Month: March 2013

International Pi(e) Day: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

We’re just days away from International Pi(e) Day, March 14.

Get it? Pi? 3.14?

Oh stop rolling your eyes at me. Focus, people. On Pi(e) Day, we eat Pie.

PIE.

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My office is observing Pi(e) Day this Friday afternoon with a pie-themed happy hour. Presuming I can find rhubarb (which is in season starting in March), I’m planning to make one of my favorite pies, Strawberry Rhubarb Pie from Beantown Baker.

I love rhubarb. It’s a weird little vegetable that looks like pink or red celery, but is (usually) used like fruit. It’s great in desserts, from pie and tarts to sorbet, but it also works well in savory dishes, such as chutney for pork.

The tartness of rhubarb are a fantastic complement to the sweetness of strawberries, which is why they’re often paired together. Tossing the fruit in sugar draws out the excess liquid, keeping the pie crust from getting soggy.

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Lattice work is easier than it looks. Bon Appetit has a great primer here.

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Looking for a non-fruit option for Pi(e) Day? French Silk Pie is like dark chocolate pudding, but in pie form. Delicious. :)

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

From Beantown Baker

2 cups diced fresh rhubarb stalks
3 cups diced fresh hulled strawberries
1 cup sugar, divided
Choice of double-layer pie crust
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom or orange peel, if desired
1/4 cup cornstarch
very small pinch of salt
1 beaten egg

In large bowl, combine rhubarb, strawberries, and 1/2 c. sugar. Toss to combine well and set into colander over sink or bowl and let drain for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare pie plate. Roll out 1/2 recipe of dough and line bottom of pie plate.

In large clean bowl, combine strawberry and rhubarb that have been drained with remaining sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, pinch of salt and cornstarch. Toss to combine well and add to pie shell, smoothing out evenly.

Roll out remaining pie dough and lattice top the pie filling.

Brush lattice with beaten egg and place pie into oven. Let cook for 20 minutes, then place a piece of tinfoil loosely over the top. Continue cooking until filling is cooked through and bubbling, about 50 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.

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Pork Chops and Squash with Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette

When I was a little girl, I loved going to the farm with my dad for Sunday chores.

I would “drive” the pickup down the gravel road off the highway. The farm dog — usually a German Shepherd mix, and always named “Ginger” or “Lassie” for as long as my dad could remember — would greet us excitedly, jump up all over me, and scare the bejesus out of me.

Once in the hog building, he would push some buttons, releasing the feed would be released. My little cowboy boot-clad feet would kick the excess feed into the troughs. Every once in awhile, a sow would be loose from her pen and running around. That’s when the terror of a big scary farm dog gets trumped by a big, scary pig running around, trying to trample you to death and kill you.

(Have my memories embellished over the last 20-some years, or is life really that scary when you’re 4?)

Ironically, as a child I didn’t really care for pork. Other than bacon and sausage, natch, and smoked pork chops cooked on the grill in the summer. Regular pork chops, tenderloin, ribs, pork shoulder, and even ham were things I tolerated as a kid when I had to, but fell in love with as an adult — years after my family left the hog business.

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I love incorporating pork chops into my weeknight menus. Simple, quick, and versatile. This recipe comes together in under an hour, with less than 15 minutes of hands-on work, and features a few seasonal ingredients. It’s the kind of recipe that works equally well on a weeknight after the gym or hosting dinner guests on a Sunday night.

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Pork Chops and Squash with Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette

Adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 2
1 tablespoon roasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
1 1/2 – 2 pounds acorn or other winter squash, seeded and cut into 1″ wedges
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 1″-thick bone-in pork chops
1 clove garlic, inced
1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
1 tablespoon or more fresh lime juice
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss squash with 1 tablespoon oil on a large rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast squash, turning occasionally, until golden brown and tender, 35-40 minutes.
When squash has been roasting for 30 minutes, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork chops with salt and pepper and cook until brown, 5-8 minutes. Turn over and cook until pork is cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.
Whisk garlic, chopped cilantro, lime juice, pepitas, and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a small bowl to combine. Season vinaigrette with salt, pepper, and more lime juice, if desired.
Divide squash and pork among plates; spoon vinaigrette over. Top with cilantro leaves.

Runzas

Happy 146th birthday, Nebraska! What better way to celebrate than making a homemade batch of runzas? Sunday afternoon.

For those who didn’t have the pleasure of growing up in the Cornhusker State, a runza is bread dough, filled with beef and cabbage. It’s essentially the German equivalent of a perogi or empanada.

I could say a lot more… but you’ll either love it or you won’t. :)

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Homemade Runzas

Family recipe

Makes 15-20

Dough:
4 1/2 – 5 cups flour, divided
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup shortening
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature

Filling:
1 1/2 – 2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 small or medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 small cabbage, finely chopped (NOTE: the finer the cabbage is chopped, the better it will cook down)
1/3 cup water
2 Tablespoons dry beef-onion soup mix
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper

Measure 3 cups flour and put into a large bowl or stand mixer bowl. Create a well in the center. Heat milk, water, and shortening to 90-110 degrees. Pour into the well, and sprinkle with yeast. Let set for 10 minutes until yeast is bubbly. Stir together. Add sugar, salt, eggs, and beat together. Using either a electric stand mixer with a dough hook attachment or a bowl and hands, work in additional flour and then knead until dough until smooth and elastic. Place into a greased bowl; cover with plastic wrap and a clean towel. Let rest in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down; let rest 10 minutes.

Brown ground beef and onion. Add cabbage, water, and soup mix; cover and cook until cabbage has cooked down to desired liking.

Drain thoroughly. Pour meat mixture into a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss in cheese.

Roll dough onto a large lightly floured surface. Roll as thinly as possible. (To quote my Dad: “More filling, less bread!”) Cut into squares about 7×7″. Place about a 1/4-cup of meat mixture in center. Bring corners of dough to the center, pinching edges together tightly.

Pinch the dough edges together to seal. Make sure you drain the meat thoroughly. Extra liquid makes it difficult to seal the dough and keep the filling inside. Place smooth side up on lightly greased baking sheets. Let rise 30-45 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until golden brown.