Rhubarb Pie and Grandma

Hello all,

Today I want to talk about my grandma, and about pie.
Mostly because they have to do with each other in my story, but also cause grandmas and pie usually go together, don’t they?

So here’s my story, I hate pie.

The crust is dry or burnt or flavorless more often then it is not. The filling has a tendency to be overly sweet, mushy or it tastes like the fruit is from a can that’s been hanging out in the back of the pantry, saved in case of apocalypse or something worse – like seriously not having anything else to eat and you’re on the verge of starvation.

Like I said, I’m not a fan of pie.

EXCEPT when it’s my grandma’s pie (cliche, I know).
I swear though, nobody does pie better than my grandma, Pauline.


Maybe it’s because she grew up on a farm full of fruit orchards in Canada with a big family full of hungry boys, and nothing warms you up like a hearty slice of pie in cold weather.

Maybe she makes such gosh darn good pie because when she grew up she went and had a big family (this time full of girls) and worked as a nurse so making pie was a good way to unwind after a long day of work and taking care of all her little ones.

Maybe, it’s cause now her 5 kids have all grown up and gotten married and had tons of babies themselves and the staple of every family gathering are Grandma’s pies.

Basically has had to stay on her pie game her whole life.

I have been thinking lately though, that if my grandma can make excellent pie, then maybe I can too. I might just have that pie making gene stowed somewhere in me.

She makes a most wonderful apple pie, a mouthwatering crusty and crispy pecan pie, pumpkin pie with filling so smooth and topped with leaf shaped crust pieces that will make you squeal with delight, but my absolute favorite pie is her rhubarb.

Rhubarb is divinely unique and not the most common of pies, its bitter when uncooked but addicting and tart when cooked and is absolutely positutely my favorite of Grandma’s pies.

So, while I was in LA for a few days for my dad’s birthday I cornered my granny with a pie cutter and said “Lady, you better give me your recipe for Rhubarb pie or I’ll slice you and put you in a pie!”

OMG I’M TOTALLY KIDDING

It really went more like this “Granny, you make the best pie in the whole gosh darn world, would you share your most delectable recipe for Rhubarb pie so that I may continue the family tradition.” Then granny smiled with her adorable, non-dentured, smile and said “Oh of course, honey girl!” That’s what she calls me, honey girl. I love my grandma.

Sidenote: I incidentally recently painted my kitchen table a color named “Rhubarb” and while slicing the stalks for the pie I decided to gauge just how well it matched

God damn that’s a match!

Moving on

What you’ll need:

For the most buttery and flaky crust:

2 1/2 cups flour, plus a little extra for rolling

1 stick of butter, cubed and frozen

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

8 Tbs water, ice cold

For the luscious filling:

5 cups Rhubarb, chopped into 1 inch pieces

1 1/4 cup sugar, I used brown sugar

1/4 cup cornstart

2 Tbs lemon juice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 Tbs butter

What to do with it:

For the crust:

Combine flour, sugar, salt in a food processor and lightly pulse

Gradually add in the cubed frozen butter. I’ve learned that frozen butter is the secret to excellent pie crust. Pulse until the butter hunks are the size of your pinky nail

Now add the water, 1 Tbs at a time keeping watch of the dough’s consistency (flour has different absorbancy levels, so while I needed all 8 Tbs, you may only need 6 or 7). You want the dough to just stick together when you press it together between your fingers

Take the dough and squish it on the counter under your hands to break up the butter a little more to encourage that, oh so, desirable flaky crust

When you’re done smushing it around roll it into a ball and cut in 2 pieces then form those into 2 flat patties

Dust the two pieces with flour, wrap in plastic wrap and set to chill in the fridge for a little more than an hour

Once the hour is up, take out and let them soften for about 5 minutes…chill and then soften? I know, just do it

Take a floured rolling pin and roll out one patty on a floured surface until it is about a foot across, the edges don’t have to be perfect as you will be trimming them anyway

Fold in half and place inside your baking dish, I used my cast iron skillet since I don’t actually have a pie pan

Gently unfold to fill the pan and press into the edges

For the filling:

