Monday, June 08, 2015

Pickled Strawberry Piescream Sandwiches

Pickled Strawberry Piescream Sandwiches

I'm going to try to keep the exposition to a minimum, here, as there is exposition enough in this multi-step recipe. But before I let you get to it, I do have some credit to give for this most genius concept you're about to receive...

The classic definition of folklore as a study and discipline holds up the value of face-to-face interaction-- stories or fiddle tunes or traditional recipes being shared between people in real time. In the age of the internet, though that has been expanded-- you can learn a ballad note-for-note off of Youtube, pick up an old recipe via a blog (ahem), share a story on your Facebook page. Face-to-face interaction is still preferred in the field, generally, but the notion that you can learn and share cultural traditions, information, and knowledge via digital forms is now widely accepted. 

I too value the person-to-person relationship, but I've also gained a lot from online communities, particularly in the world of food. I've connected with people like Tara of Smoke Signals Baking, who I'd heard about in real life from mutual friends, but our real life meeting was brought about by our Instagram friendship. A few months ago my friend Jess and I met Camille of Wayward Spark, talking ecstatically about the food and farming worlds over bowls of ramen one brisk spring evening. Another connection, most pertinent to this post, is to Austin, Texas baker Trisha Beezup. I'm not sure how I actually found her, but I was swiftly inspired by her innovative and fanciful pie creations-- namely, piescream sandwiches. She's done a few variations: handpies stuffed with ancho brownie filling surrounding the ice cream, pie crust cinnamon rolls sandwiched with a salted caramel ice cream drizzled in chocolate, and strawberry basil crumb pie mixed into buttermilk ice cream. I mean seriously?!

These pickled strawberry piescreamers are maybe not as imaginative or decadent as Trisha's incredible creations, but I owe her a sincere nod for her wild ingenuity and the generosity to share it.

Strawberries in a bowl

Pickled Strawberries
From Short Stack Editions' Strawberries by Susan Spungen

Makes 1 pint

Ingredients
1/2 cup regular rice wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 sprigs mint
2 1/4 cups (about 1/2 pound) fresh strawberries, hulled
1 glass 16 oz. canning jar and lid, sanitized and dry

Directions
1. Place vinegar, sugar, salt, peppercorns, vanilla bean and 1/2 cup of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer until sugar and salt dissolve, then remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm.

2. Meanwhile place mint sprigs in a pint canning jar. Cut a shallow x into the hulled end of each strawberry and place in the jar. Once vinegar mixture is lukewarm, pour into jar over strawberries. Seal, let cool completely, and place in the fridge overnight (since I was planning to keep them in the fridge and use eminently, I didn't seal them via water bath canning, but you could if you wanted them to be shelf-stable). Pickles will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

Pie Crust Cookies on a baking sheet

Pie Crust Cookies
Makes about 18 3-inch cookies (9 piescream sandwiches)

Ingredients
Nothing in the House pie crust recipe, halved
1 beaten egg + 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
Turbinado sugar

Directions
1. Prepare half of Nothing in the House pie crust as per the directions. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Once the dough has chilled for at least 1 hour, roll out on a clean floured surface to about 1/8-inch and cut into circles (mine were 3-inches in diameter). Place pie crust rounds on parchment-lined cookie sheet 1-inch apart, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar.

2. Place cookies in freezer for 15 minutes until hard, then place on middle rack of preheated oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

Pickled Strawberry Ice Cream

Pickled Strawberry Ice Cream
Adapted from Melissa Clark via New York Times Cooking

Makes about 1 pint

Ingredients
2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 large egg yolks
Pint pickled strawberries

Directions
1. Place heavy cream, sugar, and salt in a small pot and simmer over low hear until salt and sugar completely dissolve, approximately 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks. While whisking constantly, slowly pour in about one-third of the hot cream into egg yolks. Then immediately whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the rest of the cream.

3. Return pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer). Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, and let cool to room temperature before covering and chilling at least 4 hours or overnight.

4. Once chilled, churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturers’ instructions. While churning, strain pickled strawberries from their vinegar liquid (reserve vinegar for drinking; you've essentially made a shrub). When ice cream base begins to set, stir in pickled strawberries (if your berries are large, you may want to halve or quarter them. I kept mine whole as they were quite small). Continue to churn until completely set, then transfer to freezer and freeze for at least 4 hours before assembling piescream sandwiches.

