Double-Strawberry Open-Faced Pie

double_strawberry.jpg

Adapted from The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Ingredients

The Crust


  • 200g Cold unsalted Butter, cut into 1/4" cubes

  • 320g All-Purpose Flour

  • 3/4 tsp Salt

  • 126g Heavy Cream

  • 1 Egg White, lightly beaten

The Base Layer


  • 85g Lindt White Chocolate (all but one column of a 3.5oz bar)

  • 4oz Cream Cheese

  • 2 Tbl sour cream

The Cooked Layer


  • 1 cup fresh strawberries (after rinsing, drying, hulling, and halving)

  • 2 Tbl Cornstarch

  • 118g Water

  • 67g Sugar

  • 1 Tsp Fresh Lemon Juice

  • 1 pinch Salt

The Fresh Layer


  • Enough whole strawberries, to cover a 9" circle when stood point up, hulled, dried, and rinsed.

  • 72g Currant Jelly (1/4 cup)

  • 1 Tbl St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

Directions

The Crust

Put 1/3 of the butter into the freezer in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Whisk the flour and salt together. Mix in 2/3 of the butter with a pastry cutter until it looks like course meal. Once the butter is mixed with the flour, minimize exposure of the dough to your warm, warm hands, or you will melt the butter.

Place the butter/salt/flour mixture into a gallon-sized zip-top bag. Add in the last 1/3 of the butter and put the bowl back into the freezer. Get rid of all the air you can and seal the bag. Take your trustiest rolling pin and roll the contents of the bag until the butter turns into flatten flakes. Place the bag into the freezer for 10 minutes or thereabouts. The goal is to reverse any melting from the butter and make it reasonably solid again.

Take out the bag and the bowl, and transfer all of the dough to the bowl. You will need to scrape the sides of the bag, as the butter will have stuck to it during the rolling. Sprinkle the heavy cream into the mixture and mix. I use a silicone spatula to mix, as it won't melt the butter and it'll resist some of the sticking.

Put the mixture back into the bag and seal, removing most of the air as before. Knead the dough inside the bag with your fingertips until it sticks together. When you pull it, it should stretch a bit.

Divide the dough into two 6" discs and refrigerate for anywhere from 1 to 24 hours. 8 hours is ideal. Although you'll only need one of these discs for this pie, as it was a competition, I baked two in case something went horribly, horribly wrong.

Preheat the oven to 450° and let sit at that temperature for another 20-30 minutes.

Roll out the pie dough into a 13" circle and place into the pie pan. Shape the top as you like. Freeze for at least 20 minutes.

Dock the sides and bottom of the dough. Crumple a piece of parchment paper, unroll it, and place over the pie, fitting it down close to the dough. Put in your dried beans, rice, or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the weighted parchment paper, cover the top edge of the crust with aluminum foil, and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the inside of the crust has a light golden tinge and feels more like crust than dough. Let cool for 3 minutes, then brush on the egg white to the sides and bottom. Let cool completely.


The Bottom Layer

Put the white chocolate into a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 20 seconds at a time. At the end of each, stir. Repeat until there's more melted bits than solid bits, then keep stirring until all of the solid bits turn into melted bits. Let cool to room temperature.

In a small mixing bowl, mix the cream cheese with an electric mixer until it's somewhat fluffy and whipped. Add in the cooled white chocolate and mix. Add in the sour cream and mix until combined. Cover the bottom of the pie with this mixture.

The Cooked Layer

Lightly crush the strawberries with a fork in a small saucepan. Add the sugar, water, salt, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 minute. Pour into a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Stir occasionally during the cooling process. Once cooled, pour over the bottom later of the pie.

The Fresh Layer

Your strawberries should have the tops cut off so that they could stand up on the a flat surface. Place these point side up on top of the pie.

In the small saucepan which has been washed and dried, melt the currant jelly until it is melted. It will bubble. Strain into a glass, which will involve a lot of pressing with a spatula. Stir in the St. Germain. Brush this mixture onto the fresh strawberries.

The Pie

Cool in a refrigerator for an hour or two or overnight. Slice and eat, or slice and serve to judges. If the latter, try to save yourself a slice.

The Food Geek Is Now in Fine Cooking

Big news! There have been hints on my twitter feed for months now, but all of the pieces have been made public, so I can make at least the first of my big announcements: The Food Geek is now a regularly appearing column in Fine Cooking Magazine. The first column, which is about the Maillard reactions as they apply to chicken piccata, appears in the February/March issue, which should be on the stands, well, any time now, and is currently available to subscribers of their web site. Fine Cooking announced in their December/January issue that they are undergoing a big redesign and lots of changes. I am pleased to be part of those changes. There'll be more, and I'll let you know as soon as I can about the next one.

LimoncelloQuest

There is something good to be said for focus. Technically The Food Geek dot com has a focus, and that is food, but food is a huge topic. Huuuuuge. There are those that are even more focused, and the one I ran across today is LimoncelloQuest. Since returning from Italy, I have been planning on making some Limoncello. For those who aren't familiar, Limoncello is a liqueur that is generally homemade around Italy, though it is available for purchase. You take some lemon peel, soak it in grain alcohol for a while, mix in some simple syrup, and you have yourself something tasty. Simple. As those who follow cooking enough know, simple things are the hardest to do. Any small mistake features largely in the final product, because there are so few things covering for it. The tagline of LimoncelloQuest is "A personal pilgrimage to create the perfect Limoncello". The site owner is taking every variable and, well, varying them. Organic vs. standard lemons, adding juice or no, whether to and how often to filter the grain alcohol, how long to let everything rest, all of that. LimoncelloQuest is not only great for those who are interested in finding out how to make great Limoncello, but it's great for anyone who has a personal quest for perfection, and wants to see how someone else manages that quest.

