Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Weekend of Fashion and Feasting!

It was such a beautiful day here in Chester County I decided to sit by the pool and crochet.

Later in the afternoon I walked through the meadow picking wildflowers.

And tonight - dinner with friends in my new ensemble. Believe that and I'll tell you another! These photos are courtesy of the 1974 Spring / Summer issue of McCall's Needlework and Crafts - my sister-in-law spotted them at a sale and picked them up for me. Did anyone really wear these creations? I promise to share more photos - there are so many I think you'd like.

Tomorrow's Easter and my assignment is dessert - I'm making a rhubarb pie out of Rose Levy Beranbaum's "The Pie and Pastry Bible", but you can get the recipe on line at Fine Cooking's site. Rose's recipes are fantastic - she is a food chemist and her recipes reflect that. I'm proud to say I baked every recipe in her "Cake Bible" years ago - ... obsessive, me?

I grow rhubarb, but it's too early for local crops. Rhubarb is really a vegetable - it looks a lot like red celery - I love the deep red rhubarb - it makes a prettier pie and has a tarter flavor than the greener varieties. The leaves of the rhubarb plant are poisonous - they are extremely high in oxalic acid - therefore store-bought rhubarb is never sold with the leaves in tact. Rhubarb can be a touchy pie ingredient - it gives up a lot of moisture - I'll admit to making many a rhubarb pie that was sloshing around after the allotted baking time.

Follow Rose's recipe to the T - she knows what she is talking about. Freeze the cubed butter and dry ingredients - it makes a difference.

Weigh all of the ingredients - baking is a science - chemistry. A cup of flour will weigh differently based on the moisture in the air.

I love to make pies, and I love to make pie dough - give it a try - it couldn't be easier. This is a recipe for a cream cheese crust and uses a food processor to mix the ingredients - I typically make my pate brisee by hand, but I'm willing to follow Rose's recipes as written. Look how beautifully the dough came together and how easy it was to roll out. I swear by my stainless steel rolling pin - I've had it about 20 years.

Here's a close up of the dough - see all of the lighter colored flecks - that's butter - this dough is going to be very flaky!

When I was in college I worked in the school's bakery a few days a week - I had to be there by 4:00 AM - cut into my party scene if you know what I mean. They always assigned me to making the turnovers - I'd have to roll out huge hunks of dough into giant rectangles and then cut them into squares and slop some filling into the center and fold. My dough rolling was so bad, all of the old men who worked in the bakery spent the morning ridiculing my attempts. I'm happy to say, I've definitely improved - so there - wish they could see me now!

This pie has a lattice topping - this is my Grandmother's pastry jagger - you use it to get that beautiful zig-zag edge to the lattice strips. Quilters - we're pro's at this - it's rotary cutting!

Keeping with the fiber theme - we're also great at weaving, so a lattice top is no challenge for us!

Didn't they turn out beautiful?

I grew up in a very Pennsylvania German household. My mother is an excellent baker - if there was leftover pie dough she would make a milk flitche (or milk flabby) - as kids we lived for the milk flitche. What's a milk flitche - it's what we PA Germans live for - butter and starch. Here's a recipe I found on line if you want to give it a try - to me, it's the ultimate comfort food.

Creamy, gooey butter-y goodness.


Quilting Queen said...

OOh you are bad...those pictures have made me hungry. We recently moved and left our rhubarb patch behind...there is nothing like the first signs of spring..strawberry rhubarb breaking the ground. FYI...boil rhubarb in a stained pot and it will come out stain great on kettles too.

Kelly Meanix said...

your pie crust is beautiful!

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