Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler with Cornmeal Biscuit Topping

You might be thinking to yourself, another rhubarb recipe?  I hope you aren’t, but if you are I get it.  I have rhubarb coming out the wazoo right now so have been experimenting a lot with it lately.  I am also simultaneously trying to clear out my freezer of last year’s fruit to make room for this year’s and last June I did some serious strawberry-picking and thus still have it in abundance in my freezer.  So when I found another awesome-sounding recipe for a strawberry-rhubarb combination I knew it was meant to be.

This time I bring you a cobbler with a cornmeal biscuit topping.  The cornmeal topping made it a bit lighter than traditional cobblers so in turn I did not feel guilty eating it for breakfast and dessert in the same day.  I love it when that happens!

I hope everyone had a lovely Memorial Day weekend, relaxed with friends and family, and ate lots of good food.  I am still thinking about the various grilled and barbecued meats I consumed over the weekend.  They were all awesome but think I will be detoxing with lots of vegetables this week…

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler with Cornmeal Biscuit Topping (recipe found at www.epicurious.com)

Filling

  •   ½ cup sugar
  •   2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  •   1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  •   2 12-ounce baskets strawberries, hulled, halved
  •   1 ½ cups ½ -inch-thick slices fresh or frozen rhubarb

Topping

  •   1 cup all-purpose flour
  •   1/3 cup sugar
  •   ¼ cup yellow cornmeal
  •   1 tablespoon baking powder
  •   1 teaspoon baking soda
  •   Pinch of salt
  •   3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, diced
  •   ½ cup low-fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix sugar, flour and cloves in large bowl. Add strawberries and rhubarb and toss to coat with sugar mixture. Transfer filling to 10-inch-diameter glass pie dish

Mix flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.   Gradually add buttermilk, tossing with fork until moist clumps form (do not overmix). Spoon topping evenly over filling.

Bake until topping is golden brown and filling is tender, about 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Happy Mother’s Day!

The lady on the left taught me how to bake pies, amongst many, many other things.  Thanks Mom.  You’re the best.  (Incidentally the lady on the right taught me how to bake some awesome banana bread.  Thanks Aunt Sarah, you’re awesome too.)

I’m the blonde child with the giant red Solo cup that is partially obscuring my cousin’s face in this image.  Sorry cuz.  Looks like I was way more into the grape Kool-Aid or whatever that dark liquid is in the background than I was into smiling for the photo.  Sorry about that Mom.  You and Aunt Sarah look great.  You make the 80’s look stylish.

I remember once when my mom was baking a pie (which she often did) and she had some leftover pie dough that she let my brother and I make our own mini pies with.  I don’t remember the exact details but I think we were either short on fruit in the house that day or she was letting my brother and I get creative with the filling as I recall that my brother filled his mini pie with strawberry jam (smart move, bro).  My choice?  Grapes.  Yeah.  Raw green grapes.  Not good.  Pretty sure the family dog was the only one who enjoyed my pie that day…

But I totally appreciate the fact that my mom let us experiment in the kitchen and also just that she was such an amazing baker and mom and still is.

Her standards are peach, blueberry, or apple pies, but she must have made strawberry rhubarb pies back in the day too.  I realized this today when I ate a bite of the strawberry rhubarb pie I made and it totally brought me back to my childhood and tasted like summer all at the same time.

Thanks for always being an inspiration Mom.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (adapted slightly from “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook”)

  • 3 cups 1/2″-thick slices of rhubarb
  • 3 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour

Preheat oven to 425.  Combine all of the above ingredients in a bowl.  Pour mixture into pie shell (see below for pie crust recipe).  Place top pie crust over filling and crimp around the edges to seal to bottom crust.  Slice vents into top pie crust.  Cover the crust with aluminum foil to prevent crust from burning.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Remove aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes more or until crust is golden brown.  Let cool for 2 hours before consuming.

Two Crust Pie Pastry (from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook)

  • 2 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons cold water

Mix flour and salt in medium bowl.  Cut in shortening, using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives, until particles are size of small peas.  Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).

Gather pastry into a ball.  Shape into two flattened rounds.  If desired, wrap flattened rounds of pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 30 minutes to firm up the shortening slightly, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky and lets the water absorb evenly throughout the dough.

Roll pastry on lightly floured surface, using floured rolling pin, into circle 2 inches larger than upside-down pie plate.  Fold pastry into fourths and place in pie plate; or roll pastry loosely around rolling pin and transfer to pie plate.  Unfold or unroll pastry and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side and being careful not to stretch pastry, which will cause it to shrink when baked.

vegan gluten-free cupcakes are pretty good, it turns out

Gluten-free baking is a bit of a challenge, I’m not going to lie.  You have to buy a lot of different kinds of flours to blend together and then add a gum (like xantham or guar, not Wrigley’s) to take the place of traditional wheat flour.  And these other flours and gums are not cheap.  It makes sense, since wheat is subsidized in this country, but still.  You better believe I will use every last tablespoon of these flours even after Lent is over…  But I digress.

A few weeks ago when I knew I was giving up wheat I decided to order a few gluten-free baking cookbooks I had been eyeing on Amazon.  One of them was from a very well-respected gluten-free vegan bakery in NYC.  Vegan bakery?  Say what?  Seems kind of counter-intuitive, right?  Even though I never got around to visiting this bakery when I lived in New York (a wrong I intend to right on my next visit) I always heard great things so decided to test it out.

