Tarts/Pies Archive

Friday, May 9, 2014

strawberry rhubarb crisp bars

strawberry rhubarb breakfast crisp bars

Look, I have no business giving dating advice. Or marital advice. I didn’t, like, scope the scene or learn the rules or think big thoughts about what kind of person would be the right person for me when I walked into a bar 11 years ago and met this guy for a drink. Nevertheless, if you were to try isolate a single trait essential in a life partnership, I think you should look for a person who is pro-whim — that is, encourages you to have whims and pursue them, for better or for worse. Does that sound too abstract? Okay, fine; let me propose instead the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Bar Test, which should be enlisted as follows. 1. Find a potential mate. 2. Say, “Do I need to good reason to make strawberry-rhubarb pie bars?” 3. If they answer, as mine did on Monday, “Nope. I think they’re always welcome,” you’re probably on the right track. If nothing else, your weekend is about to get tastier.

mix the dry ingredients right in the pan
add the butter

I’d been daydreaming about a late spring riff on an apple-crisp-in-the-pan bars since I got the One Bowl Baking book last fall. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a pie-like cookie bar I didn’t like, but still, these made me nervous because they seemed so (ewww) wholesome. There are more whole grains than white flour, less sugar and less butter than any other cookie bar I’ve ever made. How could this be good? Silly Deb, I should have just trusted the author implicitly. Yvonne Ruperti is a former Cook’s Illustrated writer, America’s Test Kitchen on-air host and bakery owner, so you could say she knows a few things about baking.

mix it right in the baking pan

Continued after the jump »

Friday, October 25, 2013

apple slab pie

apple slab pie

In one of my favorite October traditions, we picked too many apples a few weekends ago. As in maybe perhaps 25 pounds more than we needed? It’s hard to gauge. I realize that if you’ve never been in an apple orchard in October, when you’ve escaped the city to find yourselves in a quiet grove as the leaves are just starting to turn and the sky is unimaginably blue and you’re wearing your first thick sweater of the season, it’s hard to imagine how one accidentally picks 25 pounds too many apples. But I bet if you’ve been there and felt that, how fun it is to pluck crisp, unblemished, unwaxed apples from trees and let the branches snap back and the leaves flutter droplets of last night’s rain over your face, you’ve probably gotten carried away too. I think picking too many apples in October is about as important of a tradition as burning food on a backyard grill over July 4th weekend and going through a whole jar of cinnamon every fall. It’s going to happen either way; it’s best to embrace it.

the galas had a bad year

But when we got back to our distinctly not-grove-sized apartment, we didn’t have anywhere to put them. So, we started with applesauce, eight pounds of it. We moved onto oatmeal cookie-ish crumbles (would you like the recipe?), which chipped away at a few pounds apiece, and then my son’s preschool was making something with apples and I was all “LET ME DONATE THEM PLEASE.” There were whole wheat apple muffins (which enlisted 2), then apple pancakes (another 2), and then we made more applesauce (4 pounds) and all of a sudden we had only 6 apples left and I was devastated, because I’d forgotten to make pie. Who forgets to make pie? Nobody you should be friends with.

apples, apples, everywhere

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Friday, June 7, 2013

rhubarb cream cheese hand pies

rhubarb cream cheese button pies

A few weeks ago, I retold the sad tale of the late rhubarb meringue tart that met its end when it slid off the plate and managed to coat nearly every part of the open fridge I’d intended to put it into with smears of curd, puffs of meringue and crust of crumbs. Rhubarb, although not to blame, and I took a break after that, and it might had continued longer had I not been haunted by an Instagram commenter (hi!) who urged me to try my hand at a rhubarb cream cheese danish. I imagined the tart pink rhubarb against a lemony slick of cheesecake, enveloped in a puff of orange-scented pastry and I could not bear it.

rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb
sugared rhubarb

However, as I began researching danish dough, my interested waned. I don’t think it will be a bad project for one day, but all of that envelope folding and yeast and butter and carefully timed steps seemed a bit much for six to eight folded pastries that wouldn’t survive beyond the breakfast meal. And certainly not when it is finally high pie season, that blissful period from May to September when we in this hemisphere are lucky enough to have more fruit than we know what to do with.

rhubarb, cooking until slumpy and reduced

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Friday, October 19, 2012

apple mosaic tart with salted caramel

apple mosaic tart with salted caramel

My husband likes to joke that every other comment on this site in the month of October is, “Help! I went apple picking and I brought home 20 pounds of apples and I don’t know how to use them up!” It’s not true, of course; it’s every five or six comments. We mostly have a giggle about it because we didn’t know how one could go to an apple grove and not realize that 20 pounds of apples is an impossible amount to munch your way through, no matter how enthusiastic of an apple-eater you might be. Furthermore, seeing as quite often, only one apple type is ripe at a time, you’re not likely even bringing a mix home that might sustain your interest from apple to apple, ad inifinitum. So, you know where this is going. Guys, we went apple picking last weekend and I brought home almost 15 pounds of apples! What do I do with them?

we went apple picking. send help.
peeled, cored, plus one for a toddler

I am kidding, mostly. I have a few ideas for them. The first 6 pounds went to the largest batch of applesauce, ever, half of which is in the freezer for my resident Applesauce Junkie. The next few pounds were munched on, happily. A few pounds are on the table in a bowl, though I think Ramona Quimby must have snuck in because I keep noticing single, tiny bites taken out of each (because the first bite is the tastiest). Next, well, this happened. And once this happens, I think you’re going to be glad you have a bunch of pounds of apples left, because this is the kind of stuff that calls for a repeat performance.

slicing the apples real thin

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Monday, July 23, 2012

peach pie

peach pie

I am sure I’m not the only person who has ever been out to eat and bit into something they knew they’d love and nearly sobbed with disappointment over what could have been but was not. “Why? Why did they have to go and ‘fix’ this? It wasn’t broken!” No? It’s just me? Well, good on you for having some decorum, or at least a better poker face than your narrator. I’ve done this when I discovered curry powder in a sweet potato pirogi (really, I’m grimacing as I type this). It’s not a popular opinion, but I feel this way about bacon in chocolate chip cookies. And if everyone could stop putting cardamom pods in vanilla ice cream and custards, I wouldn’t mind one bit. I like vanilla. I don’t think it needs any flavor enhancement.

lots of peaches into boiling water
poach for two minutes slipping the peach skins off
sadly, they didn't make it peach peeling, second try

Not that I’m innocent in this area. It seems that as long as web pages need updating, magazines need printing and food shows have new seasons to fill with programming, we’re going to have “new spins on the classics,” and I too have been known to hide bourbon in banana bread, do all sorts of unnatural things to latkes, and no, I will not apologize for the time I made a red velvet cake with red wine instead of the accepted vat of food dye. I found all of these things to be worthwhile improvements on the status quo in the same way that the person about to leave me a link to their favorite bacon chocolate chip cookie (the one that will change my mind) recipe in the comments does, but no doubt someone else out there found that that bourbon clashed terribly with bananas and feels justly that I owe them some cake.

chilled pie doughs

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