Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Pi Day

Well, it's been way too long since my last post, and since it's 3.14 (Pi Day), it's high time for some pie worship. I was just thinking it would be cool to bake a pie with the pi symbol cut in the top for the steam vents. I'll have to consider that for next year. Today is actually not a pie baking day for me, but a ginger cookie day. It was the only treat I could make without a trip to the grocery. It's a really stormy day, so staying in to bake cookies works for me just fine.

3.14 is a pretty important day. In addition to it being the day we all celebrate Pi (thanks to this crazy dude: it's Einstein's b-day. But who cares about him, because it is also happens to be my Grandma Nellie's birthday. She would have been 96 today. She died only a couple of months after her 94th birthday. 

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Grandma would have loved these ginger cookies. I wonder if I ever made them for her? I only discovered the recipe from my Aunt at Christmas 2007. It's a fantastic recipe:

Ginger Cookies

cream together:
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg

sift together:
2 cups flour (more if necessary)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp ginger

mix well, add extra flour if dough is too sticky.
roll into small balls, dip in sugar.
place 2" apart on a greased cookie sheet (I use parchment paper)
bake at 350 for 8 min. let cool on sheet before transferring to cooling rack
makes approx 4 dozen cookies

The cookies will look puffy when you first take them out of the oven, but will flatten out nicely after they've cooled:

Ok, back to PIE.

Spring is almost here and I look forward to seeing some rhubarb in the stores and friends' gardens to make some tasty treats. I wanted to make some strawberry rhubarb jam last fall, but of course it was too late for either of those fruits. Well, rhubarb is technically a vegetable, but we won't tell anybody. My friend Chris grows some awesome rhubarb in his yard. Hopefully he'll be a pal and save some for me this year. It might require a rhubarb pie in exchange. Let's just hope I get my pie pan back within a reasonable time frame. It seems like forever ago, but I made him this tasty strawberry rhubarb pie as a goodbye treat when he left the company we both worked for. (I, sadly, am still there.) I recall how the group of us enjoyed the pie after a nice lunch as Sushi Ya. Our waiter also had a slice and really liked it. The recipe is pretty basic:

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

1 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp quick cooking tapioca
pinch of salt
3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
3 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced 1/2" thick (about 4-5 stalks)
1 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces

Mix together all dry ingredients
Sprinkle on top of strawberries & rhubarb, toss to distribute evenly
Transfer to dough-lined pan and dot with butter.
Place top crust over filling, trim edge, crimp to seal & cut steam vents
Place in refrigerator for 20-30 min, preheat oven to 350.
Bake the pie on lower third rack for 50-60 min, when the filling is thick and bubbling.
Allow to cool completely on rack before serving. Serve at room temperature or warm in oven at 350 for 10-15 min

Pie dough (double recipe for bottom and top crusts)

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (cut into 1/4" cubes)
3 tbsp very cold water

Stir together dry ingredients.
With a pastry blender, add cubed butter to dry ingredients and mix until butter pieces are pea-sized.
Add water one tbsp at a time and mix just until the dough pulls together.
Form into a ball, flatten to a disk and roll out.

This is the pie I made for Chris.