I’ve Got Love In My Tummy…
I heart food blogs. And when I say heart, I mean love. And when I say love, my hand is over my tummy. It happens. But really, all my life and what I’ve noticed in others’ lives, is that food and love are intertwined. How many of our favorite foods are made by somebody that’s special to us? My mother’s bread, my grandma Rosie’s chili rellenos, my dad’s omelets, my grandpa Frank’s orange juice, my grandma Hayashi’s pickles… How many people do we make food for because we care about them? Why do we make our husbands their favorite chocolate or apple pie for Father’s Day? Because we love them. We even go as far as shipping cookies to far away loved ones. But why stop there? That’s where food blogs come in. Food blogs take food-shaped love and share it with the entire internet community. These food bloggers share pictures that not only look scrumptious, but feel like a hug. They tell stories about their loved ones. So many times the post will start with something like “I made my daughter these cookies..” or “my parents are coming to visit…” or “my husband’s new favorite”. Food is all about sharing. Sure, I’ve been guilty of hoarding a brownie or two, but I want to make a giant chocolate cake for a party small enough that there might be
too many leftover slices. I want my grandchildren to ask me to make “those cookies”. I want to ship my dad large quantities of chocolate and homemade bacon. I want to drive 35 miles just to drop off homemade macarons to a friend that I miss.
That being said, this is not a food blog. I’m just not that cool. Don’t let today’s post fool you! I do hope that you can feel the happiness in our kitchen, though. Rhubarb is in season right now. All the food bloggers are baking and blogging rhubarb, and it hit me in the gut; I wasn’t going to be able to get on with life until I filled the rhubarb pie-shaped hole in my heart. When I was little my mom made us rhubarb pie. It was magical. Sweet, tangy rhubarb magic. I’ve loved it all my life, but have only had it once since those childhood pies. That one time, I had stumbled across a wedge in a charming little diner. It was good, but only good enough to tickle the memory of those pies of the past. So this rhubarb season I had to find out. Was that elusive phantom taste on my tongue just a trick that memory was playing on me? Could it really have been that good? I greedily shoveled rhubarb from the shelf of the grocery store and into my cart. I made my pie crust, lack of pastry cutter and all. I tossed gorgeous, silky, pucker-sour rhubarb chunks with sugar (two kinds!), spices and vanilla. I tucked it all into the buttery buttery crust, and baked it until pretty pink juices peeked out at me. We were barely able to wait long enough for all those juices to be saucy before cutting generous wedges and plopping them along-side some Cherry Garcia. And oh, it was good. Even now, I need to take a moment. The sun was down and it was pretty dark in our living room…I’m pretty sure my husband saw my soul shimmer when I took that first bite. All the pucker was gone, and it had been replaced with velvety, vanilla-scented love. Memory became a reality, and I had love in my tummy. What made it extra special? My hubby had never had rhubarb pie before, and he loved it. It was so killer, (really, I almost died) that I’m giving you the recipe so that you can make memories of your own!
Crust - adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a big bowl. Throw in the butter cubes and use a pastry cutter on the mix until the butter is the size of tiny peas. I’ve found that pastry cutters work best for crust versus food processors. They’re cheaper, offer you more control, and only dirty one dish. Don’t get crazy if you still have a couple larger chunks of butter. Add 1/2 cup of the ice-cold water and stir it in with a fork. With a fork. Not a spoon or your hands. Hands melt butter and both spoons and hands overwork the dough. Trust me. Keep adding water a tablespoon at a time. When it still looks a little dry, but you’re scared to add more water, give it a quick squeeze. Does it hold together? If it does, you’re ready. Gather all the dough together, divide it into two, and shape each half into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1-2 hours in the fridge.
Trim off the ends of the rhubarb and peel it. Peeling is just insurance, and not absolutely necessary. Just grab the edge and pull, like celery. You don’t have to peel the whole thing, like cucumber. Chop into 1/2-inch slices. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and let sit for an hour while your dough chills…how ‘bout that! This prevents the fruit from shrinking while it’s baking and making a hollow crust dome. This is true with apple pie, too. Tired of having pies that are like the turkey from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? Macerate your fruit, people. I don’t think it works with turkey. Yeah, don’t macerate your turkeys. It’s not the same as brining.
After an hour (I know, I could only wait one, too) preheat your oven to 400. Pull out your dough and roll it out so that it’s larger than your pie dish by roughly an inch and a half. Use your rolling pin or a bench scraper to loosely fold it into quarters to transfer it into the pie dish, then carefully unfold it. Make sure it’s sitting pretty, then trim off your extra dough so that it’s just a little too big. Roll out your second crust the same way. Drain most of the gorgeous syrupy liquid off of the rhubarb, to be saved and used on top of pancakes or ice-cream. Then dump the rhubarb into the pie crust. Top with your second pie crust. Trim your edges so that you have an extra inch hanging over. Tuck that edge under your bottom crust and crimp together, cutting 6 slits in the top. Put the entire pie on a baking sheet (look, Ma, no burning pie juices!) and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for another 20-25 minutes. The crust will be golden and you’ll see pie juices bubbling through the slits. Oh, my. Yank that sucker! Cool on a cooling rack until the pie comes to room temperature and the filling is set, or right before that point, because you just have to eat some.