I've said it before, and I'll repeat for the record: Pie is NOT in my DNA. I make a great pumpkin pie, if you can discount the store bought roll-it-into-your-own-pan crust which permits me to pretend I'm competent. But I'm getting ahead of myself, here.
The kids brought home three lovely baskets of strawberries on Wednesday afternoon. All of them participated in active free range grazing for the rest of the day.
For my dearly beloved and me, however, lunch was strawberry shortcake on Wednesday and Thursday (and likely today, also). Breakfast Thursday and today was just simple bowls of strawberries with cream (for him) or nonfat milk (for me - hey, that new dress has to fit next week!).
Dessert Wednesday night was Strawberry Bavarian Cream. I discovered it during last summer's great strawberry-fest; here's the recipe! You know I doubled it; how else would I have fed the hungry hordes? And I had a bit left over, which I hid in plastic cups in the fridge, and the little boys took outside for their picnic lunch Thursday.
So, last night I decided to step so far out of my element I might as well have been in China. I made strawberry pie. I know this is what you've all really been waiting for, pie, right?
This is from Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Pastry, picked up at a used book sale in April. This is my first foray into that book, although I've been studying it, gathering my courage. For this recipe, he recommends using either a half-and-half crust, or a graham cracker crumb crust. Perfect! I can do crumb crust! It ain't pretty, but it's good! So, without further ado:
1 stick butter, melted
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
Mix the three ingredients together, press into the bottom and sides of a greased pie plate, and bake at 350F for 10 to 12 minutes. Paula, for your baby, you can grind 1-1/2 cups almonds or hazelnuts (filberts) and use them in place of the cracker crumbs. Voila! Gluten free for Paula!
1 quart strawberries
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp butter
3 ounces cream cheese
Choose the best 25 to 30 strawberries and set them aside. Puree the balance, and cook in a sauce pan with the sugar. When it boils, make a paste of the water and cornstarch, and whisk them in; cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the mixture thickens and becomes clear. Remove from the heat, whisk in the butter, and let it cool.
In your food processor, cut the cream cheese into chunks, add 1 tbsp of the cooled strawberry mixture, and pulse until they are combined and smooth. Spread this in the bottom of the pie shell; it will be a thin layer. Hull the strawberries, and stand them, large end down, in the cream cheese mix. Spoon the cooled filling over them, and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with whipped cream on top.
Notes: I made 2 pies at once, because if I was going to this much work, it was going to count. Besides, one pie is barely enough for 8 people for dessert, and that's my current population. The second one is still in my fridge; woe betide the person who tries to attack it before tonight's dessert. I actually used 67 strawberries between the two pies, but mine are 9" pie plates, so be aware: forewarned is forearmed. Also, please remember that pie is a foreign concept to me when I confess that I doubled 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and therefore used....2 tablespoons of Cornstarch! Thus, my filling is runny. We'll see if tonight's fares better after spending a full 24 hours waiting to be used. I do have to say that my dearly beloved has never had strawberry pie, and he loved this. Simply loved it. So did everyone else, so if you have time, try this!