Preheat oven to 425

Place chopped Rhubarb into pie crust

Mix together sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon and lemon juice in a bowl

Drizzle over rhubarb and gently mix around with your hands to coat

Dab with pieces of butter

Cover with the other patty of crust, that’s been rolled out, of course

You can cover the pie in a few ways, the coverall method in which case you would slit holes in the top to allow it to breath

OR the rustic way where you cut the rolled out dough into 1 inch strips and weave it – that’s what I chose to do

If you opt for this method just pinch the ends together with the bottom crust to close it off

*DON’T do what I did and forget to add 1 cup of the sugar – the copy of the recipe my granny gave me is old so the 1 1/4 cup sugar looked like just 1/4 cup. So there I was thinking to myself “God, who says pie is unhealthy, there’s only a 1/4 of a cup of sugar!” And anyone who has had unsweetened rhubarb can imagine my surprise when I first sampled a teeny bit of the filling through the pie crust. So there I was with an almost baked pie that was pretty nasty. In the event you did do that here’s the fix: take the extra 1 cup and mix with the tiniest amount of water to make it pasty and painstakingly drip it through the slots of the pie top. Then slosh the pie around with enough force to mix the filling, but not spill it. It’s an art, my friends, and I am here to say that I think I have mastered it.

The conclusion: The pie was delicious, the filling had texture and was tart yet sweet, and crust that wasn’t dry, overall a huge pie success for my first time.

But there’s just something about grandma’s pie.

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Spinach and Ricotta Naked Ravioli

Scandalous name for a post, no?

That’s just the kind of mood I’m in

Does that sound bad?

Eh, it happens

I actually got the idea for this recipe here

Only I upped the ante by making my own butter and ricotta for the ravioli

I’m so fancy

So what exactly is a “naked” ravioli?

Let me break it down for ya

You know when it’s summer, and sweltering hot, and you’re trying to sleep but your damn blanket is making you so sweaty so you end up throwing it off in a fit of rage in the middle of the night? Wel,l that’s how I imagine naked ravioli was born. The little spinach ricotta filling just got too hot one day and while baking in the oven split open its little pasta blanket shell. And whoever was making them thought “why don’t I just get rid of this shell and let this ‘oli breath?”

That’s why these are such an awesome summer recipe, they are comforting and creamy thanks to the ricotta and the spinach keeps it fresh. And because there’s no pasta, there is no carb overload to weigh you down.

But wait, the plot (or rather, the sauce) thickens!

I dressed these raviolis ever so lightly with a brown butter sage sauce

What you’ll need:

2 cups of fresh Spinach – when cooked…roughly 2 bunches

2 cups Ricotta

1 cup Parmesan, grated

1 Egg

1 tsp. Nutmeg

Salt and Pepper, to taste

1 stick Butter

1 bunch Sage, stems trimmed

What to do with it:

Preheat the oven to 500

Cook the spinach in 1 of 2 ways – wilt in a pan or boil for 1 minute. Don’t kill the spinach, you want it to retain some form, but you don’t want it to be stiff

Drain spinach thoroughly – squeeze it until you think it can’t be squeezed anymore. Excess water will ruin your ravioli’s curvacious figure

Once drained, roughly chop the spinach

Combine Spinach, Ricotta, Parmesan, Salt, Pepper, and Nutmeg in a bowl and mix well with your hands. Don’t be afraid to get them a little dirty

Scoop out Tablespoons of the mixture and roll into a ball – I prefer them be oval, but if a round ball tickles your fancy, go for it

Place on a baking sheet lined with tin foil
Cook in the oven for 5-7 minutes until the tops are gently brown

While they are cooking, heat butter in a pan on medium heat

Allow the butter to brown ever so slightly then add the sage leaves, cooking until the leaves begin to crisp and curl

*I have added the sage at the same time as the butter and found that the leaves crisp up too much and end up tasting just a little too burned plus the burnt pieces break off and muddle the gorgeous color of the browned butter

When the naked raviolis are done place them on your serving platter and top each with a few sage leaves, then pour butter across the tops

Maybe pair it with a refreshing gin and tonic?

