Cooking Away

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What a bunch of great looking produce, what a crappy photo.

As I was the one cooking, I didn’t think I could deal with both that task and using my 5DMKII to capture it. Especially when my hands would be wrist deep in buttery pastry while it is kneaded, folded and laid out in a pie dish. Next time I plan on setting up a photo-station before I begin so I can just put the stuff down and shoot it in a more controlled environment.

Baked Pie

I found the recipe on my new favourite website: Smitten Kitchen. I love the way the site owner uses stories to lead into her creations and I love the photos she uses. I couldn’t justify my constant visits without at least trying one of the recipes on the site. Which is odd cause I’m usually not very good at cooking.

After this event I realise cooking for me is like the first few times I drove a manual car. You drive the car, change up gears as you increase speed, then panic as you come to a corner, wondering how the hell am I going to get from 5th, to 4th, to 3rd, to 2nd to 1st before I reach my stopping point. Flustered and flabbergasted by the prospect of all the things that can go wrong, of the timing required, of the unknown.

Now of course driving is second nature, something I no longer even think that much about while doing it. Sure I keep an eye on the traffic, make sure no one is going to cut me off, but the basics of driving are no longer a concern.

With cooking I’m still on those first few driving outings. Still panic about what is a tablespoons worth, do they mean flat or heaped. An ounce? In an Australian recipe book, really an ounce? who does that, what does that equal in grams? And what exactly is a half a pound? How long will it take my thing to cook in my oven, why can’t someone tell me an exact time? It’s all basic stuff for a cooker. It’s all second nature, much like changing gears in a manual car now is for me.

But I had to try something from Smitten Kitchen. That way I can justify the time I spend looking at the beautiful photos.

Going through the pages I had to choose something vegetarian friendly, and there is a lot of that on the site. And I had to choose something fun. In the end I chose two recipes. Linguine with tomato-almond pesto and Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie [improved].

We started the morning with a nice breakfast at Cafe Penette in South Melbourne, then over to the South Melbourne Market for supplies.

Breakfast
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In the end we only picked up the rhubarb and strawberries from here. No one had tapioca (an ingredient in the pie), and I’m guessing from the looks on their faces when asked, some of the folks there don’t even know what it is. The rhubarb was $4.00 a bunch (I bought three only used one and a half) and the strawberries $4.99 per two punnet (I bought four only used two, ate another while cooking).

Rhubarb
Strawberries

Finally found tapioca at Coles, was supposed to be “fast cooking” but I couldn’t find any. So finally, here’s the recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Smitten Kitchen’s All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough or double-crust pie dough of your choice
  • 3½ cups (about 680 g, untrimmed) rhubarb, in 2½-centremetre thick slices
  • 3½ cups (about 450 g) strawberries, hulled and sliced if big, halved if tiny
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup quick-cooking tapioca
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. On a well-floured counter, roll half of pie dough into a 30-centremetre circle and carefully transfer to a 23-centremetre pie plate. (I followed Deb’s suggestion to fold the pastry gently into quarters, to transfer it more easily, then unfold it in the pie plate.)
  2. Stir together the rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon, salt and tapioca in a large bowl.
  3. Mound filling inside bottom pie crust and dot with bits of unsalted butter.
  4. Roll second half of pie dough into an 27-centremetre circle and cut decorative slits in it (I actually did the slits after I had transferred the pastry, I didn’t trust myself not to bugger it up with all the slits in it.).
  5. Transfer it to centre over the pie filling.
  6. Trim top and bottom pie dough so that their overhang beyond the pie plate lip is only 2½-centremetres.
  7. Tuck rim of dough underneath itself and crimp it decoratively.
  8. Transfer pie to a baking sheet and brush egg yolk mixture over dough.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 180 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.
  10. Transfer pie to wire rack to cool. When fully cool (several hours later) the juices gel.

I served it cool, and also served it hot, with ice cream and custard. It tastes awesome. Notice the decorative leaves, a flourish I added because I remember Mum always used to put them on the Apple Pies she used to make when I was a kid.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie
Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie

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