Two years ago I planted some rhubarb. I knew the plants take two years to really produce, so I wasn't concerned that although they had big showy leaves, the stalks were thin and green. I put some up in jars anyway and my recollection is of me at the kitchen sink, spooning mouthful after mouthful of silky sweetness. Still, this year I was looking foward to rhubarb show girls
- flashy red with fans of green. I thought something must be wrong. Thin green again. Disappointed, I looked up rhubarb varieties and found out there are hundreds! I had no idea. And my rhubarb plants that I thought were under par were growing perfectly according to their variey- Victoria. Once again, even with rhubarb, my preconceptions made me judge wrongly!
My dear dear friend J.R. loves strawberry rhubarb pie so I made one especially for him last Saturday. Instead of piling the fruit deeply into a 9 inch pie pan, I spread it on a large tart pan so it was more like a galette. It made it a bit fancier looking and I think concentrated the fruit essences.Its an easy dessert that once you get the hang of it, you can throw together during the week.( I personally love a dinner of soup and bread followed by a real dessert)
J.R.'s Strawberry Rhubarb Tart
for the pie crust:
put 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a cuisinart(you can also do this by hand in a bowl) Do some quick on and offs to mix.
Add 2 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter and process just till the butter is pea sized.Next, add about 4 tablespoons cold cold orange juice and process just until a big ball forms. Spray your tart pan thoroughly with Baker's Secret or Pam.
I can't stand fussing with dough sticking to my rolling pin, so I put wax paper above and below my dough and roll it out to the size of my pan.That way, you can use the paper on the bottom to invert the pastry on the pan-then just peel off the paper. This dough is enough,by the way, for a double crust pie, and was just right for my 16 inch pan. Fit the dough and put it into the refrigerater while you prepare the fruit.
Preheat the oven to 350F
for the filling:
4 cups rhubarb
3 cups strawberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons tapioca( I like using tapioca flour,you can find it at natural food stores)
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter,melted
Cut the rhubarb into 1/4 inch pieces and if your strawberries are petit, leave them whole, cutting the larger ones to roughly match their size.Put them in a bowl and mix with the tapioca,nutmeg, salt and sugar. Leave them about 1/2 an hour to give up their juices.
If you're using the tart pan with a removable bottom, don't forget to put some tinfoil around the bottom to catch drippings.Spread the fruit out onto the crust and sprinkle the butter all over the top. Bake for about an hour- the strawberries should look dark and somewhat shrunken and the rhubarb soft.
To pretty it up, after about 10 minutes of cooling, while the liquid in the fruit was still hot, I used a pastry brush to pull the shine over the tops of some of the strawberries that looked a little dry.
Eat it slowly and taste spring!