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MY COOKBOOK

MY COOKBOOK
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1.6.14

RHUBARB APPLE BERRY PIES


This recipe is designed for 3 good-sized pies when rhubarb is in season. The harvesting period for rhubarb is from late spring through to the end of summer. We have a well established plant and it comfortably gives us two harvests. The third harvest tends to be spindly. Don’t let the stalks become too large, they will get tough and woody. I used one stalk for pastry, a couple of stalks were refrigerated for use later, and several stalks were used to make these pies. One pie was eaten and two were given away.


Rhubarb is best either diced or very thinly sliced. Large chunks tend to get soggy. Speaking of soggy, I would have to be very hungry before I would settle down to a dish of stewed rhubarb. I find the flavour on its own a bit harsh so I like to combine it with apples or strawberries. I only had a few strawberries left, so I added a cup of frozen raspberries to the fruit mixture. Generally count on two and a half to three cups of fruit for every pie.

Both rhubarb and raspberries are tart, so I added more sugar than usual. Rhubarb and apple let a lot of juice so I increased the flour too. I learned to make pies from cookbooks and I always ended up with runny pies. Then I realized cookbooks follow trends and present an ideal, but not always what works best. When it comes to pies, the trend is to reduce sugar and flour. This helps to sell cookbooks. After all who cares if half of the recipes are unworkable. Make the buck and run. Most people will believe they were at fault anyway. After all it looked so good on the picture. In truth, pies will never be diet foods. With all that sugar and flour I used, these pies still hinted tartness, though with perfectly well balanced texture and flavour. Cut a slice, have a slice and share a slice. If you make pie you might as well enjoy it!

When we bake we use sugar, fat, flour and some salt. Actually none of these things are bad for you. They didn’t hurt your great grandparents they were all slim. We have been on a sugar free, low fat, fat free and low sodium diet for years and now we are cutting back on gluten and yet we are still packing on the pounds. But this isn’t our fault. We gain weight because we live on chemically processed factory food. Virtually all the food products in the meat, bakery, deli, dairy, vegetable and bulk isles, all the packets, jars, cans and boxes we take home from the supermarket contain ingredients that mess with our hormones. THIS is what makes us fat. I heard somewhere that if we stick to the perimeter of the store we can escape the chemicals. It’s a lie. All foods are industrialized and factory produced and we won’t escape it not even with organically grown produce.

At least we can avoid fads. Take sugar for instance. First it was Aspartame than Splenda then Stevia and then Agave Syrup [the word syrup should have brought up the red flag, but it didn't] and in the end they all turned out to be far worse than you guessed it… sugar. Be aware and don’t fall for marketing or for pseudoscience. Look for independent, locally produced food products and grow a garden. The rest would have to be solved politically, but not everyone gets that. When our civilization finally wakes up to climate change serious changes will have to occur. Let’s just hope it will not be too late and there will remain a possibility for local agriculture to emerge. If not, the Earth will clean it all up and we will go the way of the dinosaurs. Go ahead and have a slice of pie! Sose halunk meg.   

still warm when cut

2 batches of pie pastry  

1-1/2 batches are not quite enough for three pies and from 2 batches you will have some leftover pastry. I wrapped the leftover and froze it to make half a dozen jam tarts at some other time.

Filling:
4 cups diced rhubarb
1-1/2 cups of mixed berries [strawberries and raspberries]
2 thinly slices Granny Smith apples
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 pinch of nutmeg
1-1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
4-1/2 Tbsp butter
1 lightly beaten egg for glazing
1-1/2 Tbsp sugar for sprinkling

  • Make the pie pastry.
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Cut and discard the ends and dice the rhubarb.
  • Cut and discard the top the strawberries and chop trying to match the rhubarb pieces in circumference. 
  • Add the frozen raspberries.
  • Peel, chop and thinly slice the apples.
  • Combine fruit.
  • Add the sugar and stir to coat.
  • Add the flour and stir to coat.
  • Divide the dough, making one half a little larger. You will use this for the tops.
  • On a floured board, roll out the bottom pastries into a circle. 
  • Place the dough circles into the pie plates.
  • Pat the dough into the pie plate. Try not to stretch the dough.
  • Add the prepared filling.
  • Dot the top with small chunks of butter.
  • On the floured board, roll out the tops. Make them large enough to overhang.
  • Tuck the overhang under, making sure the dough comes to the edge of the pie plate, but does no go beyond. If it does, it will just crack off when you slice it. 
  • Make fluted edges. 
  • Brush the entire top with egg wash and sprinkle with a little sugar.
  • Cut slits into the top for the steam to escape.
  • Place the pies in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. They were touching, but I was able to fit the three pies on one shelf.
  • After twenty minutes reduce the heat to 350F and cover the pies with aluminum foil.
  • Bake the pies for 30 minutes longer or until the tops are evenly browned. 
  • Let the pies sit for half an hour before slicing. 
  • Guaranteed, these pies will not run. 

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