A Perfect Spring Menu (With PIE)

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One of the hardest things for me is choosing a menu. I know that seems like a simple task, but how do you choose when there are recipes for Summer Panzanella and cookbooks hanging out in our kitchen full of recipes you’ve just been drooling over, like Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa and a refrigerator full of fresh Spring vegetables? Recently the Boyfriend and I hosted one of our old (I’ve known her since college – he’s known her since they were in preschool) friends for dinner. I’d been reading blog posts full of gorgeous spring produce and light meals of steamed asparagus with poached eggs, and the rhubarb – everyone has been gushing about rhubarb, those tart green and blush pink stalks bursting with flavor that just make the mouth water.

So the day before dinner I checked the Cooks Illustrated website (for inspiration not to avoid doing work) and there teasing my taste buds and solidifying my evening menu was a recipe for spring risotto that involved the asparagus I had been using in everything, fresh spring onions, and peas. Simple, classic and delicious – I was there.

Now about dessert, what was I going to pair with Asparagus and risotto? I had no idea but I figured Russo’s (the local and AMAZING produce market) would let me know once I got there for the other vegetables. As I stepped into the hubbub that calls itself Russo’s I saw it – sitting on a shelf directly in front of the doors were strawberries and rhubarb, the light bulb above my head lit up and a plan was formed, strawberry-rhubarb tart! I immediately called my mom, an expert on all things comfort food and amazing, for a recipe. In her awesome way my mother managed to give me the recipe for strawberry-rhubarb tart and thoughts about an appetizer, a simple apricot stilton served with crackers.

And there it is a perfect Spring Meal, ok there were some kinks but it was delightful and goin with what was in season was the way to go. Everything had great texture and flavor, complements of its “in season-ness!”

Strawberry-Rhubarb Tart
Adapted from The New Settlement Cookbook… kind of. I think.

Crust
2/3 cup COLD butter
2 cups flour
1/4-1/3 cup ice water, or milk for a richer dough
dash salt
1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Add the flour and cinnamon to a medium sized bowl of the bowl of a food processor. Using two butter knives, a pastry blender, or a food processor (if you are lazy like me) cut the butter into the flour and cinnamon until it is the size of small peas. If you are using a food processor be careful and watch it like a hawk or else your butter chunks will be small and your crust will lack proper flake. Add your ice water slowly to the flour/butter mixture 1-2 Tablespoons at a time until it has turned into a loose ball (it should have come together but not be a sticky clump surrounded by flour). Cut this ball of dough in half. Wrap one dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Roll out the second ball of dough so it will fit in either a 9 inch pie pan or a 9 inch tart pan and line the pan.

Filling
1 1/2 cup Rhubarb, depending on the size of the chunks you may want more
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp Cornstarch, plus 1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp Cinnamon
Dash Nutmeg
1 egg
2 Cup strawberries, chopped to slightly larger than the rhubarb

In a medium saucepan bring the rhubarb and sugar to a boil over med-low heat. Once the Rhubarb-sugar mixture has come to a consistent low boil put the cornstarch and water in a jar and shake to mix. Pour the cornstarch into the sugar-rhubarb mix and let simmer about 5 minutes (the mixture should clear up a bit and start to thicken). Remove the rhubarb sauce from the heat and stir in the strawberries. Allow the sauce to cool for about five minutes and slowly stir in the egg, be careful here – adding egg to the sauce while it is too hot will cause fried egg, if you are worried about this let the sauce cool completely before adding the egg. Pour the filling into the crust lined pan and add butter in dabs around the top of the pie and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg (these can also be mixed in with the sauce as well). Top with the second crust you reserved, I cut my top crust out with a pretty little leaf cookie cutter (it wasn’t quite a big enough piece of dough). Brush the top of the pie with a milk or egg wash and sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 20 mins at 400 degrees then reduce heat to 350 and bake for another fifteen minutes. If you are using a tart pan bake 15 mins at 400 and 15 at 350.

Serve this pie warm with a little bit of vanilla ice cream. The sauce is also delicious as a topping for ice cream or eating with a spoon, just hold off on the egg!

2 thoughts on “A Perfect Spring Menu (With PIE)

  1. YUM! I think I need to make those tarts…stat.
    Fresh rhubarb is so wonderful, and we don't have much longer before it's gone by.
    Cute cutting board, btw.

    Love,
    Your anonymous friend who would like you to come by and help care for her love child in January.

  2. well if i must. I do say caring for love children does seem to be a hobby of mine. especially when they're yours and in need of dinossaur objets d'art.

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