Although the part of my childhood I spent in Maine was not lengthy, my memory of these years is rich with food and desserts lovingly crafted by my family members.
One of my great-grandmothers, Louise, will be forever remembered by her infamous pies - a tender, flaky crust encasing some seasonal fruit, sweetened just perfectly with a bit of sugar.
As a little girl, I remember walking through the long airway between the garage and her kitchen, where numerous pies rested after just being plucked from the warm oven. The dewy, summer Maine breeze danced with the strands of emerging steam as the pies cooled and the fruit thickened.
This gesture of kindness and welcoming continued when we visited my grandmother, who would always be sure my Dad had a freshly baked strawberry rhubarb pie awaiting him.
She would purchase the strawberries from a local farm stand, cut the long strands for rhubarb from her own garden and, with the help of a little flour, sugar and butter, create something that transported my Dad back to simpler times.
I never cared for the taste of rhubarb until this summer. Although my love affair has been short-lived, yet thoroughly enjoyed these last few months, I have also come to love the addition of sweet strawberries to the tart stalks of rhubarb.
My Dad visited NYC this past weekend, a long two years since I moved here. He doesn't care for the city too much.
Although I had fun trips planned, I decided a strawberry rhubarb pie would prove to be a good insurance piece. After all, if he ended up hating all other parts of his time in the city, I figured he could fondly remember the taste of summer and his childhood in a slice of homemade pie.
Unlike my grandmother, I do not have tall stalks of rhubarb growing in my garden, so I relied on the friendly farmers at the Union Square farmer's market to assist my venture.
I carefully rolled out my pie crust, filled it with the cut strawberries and rhubarb, which I had allowed to mascerate in an equal amount of brown and granulated sugar.
A lattice top secured the fruit and a sprinkle of turbinado sugar provided a crunchy texture.
This time around, I think my Dad actually enjoyed parts of the city.
But, I suspect, it helped to sweeten him up with a piece of this pie before we hit the town.
[print_this]Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
crust by Allison M. Veinote
filling adapted from Bon Appetit, April 1997
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1/3 cup shortening
Egg wash (1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water)
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
3 cups rhubarb, sliced to 1/2" thickness
3 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
For the Crust
In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together and chill.
When dry ingredients are chilled, rub in cold, cubed butter. Cut in shortening with a fork until mixture is coarse. Chill, if desired.
Add ice water, 2 tablespoons at a time until mixture just begins to come together. Form dough into ball and cut in half.
Form each half of dough into a disk, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 30 minutes.
For the Filling
Place rhubarb and strawberries in medium mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
Add sugars to fruit, allow to mascerate about 10 minutes.
Sift cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg together. Add to mascerated fruit. Gently stir to combine.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare 9" pie pan with non-stick spray.
Remove one dough disc from refrigerator. On lightly floured surface, roll to 13" circle. Transfer to prepared pie pan, trimming excess dough. Form edges of pie as desired.
Spoon filling into bottom crust.
On a lightly floured surface, roll second dough disc into 10" circle. Using a ruler and fluted pastry wheel, cut dough into 6 even strips, about 1" wide.
Place 3 strips on top of filling. Form a lattice by weaving remaining 3 strips in the opposite direction. Crimp edges as desired.
Using a pastry brush, gently brush a light egg wash on top of crust. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until filling is bubbling and crust is golden, about 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool on rack. Allow pie to cool completely to ensure filling sets.
Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.[/print_this]