower Sprouts

The lettuces and arugula and mixed greens are rolling in with our first CSA boxes, so it must be salad season. It would be easy to smother in a surfeit of salad greens (and slowly perish of monotony), so we're soliciting suggestions for making salads more special. Any ideas?

For last week's potluck, I grew a tray of sunflower microgreens. I've mentioned sprouting (or instant-gratification gardening, as I think of it) before; the only difference with microgreens is that you grow them a bit longer in a tiny bit of soil and don't eat the root part. Sprout People has instructions and enthusiasm for sunflowers (among many, many other things). I was advised not to buy seeds designated for sprouting (like theirs), though -- sunflower seeds sold for bird feeders (which you can find at the grocery store) work fine and are much cheaper.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fiddlehead Pasta

What did we end up doing with the fiddleheads? We ate them with two sticks of butter!

Our dinner was fiddlehead pasta with beurre blanc, inspired by Kel at More Cupcakes. (Kel is another Somervillan, and she also blogs the Enterprise Farm CSA.) Our additions to the recipe were orange juice and zest (we didn't have a lemon) and fresh sage from our window box.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

First Picadilly CSA Box

It's Tuesday, so that means ... our second CSA is here! We are getting the Picadilly Farm share this year (yes, in addition to the Enterprise large share), so our refrigerator is ALL ABOUT vegetables right now.

This box contained red lettuce, green lettuce, arugula, salad mix, bok choy, radishes, and cilantro. Why, yes, we did have a big salad at potluck.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

First Enterprise CSA Box

We got our first CSA box from Enterprise Farm yesterday, and I think we can say ... WORTH THE WAIT. This is Enterprise's large share, containing onions, sweet potatoes, lettuce, kale, bok choy, cucumbers, asparagus, fiddleheads, tomatoes, and strawberries.

(Has it really only been two months since our winter CSA ended? We've been through some dark culinary times since, so we've been literally counting the days for this.)

Our whole house gathered to eat the (amazing, delicious, incredible) strawberries and tomatoes with our breakfast of bacon and eggs and Italian grocery leftovers (bread, olives, burrata) this morning, and to collegially argue about what to do with the asparagus (rolled into crepes? with Hollandaise sauce?) and fiddleheads (with pasta? with Hollandaise sauce?). Delicious days ahead!

(Through a minor snafu, we didn't get our box until Friday and missed this week's newsletter. Any Enterprise subscribers know where the amazing strawberries come from?)