Yesterday: Impossible Pie (recipe to come) & stewed rhubarb
Tomorrow: Apricot custard pie from Simply in Season, my birthday present from my best friend. Because, my Mum gave me a couple of kilos of apricots yesterday, and though the kids are giving it a good go, we can’t possibly eat them all fresh (and we still have two jars of the apricot and peach jam we made last year).
We’ve already made the Greek Tomato Salad out of Simply in Season, and after the pie I want to try Rhubarb Muffins. They’re in the Spring section, but I just harvested a stack of rhubarb out of our garden, so I think they count as summer too! I also want to try the Lemon Thyme Bread, which sounds yum, doesn’t it?
(Skip to Rhubarb Pie recipe)
Today I made the best rhubarb pie ever.
As always, instead of sticking with the recipe I found as written, I’ve mixed up a few different recipes and then tweaked a little. Hence a whole new post instead of just a link from my last how to cook rhubarb post.
The first time I cooked it (earlier this week) I didn’t have time to make pastry, so I used what I had in the freezer, which was reduced fat puff pastry. Now, it was certainly delicious, but hard to eat with a spoon. Also, I found the first pie a bit sweet (and I have a massive sweet tooth).
So today I tried again. For the second attempt I kept the sugar the same, but chopped the rhubarb up a bit finer so it would fill all the nooks and crannies, and added an extra roughly 200g – nearly half as much again. So without further ado, here is:
How to cook Rhubarb Pie
- 670g fresh rhubarb, chopped finely (1/2 to 1 cm widths) (this is about 5 or 6 cups, but it’s hard to be exact since it depends how you cut it.)
- 260g (1&1/3 cups US) white sugar
- 45g plain flour (6 US tbsp)
- 280g plain flour (this is about 2 & 1/2 cups)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup light olive oil (120ml) (any vegetable oil would do really)
- 90ml milk
- Optional: an egg and some sugar for the top of the pie.
Preheat the oven to 230C (450F). Lightly grease a 9 inch (approx 23 cm) pie dish.
Assuming you’ve already chopped the rhubarb, we’ll start with the pastry:
- Dry: Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.
- Wet: Measure the olive oil separately and then add the milk, but don’t mix it together.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry and gently mix (I used a fork) until you have an even dough.
- Divide the mixture into roughly 1/3 : 2/3.
- Place the larger ball onto a large piece of wax paper, and place another piece of paper over the top, then roll it out.
- Peel off the top sheet and flip pastry over into 9 inch pie dish.
- Peel off the bottom sheet and press pastry into the dish. If there are bits hanging over the edge either use them to fill in any holes in the side or add them to the other ball. Later you will repeat this process to make the top of the pie.
Note that Ms 6 cup up the rhubarb in this case so some of it isn’t as small as I’d like, but it was still just fine.
Now the filling:
- Mix together the flour and sugar. Sprinkle roughly half of this into the bottom of the pie, making sure to cover the whole of the pastry (this soaks up the juices and makes sure you end up with a yummy crisp pastry, not a soggy one. Don’t worry, the sugar managers to sweeten the rhubarb plenty without being directly mixed with it.)
- Fill the pie with your chopped rhubarb.
- Sprinkle the remaining flour-sugar mixture over the top of the rhubarb.
- Roll out and flip the top piece of pastry the same way you did the bottom one. Seal it around the edges, and slice three or four holes in the top to let the steam escape.
- Optionally beat an egg and use a pastry brush to brush the top of the pie with it, then sprinkle some sugar over the top. This creates a lovely attractive finish to your pie.
Baking: Cover the pie lightly with some aluminium foil to prevent the pastry burning and bake at 230C for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 175C (350F) and remove the foil, and bake for another 40-45 minutes. Serve hot or cold. (or warm). Absolutely divine when left to cool a little and then served with a scoop vanilla ice cream and/or some pouring cream. Yummy.
Kid Number One (who has never liked rhubarb before) said the first version of the pie was the best pie he’d ever tasted, so I was prepared for him to turn his nose up at this slightly tarter version, but he devoured his slice in record time. The husband and I both found this one much better.
Lots of the foods we call vegetables are really fruits, but did you know that the fruit we call Rhubarb is really a vegetable? And it turns out that it’s also really good for us. Here are some of the health benefits of Rhubarb:
As well as being high in vitamin C, fibre, calcium and potassium, it now turns out that Rhubarb might help in the fight against cancer, according to research published in the journal Food Chemistry earlier this year. Rhubarb has also traditionally been used as a Chinese herbal remedy for constipation, though Chinese rhubarb is a different variety to everyday garden rhubarb. However, the Food Chemistry research referred to everyday British garden rhubarb.
Other studies have linked rhubarb with improved recovery after operations for patients with gastric cancer, with a reduction in ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) in high-cholesterol patients, and with an improvement in hepatitis patients with liver inflammation.
And on top of all that, once you cook rhubarb, it’s yummy! Yes, I did make the Rhubarb pie and it was fairly successful (Kid #1 said it was the best pie he’d ever had!). Photos and recipe to come. But we are having guests on Friday and I think I will make another one then, but with a few tweaks.
I harvested my biggest load yet of Rhubarb yesterday, and there’s still more in the garden. We have had such a wet Spring that it is growing prolifically. So now the question is how to cook rhubarb? Of course I’ve stewed it before (instructions below), but I’m going to try something different this time.
Did you know that rhubarb is actually botanically classified as a vegetable, not a fruit? This is only our second year growing it. I planted a few crowns that my mother dug up for me in the autumn before last, and harvested enough last year to make several small batches, which I stewed and ate over a week or so on my breakfast cereal. No-one else in the family was particularly keen on it (weirdos), but I think we had it once or twice for dessert with ice cream, all the same.
This time though, I’m going to try something different. I’m going to cook rhubarb pie. I spent quite some time yesterday Googling “how to cook rhubarb” and came up with a gazillion and one rhubarb pie recipes, some with strawberries, some with apple (I often stew it with apple) and some plain.
The one I liked the sound of best was plain, with the flour and sugar mixture placed half in the pie crust under the raw chopped rhubarb, and the other half over the top of it. Apparently this makes sure the juices from the rhubarb don’t soggify (do you think that’s a word?) the pastry, and creates a nice crisp crust. Of course, I’ve lost the link now, but I’ll find it again and if it works out I’ll post photos and add a link to the recipe.
In the meantime, here’s how to cook rhubarb the way my mother and Nanna both did it:
- Clean the Rhubarb stems and trim the ends (NB the leaves are filled with oxalic acid so DO NOT eat them!).
- Chop it up, into about 1/2-1 inch pieces.* Use your judgement with this, some stems are much thinner than others, so they’re not all going to be the same anyway – no need to be slavish about getting it exact.
- Pop it in a saucepan with just enough water to cover – rhubarb has a high water content, so you don’t need a lot of extra water, but don’t leave it to boil dry as I did twice (twice!) last year. A heavy based saucepan is best.
- Add sugar – now, this is variable to taste basically, but start with about 1/2 cup per 1/2 kilo (or per pound) and see what you think. Some people like up to a cup per pound. You can also add some apple in which case you don’t need as much sugar.
- Simmer until the mixture is mushy – look for the rhubarb strings to be mixed through out, rather than solid pieces. Though again, this is a matter of taste – but that’s how my mother always made it, so that’s how I make it too.
That’s it. That’s how you stew rhubarb. Now you can eat it, either hot with ice cream, or cold on your breakfast cereal tomorrow (or stirred through your porridge, mmm).
Tomorrow, how to cook rhubarb pie.
*Why am I talking in inches? I could say 1-3 cm, which is not the same as 1/2-1 inches, but there you go. I told you it didn’t need to be exact