Fruit Sodas for Adults

I've been on a bit of a kick recently trying a bunch of fruit sodas. Well, citrus-flavored sodas, really. So I figured it was time to do something worthwhile with the kick and tell you, my loyal readers, what you can expect from these beverages.

GUS

This is the one that got me started on the citrus soda kick. There's a good local soup shop in town, and they have an excellent selection of beverages (including my favorite beer). I saw the Grown Up Soda and said, "Yeah, why not?" Was it a good idea? Hard to say for sure, but I'm enjoying myself, so we'll call it a win. GUS is not terribly sweet. There's a scale with soda water with a squeeze of lemon at 1, and Orange Crush as a 10. This rates a reasonable 5. Still plenty of flavor, but not watered down and disappointing. I've had the Dry Meyer Lemon and the Dry Valencia Orange. The Meyer Lemon was not all that exciting. It has a good lemon flavor, but it's a bit more subtle than I prefer my lemonade. I know, Meyer Lemons are more subtle than regular lemons, but it could have stood a bit more with that. The Valencia Orange has a great balance of flavor. It has a medium-strong orange taste without being cloying. Well worth the purchase. In my experience, GUS is the hardest to find of the brands reviewed today.

IZZE

IZZE is the second easiest-to-find of the sodas in this review. They are in Whole Foods and they are in Chipotle restaurants. Because of their relative fame, I have tried several of their ilk. There are two distinct lines of IZZE Sparkling Juice: the regular (IZZE) and the low calorie versions (IZZE ESQUE). Actually, there's a third version, IZZE FORTIFIED, but I've never tried it. The regular is a 7 on the sweetness scale, which is the highest I would go and still have an enjoyable beverage. And they are tasty. I even like their grapefruit cocktail, which manages to put a decent amount of sweet in there while still letting you know that, yes, it is definitely grapefruit. The ESQUE is a 3 on the sweetness scale, which is much too low. It tastes of lightly fruited water, and I just don't like that. I appreciate them not adding anything artificial etc, but it's just not enough for me. If I want to go with a lower calorie soda, I'll jump to the GUS, which looks to have a smaller serving size to make up for the lowered amount of juices and sugars.

San Pellegrino

San Pellegrino is my favorite of the citrus sodas. They lean toward the sweet side, around 7 much like the IZZE. The Aranciata is a bit better than the Limonata , but either are a good choice for your sparkly fruit drinking ways. The real star of the San Pellegrino lineup is the Chinotto . This is unlike anything I have ever had that wasn't also Italian. It's a brownish color, kind of like a Cola, but it's clearly fruit flavored. The thing is, it's a bitter, complex fruit. This is an acquired taste for sure. It is strange, and it is teeming with different flavors. If you think Dr. Pepper is great because it has so much more complexity than normal soda, then you live a sheltered life and probably aren't quite ready for the Chinnoto. Italians love the bitter, as those of you who have tried Italian Liqueur surely know. It's a rewarding drink to master, though, because it will wake up an otherwise boring process of drinking a carbonated beverage. Plus, you can really mess with your co-worker who likes stealing drinks from the fridge. Totally worth it.

Orangina

Orangina is the most famous of the fruit beverages. It has even appeared in the lyrics of a Broadway musical (commenters are welcome to guess which one). It has actual orange pulp in the bottle, and you are encouraged to shake it before drinking it, which adds that hint of danger to drinking a soda that you don't normally get, though nothing near the danger of the Cinnoto. Orangina is not overly sweet, falling around 6 on the scale. With a decent flavor, it's a fine drink to have for the citrus connoisseur.

For true?

One of the big advances in the home culinary revolution is the use of fresh lemons and limes in cooking, rather than the lemon juice in the plastic lemons so popular in my youth. And fresh lemons and limes are super-tasty, but occasionally one forgets to purchase a lemon, or the lemon gets all moldy, or one of a dozen other terrible fates for the fresh lemon. Last night was one of those nights, when I was making a honey-soy glazed salmon, and it wanted some citrus. What to do? Well, I could have substituted another acid, such as a vinegar, but it just so happened that I picked up a shaker bottle of True Lemon, a new powdered lemon substitute. Instead of wasting precious refrigerator space with something that would be rarely used (i.e. the plastic lemon), I figured I could waste precious pantry space with something that should be rarely used. I decided that this would be a perfect night to try out the True Lemon. Ideally, I would go back to the test kitchen and make up several different versions of the salmon dish, some with fresh lemon juice, some with plastic lemon juice (i.e. Real Lemon), and some with True Lemon, and have my testers decide what was best. In this case, I just didn't tell Melanie what I had done, and slyly asked her how the taste was. She said it was super-tasty (and she is not one to flatter my dishes without cause, let me assure you), and when I verified that the citrus component was pretty good, I admitted my deception. It was at this point that she told me that she bought a lemon and it was right over there, but it was too late. Still, the base experiment has passed, and now it's just for me to decide if it's worth using as a non-emergency component, or if I should keep it next to the box of pesto paste.