I know it has been a little while since I posted. But, I’ve run into a few problems in the kitchen lately. First, I made a lovely strawberry rhubarb pie… with crust I’ve had hanging out in the freezer since February. The pie gods smiled on me, both in February and last Friday, the crust rolled out like a dream, tasted divine, behaved wonderfully. The problem? I don’t have the recipe. February was pre-blog, and while I tried to type up my successes and save them on Tastebook, I wasn’t exactly consistent. I’m sure, somewhere on a scrap of paper, lies my formula, but all I really remember was that I had combined Rebbecca Reilley’s gluten-free pie crust recipe with Alice Waters’ pie crust recipe and played with the flours per some suggestions on Gluten-free Girl’s blog.

So, I decided that before I shared the pie, I would have to make it again. But first I tried a simple salmon “recipe,” which basically meant rubbing some ras al hanout on salmon, grilling it and eating. With the heat wave we’ve been experiencing it was about the closest I could get to “cooking.” Unfortunately, the salmon was less than spectacular. Certainly nothing worth sharing. But I did get a very nice email about this salmon recipe suggesting that I enter it in this contest. I would love to win a three month supply of wild salmon, unfortunately that recipe isn’t original, so I can’t enter it. But hopefully I’ll come up with something by June 20th. If you have a great salmon recipe, you should enter too, and send some salmon my way.

Last night, I started again on the pie crust. But right from the beginning things started to go wrong. First, I had European butter and no scale, so I used the only trick I knew. I filled a measuring cup half full of water, tossed what seemed like roughly the right amount of butter in and measured the water displacement. All of this would be well and good, but the water started to soften the butter. I thought about throwing it back in the fridge, but I wasn’t, um, patient. Then, I mixed up the dough, but I was worried of over-crumbling the butter and so left chunks that were too big. I think I might also have added just a little too much water. When it came time to roll out the dough, sandwiched between parchment paper and cling wrap, everything seemed fine, until I tried to put it into the pie plate. The dough stuck miserably to the parchment paper. Somewhere over the course of rolling it out it went from dough to goo. I stuck it in the fridge, it firmed up, I got it off the parchment paper and into the pie pan.

At which point I should probably have made an open-faced pie and called it quits. But, stubborn as I am, I was determined to make it a lattice top. I let the second portion of dough sit overnight in the fridge, and then tried rolling it out. I floured the parchment paper this time too. And it helped, I am firmly convinced that if I had just wanted a top crust, I would have been golden, but this dough did not want to be cut into thin strips and handled. Again, I quickly had mush on my hands, again everything went back in the fridge. Eventually a cobbled together something resembling a lattice top… a very rustic lattice top.

Now, I am sitting here smelling the intoxicating smell of strawberry rhubarb pie as my “ugly” pie bakes. This is the second “ugly” pie I’ve made in two weeks, as the first strawberry rhubarb pie was open-faced and not quite red enough to be showing that much flesh. I “beautified” the first pie by covering it with whipped cream. This one I will probably just serve as is. Apparently today the pie-crust gods weren’t smiling, but they aren’t the only pie gods that count. Unfortunately, I’m already itching to give the pie crust another try to try and figure out whether the real problem was in the recipe, the technique, or the fact that the kitchen was at least 80 degrees. I don’t really think it was the recipe. The little ramekin you see is sporting its own mini-crust, and I can tell you it tastes terrific. Next time around I might add a teaspoon of xanthan gum, just to help things along.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (9 inch pie)

As you might notice this pie is a little heavy on the rhubarb and light on the strawberries. I really like these proportions, but I also love a more 50-50 split, so feel free to play with it. Also, feel free to leave the cardamom out, I am just a little obsessed with cardamom lately.

1 recipe gluten-free pie crust (see below or try something different)
4 cups rhubarb, sliced in 1/2 inch piece and peeled if thick and stringy (or for a less full pie 3 cups)
1 1/2 cups strawberries, sliced (for a less full pie 1 cup)
1 1/4 cup sugar (for a less full pie 1 cup)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, orange zest and cardamom in bowl and let sit for 15 minutes.

3. Spray pie pan with Pam.

4. Place pie crust disc on parchment paper and cover with cling wrap. Roll out to 13 inch circle, repairing dough by pinching it back together through the cling wrap if it starts to separate. Flip and peel back parchment paper. Slide hands under cling wrap and flip into pie pan. Peel off cling wrap.

5. Roll out second pie crust disc to a 13 inch circle

6. Fill the bottom shell, and either top with the second round. Or cut the second round into strips and weave a lattice top. If you have problems with the second crust you can always make it open-faced, just cover with foil after the first 20 minutes of baking.

7. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Turn heat down to 375 degrees, and bake for additional 40 minutes or until pie is done. You might want to put a drip pan under the pie.

Pie Crust (makes 2 9-inch crusts)

Given my problems this time through, I think I’m going to add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum next time I make this crust. In February I was making a Tarte Tatin, which needs a pretty sturdy crust, so I bet I used it originally.

1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup teff flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
1/2 cup tapioca starch
3 tablespoons sweet rice flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter, cut into one inch patties (cold)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup ice water (or less… just enough to pull the dough together)

1. Mix dry ingredients.
2. Using fingers break in the butter until the butter is the size of peas, and seems evenly distributed. Try to use only your fingertips to keep from getting the butter too warm.
3. Make a well in your dry ingredients. Add egg and vinegar. Using a fork (or your fingers) work these liquids into the dough.
4. Add the ice water slowly, mixing after each addition. As soon as the dough starts to come together, stop adding water. Form a ball and divide dough into two halves. Place each half between layers of cling wrap and push into a disk, about 1/4 inch thick. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to two days. Or, you can store it in the freezer in an air-tight bag.

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