Wednesday, June 10, 2009

strawberry pie

In my garage, snuggled under a tiny window lined with old bottles we unearthed tilling our little patch, sits my freezer. Nearly neglected in spring and summer when the garden is in full glory, it occupies its humble spot. However, when we can't bear to look at another green pepper or can't seem to keep up with over-productive green beans, into the freezer they go. A quick blanching followed by an ice bath and a towel drying is all that's necessary. Sometimes not even that much. In the dregs of winter it's a pleasure to rustle a bag of home-grown carrots out and recall their just-picked sweetness.

It's hard, however, to gauge just how much one should put away. How many bags of shredded zucchini can you use before the next year's haul is at hand? (The answer, I'm coming to find, is approximately one, by the way - shame on me!). So I find myself looking for ways to finish off the flavors of last year, before my freezer becomes the time capsule of fruits and veggies past.
Also, it just seems a little odd to bring in pints and quarts of new sun-warm fragrant berries while that icy prior generation looks on still in hibernation.

No worries, though. This pie turned out beautifully using last year's berries (which were hulled and frozen the day they were picked).
Strawberry Pie*
(adapted from Gourmet Magazine's recipe for Fresh Strawberry Pie with Whipped Cream)

The recipe specifies the importance of using only perfectly ripe berries, but I found that my perfectly ripe frozen berries were just a luscious.


For the crust:
1 package honey graham crackers
2 Tb. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 Tb. sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grind the graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor until they become fine crumbs. Add the sugar and butter and process until evenly incorporated. Press the crumb mixture in the bottom an up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate. Bake the crust in the oven until golden - about 15 minutes. Cool completely on a rack.

For the filling:
2 Lbs. hulled and quartered frozen strawberries (hand-picked when perfectly ripe is ideal, of course)
3/4 C. sugar
1/3 C. fresh lemon juice
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp.) unflavored gelatin

In a large bowl combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice and allow to stand, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Place a sieve over a large measuring cup and gently strain the liquid from the berries. Set the reserved berries aside. If necessary add enough water to the strawberry liquid to equal 1 1/2 cups. Pour the liquid into a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface. Allow the gelatin to soften for a minute or two, then bring the mixture to a bare simmer, stirring to dissolve the gelatin. Remove the mixture from heat and, in a metal bowl, combine it with the reserved berries. Place the bowl in the freezer for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until it starts to thicken (the original recipe says until the mixture begins to mound, but I found this an odd term - it should be thick and just beginning to gel). When the mixture has chilled sufficiently, spoon it into the prepared, cooled, crust and refrigerate the pie for at least 4 hours (up to 24).

Serve cold with fresh whipped cream if you have it handy.

*I have altered this recipe specifically for the use of frozen berries, if you are making the pie using fresh, follow the original recipe for the pie filling through the link provided (the macerating time and liquid amount have been adjusted here to allow for the thawing and excess liquid of the frozen berries).


smoo said...

I wonder if this pie would be good with chevre cream. Chef Bryan from Volt made it last week at the farmer's market and I made it the other night- it's really easy. Whish chevre and a little heavy whipping cream together. It doesn't take very long. He added salt but I found it wasn't necessary. It's also savory, which is a nice contrast.

smoo said...

I meant whisk. Whish!

Chelsea said...

Ooooh, that sounds elegant.

I think that good ol' whipped cream suits this pie so well because there is a tartness in the berries that can be tamed a bit with the sweet, soft cream. The chevre cream might be a little tart? I suppose it depends on the cheese, really, but I bet that it would be especially good in place of cream for a strawberry shortcake - especially one with a sugar-crusted biscuit... Mmmmmm... How much longer is strawberry season???

smoo said...

That is what he did- put it on a shortcake made from a grilled sliced scone. Strawberries are at the very end now :(