When I was a kid, we always had rhubarb around.  My mother had a huge garden in the back yard, and about a third of it was full of rhubarb.  There was always pie, and strudel, and stewed rhubarb, and rhubarb jelly.

But it doesn’t seem to grow in Texas – the internet says it can be done, but I’ve never seen it.  Every once in a while, I see some in the grocery store, but it’s always expensive and sort of sad looking.

But this weekend I was at Randall’s, and they had a whole pile that didn’t look too bad, and wasn’t terribly expensive.  I picked out a generous handful, thinking I’d make a pie.

When I got it home and started chopping, I realized I’d sadly miscalculated.  I had about twice as much as I needed for a pie. So I started by cutting up the first half.

I cheated and used a refrigerated pie crust.  I’m terrible at them – sometimes I try one just to see if I’ve gotten any better, but I rarely have, and I didn’t have the patience to mess with one. 

RhubarbThe whole thing is very easy – put a pie crust in the pan, put some sugar and flour on top, then add three cups of rhubarb.  Bake for about an hour, or until done.

Rhubarb

It was a very good pie.  But it left me with half the rhubarb still in my fridge.

So, the next day, I made a strudel.  I actually had enough for two, but I just doubled the recipe and put it in a 13×9 instead of an 8-inch square.

Another simple recipe – a basic crust, 3 more cups of rhubarb, and a package of cherry jello sprinkled on top.  Then a streusel made from flour, sugar, and some melted butter. Rhubarb

Rhubarb

The pie was perfect – exactly like I remembered it.  My mother’s was always redder, but that’s because her rhubarb was better.  The strudel came out a bit less-sweet then I remembered it, but it was still good.

It felt like spring, even if it is August!

( see the pie recipe )

( see the strudel recipe )

Strawberry Pie

Strawberries just aren’t something I think of when I think about fruit pies.  Sure, they get combined with rhubarb for strawberry-rhubarb pie, and our local pie shop has a strawberry cheesecake pie and, when they’re in season, a pie with fresh glazed strawberries on top, but you don’t seem them baked into pies like blueberries, boysenberries, or cherries. So when I saw a post on Willow Bird Baking about a strawberry sour cream pie, I had to try it.

It’s getting late in the season for strawberries, but there were a few nice-looking quarts still in the grocery stores.  I have terrible luck with pie crusts, so I picked up one of the frozen Marie Callender pie shells while I was at at the store.  It’s not that I can’t make pie crusts – I can – but that they don’t turn out significantly better then the store-bought ones.  So I save pie-crust-making for special occasions.

I sliced the strawberries:

Strawberry Pie

The rest of the ingredients – a cup of sugar (the original recipe had more, but I wanted the sour cream to pop a bit), a cup of flour, a pinch of salt, and a cup of sour cream – all go in a bowl to be mixed until they’re completely combine.  Then toss in the strawberries, mix gently, and pour into the pie shell.

Into the oven for 10 minutes at 450F, then reduce the heat to 350F for 30 to 40 minutes.  Mine really needed the full 40 minutes.  I put it in the fridge to cool overnight, then served it with a few more slices of strawberry on top. 

Strawberry Pie

I probably should have whipped some cream to put on top, but it was good just the way it was (and I’m saving my heavy cream for ice cream later this week).  Next time, I’ll bake it 5 minutes longer to firm up the center a bit more. 

I’m thinking it would make a great summer potluck dessert!

( see the recipe )

Coconut Cream Pie

It’s getting to be too hot to have the oven on all day, but too early for good, fresh fruit at the grocery store.

So I went looking for something new, which didn’t require much oven time, and didn’t need fruit.  And I found this gorgeous Coconut Cream Tart recipe over at Willow Bird baking.

I don’t have a square tart pan, and I did have a pie crust in the fridge already, so I figured I’d just make it as a pie.  I put the pie crust in my biggest pie pan (9.5 inches), and baked it for 15 minutes.

While it cooled, I made the pastry cream.  I happened to only have two vanilla beans left in the jar, so I used both of them.  When I added the coconut, I thought it needed more, so I added an extra half cup.  I put it in the fridge for half an hour to cool.

Once the pastry cream was cooled, I made the whipped cream.  I didn’t see any reason not to avoid whipping cream twice, so I whipped all the whipping cream with the powdered sugar, then took out enough to cover the top of the pie, and mixed the rest in with the pastry cream.

Then it all got assembled and sprinkled with toasted coconut.

Coconut Cream Pie

When I was done, I had one of the best coconut cream pies I’d ever had.  It’s not as heavy and dense as most coconut cream pies – the coconut milk makes it both lighter and more coconutty.  And it’s not overpoweringly sweet – but if you wanted it even less sweet, you could use unsweetened coconut flakes.

I’m making it again this weekend to take to Mike’s family reunion – except this time I’ll make the crust from scratch!

( see the recipe )

Almond Butter Pie

Every Sunday, I clean out the fridge when I get home from the grocery store.  Usually, I just go through all the leftovers, dairy, and produce, toss what’s bad, and move the rest to the front so I don’t forget about it.

But this weekend I went though the condiment shelf, and realized there were 2 half-empty jars of smooth peanut butter and one half-empty jar of Trader Joe’s almond butter.  I like my peanut-butter-on-toast to be crunchy, so the peanut butter was most likely leftover from the peanut butter cups I made for Christmas.  The almond butter I brought back from a trip, but it ended up forgotten at the back of the shelf.

So, what to do with it?  I’m going to make cookies with the peanut butter, so I went looking for something else – and I found a peanut butter pie recipe.  I’ve had peanut butter pie, and I thought the almond butter would make a great variation on it.

I started with Paula Deen’s recipe, because you can’t go wrong with her Southern recipes.  I replaced the peanut butter with the almond butter, and the graham cracker crust with a standard pie crust, since I had one in the fridge.

The rest of it was trivial – whip the cream, then mix everything else together until smooth, then fold in the whipped cream.  I saved some of the whipped cream for a garnish.

It’s amazingly rich – you’ll probably want to serve very small slices.  The almond butter made it noticeably different then a standard peanut-butter pie.  If I’d thought ahead, I would have garnished it with some toasted almonds, but it really didn’t need them.

It’s not the most photogenic dessert ever, but it certainly makes up for it with taste!

( see the recipe )