Pickled Strawberry Piescream Sandwich Stack

Pickled Strawberry Piescream Sandwiches
Inspired by Trisha Beezup

Makes about 9, 3-inch sandwiches

Ingredients
Pie Crust Cookies (see above)
Pickled Strawberry Ice Cream (see above)

Directions
1. Once ice cream is set and pie crust cookies are cool, scoop a generous scoop of ice cream onto pie crust cookie and sandwich with another cookie.

2. Place in freezer and let set for 1 hour before serving. This will make the whole shebang a much less messy eating experience, but I understand if you can't wait that long... ENJOY!

Related recipes:
Cornmeal Whoopie Pies with Chocolate-Orange Buttercream
Oatmeal Cream Pies
Strawberry Crème Tart
Strawberry Icebox Pie

Friday, June 05, 2015

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


It's been hard to find the time to blog lately. That's not a complaint, necessarily, just the way it is, with long full-time hours at Folkways along with frequent trips to North Carolina and other travel, all while trying to squeeze in other personal projects.

When I do have the time through, I'm compelled to go about the aspects of posting in a more deliberate way, trying a new photo set-up, filling gaps in my recipe catalog so I'm covering the classics, but also writing about more unusual regional and historical recipes. These are pies and other desserts that may have faded with the rise and fall of baking trends, or are in desperate need of recontextualization as their story and the people attached has become glossed over, simplified, or stereotyped. This is something that happens often with southern and other rural recipes.

Strawberries On The Vine

Fresh strawberries in a bowl

I've also committed myself to shooting more film again-- for the blog and just in general. I've been really inspired by the past couple of rolls I shot on my dad's old Nikon F. The camera and the macro lens just capture light in a way that digital can never achieve with it's more flattened, even algorithm. Zeke compared it to analog tape, and that sounds right-- with film, what's in focus is completely clear, ringing out over the more gestural, fuzzy background.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I spent Memorial Day weekend at home-- a good three days to catch up on things, make a lot of food, take a lot of photos, and even work in a trip to the pool with friends. The weekend prior, Zeke and I picked 13 pounds of strawberries at Whitted Bowers Farm in Cedar Grove, North Carolina-- an organic, biodynamic U-pick patch with the sweetest, most flavorful berries I've ever tasted. I went a little crazy processing them-- pickling, freezing, baking, infusing them in vodka and putting them in ice cream (some details of such coming to the blog). A coworker also gifted me some rhubarb, so a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie was most definitely in order.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Slice

I browsed a number of recipes, settling on Nancie McDermott's from her crucial resource Southern Pies, due to it's higher ratio of rhubarb to strawberries. I'm a huge fan of rhubarb, and in my book, the best berry-rhubarb pies don't mask the rhubarb flavor, but enhance it. The strawberries were so sweet so I cut back on the sugar, and were small enough to leave them whole. This was hands down one of the best pies I've ever made, the flavor so brilliantly forward, the filling so red.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Adapted from Nancie McDermott's Southern Pies

Ingredients
Nothing in the House pie crust
3/4 cup-1 cup granulated sugar, depending on sweetness of berries
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 cups hulled strawberries (mine were small so I kept them whole, but if large, cut into 1-inch pieces)
1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 large egg, beaten + 1 Tablespoon milk or cream, for egg wash
Turbinado sugar, for dusting

Directions
1. Prepare pie crust as per the directions here. Refrigerate dough for approximately 1 hour. Once chilled, roll out 1/2 of pie crust and fit into a 9-inch greased and floured pie pan. Return crust to the fridge while you prepare the lattice & filling.

2. Preheat oven to 425 F. In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt, using a whisk or fork.  Add rhubarb, strawberries, and stir together gently with a wooden spoon. Pour mixture into pie crust.

3. To make the lattice: Roll out remaining dough into a long rectangle. Using a ruler as a guide, use a knife or pastry wheel to cut strips of equal width for the lattice top. Lay strips parallel across the pie and fold back every other strip. Weave the same number of strips perpendicular to the first strips, alternating over and under. Trim strips so that they leave a 1-inch overhang. Fold bottom crust over the lattice and tuck the excess under. Seal and flute edges decoratively. 

4. Brush lattice with egg wash and dust with Turbinado sugar. Place pie on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 degrees F and bake until filling bubbles and crust is golden brown, 45-50 minutes more. 

5. Place pie on cooling wrack and let cool for at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. 


Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Slice (Side View)

Related recipes:
4 & 20 Blackbirds' Rhubarb Pie
Rhubarb Meringue Tart with Pecan Shortbread Crust
Simple Rhubarb Tart
Strawberry Apricot Pie
Strawberry Crème Tart
Strawberry Icebox Pie