There is this sweet old man who looks a little like Santa Claus who comes to the market each Saturday. He's all but mute, just shoving his money at me and pointing to the pie he fancies. But week in and week out, he's there for his pie, bless his heart. A couple of weeks ago, instead of handing me his money, he pressed a folded piece of paper into my hand and said several words in a row. He said, "My wife told me to give this to you." I opened the paper, thinking it might be a note indicating her husband's diabetic status and forbidding me to sell him anymore pie! But it was a recipe. The old fellow went on to explain that this was his favorite pie, but that wife couldn't be compelled to make it for him anymore. So she figured she could give me the recipe, and I might make it for him instead. Isn't that a riot?? Well, I was happy to oblige, though it sounded like a truly hideous combination of elements--Rhubarb Raisin Pie. ICK! My hatred of raisins is well-documented, so I know I'm biased. But I made it anyway. And I must admit, the filling smelled quite good before, during, and after baking. So much so that Cyd now wants to try it, perhaps as a crisp instead of a pie. Here is the recipe from my best pie customer and his wife, if you're brave enough to try it:
Raisin and Rhubarb Pie #1 (There's more than one version?? tee hee)
3 cups finely cut rhubarb
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter (it says "or margarine," but I oppose that substitution)
*I also added a little vanilla, maybe half a teaspoon? Oh, and I glazed the top with an egg wash.
Mix together and bake as a two-crust pie. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then 375 for 30 more minutes. (I know I baked this longer...probably an hour, maybe even an hour and fifteen, until the filling bubbled in the center.)
Another request I had recently at the market was for apple jam. I was actually planning on making some, but closer to fall when the apples are plentiful. But we saw the first apples in the markets this week, if you can believe it--the Vista Bellas. Those are fresh-eating apples, though, so I coughed up the big bucks for a few Golden Delicious at the supermarket (gasp!) to try a recipe from Garden Web. I have sung the praises of the Harvest Forum before because I always find great ideas, tips, and recipes there. There are two women in particular who are the Belles of the Ball (Jar) over on those message boards, one called Annie who is most famous for her salsa which I will try when the tomato deluge begins, and Linda Lou (I'm not making that name up...how could I?) who is famous for her apple pie jam, among many other things. It seems like a strange recipe with brown sugar involved (never seen that before...and it does make for a very dark, murky, and mysterious jam), but it turned out very well. One batch made seven jars, and it's really yummy--tastes just like apple pie as it's spiced with cinnamon and a touch of allspice. It would be delicious on toast, of course, and especially on pancakes or waffles or French toast. And folks on the GardenWeb also recommend it as an ice cream topping. In fact, if you top the vanilla ice cream with some heated apple pie jam and some crumbled graham crackers, they say it tastes just like apple pie a la mode! But the lady at the market had something like it with pork chops, so savory applications should not be ruled out. And wouldn't this jam make for lovely holiday gifts? Earmark this recipe for apple time!
Linda Lou's Apple Pie Jam
(via GardenWeb's Harvest Forum)
4 cups tart apples, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
4 cups sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 box pectin
1/2 teaspoon butter
Add water to chopped apples to measure 4 cups. Place apples and water into large, heavy saucepan. Stir in lemon juice, cinnamon and allspice. Measure sugars. Stir pectin into fruit. Add butter. Bring mixture to full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in both sugars. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
Ladle quickly into hot, clean jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands on finger tight. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Lastly, I wanted to recommend a recipe that I recently tried for a galette (aka crostada), that is, a free-form fruit tart. I didn't make it for the market (technically, only two-crust pies are allowed), but I made it for Cyd because she had to work when I went to the St. Chrysostome market last week. Poor thing! I picked up some fragrant little peaches from Ontario, and a pint of the loveliest, plump blueberries. Have you noticed how good the blueberries are this year? We tend to prefer the small, wild ones in these parts. But the larger, cultivated varieties are rocking this year! Delish! Anyway, I adapted an excellent recipe from Bon Appétit for a Nectarine and Blackberry Galette, and made a wonderful peach and blueberry version that turned out great. Any combination of stone fruits and berries--which are at their glorious peak right now--would work, I'm sure. And for those of you afraid to make pie, this is so much easier, and just as pretty!
Peach and Blueberry Galette
(Adapted from Bon Appétit, July 2002)
Makes one smallish galette, good for 4 to 6 people
single pie crust, your favorite recipe
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 smallish peaches, each pitted and cut into 16 slices
1/2 pint (1 cup) blueberries
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)
raw sugar crystals
peach preserves, heated (I used apricot-raspberry, because the jar was open)
Roll out dough on lightly floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round, turning dough occasionally to prevent sticking. Slide rimless baking sheet under parchment. Transfer dough on parchment to refrigerator. Chill until dough firms slightly, about 30 minutes.
Make filling: Stir sugar and cornstarch in medium bowl to blend. Mix in fruit and vanilla. Let stand until juices are released, stirring fruit occasionally, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Transfer baking sheet with dough to work surface. Let stand 8 minutes to allow dough to soften slightly if too firm to fold. Spoon fruit and juices into center of dough.
Arrange fruit in even 9-inch-diameter layer in center. Brush 2-inch border of dough with egg glaze. Lift about 2 inches of dough border and pinch to form vertical seam. Continue around tart, pinching seam every 2 inches to form standing border. Fold border down over fruit (center 6 inches of fruit remain uncovered). Brush folded border with egg glaze; sprinkle with raw sugar.
Place baking sheet with tart in oven. Bake until crust is golden brown and fruit filling is bubbling at edges, about 55 minutes. Remove from oven; slide large metal spatula under tart to loosen from parchment. Brush fruit with preserves. Slide tart onto rack. Cool 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream.