The littlest Humble was delivered--or extracted, depending on how you look at it since we had a c-section--last week. Both baby and myself are doing very well and I've been recovering at home.
Of course this means ample time at my laptop to blog, unfortunately I didn't count on the affect of sleepless nights coupled with hefty doses of prescription pain killers. When things are melting down the walls in your field of vision, you really start to second guess your ability to write anything. Yes, even at the semi-coherent level I tend to blather on this blog.
I'm far less drugged today so I'm going to give food blogging a shot. Our local farmers market has been flush with fresh rhubarb lately and apparently, even after all the lemon meringue madness, I'm not pie-d out.
So we've making pies! Again! Specifically, mini pies. Falling neatly into that smaller is always cuter approach to food.
Of course, if you're looking at the pies and thinking to yourself, nuh-uh way too fussy. No worries. No where will I demand you spend an hour forming mini pies in muffin cups. The strawberry rhubarb filling, spiked with orange zest and Grand Marnier is delicious even in the simpler, more rustic hand-pie form. So go ahead and shape/form them however you wish. Regardless of how they might look, they will taste great and be well worth making.
An added bonus of the cooking process is an absolutely fantastic strawberry orange rhubarb syrup. We served the syrup drizzled over sliced fresh strawberries, angel food cake and softly whipped cream. Transforming a rather ordinary dessert into something a little more interesting. I'm sure the syrup could find many other uses… maybe over waffles or in cocktails. Yum. Save it.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Mini Pies
adapted from Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts
yields 2 dozen mini pies
3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon cold lard or cold vegetable shortening
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced into small pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice water
vegetable oil non-stick spray
1 large egg, for egg wash
coarse sanding sugar
12 ounces (about 2 cups) fresh strawberries, hulled and diced
5 stalks rhubarb, trimmer and diced
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest plus 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon orange flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
To make the crust, we're going the food processor route. Pulse the flour, sugar, salt, lard and butter until the mixture resembles a very coarse meal. You want to dice up the fats, not incorporate them so work with a gentle touch.
Pulse in the ice water a teaspoon at a time, using just enough so that when you pinch the crumbs and they hold together.
What exactly does that look like? This:
Divide the dough in half and flatten into two disks. Wrap each in plastic and allow the dough to rest for a minimum of one hour or up to a day.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly coat two mini-muffin tins with cooking spray. On a lightly flowered surface, roll our your dough and using a 3 1/2" round cutter (like a biscuit cutter), cut two dozen circles from the dough. Re-roll the dough scraps into a sheet and cut into 1/4 inch strips. Press the rounds into the mini muffin cups. You'll find this is easier if you push the dough disks in slowly, as this will keep them from buckling in on themselves. Then place the pans and your lattice strips into the refrigerator or freezer to chill until firm.
To make the filling, combine all ingredients into a sauce pan and place over medium heat until the fruit is just barely soft (until you can stick a fork into the rhubarb) roughly 10 minutes.
Strain fruit mixture and reserve liquid. Reduce liquid over medium heat until thickened. Add enough of the syrup back to the fruit mixture to moisten and reserve remaining syrup for another delicious project. Place two tablespoons of fruit filling into each tartlet shell, brush edges of shell with egg wash and then top with the lattice strips. Brush the lattice with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Refrigerate or freeze the tarts until firm (about 30 minutes) and then place the muffin tins onto baking sheets and bake until golden brown. This should take approximately 60-70 minutes.
Gently loosen the mini pies from the tin with a wooden skewer and remove while still hot (otherwise the juices can cause them to stick).
Transfer pies to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Serve at room temperature.
The mini pies can be stored at room temperature, up to one day.
Oh, and for those of you who would like to see a photo of the newest and littlest Humble. Here he is with his big sister, just a couple hours old.