Thursday, May 31, 2012

Strawberry Fields Forever!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Walnut Streusel Topping
I was a latecomer in appreciating rhubarb, that strange bitter red plant that becomes inexplicably delicious when paired with ripe spring time strawberries. My grandfather used to scare my mother and aunts away from eating his share of rhubarb by exclaiming, "It'll put hair on your chest." When my mom told me this family story, I took her at her word and decided, "Well, I don't want a hairy chest." Conditioned by a childhood fear as real as the Boogie Man, I avoided rhubarb well into adulthood. My loss. My mom made my brother and I a strawberry rhubarb pie in my mid-twenties and I was instantly converted to deeply respecting the complexly tart flavor yielded by this crisp springtime stalk. I put this lovely pie together as a celebration of Spring's best bright red produce. The brown sugar streusel topping takes it to the next level. I suggest it as the perfect post barbecue dessert- served with fresh whipped cream or luscious vanilla ice cream.

- 1 lb. fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
- 1 lb. fresh rhubarb, trimmed and diced into 1" pieces 
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1/4 c. honey
- juice from 1 lemon
- 1 Tbsp. Tapioca 
- 1 Tbsp. corn starch
- salt
- 4 tsp. cinnamon, divided
- 1 c. rolled oats
- 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 9 1/2" pie crust (I used my perfect pie crust recipe halving the amount for this struesel topping.)

In a large bowl combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, honey, lemon juice, tapioca, corn starch, 1 tsp. salt, and 2 tsp. cinnamon. Stir gently to combine ingredients. Allow berry and rhubarb mixture to sit for about 20 minutes so that the fruit can soften and begin to yield their juices.

While the filling is sitting, preheat the oven to 425˚F and line a large baking sheet to foil. Set aside and prepare the struesel topping. In a medium bowl combine oats, remaining cinnamon, butter, walnuts, flour, and 1 tsp. of sugar. Using a pastry blender or folk, mash together and work ingredients into a crumbly, but well-combined consistency. Set aside and prepare pie crust.

Roll pie crust into a 9 1/2"pie pan and set pan onto the prepared baking sheet. Trim off any excess dough and crimp edges in a decorative pattern using fingers or with a fork. 

After the berries have sat and softened, pour into the prepared pie crust. Spread berries evenly through the shell.

Sprinkle an even layer of the streusel topping over the fruit later. Place pie in oven and bake 20 minutes at 425˚F. After first twenty minutes, turn the oven down to 350˚F and continue baking until the juices run out of the pie in a bubbly matter. Remove the pie from oven and cool on a wire rack. 

Cool pie completely before slicing and serving. Serve wedges with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream or a good dollop of fresh whipped cream. It's very, very yummy.


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