Saturday, May 25, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I like sweet things, but I don't like things too sweet.  Strawberry Rhubarb pie is usually too sweet for me.  The point for me isn't the strawberries; it's the rhubarb.  This recipe features both flavors without overwhelming either.  It's not nearly as sweet as most strawberry pie recipes.  Who needs all that sugar?  It has a lovely tart flavor but doesn't overwhelm the strawberries.  My rhubarb came up early this year and is flourishing.  The stalks aren't incredibly red, though, so the strawberries help out with the color.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe

First you must have on hand a gluten-free pie crust.  If you are making this from scratch it takes about a half-hour so plan ahead.  You can make the pie filling before rolling out the dough while it's refrigerating to save time, or the crust can be made the day before and stored in the fridge if needed.  Once that is finished the making of the pie is very quick and easy.

Heat your oven to 425 F.

Roll out 1/2 of the chilled pie crust recipe on a piece of parchment paper.

Place the pie crust in the pan and peel off the parchment paper.

Carefully press the pie crust into the pan.  Repeat the rolling out of the dough for the top crust, but leave it on the parchment paper for now.  Place the pie pan and the top crust in the refrigerator while you assemble the filling.

For tips on dealing with a crust that's difficult to roll out, see the end of the post.

In a large bowl, place:

2.5 cups chopped rhubarb
1.5 cups sliced strawberry
Mix in a small bowl:
3/4 cups sugar (I used a combination of white and brown)
1/4 tsp salt

Sprinkle this flour mixture onto the fruit mixture with:

2 T orange juice (optional)

Mix the fruit and the flour mixture together with a wooden spoon until everything seems pretty well-distributed.  Don't worry if it's not perfect.  Take the pie pan out of the fridge and fill it with the fruit mixture.

(I topped the fruit with a few more slices of strawberry at this point because I decided the pie wasn't full enough.  Use your best judgement.)

Place the top pie crust onto the pie parchment-side up and peel away the parchment paper.  Fold the edges of the top crust over the edge of the bottom crust and crimp together.  I didn't do a fantastic job of this, but don't worry about it too much.  Patch any tears with scraps of crust and press everything together gently.  Cut slits for venting.

Brush the crust with an egg wash (Optional):

1 egg whisked with
1 Tbsp water

Bake the pie at 425 for 30-40 minutes or until the juices start coming up 

Gluten-free Pie Crust Tips: 

If the bottom crust isn't rolling out easily, there are a few things you can do to a gluten-free pie crust that  you can't do to a glutinous one.  You really can't over-work the crust - there's no gluten to make it stiff.  Even if you do end up working the butter into the dough, it won't be a disaster.  First, try kneading the dough a few times to soften it.  It may roll out better after that.  Another trick is to fold the dough over onto itself and re-roll if there are too many cracks.  You can do that several times as needed.  It gives you sort of a puff-pastry type texture which is really beautiful.

If the top crust isn't rolling out well, or completely falls apart, an alternative way to make it is to cut out the crust with cookie cutters and place the pieces in layers on top of the pie.  My sister made a great gluten-free apple pie with this method.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pasta Amatriciana

If you've never tried guanciale, you should check it out.  It's like bacon, only better.  Made from the jowl of the pig, guanciale is the best part of the animal once it's cured.

Guanciale is the central umame flavor in Pasta Amatriciana, a rustic pasta dish from Italy.  It's simple to make and, thanks to the guanciale, it's incredibly delicious.

If you use the concept of prepping and cooking at the same time, this easy dish is very quick to make.

Pasta Amatriciana Recipe

Prep/Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves 2-3

Set your water to boil for the pasta and, at the same time, put a large pan on the stove to heat up on medium heat.  Toss in the pan:

some lardons of guanciale

While all that is heating up, cut up some:


Toss those in the pan with the guanciale that's rendering.   Cut into chunks:

1 pound fresh or frozen tomatoes

By this time the water should be at a boil.  When this is indeed the case, start cooking:

8 oz. pasta 

Add the tomatoes to the pan with the shallots.  Add:

salt to taste

Boil down the tomatoes to thicken the sauce.  In the meantime, grate:

parmigiano reggiano to taste

When the pasta is al dente, scoop out some of the starchy pasta water and set aside.  Drain and rinse the pasta.  If the sauce needs some extra moisture, add some of the pasta water you reserved and stir in.  

Turn the heat off under your pan.  Add the pasta to the sauce.  Stir it all together to incorporate.  If more liquid is needed, add some of that pasta water you reserved.  Add most of the parmesan cheese you grated and stir that in, too.  Plate your pasta and serve hot, topped with the rest of the parmesan.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Cinco de Mayo Chicken Enchiladas Verde

In celebration of Cinco de Mayo, I thought I'd post a really great enchilada recipe that my cooking partner and I came up with using my braised chicken tacos recipe.  This is the perfect way to use up some day-old corn tortillas.  Since you stack the enchilada instead of rolling, the tortillas are easier to manage.

Chicken Enchiladas Verde Recipe

makes 2-4 servings

In a heavy saucepan, heat:

1 Tbsp olive oil

Once the olive oil is hot, brown on both sides, one or two at a time:

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs

Brown them one at a time if necessary; don't crowd them in the pan.  Once there is nice browning on the bottom of the pan remove the chicken to a plate and pour in:

1/2 cup beer

Scrape up the browning from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  This browning makes the sauce deliciously rich.  Once the pan is completely deglazed, add the chicken back in and top the chicken with:

salsa verde
more beer if needed
salt to taste (depending on how salty your salsa is, you may not need any salt.  The flavors will concentrate as the dish cooks.)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (optional)

Cook at a simmer until the meat is  very tender, 40-60 minutes.  If more browning forms on the bottom of the pan, scrape it up and incorporate it into the sauce. 

While the sauce is cooking, prep your other ingredients.  When the sauce is looking almost done, heat the oven to 400 F.  Grate:

8-12 oz. Jack cheese

When the chicken is tender, coat the bottom of a medium casserole dish with some of the sauce.  I used this Emile Henry 9x9 casserole dish:

Place on the sauce one of the:

corn tortillas

Place some of the chicken along the edge of the tortilla and top that with some of the cheese.  Don't be stingy with the sauce and cheese.  The rule of thumb is that you will never wish you had used more tortillas, but if you don't use enough sauce and cheese it may turn out dry.  Place another tortilla on top of that, and keep layering the stack up in the same manner until you start to run out of ingredients or the stack is big enough for your purposes.  Top the stack with the remaining sauce and some more cheese.

Bake the enchiladas for 20 minutes or until the cheese is nicely browned on top.  Let cool before serving.

Buen provecho!

If you're looking for more Mexican recipes, check out:

Creme Caramel (Flan)