Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I ate Strawberry Rhubarb Pie for the first time at my cousin’s Confirmation lunch when I was eight or nine. I didn’t know what it was, but I had three servings and only stopped my gluttonous endeavor because the tart rhubarb started to make my mouth hurt. For years after, I ordered it any time I spotted it on a dessert menu.

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Fresh rhubarb can generally only be found in the spring, and I’ve missed my window of opportunity the past few years. But lo and behold, the bright red stalks caught my eye at Fairway this week and I grabbed them like they were the last drops of morning dew in The Land Before Time (for those of you who don’t get that *v cool* 90’s movie reference, I snatched the rhubarb quickly and without hesitation).

This recipe is adapted from Epicurious.

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INGREDIENTS:

2 Pillsbury pie crusts, thawed according to package instructions

1 pound rhubarb, chopped into 1/2 inch slices

1 16-ounce container strawberries, hulled, halved (about 3 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (to dot)

1 large egg yolk beaten and blended with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

1 tablespoon turbinado or granulated sugar (to sprinkle on top)

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Press one pie crust into the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan. In a large bowl, combine the fruit, sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon, and sugar. Pour into prepared pie crust. Dot with butter.

You can either place the full second pie crust on top, crimp the edges, and cut slits for ventilation, OR cut the second pie crust into strips and create a lattice work top.

Once the second crust is on, brush it with the egg-water glaze. Sprinkle the turbinado (or 1 tbsp of granulated) sugar over the top.

Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and baked for an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes*. The filling should be thick and the crust golden when you remove it.

*I have a powerful oven, so you may need to keep it in for another 5-10 minutes.

Let cool on a rack then enjoy with vanilla ice cream!

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4th of July Berry Pie

The past few weeks I’ve been in a heightened state of spring cleaning. Throwing out random receipts (except the ones from Sur and Moonlight Rollerway in LA, obv), old shoes, and a terrible hat collection has been my go-to pastime. As I ran out of things to toss from my room, I set my sights on the refrigerator. In it, I found remnants of my insanely brief smoothie faze: a bag of frozen mixed berries. Next to this sad ghost of a healthier me sat an unopened bag of frozen cherries, which were leftover from last week’s cherry pie. In a fit of glorious, cleaning-driven energy I whipped up this five berry pie. It’s based on a recipe from Food Network, though I changed it a little bit to make it tarter since I love a good tang in my pie. I also used a star shaped cookie cutter from Christmas to make cute stars to top the pie with, turning what would be a regular, ho-hum-da-dum pie into a stunningly fabulous Fourth of July Berry Pie.

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INGREDIENTS:

4 cups of frozen berries, thawed (I used cherries, strawbs, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries)

2 Pillsbury pie crusts

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (you can use a little more or a little less depending on how sweet you want the filling to be)

4-5 tbsp cornstarch (depending on how thick you want it to be– I’d start with 4 and work your way up if you need to add more)

1/8 tsp vanilla

1-2 tbsp lemon juice

1 1/2 tbsp butter, to dot

1 tbsp granulated sugar, to sprinkle

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DIRECTIONS:

Place berries in medium saucepan and place over heat. Cover. After the cherries lose considerable juice, which may take a few minutes, remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch together. Pour this mixture into the hot berries and mix well. Mix in the lemon and vanilla. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool– I always lose patience and just wait until it’s not hot… oh well. If the filling is too thick, add a little water, too thin, add a little more cornstarch.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place one Pillsbury crust in the pie pan. Using a star cookie cutter, punch stars out of the other one. Set aside.

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Pour the cooled berry mixture into the crust. Dot with butter. Top with the star cutouts, then sprinkle the remaining tbsp of granulated sugar on top.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

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Cannoli Cones

My cousin asked me to make a dessert for her second baby shower. Initially, I planned on making Ooey Gooey Lemon Bars, but the oven in my new apartment isn’t working (you can imagine the toll this has taken on my cookie making: I’ve been eating graham crackers with peanut butter as a midnight snack instead of moist, decadent, pillowy cookies fresh from my kitchen OMGIWANTCOOKIES), so I had to scratch that idea and think of something else that wouldn’t require baking.

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I really like the idea of marrying two desserts in one delicious package, so I started thinking of ways to do something a little different with cannoli cream; I went to brunch in Long Island a week ago and passed up a cannoli cream waffle, which I’ve been (rightfully) regretting ever since. Consequently, I’ve had cannoli on the brain.

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I realized it would be a cute and easy, no-bake idea to insert homemade cannoli cream into sugar cones from the grocery store. I could decorate the cones with some sprinkles to jazz them up and make them baby shower appropriate. The sprinkle actually wound up being mermaid themed, so the ice cream cone concept was a good fit with the beachy atmosphere that my aunt created with her decorations and menu options.

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I’ve never made cannoli before, but I know what I like, so I adapted a recipe from Alex Guarnaschelli.

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INGREDIENTS:

For the Cones:

2 packages (about 24), sugar cones

1/2 cup melted semisweet chocolate chips

Sprinkles

For the Cream:

2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese, strained (I used Bel Gioioso because it doesn’t require much straining)

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup small semisweet chocolate chips (I used regular, because I had them on hand, but small is more authentic!)

Zest of 1/2 a lemon

1 tbsp of orange zest

1 tsp vanilla extract

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DIRECTIONS:

For the Cones:

Remove the cones from their packaging, and separate them. Set any broken ones aside (we’ll eat these later with any extra cannoli cream). Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl on high in 15 second increments, stirring in between each, until they’re thoroughly melted but not burned.

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^My nephew noshing on one.^

Dip the rounded part of each cone into the chocolate, then dip them in the sprinkles while still wet. I found the sprinkles adhered better when I stuck the cone directly into the sprinkles, rather than twisting it clockwise in them.

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Set the cones, chocolate-sprinkle ends up, in a few mugs, then refrigerate for about 5 minutes, or until the chocolate is no longer wet. Set aside.

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For the Cream:

In a large bowl, whisk the ricotta until smooth. Sift in the powdered sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. I made this at home on Long Island and left my sifter in the city, so I used a splatter screen. Hehe. Blend, whisking gently until just combined and there are no powdery lumps.

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In a small, chilled metal bowl, beat the heavy cream with the vanilla until relatively stiff peaks form. Do not over whip, or it will collapse. Gingerly fold the cream into the ricotta blend using a rubber spatula. Fold in the chocolate chips and fruit zests. Refrigerate for at least an hour before using.

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Assembly:

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop about 1 1/2 scoops into each cone. The cream will lie flat on top; it won’t be arched as ice cream would be. However, the better you strain your ricotta, the fluffier it will be (truth be told, I didn’t strain my ricotta at all, because I left my sieve in my apartment too! But it still tasted great and the texture was absolutely fine). Place a chocolate chip or two on top of the cream as a garnish. If you’re trying to be authentic, skip the sprinkles and simply coat the top of the cream in mini chocolate chips so that it looks more similar to a regular cannoli.

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^You can store the cones in an airtight container until use. DO NOT fill them until you are ready to serve, or the cones will become mushy!^

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Enjoy!

Leslie