Monday, May 30, 2005


On Saturday, I ventured down to Garden Grove in Orange County, home of Little Saigon, a vibrant Vietnamese community, for the Strawberry Festival. To be fair, I think they should have called it the Excuse to Have a Party Festival. We wandered around among the booths selling everything from blinking magnets to cowboy hats to sliding glass doors without seeing a single strawberry. We asked two different Strawberry Festival Representatives where we could find strawberries, and were pointed in all different directions. Finally, as we were getting ready to leave, we stumbled upon a booth selling real, bona fide, plain strawberries. They were gorgeous and sweet, so we bought a flat.

Our main goal was to make a strawberry rhubarb pie. Or I should say it was my goal to make the pie, and my friends' goal to eat it. I had never made said pie before, but I have eaten many a slice. Sweet with berries and tart with rhubarb, it can be a very delicious if done right.

According to my Baking Illustrated cookbook, by the authors of Cook's Illustrated magazine, a lot was riding on the thickener I used in the pie. Their recipe called for arrowroot powder, which they claim can be found in the spice isle of most supermarkets. I'm not sure where they're shopping, but it ain't so easy to find. At the last minute, my friend T was able to locate the powder at a local health food market in Silverlake. Kudos to T for the major effort. No longer hindered by the lack of proper thickener, I began to prep my pie filling.

I first began by washing my rhubarb thoroughly and removing any traces of the green leaves, because as I learned from my cookbook, the green leafy part is toxic. I don't know how toxic, but I wasn't about to take a chance. With that taken care of, the sauteing of the rhubarb to sweat some of the juices and the slicing of the berries was quick and easy, and soon a lovely pie was bubbling away in the oven creating that Suzie homemaker smell that can't be bottled.
It was a little too warm in Silverlake that evening, so my pie crust drooped a little over the sides of the pie pan, but the end result was still pretty and sweetly devilish with the blood red juices bubbling out onto the top crust.

As the pie cooled, we grilled a bounty of Korean BBQ with marinated beef, pork, glass noodle salad, seaweed salad, grilled mushrooms, and lemon soju. It was a feast for the senses. When we finally tucked into the pie, which had only cooled for about 2+ hours instead of the recommended 4, it was rather soupy. A delicious soup, by all means, but still quite runny and not set as I had expected. I assume that the lack of cooling time was the main reason, but it could also have been the arrowroot powder. Regardless, the pie was a success in that it tasted delicious and was enjoyed by all.

If you'd like the recipe, post a comment or check out Baking Illustrated. Their crust recipe is so easy and turns out the best crust ever. Flaky, buttery, golden brown, and manageable. Now that's a feat.


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