a taste of home

You guys, rhubarb is sooooo in right now. Almost every one of the (embarrassingly numerous) food blogs I follow has somehow featured the humble “pie plant” during the last month. Every time a new rhubarb recipe springs up on my blogroll, I have to laugh a little at how late the online foodies are to this ballgame. My people, the folks of Dexter, IA, were several decades ahead of this rhubarb renaissance.

“I come from a line of rhubarb purists.” That’s what I told the man giving out chocolate samples at the grocery store today when he looked at my cart and asked if I was making a strawberry-rhubarb crisp. He’s probably out there somewhere blogging about the weirdo girl who talked his ear off about pie recipes today when he was just trying to sell some $6 chocolate bars. But I speak the truth: the Adkins family would scoff at anyone who found merit in a use for rhubarb other than Grandma Ida’s pie. The recipe for this famous pie was probably the first recipe I knew by heart. All you need are a pie crust, eggs, sugar, flour, and a whole lot of rhubarb. The shorter the interval of time from when the rhubarb is harvested from the patch to the time the pie goes in the oven, the better. This principle goes for most summertime cooking, as far as my clan is concerned. Somebody back home once told me “you should start the water to boil on the stove before you go out to the garden and pick your sweet corn.” This philosophy has set me up for a lifetime of disappointment trying to replicate the tastes of my childhood with produce from a grocery store. No amount of culinary skill can compensate for that kind of freshness if it’s missing.

I loosened up my grip on tradition and piemaking purity today to make this rhubarb-raspberry galette. For the whole spring, I’d been lamenting that I was living in a rhubarb desert (not dessert, mind you) here in Chicago- the offerings at the market were just wimpy and anemic. But today the rhubarb at the store was looking not beautiful but alright. And I was badly in need of some comfort food with an awful weekend of full-tilt cramming for finals behind me and a full week of exams ahead of me.

I rarely use a food processor when I make pastry because I’m convinced it is flakier when done by hand, but I used the processor today for convenience’s sake. I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference if I wasn’t so particular. If you have confidence in your crust skills, it might be worth it to use your pastry cutter and a spoon instead of the processor. But very little, if anything, will be lost if you just follow the instructions below. The whole wheat flour makes the dough a little finicky to work with, but don’t skip it! The earthy flavor is a great foil to the tartness of the fruit.

I found the filling to be just this side of too tart. It would probably be just right balanced by some ice cream or sweetened whipped cream. But if you’re going to serve it ungarnished, you may consider upping the sugar to a full cup.

I promise to post Grandma Ida’s rhubarb custard pie someday soon- it is a true gem! But for now I suggest you whip up this galette, make a big jug of mint iced tea to go with it, and enjoy outside in the sunshine. I’ll catch up with you as soon as I get these finals out of the way…

Raspberry Rhubarb Gallete (adapted from Lottie and Doof)

Crust:

1 c all purpose flour

1/2 c whole wheat flour

2 T sugar

1/2 t salt

3/4 c cold butter, cut into 1″ cubes

1 large egg

1 T whole milk

Filling

1/4 c cornstarch

3 T water

4 c rhubarb, sliced 1/2″ thick (about 1 1/2 lbs)

6 oz red raspberries

2/3 c sugar (more to taste)

1 large egg, beaten

Make the crust. Combine dry ingredients in the food processor bowl and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until it’s in pea-sized pieces (this will only take a few seconds). Whisk together the milk and eggs, add to the food processor bowl, and pulse until things clump together- don’t overdo it! Gather the dough into a ball, flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper, and chill for at least 2 hours.

While the dough is chilling, make the filling. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and then set aside. Combine rhubarb, raspberries, and sugar in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat just until the fruit begins to release juices and the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and bring the whole thing to a boil. Transfer to a bowl and cool for 30 minutes. Don’t skip this step- the filling needs to thicken a little or it will run all over when you put it on top of the crust.

While the filling cools, roll out the dough on a well-floured surface. It should be 12″ round. You may roll it onto parchment paper to make it easier to transfer to the pan. Don’t worry about cracks in your pastry- the beauty of galettes are that they’re supposed to look rustic! Transfer to the pan and brush the whole crust with beaten egg. Spoon on the cooled filling, leaving a 1 1/2″ border. Fold the borders up and over (see picture), pleating at the junctions. Brush the border with egg and sprinkle with sugar (raw or regular). Bake at 400 for 40-50 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly. Cool on the pan on a cooling rack.

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