And you know what?  The results were pretty darn good.  I even had a few coworkers say they were the best cupcakes they ever had.

Even though the cookbook provided dairy-free frosting recipes I opted to thaw out some leftover strawberry mascarpone frosting from an earlier baking experiment that is decidedly not vegan but you can frost however you see fit.

Vanilla Cupcakes (from “Babycakes” cookbook by Erin McKenna)

  • 2 cups garbanzo-fava bean flour
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • ½ cup arrowroot (I substituted tapioca flour and it worked just fine)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 1/3 cups agave nectar
  • ¾ cup homemade applesauce or store-bough unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup hot water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, potato starch, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt.  Add the oil, agave nectar, applesauce, vanilla, and lemon zest to the dry ingredients and combine.  Stir in the hot water and mix until the batter is smooth.

Pour 1/3 cup batter into each prepared cup, almost filling it.  Bake the cupcakes on the center rack for 22 minutes, rotating the tins 180 degrees after 15 minutes.  The finished cupcakes will be golden brown and will bounce back when pressure is applied gently to the center.

Let the cupcakes stand in the tins for 20 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely.  Using a frosting knife, gently spread 1 tablespoon vanilla frosting over each cupcake.  Store the cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Strawberry Mascarpone Frosting (NOT vegan, clearly)

  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 oz mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ strawberries, cleaned and pureed in food processor or blender

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat butter and mascarpone cheese until smooth.  Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla, beat until light and fluffy.  Stir in pureed strawberries with a spatula.

strawberry pies forever

There’s going to be a moratorium on strawberries in my house soon.  Not because I don’t love them (I do) but because I have eaten a lot of them recently.  A LOT.   

Today it’ll be my grandma’s strawberry pie and every pie starts with a crust.

This pie is an easy one because the only baking required is for the crust.  Of course, you could buy one of those pre-made crusts but I’m a big fan of doing as much as possible from scratch and when it’s so easy, why not?

The rest of the pie is done on the stovetop.  You boil some sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup and pinch of salt until it’s thick and clear and then remove from heat and add a packet of strawberry Jell-o.  (I’m not gonna lie: the almost neon color of the Jell-o sort of freaked me out, but the part of me that felt nostalgic for all the Jell-o I ate in my youth overrode the freaked-out part.  You could use clear gelatin to avoid the color additive and I may try that next time.) 

Then you stir in strawberries and pour the mixture in the pre-baked pie crust.  Let it cool in the fridge for a few hours and eat.  Easy as you-know-what.

Strawberry Pie

  • ¾ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • Small package of strawberry Jell-o
  • 1 quart (4 cups) hulled and cleaned strawberries

Boil sugar, cornstartch, salt, water, and light corn syrup in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until thick and clear.

Remove from heat and add the small package of strawberry Jell-o.  Cool.

Fold in strawberries and put mixture in baked piecrust.  Chill to set, approximately two hours.  Top with whipped cream if desired.

Basic Flour Pie Crust

  • 1 ½ cups flour, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup (approximately) cold water

Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl.  Cut in butter with a pastry knife, two knives scissor-style, or food processor with dough blade.  When mixture resembles peas, add water slowly and blend with fork.  Shape dough into a ball and roll out to size slightly larger than pie plate.  Place dough in pie plate and pierce with fork. 

Bake 450 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

how about cupcakes???

I had kind of a rough day at work a few weeks ago– it happens.  My cube-mate/friend/very-talented-artist painted this lovely picture for me to cheer me up.  And it worked!  It still makes me smile when I look over at it in the glare of the fluorescent office lights.  You need stuff like that.  Not only does it make me happy, but it inspired me to recreate it in real life!

 Who doesn’t like cupcakes?  I don’t think there is anyone who doesn’t.  They’re cute, fun, pretty, taste great– what’s not to like?  I have made them in many iterations over the years but never strawberry-flavored, and since I picked a whole bunch of the lovely little berries last weekend I figured now is the time.

I did a bunch of research for a recipe before making them and wound up shooting from the hip with an adaptation of a strawberry cake recipe I found from Martha Stewart.  Her recipe was unfrosted and suggested baking the strawberries into the top of the cake but I wanted to mix them into the batter instead.

I decided that a cream cheese frosting might be nice on them, but then thought I’d shake it up a bit with mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese.  I think it was a wise decision.

Voila!  You would have thought that my friend painted the picture after I made the above, right?  Nope.  Other way around.  Good thing I have a small flowered plate!

Strawberry Cupcakes (adapted from Strawberry Cake recipe found at www.marthastewart.com)

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely chopped cleaned strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place muffin cups in 12-cup muffin tin.  Set aside.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.

Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Reduce speed to medium-low; mix in egg, milk, and vanilla.

Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.  Fold strawberries into batter with a spatula.  Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups.

Bake cupcakes for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack.  If desired, frost with strawberry mascarpone frosting (recipe below).

Strawberry Mascarpone Frosting

  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 oz mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ strawberries, cleaned and pureed in food processor or blender

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat butter and mascarpone cheese until smooth.  Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla, beat until light and fluffy.  Stir in pureed strawberries with a spatula.