With the hot spell these last few days, lingering on from the sunny weekend, I’ve been staring longingly from my office window with wistful thoughts of approaching summer: a beach towel spread on a grassy field with a Nabokov novel, wine tasting on a wisteria-scented verandah, or evening bonfires with buttery corn on the cob and cold beer. I’m sure the productivity graph for most of my colleagues has shown a similar plunge. The weather in Victoria doesn’t stay agreeable for long this time of year, reassuringly for those with deadlines to meet, so undoubtedly this splendid sun-euphoria will be short-lived.
In the meantime, I’m going to induce an early summer any way that I can. I will play Beach Boys music and hop around the kitchen as I dry the dishes. I will wear my sandals, even when I can’t feel my toes in the cold of early morning. I’ve cleared out the wasp’s nest from inside my barbecue, unused through the wet winter, and have baptized it anew with a salmon fillet and sumptuous steak with melted blue cheese. I’ve knotted up my gums with my first corn on the cob of the season (imported from California, but corn nonetheless). I also picked up a basketful of inexpensive berries at the grocery store on the weekend. My reserves of jam are pretty well stocked, so when I saw pints of strawberries on sale, I knew that strawberry rhubarb pie beckoned instead, the quintessential summer treat. My unruly rhubarb plant has been giving me grief each time that I pass nearby with the mower, jabbing me irritatingly, so making this recipe was a good excuse to trim it a little.
Follow this simple Pie crust recipe for a no-fail two crust pie, or pick up one that is store bought if you want to save 10 minutes. But for the difference in taste and added crumbliness of homemade crust, I make my own from scratch every single time. Tonight, after the grilled steak and corn on the cob, why not turn on some Beach Boys and make room for dessert. Wouldn’t it be nice…
Pie Filling Ingredients:
3 cups of strawberries, rinsed and sliced
1 1/2 cups of rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup flour
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and prepare the pastry as instructed.
2. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and flour, then mix in the chopped rhubarb and sliced berries. Stir with fingers, evenly coating the berries and rhubarb pieces.
3. Turn the mixture onto the pastry lined dish.
4. Overturn the second pastry round onto the bottom half and trim excess pastry edges. Some people make ornamental edges for the trim, but I’ve never been able to do it properly. I’m pretty old-fashioned and just flute the edges using the tines of a fork. As long as it closes up the edges, that’s all that’s important. With this pie in particular, it will get very juicy and tend to want to overflow, so closing up is essential. Also, if you’re wondering why my pie crust looks so messy and patch-work in the photos below, it’s because I like to stick on any additional pieces and strips after rolling; I am an addict of pie crust and hate to see any go to waste. Once baked, it looks good either way.
5. With a small, sharp knife, make some slits around the top of the pie (I just make v shapes), then a few daubs of butter on top of each slit. Place the pie on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper, if you have it, as the pie will likely still leak hot, sticky juice a bit when cooking, and I’ve messed up many an oven bottom having not used a tray. When cooking pies, I like to take strips of aluminum foil and fold them over the edges of the pie and along the circumference, in order to reduce excessive browning of the edges. I normally remove the foil with 15 minutes remaining and let it cook in the buff afterwards. Cook the pie, on the tray, for 50 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let the pie cool for 15 minutes before serving, but definitely serve warm for greatest compliments.