Just a thought

Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

I don’t know about you guys, but when its real hot out, I’m not in the mood for a huge meal that is gonna make me feel even more sluggish than the scalding temperatures already does. I want something light, maybe crispy, certainly cold and often times utensil free.

Eating with my hands means less dish washing and its more acceptable for me to lick my fingers in the process.

I know ya’ll understand how great that is.

Summed up, summertime is a time for snacks. But chips leave little more than cheese powder on your fingertips and cellulite on the back of your thighs. No thanks.

I want a snack I can come back to throughout the day.

Wait, isn’t that quintessentially a snack is? Oh nevermind, you get the point.

So what is the best gosh darn snack? HUMMUS

Not just plain hummus (delicious as that may be), but sun dried tomato hummus.

Remember when I made RAW Hummus? Well, the basic recipe is pretty much the same.

Seriously, one of the quickest recipes out there

What you’ll need:

2 cans ckickpeas (garbanzo beans)

Liquid from 1 can of beans

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup of sun dried tomato oil OR just 1/2 cup of olive oil

1/3 cup sun dried tomato, minced (or put through a food processor)

3 cloves garlic

Salt

Pepper

What to do with it:

Here’s where it get’s real tricky

1. Put everything in a food processor or blender

2. Turn on

I know, this is a super complicated recipe, I apologize.

Paired with some toasted whole wheat pita triangles, you got yourself a most wonderful summer snack!

Rosemary Cherry Compote

Hello my sweet darlin’s!

Basically my life the last week has looked a little like this:

Study for finals, work, study more for finals, work, write final essays, work, stay up all night studying for finals, take finals, fly to LA for best friends graduation, drink a lot of liquor in celebration, SLEEP.

Yesterday was the first day I actually felt somewhat rested. It’s been great.

Now that I am at my parents house for a week I have time to try some new recipes. When I made dinner last night though, we had yet to go shopping and my folks got into town the same day as me, so ingredients for dinner were slim pickin’s.

There were a couple items that caught my eye: roasted turkey, sourdough bread, onions, and fresh cherries. I could work with that.

A roasted turkey sandwich with rosemary cherry compote and crispy onions. Yea, that sounds tasty.

Lucky for me, the turkey was already roasted, the bread was already baked, and we will get to those crispy onions a little later. Right now, I’m gonna show you how to make some seriously phenomenal cherry compote.

Recipe adapted from YumSugar

What you’ll need:

2 cups rinsed, stemmed and pitted cherries

2 1/2 Tbs. Sugar

1 tsp. Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped

1 tsp. Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 Tbs. Water

Salt

Pepper

What to do with it:

1. Place cherries, sugar, rosemary, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil

2. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and allow to simmer until cherries are nice and soft and the sauce has thickened. It will take 15-17 minutes. (I helped it along by taking the back of a wooden spoon and slightly mashing the cherries against the side of the pan)

3. Once they are at the consistency you prefer, take them off the heat, add the balsamic and allow to cool

4. Serve hot or cold

I would liken this compote to the summer version of cranberry sauce, its a little tart, not too sweet and goes great smothered on turkey. Which is exactly what I did.

For the sandwich:

Sourdough loaf, cut into hearty slices

Cream Cheese

Dijon Mustard

Roasted Turkey

Cherry Compote

Spiced Crispy Onions

I think sandwich assembly is pretty easy, but here’s what I did

Slather one piece of bread with cream cheese, and the other with Dijon

Layer about 3 slices of roasted turkey on one side – you can do more, but my bread was on the small side

Spoon a generous heaping of cherries on top of the turkey, take the wooden spoon and get the sauce in crevices of the turkey layers

Take a big ol’ handful of the crispy onions and place that on top and cover with the other piece of bread

This sandwich was so divine. It pretty much felt like a Thanksgiving leftover sandwich…and who says I have to wait for November to get on that?!

Nobody, that’s who.

So go ahead, indulge and enjoy in this delightful slice of heaven.

Btw, my parents have an entire hillside of rosemary growing wild in their backyard.

Any ideas for what to do with some of it?