Saturday, May 14, 2011

fresh rhubarb pie

If you ever want something from me, just make me a rhubarb pie, and I'll do absolutely anything for you. Yeah, you're right, that's not true. But I will wash your car or draw you a picture (both reasonable trades), and I'll maybe even give you a hug (I'm a good hugger--you won't be disappointed). As an additional bonus, I can positively guarantee that I'll be excited.

So I love rhubarb. Like love it. As in rhubarb pie is my favorite dessert in the entire world. Yes, I like brownies, monster cookies, pudding, carrot cake, and peach crisp, but rhubarb pie is it for me. My favorite. Not strawberry-rhubarb pie or raspberry-rhubarb pie. No weird meringue topping (eeeee) or streusel. Just straight-up rhubarb, with a little bit of sugar, enveloped in a delicious from-scratch, all-butter double crust. Oh, and don't forget the vanilla ice cream. Mmmmm..soo goooood.

Did I make rhubarb pie today? Absolutely. Will I share my recipe with you? Yes. But first I need to go off on a small tangent to tell you one of the reasons why I needed to bake something today:

I had to warm up.

I absolutely froze my butt off at the farmer's market this morning--40 degrees + showers + a brisk north wind does not equal ideal conditions for an outdoor market. Or any event requiring one to stand outdoors for five hours. My feet were still cold--even after I came home and took a nap. And drank a large amount of hot tea. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved my experience--I met so many sweet people and got to try all sorts of great food (examples:  indian-spiced mini-doughnuts, bacon-stuffed aebleskiver-pancake-ball things, chocolate-hazelnut crepes...!), and finally got to see what a day at the market is like. It's fabulous.

pie has such humble beginnings
So I have this internship at the Mill City Farmer's Market this summer where I get to convince people to eat their vegetables. Especially the ones that people don't generally know much about--the under-utilized ones are good too! This is why I spent five and a half hours outside this morning. So worth it. I love this job, too, of course. If you know me, you know that this is just the kind of thing I want to spend my Saturday mornings doing. Talking to people about vegetables and hanging out with farmers. And this market? Awesome. It is situated in the plaza between the Guthrie Theater and the Mill City Museum in the warehouse district of  downtown Minneapolis. All kinds of amazing vendors. And a fabulous view. From our spot this morning, we could see down to the falls on the Mississippi River and the stonearch bridge--it was stunning, even if the river looked angry and the sky was grey. It didn't matter. So beautiful. You need to come visit me.

There's just such great energy at farmer's markets--if you've never been to one, you need to go. Really. It's just one of those things you can't quite get until you experience it. The people are different somehow. The environment is like none other. I don't know if I can explain it yet. I haven't figured out exactly why, but I love it.. Maybe I like it so much because I'm one of them, deep down. A farmer. And an artist. We all are, really, when we get back to our roots.

Oh man, I went off-subject more than I planned. I had things to tell you, though! And yes, I had to bake something to get warmed up. SO, rhubarb pie! As I mentioned in my last post, we have graciously been gifted a large amount of rhubarb, thanks to Spoonfather's receptionist, and I had told Spoon that I was going to make pie on a few different occasions this past week. I did it today, though--finally! And she left, of course, so I had to eat pie by myself. Sad. But I was warm, finally, and it is my favorite dessert in the entire world, so I wasn't really that sad. So here it is. The recipe for my beloved rhubarb pie. I hope you try it. And maybe make it for me sometime....haha. No really.

that weird ridge was from the lip of the drinking glass I used to roll out the dough. we need a rolling pin, apparently.

Rhubarb Pie

Not overly sweet--there is enough sugar to sweeten up the rhubarb, but it is still definitely a little tart. Just like it should be. This also makes it go perfectly with vanilla ice cream.

1 recipe pastry for a double-crust pie (or see my recipe below)

4 cups rhubarb, chopped
1 cup sugar
6 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 450. Roll out bottom pie crust to fit into a 9- or 10-inch pie plate. Combine sugar and flour, and sprinkle 1/4 of the mixture over pastry in the pie plate (this makes the bottom of the pie crisp and caramelized, and prevents a soggy crust--fancy, huh?). Heap the rhubarb over and sprinkle with the remaining sugar/flour mixture. Dot with butter, and cover with the top crust. Poke some holes in the crust so steam can escape, and place the pie on the lowest rack of the oven. Bake for 15 min @ 450, and then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes. Let it cool, at least enough so you won't burn your mouth, and serve with good vanilla ice cream. YES.

Pie Pastry

One of the secrets to really fabulous pie crust is to distribute the butter evenly in little pieces throughout the dough. The best and easiest way to do this is with a food processor. You don't need it, but it will make excellent dough every time.

1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled or frozen (this is important--it must be very cold to make the pastry flaky)
1/4 cup ice water

Combine flour and salt. Cut in butter (or pulse food processor) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough begins to clump/form a ball. Wrap in plastic, form into a disk, and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Makes crust for single crust pie--double for a double-crust pie (I know you knew that, I was just making sure).

my bowl, after I ate all my pie. err, yes, I licked it clean.
Oh, and I get to write nutrition articles for the MCFM website too--if you want to read the one I wrote this month, it's right here!

one more thought to leave you with...

"The act of farming requires an examination of humanity, a dileniation between us and the other, civilization and the natural world. In two words: self-definition; in three letters:  art." 


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